Buyer Guide: KTM RC8

The RC8R is a major improvement on the old model, with the RC8 gear box and fuel injection a lot less smooth. But if you can find an RC8 at a fair price and you’re prepared to invest in gearing and an exhaust- you’ll have yourself a hot machine



The 2009 RC8R has some significant changes compared to the older RC8. The engine bore’s 2mm larger taking capacity from 1148 to 1195ccs and power is up 11bhp and torque by about 4ftlb as a result. Cast aluminium wheels have been replaced with lighter forged ones. There’s subtle changes to the chassis too – rear suspension travels reduced 5mm, trail increases 6mm and wheelbase is reduced by 5mm. Overall weight’s down by 6kg.


It’d be relatively easy to make a 2008 bike a match for the new 2009 model. A full exhaust and power commander should help the smaller engine’s output match the larger ones. A set of lightweight wheels (there’s three sets ranging from £1,525 to £2,533 in KTM’s own Power Parts catalogue) should make up for the slightly lighter ones on the new bike plus those subtle chassis changes. That would cost over £3,000 in total though so, once again, a simple gearing change would be better value.


The problems on the RC8 are mainly niggles. Clocks can mist up, paint can flake off fuel tanks and elsewhere. Some owners think the earliest machines are most likely to suffer these and other problems, so ex-dealer demo bikes may be best avoided for that reason. The two main criticisms of the bike are the gearbox and fuel injection – both are about as smooth as the Himalayas. These vary from bike to bike, so it’s worth a test ride. Some riders prefer a responsive machine and KTM do make them that way deliberately. There’s loads of opinions on how to improve the fuelling but a Power Commander and custom map should make a big difference. The gearbox is easier to fully fix – KTM will fit a handful of fairly minor parts which eliminate false neutrals and makes shifting smoother.


Prices of the used bike are pretty reasonable compared to new list. The RC8’s a bike which was massively anticipated but quite a few owners sold up after relatively small mileages, possibly as they were put off by the gearbox and fuelling, or maybe as it’s a very uncompromising machine - one which works best when ridden hard all the time. The bike only appeared in 2008 and early higher mile examples fetch about £6,500 to £7,000. New 2008 bikes can be had for £8,999 or less, so don’t pay OTT for anything used.


Servicing is something to bear in mind. A minor one is due every 4,500 miles and the major with valve clearances is every 9,000 miles. The first 600 mile service is a biggy with valves too, so be wary of any very low mile bargains – or factor in £250- £400 for that first service.