The KTM RC 990 has been spotted out in the wild undergoing real-world testing as development for the firm’s first larger sportsbike since the RC 8 gathers pace.
Set to make its bow in 2023 before hitting the showrooms in 2024, the RC 990 is a fresh fully-faired spin-off from the ‘890’ platform that has already spawned the Duke naked and Adventure off-roader, as well as the Husqvarna Norden 901.
Spotted wearing only a minor disguise, shots of the RC 990 - as published by German publication ‘Motorrad’ - hint at an aggressive new design direction for KTM.
While some of the detailing on the accentuated fairing is incomplete, it shows a sharp, layered aerodynamic solution evidently inspired by the firm’s successful RC16 MotoGP bike, while the side profile confirms the RC 990 will continue with KTM’s signature trellis frame concept.
At the front, a squared off headlight portal is filled with a circular spotlight that bears some resemblance to the Yamaha R7, while the nose section pinches to give the RC 990 an aggressive appearance.
It is under the skin, however, where the KTM RC 990 proves most intriguing in that it uses a larger adaptation of the venerable ‘890’ twin-cylinder engine as used in the Duke and Adventure.
The larger size should mean more power for the RC 990 than its siblings (121bhp for the Duke), with estimates of between 135-140bhp predicted. As a reference, the Ducati Panigale V2 it will be pitched against offers 155bhp.
A beefier ‘gullwing’ exhaust system can also be spied, while the RC 990 is likely to run on WP Apex suspension components.
Officially speaking, KTM has given little away about the RC 990, including when it is planned to go on sale.
However, as a new from the ground up model, the gestation time is likely to last much of 2023 and possibly into 2024.
When it is launched, the RC 990 will mark KTM’s first large capacity sportsbike since the demise of the shortlived RC 8 (above) - which ran between 2008 and 2010 - and will join the recently updated RC 125/ RC 390 twins in KTM’s ‘racing’ line-up.
Though not a direct successor to the 1100cc V-Twin cult-favourite RC 8, the RC 990 comes hot on the heels of the special edition RC 8C track bike [below].
Based around the concept of KTM’s mothballed Moto2 Grand Prix racing programme, limited run iterations of the RC 8C - which was launched in summer 2021 and updated for 2022 last month - sold out within minutes.
Seemingly buoyed by the potential demand for a large KTM sportsbike, the production RC 990 also goes some way to capitalising on positive publicity generated by the Austrian firm’s multiple race-winning MotoGP project.