Welcoming the KTM RC8R to the xBhp Garage with some fond memories of the old

Welcoming the KTM RC8R to the xBhp Garage with some fond memories of the old

There are some motorcycles in the world that leave an impact on you. It is an everlasting mark that gets buried under the layers but is always around. KTM RC8R is one of the motorcycles. I rode it nearly a decade ago. And I still can still feel all the intensity and focus and sheer madness it brought to the table. It was bonkers and somewhere in my mind, I craved those special feelings.

The first time I saw it, I felt like it was a concept bike. It has such chiselled bodywork and no motorcycle I have ever seen comes close when it comes to edginess in design. Things that stand out start from the very first glance. 

All KTMs are a little quirky but Mattighofen’s take on a superbike is a class apart. Anyway, let me take you through the experience of when I rode it for the first time, something I would like to relive while I tell you that the KTM RC8R is now a part of my dream garage! 

So one of the reasons why I was able to enjoy the RC8R to the fullest is because I rode it in the Alps. That too, Austria’s highest mountain- Grossglockner High Alpine Road and the Nockalm Strasse. The Grossglockner is one of the most famous European alpine roads and there’s a reason why it is called a Mecca for bikers. 

The reasons? For one, you can see one of the highest peaks in the Alps right in front of you. Second, you can see the longest glacier in the eastern Alps (the Pasterze), again, right in front of you! A 48 km run with 36 bends, ascending to 8,215 feet. It is beautiful but the best thing about it is something else. 

The authorities there also recognize the significance of the route and the love bikers have for it. For those, there is a higher point dedicated especially to motorcycles. It is 200 points higher and called the Edelweiss Peak. And you just have to love the tarmac. 

There’s mention of a special maximum grip material that was used to resurface the pavement so that it can be enjoyed to the fullest safely. Perhaps that is why there’s a price on it but one run along this route and you’ll know why it is well worth it. 

Coming back to the bike, it is an absolute looker. I love its silhouette and it is absolutely mind-blowing to look at. Something the gaze of the onlookers will also explain very well. The odd thing about it is the vertical headlamp but then, what’s a KTM without a little oddity. 

The simple fact that it is so angular, so geometrical makes me feel like it is a mix of German precision and Italian flare. That, I can tell you, is a very, very rare mix. It can make an ordinary man look like a hardened veteran of the racetrack, that is how profoundly racy it is. 

There are a lot of quirks to it. The console is one. Orange backlight, loads of information, all laid out without any fancy buttons to mess around with. It is simple and effective. Among stuff like lap timer (Read to Race?) and stuff, there’s something in regards to fuel mapping. So depending on the fuel you put in (95 RON or 98 RON), you have to choose the designated mapping. There’s a difference of around 4 horses there. 

Then, there’s the engine. The 75-degree V-twin comes to life with its characteristic vibrations and staccato. It sounds a little rough on idle but that much is expected from such a massive V-twin. But as you give it some revs, it starts to sound much sweeter. It slots into the first gear with a thud and as you release the clutch, it starts to move easy. Easy, but you can tell the urgency behind it. 

The best thing about the RC8R is how raw it is. There’s no traction control or stuff like that. You have total control of the motorcycle which is an amazing feeling but it is still a very powerful motorcycle. During my run at the Grossglockner, I realized that I could accelerate hard out of the corners where traction control of some motorcycles can be too intrusive. 

Also, because of how mechanical the motorcycle is, it has to do everything mechanically. Geometry and ergonomics allow one to actually take control of the riding and in that sense, there are not a lot of motorcycles that come close to the RC8. The geometry is meant for quick steering but not to the extent of being nervy. 

It is also about ergonomics. Because of how narrow the motorcycle is, it is easy to really grip it and go hard. In that sense, even someone who is not very familiar with riding hard can feel like a racetrack regular. But the lack of electronics also comes with an inherent risk. There is no denying the fact that this is a very powerful motorcycle and it is easy to upset it. 

The next road that I took with the RC8R was Nockalmstrasse, beautiful scenery but a lot greener in contrast with the snowy peaks visible from the Grossglockner. I also rode the RC8R on Malta Road, another beautiful route that leads to the Kolnbreinspeicher Dam and, if you’re willing to go beyond the last designated motor point, the Kolnbreinspeicher Lake. 

So, I had a fun time with the KTM RC8R in Europe. But that is not the only reason why I got it. See, first of all, it is a rare superbike. Not just in an Indian context but around the world. It has been quite a few years since its production sadly ended. 

Then, I love how raw and full of unadulterated intent it is. It is a little tough but it is a wonderful teacher. It can really teach one how to tame a motorcycle without the help of electronics which sometimes counter-serve their purpose, in a way. Then, the RC8R inspired the next generation of smaller RC motorcycles. 

Lastly, it looks like nothing else out there; beautiful, edgy, industrial, and futuristic even by today’s standards. The one I have got has 3,000 km on it and is in pretty good shape. I wish it was still in production so I could have gotten it new but this works too. But I had to add my own touch to it, to give it a different identity despite the original scheme being quite beautiful in its own right. 

This avatar of the KTM RC8R was unveiled at Throttle Shrottle, after a ride of course. It was a  great ride with fellow motorcyclists that started from the Toll Booth on the Gurgaon-Faridabad Expressway from where we rode to the venue. And that is where I unveiled my rendition of the KTM RC8R. 

I am a visual artist and I see things a certain way. The livery that you see here is the way I saw the KTM RC8R. It is inspired by the colour scheme of the upcoming RC 390- blue and orange. Anyway, the one thing that I am looking forward to the most now is taking the RC8R to the track and I can already imagine how much fun it is going to be. 

Here are some photos from the unveiling event:



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