One of the better scalpels for cutting lap times: all aboard the KTM RC 8C.

One of the better scalpels for cutting lap times: all aboard the KTM RC 8C. (KTM/)

There’s a race strategy at work with KTM’s newest trackbike weapon, the RC 8C. But it may take a few years before KTM reveals the rest of its cards. It’s similar to a Moto2-spec sportbike, yet not meant to homologate a World SBK contender. With a small production run and a frame made by Krämer, it’s purely meant for trackdays. But it’s worth idle speculation as to what further development (and developments) might bring in the future as far as race plans.

Until then, 200 lucky people now own (safe to assume it’s sold out at press times) one of the more impressive track motorcycles around. It’s little changed from the 2022 RC 8C, save for color, engine tinkering, and the fact that 200 were made, up from 100 in 2022. Power to the people, right?

Internal changes are the headline here. The familiar parallel-twin LC8c motor now puts out 135 hp, up from 128 hp. Larger 48mm throttle bodies complement an increased compression ratio (now 14.0:1) and modified combustion chambers. New titanium intake and exhaust valve feed a new two-ring piston design, which rides on new titanium con-rods. More bang is preserved by removing the cylinder head top balancer and adjusting the crankcase balancer shaft. A new Pankl oil cooler helps keep things cool and lubricated.

The WP Apex Pro fork and shock have been softened, to maintain healthy contact patches and for rider comfort. In that spirit, the RC 8C follows the KTM tradition of near-infinite amounts of adjustment, from the adjustable steering head to the offset of the CNC-machined triple clamps to the bars and footpegs.

Electronics do their part with the AiM MXS 1.2 Race dash giving access to data from throttle response, traction control, mapping and engine-braking. Shifting follows the reverse GP-shifting pattern, via quickshifter. Brembo Stylema calipers and RCS19 Corsa Corta master cylinders keep things stopped or slowed, as needed.

A brand-new titanium Akrapovič exhaust helps keep weight down to 313 pounds dry, which lies at the heart of the RC 8C’s appeal. Figures of 200-plus ponies grab headlines, but anyone who’s thrown a bike around a track knows that power-to-weight ratios are a better metric of thrill and/or danger.

The first 30 customers get to take delivery of their machine at Circuito Ricardo Tormo in Valencia, Spain, on April 26, 2023. Former Grand Prix riders and a full KTM and WP Suspension technical crew will be on hand to help new RC 8C owners break in their new bikes. MSRP is $39,599, if you can still find one.

In essence, this is a fantastic motorcycle you’ll never experience. KTM naming conventions mean the RC 8C (note the space between “RC” and “8″) has little to do with the legendary V-twin 1190 KTM RC8 from 2008–15. But the original RC8 cleaned up in AMA Superbike, and arguably led to the genesis of KTM’s Moto3 and MotoGP contenders. So it begs the question: What’s the RC 8C leading up to?

Stay tuned. It’s really all the rest of us can do.

Just 313 pounds of winged trackday fun: the 2023 KTM RC 8C.

Just 313 pounds of winged trackday fun: the 2023 KTM RC 8C. (KTM/)

Blacked-out livery belies the extra 7 hp that comes with the 2023 KTM RC 8C.

Blacked-out livery belies the extra 7 hp that comes with the 2023 KTM RC 8C. (KTM/)

Head on: what wind sees as the KTM RC 8C approaches.

Head on: what wind sees as the KTM RC 8C approaches. (KTM/)

Your left hand will tell you how you did: TFT AiM MXS 1.2 Race dash breaks down your trackday stats.

Your left hand will tell you how you did: TFT AiM MXS 1.2 Race dash breaks down your trackday stats. (KTM/)

This could be you, assuming you plunked down $39,599 about a week ago.

This could be you, assuming you plunked down $39,599 about a week ago. (KTM/)

Note to aspiring racers: Wheelies actually waste precious seconds of lap time.

Note to aspiring racers: Wheelies actually waste precious seconds of lap time. (KTM/)

New Akrapovič exhaust helps keep the KTM RC 8C light, so you can get lower.

New Akrapovič exhaust helps keep the KTM RC 8C light, so you can get lower. (KTM/)
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