KTM has been spotted testing a new pre-production version of a prospective larger-displacement addition to its RC range, which is thought to be a KTM RC 990.
KTM has never been much interested in building sports bikes. It built of course the RC8R in the early 2010s, but that died out and was never really replaced.
Now, it builds the RC8C track bike, as well as the RC 125 and RC 390 small-capacity, entry-level sports bikes.
With the RC 390, the Austrian brand competes in the WorldSSP 300 class in the WorldSBK paddock, but its presence there does not extend beyond the bottom category, and even there it has significantly limited representation.
Despite KTM’s general position that high-power sports bikes are unnecessary, it is looking, seemingly, to enter the middleweight division with a new addition to its RC roster.
To make this entry, a one-litre twin-cylinder bike will apparently be used. Motorrad, who have published spy photos of the motorcycle, suggests that this will be an enlarged version of the 889cc engine found in bikes such as the 890 Duke and 890 Adventure, bringing it to around 990cc.
As such, there will be a power increase compared to the 890 range, with Motorrad suggesting between 135 and 140 horsepower.
The photos suggest that the bike is far from production-ready. The aluminium rear subframe is completely bare, for example, and as such it would probably be a surprise even to see this bike become available in 2023. 2024 is perhaps more likely.
What we can learn from the photos, though, is that KTM remains, totally expectedly, committed to its steel frame concept, that Brembo will provide the brakes, and the WP suspension will come from the Apex range. Additionally, the TFT display is in full colour, and seemingly larger than that found on the 890 Duke, for example.
Perhaps one of the most striking things about the bike is its appearance, which features one single headlight integrated into the front fairing. This diverges from a fairly common trait of KTM visual design which generally features split headlights. Generally, though, the aggressive lines can be well-associated with the Mattighofen marque.
An RC 990 from KTM would go into competition against bikes such as the Ducati Panigale V2, and in terms of competition you could count the Triumph Street Triple RS and MV Agusta F3 800 in that, too, as ‘Next Generation’ Supersport-class bikes.