RideFast October 2019

RobRidefast

SA's best motorcycle magazine

had to start early actually, and I

had to split people between IDM

and Grand Prix. In the end we

had a fully capable and working

group for road racing.”

While the RC8 was being

modified and chiseled in

Germany McWilliams was also

running a separate test program.

“We got Jeremy on the bike after

remembering him well from the

original MotoGPTM project and

still, to this day, he is fantastic to

work with and still so fast with so

much expertise over what seems

like fifty years of racing!” Felber

grins. “He’s loyal, honest and he’ll

never talk s#$t.”

“To be honest it was a

big surprise to jump on the

IDM version of the RC8 with

the full-on Magneti Marelli

spec from the road bike,” he

remembers. “The improvement

in performance was an eyeopener.

Whatever Wolfgang and

the boys had done with the bike

it had huge mid-range: It was

incredible and pulled like a train.

I still haven’t ridden anything

like it to this day that makes that

kind of torque and mid-range

power. Wolfgang told me it

was still only making 185-87

horsepower but it felt like 210; it

was that good.”

As with almost every

motorcycle there were

imperfections and the rough

waters around the development

and production bore an influence.

“We were aware that we’d need

some good electronics on the

bike, but due to the 2008 crisis

there were thumbs on budgets

everywhere and we did not get

the chance to develop it in this

term,” Felber says.

“We got Jeremy on the bike after

remembering him well from the

original MotoGPTM project and still,

to this day, he is fantastic to work

with and still so fast with so much

expertise over what seems like fifty

years of racing!” He’s loyal, honest

and he’ll never talk s#$t.”

Journalists were quick to

praise the RC8’s strengths

upon its introduction but

they also identified some of

the quirks. “Idiosyncrasies? I

guess the slightly rough gear

change, and also those typically

unmistakable looks, which

I’m not sure enough people

liked,” says renowned British

bike tester Roland Brown. “And

the fact that by sportsbike

standards it was so comfortable

and versatile, but I don’t think it

got enough credit for that.”

On the whole KTM had hit the

mark. “I remember it was well

received and I think it also sold

well in the first year, especially

in Great Britain,” Felber says. “I

think 2000 bikes from the 2008

generation were sold there;

that’s a sign that it was accepted

by customers.”

Towards the end of the

second decade of the century

it is gaining almost cult status.

Particularly as KTM indulge

more and more in road racing. “I

and many of the other journos

thought it was very competitive

with Ducati’s 1098, which is

pretty high praise,” says Brown.

A competitive bike and a

highly rated one: So why is

the RC8 no more? The change

in the WorldSBK playing field

was the first ‘closing of the

door’. Felber explains why: “The

bike was planned as a 1000cc

superbike. The engine was

going to be a robust 1000cc

capacity with the potential for

enlargement over the years and

this quickly became the case as

Ducati forced the FIM to set the

new limit to 1200cc. We were

somehow on the wrong rail. The

74 RIDEFAST MAGAZINE OCTOBER 2019

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