Skip to main content

KTM RC 8C (2024) - Review

BikeSocial Road Tester








142kg (dry)

Overall BikeSocial rating


Let me introduce you to the exquisite KTM RC 8C, which is fascinating in at least two ways. Firstly, this is a track-only bike, which means that when KTM, in partnership with Krämer Motorcycles, designed this bike it was never intended to be homologated for the road. Free of the compromises and hoop jumping necessary to build a sports bike for the public highway, the Austrian manufacturer could focus on one design target only: cutting lap times on track. The KTM RC 8C is the only bike you can purchase from a major manufacturer that is built from the ground up to race and, as you will see, that makes for a ride unlike anything you can experience on a road-legal sports bike.

Secondly, KTM has recently revealed outline details of the 990 RC R that will go on sale in 2025. This will be KTM's first pure road-going sports bike since the demise of the RC8 and, unlike the 'prototype' RC 8C tested here, it will not be a limited special available to just a few well-financed track heads. Instead, the 990 RC R will primarily be a road legal machine with a track-only version also offered to race teams.

All of which brings extra significance to this, the updated and beautifully detailed 2024 RC 8C, because this is the machine on which the 990 R will be based. Engine capacities will differ, of course, and many of its race details will be exchanged for indicators, a horn and all the other required road bumf, but both bikes will share similar power and torque outputs, chassis design, dimensions and geometry.  We were summoned to one of the best tracks in the world, Portimão in Portugal, for an exclusive try out of perhaps the most focused production bike in the world.

  • Unrivalled track performance

  • Lightness and handling

  • Sound and power

  • It really is ‘Ready to Race’

  • Price: £36,999

  • Lack of availability

  • Can’t be ridden on the road

2024 KTM RC 8C - Price

Yes, £36,999 is hefty price to pay especially for a bike you can’t ride on the road, but demand is likely to be sky high. When KTM first unveiled the first-generation RC 8C in July 2021 the entire run of 100 bikes sold out in 4 minutes and 32 seconds despite its £30,999 price tag. This third-generation model is again being sold in limited numbers, this time 200 units, and no-one is doubting that demand will outstrip supply.

Mainstream competition is limited. Yamaha offers the track-only R6 Race for £13,000 and top-spec GYTR R6 for £19,300 Both are race and trackday bikes but the R6 was, of course, designed and manufactured as a road bike and, unlike the RC 8C 'prototype', these models have been converted to a track spec. No matter how good they are, they cannot match the KTM's lightness and purity of purpose.  

In theory, you could convert almost any road bike into a race bike. At £17,195 a Ducati Panigale V2 is a good starting point but you will need track bodywork, £809, the race exhaust, £5021, adjustable pegs, £1307, a brake lever guard, £320, plus all the smaller bits, like crash protection, a GPS module, reverse gear change wiring, removal of the ABS... and so on. Using factory parts, a race going Panigale V2 would be around £25,000 excluding the workshop hours and skills required to make the transformation. Meanwhile, the KTM is race-ready from the showroom, right down to its lockwired brake caliper bolts.

Krämer Motorcycles produces two very similar bikes, the GP2-890R, priced at £28,600, which we have tested previously, and the limited edition GP2-890RR, £36,500, which lacks the KTM's livery and aero wings but is mechanically very similar to the KTM RC 8C.

2024 KTM RC 8C Duke Engine & Performance

The first-generation KTM RC 8C (and Krämer GP2-890R) featured a version of the eight-valve LC8 parallel twin you’d find in the 890 Duke, albeit with a different airbox and exhaust. That original RC 8C made 128bhp and 100Nm of torque and was nine horses up on the Duke.

The 2024 bike uses the same 890cc engine but with a mild tune that nudges peak power up to 135bhp and, more importantly, revs to 12,000rpm instead of 10,500rpm. Using titanium valves and conrods, two piston rings per cylinder and larger 48mm throttle bodies, KTM has essentially lightened the engine internals, upped the compression ratio and added more fuel to the mix to make it punch harder and rev higher. There's an extra oil cooler to manage the extra heat and two (full power) throttle maps to choose from, which can be quickly selected on the move. In terms of riding modes, that is it.

One press of the race starter button on the right bar, and the compact and sweetly balanced LC8c barks to life. The race switchgear isn’t labelled, so there's a brief moment of familiarisation, while the bark from the standard full titanium Akrapovič exhaust drenches the pitlane in racy vibes and is loud enough to make bystanders wince. Trackdayers will be pleased to hear that KTM offers a noise-cancelling insert and even a quieter exhaust dropping to 98db.

Up on the race shift oriented gearbox into first and once you’re away and moving the clutch is now redundant thanks to a standard up-and-down quick shifter and auto-blipper. Cruising down Portimão's pit lane, a quick look down at the new dash (complete with GPS and data logger) reveals the settings of the new for 2024 rider aids. Lean-sensitive traction control has nine levels plus an off and there’s wheelie control, which for my first session was active. On pre-heated Pirelli race slicks I could attack the MotoGP track straight from the pit lane exit.

It's so enjoyable to enter a racetrack on a true race bike. Immediately you feel the LC 8C's lightness, plus a clarity and sharpness you won't find on even the hottest road-going sports bike. The KTM also has a lovely spread of torque and in the softer fuel map the power delivery is reasonably easy going. It’s not pillow-soft, just forgiving, allowing you to ride that smooth and urgent midrange rather than immediately having to switch on the more manic revs and power. For the first three-quarters of the famously challenging MotoGP track it was simply a case of riding the torque and getting used to the circuit.

Exiting the last turn in fourth gear, however, I dabbed down on the seamless race-pattern quickshifter into fifth before crossing the start-finish line and grabbing top. This is where you feel the difference of the higher revving engine and its extra dollop of power. I have track-tested the older Krämer GP2-890R, which is very similar to the KTM RC 8C, and although it made strong power and torque, it ran out of puff at the top-end. The new bike is more willing to rev; you can hold on to the gears longer, rev the engine harder – and on open sections of track the new RC 8C is noticeably faster than the older bike. It's not blistering, arm-stretching power like 200+hp superbike, but it’s certainly quick. KTM quote 135bhp, but it feels more.

Interestingly, KTM also had a new 2024 990 Duke for us to test, and despite the new naked middleweight having a larger-capacity motor than the RC 8C, the race bike's LC8C felt more fluid and willing to rev – and noticeably faster. That 135bhp peak is about the same as a tuned 600cc supersport four-cylinder machine but there's a flexibility to the engine that makes it easier to hustle too.

Both engine maps feel similar once the throttle is beyond 30% open ­– it’s just the initial pick-up that changes – and the second map is sharper in this regard. The new over-rev facility and the map's aggressive delivery allow you to push for lap times, driving harder between apexes as you hold onto gears longer.

The RC 8C's engine reminds me of a late-model Ducati 999 V-twin. It shares the Ducati's usable drive lower down and through the mid-range, which makes it relatively easy to ride when you are learning a track or riding tired at the end of a track day. Equally, it has the same top-end fizz, and loves revving its heart out, kissing the limiter as the shift lights go bonkers, in the hunt for a fast lap time.

2024 KTM RC 8C Duke Handling & Suspension (inc. Weight & Brakes)

Harnessing all this urgency is one very beautiful and multi-adjustable chassis. This is where Marcus Krämer and his team at Krämer Motorcycles have worked their magic.

The RC 8C was designed as a track-only machine meaning the engine team didn’t have to comply with Euro5+. The chassis designers, meanwhile, didn't have to consider pillion pegs, rider comfort, switchgear, mirrors, indicators, lights... their only goal was to create a chassis capable of a stunning lap time straight out of the crate. That's why the fuel tank is where you'd expect to find the rear subframe and an air-box where there'd normally be a fuel tank.

Almost every part of the bike is adjustable to optimise and personalise chassis geometry rider fit, including the steering head angle and fork offset, as well as the high-end WP Apex Pro suspension. Both seat height and ride height can be changed, along with the bar position and even the brake lever bite point. A ‘Ready to Race' spec also includes Brembo Stylema calipers and 290mm discs, which are smaller-diameter than on many road bikes but only have to stop 142kg, about the same as a 125, and are among the strongest brakes I have ever used. Lightweight forged aluminium Dymag wheels and Pirelli slicks are all standard along with lightweight glass fibre bodywork. KTM could have opted for carbon bodywork to make the bike even lighter but, given that a race bike is likely to be damaged at some stage, fiberglass is cheaper to replace.

You’re probably thinking that a bike that produces 135bhp and weighs the same as a road-legal 125 is going to be tiny, but it isn’t. Yes, it’s light but the dimensions are spacious. The adjustable bars are nice and wide – racy but not radical. There is enough room between the pegs and the seat to ensure you don't feel like a race jockey with your heels tucked up under your backside. The screen is tall enough to get in behind (well, it is if you’re 5’6”, eh Chad?!) and the whole cockpit is roomier than a conventional supersport 600 and perhaps even roomier than some superbikes. It has the big feel of a typical Isle of Man TT bike: wide bars, big pegs, large(ish) screen.

The RC 8C is some 30kg lighter than the race-ready Yamaha GYTR R6 and around 50kg lighter than a road-legal Panigale V2 – and on the move you immediately feel that lightness. It’s incredibly flickable and until you calibrate your brain to its lightning rate of turn it's all-too easy to turn too quickly to the apex. Rider input is minimal, those undersized 290mm discs and light Dymag rims mean you have to measure the effort applied to the bars.

But don’t be fooled into thinking the RC 8C is unstable or flighty because it's as planted and stable in high-speed corners as much heavier sportsbikes I've ridden at Portimão. Those distinctive aero wings probably contribute, so too the adjustable Hyper Pro steering damper, but considering the rider is a large percentage of the overall weight of the bike, moving around in the chassis didn't provoke even a moment of protest from the unflappable chassis. Its accuracy was total.  

The first-generation bike didn’t come with any rider aids but now lean-sensitive traction control comes as standard. There's a wet setting optimised to wet tyres, and another setting designed specifically for slick rubber, while you also have the option to turn off the TC entirely. I started the test day with TC on a mid-setting but by session three had opted for no TC at all as the chassis feeds you with so much mechanical feel and grip.

The blend of 135bhp and a precise and tuneable chassis mean TC is a bonus rather than an essential. For the last session, though, I switched it back on and enjoyed tailoring its intervention level to the changing needs of the tyres and how I wanted to ride. For club and national racers, the adjustability of the chassis and the electronics will be invaluable; for simply enjoying the RC 8C on a sunny trackday at Cadwell or Brands, however, it's far less critical as the rider is given such forensic feel. There's no vagueness or moments of uncertainty. The bike tells you exactly what the tyres are doing.

The anti-wheelie control is either on or off, and around the undulations of Portimão it was a helpful aid. The combination of torque and lightness meant the front Dymag wanted to lift over the track's roller coaster crests. As with the TC, when the system intervenes, it’s soft and tapered, controlling the power just-so.

To ride one of the best tracks in the world on one of the best handing bikes was a huge privilege. The RC 8C feels like a factory-built race bike because it is a factory -built race bike and I would be happy to race it out of the box. The steering is blissfully light and accurate, you can get on the power incredibly early, and the corner speeds and lean angles it can carry are at times breath-taking. I could drag my elbow sliders on any apex without a second thought.

The RC 8C is one of those rare bikes that builds your confidence with every lap. It helps you push harder and harder, feel what the tyres are doing, and push the boundaries in what feels like relative safety. I made a slight change to the rear shock's setting via the remote pre-load as I’m a little on the heavy side, but otherwise I wouldn't want to touch anything. I have lapped Portimão many times before and I should add that I don’t think I’ve ever braked so late for turn one – the braking power is phenomenal.

Of course, some will be put off by the RC 8C's lack of power compared to a superbike. Not me or, judging by the sales success of the first-generation bikes, plenty more corner-speed merchants either. I’d love to pit the RC 8C against a 200bhp Fireblade, Panigale or R1 because I bet the KTM wouldn’t be that far behind. 

2024 KTM RC 8C - Comfort & Economy

As mentioned earlier the KTM RC 8C was never designed to be homologated for the road, it was always going to be a race bike from the ground up, therefore I doubt anyone at KTM or Krämer Motorcycles ever discussed comfort or mpg. However, the riding position is adjustable and reasonably roomy.

Service intervals are recorded by the hour and not by miles. You’re looking at 30 hours for a minor service and 60 hours for a major service. This can be carried out by a local KTM dealer, and parts are also available should you choose to service the KTM yourself.

The 16-litre fuel tank is at the rear and is accessible via the cap just below where a conventional pillion seat would be. Sixteen litres should be enough for a few track sessions, and for those who want to go racing there’s a clever drain plug at the bottom of the tank, which allows you to drain the fuel completely. This allows you to measure the precise amount of fuel before each race.

2024 KTM RC 8C Equipment

The latest RC 8C takes a step up over the previous model with new lean-sensitive traction control and anti-wheelie. There are also two engine maps and two engine braking strategies as found on the older model. There's no ABS.

As you’d expect from a £37k motorcycle, the level of finish is high and quality components are used throughout. The 5-inch TFT display comes with an integrated data recording and GPS function. Live lap times are displayed, meaning you can see if you are down or up on sectors as you ride your real-life video game. Speed, lines, lap times, throttle and other engine data can be logged and later analysed.

What makes the RC 8C special is a level of attention to detail you normally only find on a well-sorted race bike. Oil and fuel drain screws, for example, are lockwired, as are the oil filter and even the caliper bolts, and there's masses of crash protection on the spindles, frame, fuel tank – even the swing-arm has small protector plates behind the race pegs so the pegs don’t dig into it in a crash. Rubber steering stops prevent the frame from getting damaged on full lock, a brake lever guard is standard and there is even a one-touch rain light at the back.

You could be picky and say you need paddock stands and spare wheels wrapped in race wets to go racing, but even the front wheel is easy to access, and the front mudguard is easy to remove.

2024 KTM RC 8C Rivals

Competition is thin on the ground, as there isn’t a race-ready production bike on the market, aside from the Krämer which the RC 8C is heavily based upon. Yamaha’s GYTR R6 is the closest mass-produced rival, but this was once upon a time a road bike, all be it a very good one.

You’ll notice the Krämer has slightly more power than the RC 8C, which is due to different fuelling. The Krämer comes with a Mectronik MKE7 ECU, which allows more personalization for the track, not just the standard two-engine maps and breaking strategies like the standard RC 8C.

Yamaha GYTR R6 Price | £19,300

Read more

87.1Kw / 61.7Nm


190kg (Wet)

Krämer GP2 890R Price | £28,600

Read more

130bhp / 100Nm



Krämer GP2 890RR Price | £36,500

Read more

138bhp / 100Nm



2024 KTM RC890C - Verdict

The RC 8C is a highly focused and brilliant track bike. Beyond its immediate purpose of going like the absolute clappers around a racetrack it highlights what KTM and Krämer can do when freed of the restrictions and compromises imposed by emissions regulations and the legal requirements of the road and, in the process, gives us an indication of what to expect from the upcoming 990 RC R.

KTM’s slogan is ‘Ready to Race’ and the RC 8C is just that. Take it from showroom to the starting grid and it would be competitive. (The Krämer GP2-890RR is dominating the GP2 class in British Superport). If you want an off-the-shelf race bike, then look no further.

Thankfully, this isn’t a radical race bike requiring the skills of a MotoGP rider. It’s easy to ride, has forgiving chassis, an easy power delivery and an abundance of helpful midrange torque. It’s much easier to ride than a 200bhp superbike. There’s now extra safety from the new lean-sensitive rider aids, and the relatively roomy riding position means it can accommodate a variety of sizes.

Equally, racers will welcome the increase in rpm and performance, especially on fast tracks where the old bike struggled a little and will dive deep into the multi-adjustable chassis to create a bike that fits their demands, like a perfectly fitting set of leathers. A quality rider would be competitive on the RC 8C without any additional costs. Furthermore, away from the stopwatch, it looks great and is incredible fun to ride, elbow dragging, without being intimidated.

But there are two problems. One is price, £37,000, and the other is availability. Trying to find a RC 8C is going to be hard. If this has whetted your appetite and money isn't a problem, then I’d head to Krämer Motorcycles, who produce a nearly identical machine minus the wings.

The new, road-legal 990 RC R is due next year and promises to fit in that huge gap between racy supersport 600 and scary 200bhp superbike. Road legal and competitively priced, it will be based on the RC 8C it promises to be an absolute treat. We cannot wait.

If you’d like to chat about this article or anything else biking related, join us and thousands of other riders at the Bennetts BikeSocial Facebook page.

2024 KTM RC890C - Technical Specification

New priceFrom £36,999
Bore x Stroke90.7mm x 68.8mm
Engine layoutParallel twin
Engine details8-valve, DOHC, liquid cooled
Power135bhp (101W) @ 12,000rpm
Torque73.8ftlb (100Nm) @ n/a rpm
Transmission6 speed, assist/slipper clutch
Average fuel consumption10.5/100km (claimed)26.9mpg
Tank size16 litres
Max range to empty95 miles
Rider aidsTraction Control, Anti-wheelie, 2 x engine maps, 2 x engine brake
FrameChrome-moly tubular space frame, powder-coated
Front suspensionWP XACT PRO 7543 43mm forks
Front suspension adjustmentFully
Rear suspensionWP APEX PRO 7746 monoshock
Rear suspension adjustmentFully
Front brake2 x 290mm discs, four-piston radial Brembo Stylema calipers,
Rear brake230mm disc, two-piston caliper
Front wheel / tyre120/70ZR17
Rear wheel / tyre180/55ZR17
Dimensions (LxWxH)TBA
Seat height820mm
Weight142kg (dry)
MCIA Secured RatingNot yet rated

What is MCIA Secured?

MCIA Secured gives bike buyers the chance to see just how much work a manufacturer has put into making their new investment as resistant to theft as possible.

As we all know, the more security you use, the less chance there is of your bike being stolen. In fact, based on research by Bennetts, using a disc lock makes your machine three times less likely to be stolen, while heavy duty kit can make it less likely to be stolen than a car. For reviews of the best security products, click here.

MCIA Secured gives motorcycles a rating out of five stars (three stars for bikes of 125cc or less), based on the following being fitted to a new bike as standard:

  • A steering lock that meets the UNECE 62 standard

  • An ignition immobiliser system

  • A vehicle marking system

  • An alarm system

  • A vehicle tracking system with subscription

The higher the star rating, the better the security, so always ask your dealer what rating your bike has and compare it to other machines on your shortlist.