The rumours are true—sort of.  After many months of gossipy mutterings, KTM has done as predicted, and released a track-only sportbike. On July 22, the KTM RC 8C will be available for pre-order.

It’s a high-spec machine, made for racetrack usage. And, it comes with a high price tag: $39,000 MSRP in the US, $43,999 in Canada. So what’s so great about the bike, and what does all that dosh get you?

Race-bred hard parts

The KTM RC 8C is based on the same 890 parallel twin that’s used elsewhere in the Duke and Adventure lineup. Here, KTM says the liquid-cooled DOHC eight-valve LC8c engine makes 128 horsepower. For the sake of comparison, the KTM 890 Duke R makes a claimed 121 horsepower, and the standard 890 Duke makes a claimed 115 horsepower.

Like those engines, KTM says the LC8c’s parallel twin is also tuned for grunt, with 74.5 pound-feet of torque. The internals are basically stock, though—no trick, pricey bits. This bike is intended to be easy to service, with affordable maintenance.

Will we ever see a street-legal version? Don’t hold your breath. Photo: KTM

The LC8c comes with a race-ready titanium Akrapovic muffler, as well as race-ready airbox and air filter. No doubt the revised intake and exhaust are a big part of the bike’s bump in horsepower over the street-legal Duke models. KTM will offer a quiet baffle for that muffler, but as this is a race-only machine, chances are most customers will not bother, unless required to by track authorities.

The engine is stuffed into a trellis frame, made of tubular 25CrMo4 steel. It’s specific to this machine, not recycled from the Duke series. The fairing is carbon-Kevlar reinforced, and comes with winglets that give stabilizing aerodynamic downforce, just like we see in MotoGP.

KTM sourced forks and shock from its subsidiary WP. There’s a set of lightweight 43 mm WP Apex Pro 7543 closed cartridge forks, with zero hydraulic stroke limitation. KTM says this means riders can continually control the fork’s damping properties.

The Apex Pro 7746 shock has a preload adjuster, and also has separate high-speed and low-speed rebound and compression adjustment.

The suspension is hand-built by the same department that assembles and maintains the suspension of the KTM RC16 MotoGP bike, and it’s developed by KTM’s racing division, so you can expect these components to be top-shelf.

Race-spec brakes and suspension, with a sensible engine. Photo: KTM

Braking components are also high-end. Up front, KTM has a Brembo 19RCS Corsa Corta radial master cylinder, with design derived from MotoGP brakes. With this master cylinder, “riders are able to tailor the “bite point” exactly where they want it, with an easily accessible selector on the top of the master cylinder itself.” In other words, it’s highly adjustable, just like the suspension.

There’s a set of dual 290 mm aluminum fully floating discs up front, with titanium fasteners, and Brembo Stylema calipers. In back, things are a little less dramatic , with Brembo two-piston caliper mated to a 230 mm fully floating disc, which is directly fixed to the wheel hub.

Speaking of the wheels, KTM went with lightweight forged Dymag aluminum units. Pirelli SC1 race slicks are the standard OEM tires.

The RC 8C ships with AIM MXS 1.5 RACE dashboard and data logger, meaning it’s got race telemetrics. Formerly, this stuff was only available to the most advanced race teams; now, it’s here for the customer, with an information readout on a 5-inch TFT display. The display has integrated data recording; riders can view that data through AIM Race Studio software.

The view from a step back

As a whole, the bike is an interesting mix of practicality and performance. KTM says that “Dedicated to putting in fast lap times with unmatched, hyper-focused precision, the KTM RC 8C is undeniably READY TO RACE!” Yet, the press release also says this machine was designed be serviceable without the need of a race mechanic: “The KTM RC 8C allows customers the opportunity to own a machine that is as close to a Factory race bike as possible – without the drawbacks of needing a specialist race team to maintain it.

With that in mind, this machine fits into a rapidly growing niche of motorcycles, the purpose-built track weapons. For years, riders simply raced production-based machines that they built into racebikes themselves. Now, more and more OEMs are offering turn-key racebikes, some not even street-legal, like this KTM.

In fact, as Asphalt & Rubber makes note, the RC 8C is actually extremely similar to the Kramer GP2 890R, another track-only motorcycle. A&R says the bodywork is the biggest difference between the machines, .

At this point, we’re seeing more and more factory-built track-only machines. Photo: KTM

It’s a real weathervane for the direction the wind is blowing in the moto industry. Increasingly, in the face of tightening emissions regulations, tougher anti-speeding laws, increasing insurance costs and other woes, riders are moving away from sportbikes for street applications. The 600 supersport class is basically dead. However, riders still want to go fast; those who can afford it are now headed to the track. These new sub-litre bikes, like this KTM, are more manageable than a 1000 cc machine, and also less money than a superbike with similar spec.

Don’t expect this machine to ever make it to the street, either. KTM’s bigwigs have already said they aren’t inclined to build street-legal superbikes. For now, at least, we’d only expect a racetrack-only version.

Want to buy one?

If you want a KTM RC 8C, you’ll have to pre-order, with availability starting July 22. Visit KTM’s official website (US here, Canada here) for more details.

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