September 21, 2007 With less than two months to go before its debut at the Milan Motorcycle Expo, KTM’s highly anticipated 1150cc RC8 superbike contender is undergoing intensive pre-release road and track testing. Has KTM’s early promise of the world’s most powerful V-twin engine been scuttled by the tyre-shredding Ducati 1098, or do the Austrians have something special up their sleeve?
Several years into development, the RC8 is now agonizingly close to production. Originally shown as a concept bike in 2003, the 75-degree V-twin is now looking like a genuine contender for national superbike racing in 2008, and an entry to World Superbikes in 2009, thanks to new regulations pushed by Ducati allowing maximum 1200cc twins to compete against the 1000cc inline-four superbikes of the Japanese companies.
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The 1150cc RC8 engine will also appear in a semi-naked version called the Venom for 2009, according to a shareholder report uncovered by Motorcycle News – as if the wild 990 Superduke wasn’t an aggressive enough streetfighter. Details on the Venom are sketchy but KTM’s all-thrills no-prisoners approach to its small but growing stable of roadbikes would suggest it won’t be toned down and neutered like most of the Japanese naked bikes, and we can perhaps expect a high-spec racebike with flat bars ready to brawl with the class-butchering Aprilia Tuono for naked bike supremacy.
The RC8, meanwhile, taunts and tantalizes from behind the curtain of pre-release secrecy. From what we can see, the underslung exhaust as been retained, the very chunky aluminum swingarm is perhaps even larger than anticipated, and the looks are pure KTM. Whether or not it lives up to its promise of being the most powerful production V2 on the planet, this will be an animal of a bike, and we can’t wait to get one on the road.