2024 KTM RC8c Review – First Ride

Troy Siahaan
by Troy Siahaan

The final edition of the RC8c is here to give the 990 RCR some giant shoes to fill

Action photography by Sebas Romero. Trackside stills by Emanuel Tschann. Studio photography by VISUS STUDIOS.

There’s no such thing as the perfect motorcycle, but when it comes to track-specific machines, Kramer Motorcycles makes something that’s really, really close. Known for its bespoke chassis, premium components, and overall light weight no production bike can match, Kramer partners with KTM, who provide the engines for these track-focused weapons. Kramer embodies the “Ready to Race” ethos of KTM so well that KTM enlisted the boutique brand (started by a former KTM employee) to build a small production run of 100 bikes, dubbed the RC8c, centered around the 890cc LC8c parallel-Twin.

2024 KTM RC8c

The final edition of this joint KTM/Kramer partnership delivers a track weapon that's more razor-focused than ever.

Highs

  • Such a captivating engine
  • Telepathic handling
  • The closest thing we mortals will get to a factory prototype

Sighs

  • The gearbox is the last thing that hasn't been massaged, and it shows
  • It ain't cheap
  • Most toys worth having usually aren't

The RC8c isn’t a new model, as it was first introduced two years ago, but it has received incremental updates as Kramer’s own sister bike, the GP2 890 (R and RR), also received them. With the introduction of KTM’s new 990 RCR, this will mark the third and final year of the RC8c, and while the RCR is sure to be a good bike, we have a hankering suspicion the RC8c will be sorely missed (and sought after) once it’s gone. Why? Because with the RC8c, KTM and Kramer remind us of what’s possible when you don’t need to build a motorcycle to meet silly street homologation rules.

The last of its kind, the 2024 KTM RC8c is the third and final edition of the fruitful partnership between Kramer Motorcycles and KTM. Unless the two collab on a 990 version…

Laser Focused


In essence, the RC8c is a clone of Kramer’s flagship model, the GP2-890RR. Except KTM’s version wears different fairings painted in white and orange, complete with winglets. Both bikes take the 890cc LC8c parallel-Twin engine and add power and exotica by using titanium pieces for not only the valves, but also the connecting rods. The stock pistons are swapped for forged pieces with a higher compression ratio, and more aggressive camshafts replace the stock ones. The head is also machined for efficient airflow in and out, and to help keep temps under control, an auxiliary oil cooler sits underneath the main radiator. Lastly, there’s a 48mm throttle body instead of the 44mm piece on the single-R GP2-890. As a result, max power is somewhere in the ballpark of 135 horses. That’s healthy.


Despite the orange paint, the chromoly steel trellis frame is a Kramer design, not KTM’s. But the signature Kramer piece on the RC8c is the roto-molded plastic fuel cell which serves triple duty as not only the fuel cell, but the seat and subframe as well. Top notch components like WP Apex Pro suspension front and rear, Brembo Stylema calipers, and Dymag UP7X forged wheels complete the RC8c hardware package and should be familiar to those with knowledge of both the GP2 and RC8.

The RC8c and its Kramer cousins are beautiful in their simplicity. If it’s not there, then it’s probably not necessary.

This then begs the question: What’s different? Besides the obvious KTM versus Kramer badging, the big difference is the ECU. The RC8c uses a standard Bosch unit while the Kramer GP2-890RR runs on a Mectronik ECU identical to the one used in World Supersport competition. Still, the RC8c still carries electronics you expect, like traction control, wheelie control, different power maps, and pit lane speed limiter. It also has some features you don’t expect, like the AiM dash and integrated lap timer and data logger, to capture all of your riding data to observe and study after each session – or during, in the case of the lap timer with segment times.


Suspension-wise, the RC8c fork uses the standard valving as provided by WP, whereas the GP2-RR valving is a custom spec developed by Kramer. When all is said and done, KTM says the RC8c tips the scales at a dry weight of 313 lbs.

Adjustability is everywhere on the RC8c, including the hash marks on the bars to indicate how far or how close the bars are. More marks are located on the triple clamp, above the fork stanchions, to denote the angle of the bars as well. Note the GPS unit beneath the AiM dash to collect lap times.

Going Out In Style

Light makes right when it comes to track-focused racing machines, and what better locale to give the final version of the RC8c a proper send-off than the Portimao circuit in southern Portugal. A rollercoaster of a racetrack with dramatic elevation changes, blind corners, and long straights, there isn’t a rider out there who doesn’t love this place.


For those unfamiliar, I’ve written about Kramers before, including the GP2-890RR. As a Kramer owner, I admit I might be partial to these bikes. However, it should also say something when someone who gets to ride all kinds of bikes for a living chooses to spend their own money to buy one for their personal collection. The RC8c reminded me why I made the deal.

Before ever doing a lap in anger, there’s simply the sound. Push the starter and the 890 Twin explodes to life with an angry growl. The Akrapovic exhaust lets the engine rumble like it should, unrestrained by all the chokeholds a stock street exhaust brings. With the RC8c, a discerning ear can hear a slightly different twang of an exhaust note, courtesy of the different cams.


Out on track the experience puts into clarity what it means to be purpose-built. Power builds noticeably quicker than a stock 890 engine thanks to the lighter con rods and other internals, and unlike the stock engine, which reaches a power plateau well before redline, this one keeps pulling all the way to its 12,000 rpm rev ceiling (itself 1,500 rpm higher than stock). Horsepower junkies might turn their heads at “just” 135 horsepower, but when it’s not pushing a lot of weight, and wrapped in aerodynamic fairings, as is the case here, the aural and visceral experience of winding out this engine in top gear needs no explanation. It’s quick and fast, but not overwhelming. It’ll make any rider feel alive and only rewards you the faster you go. If you don’t hop off the RC8c with a smile on your face from ear to ear, you need to get your pulse checked.

You don’t need the clutch to shift in either direction, but for all the attention the engine received, it seems odd to leave the standard 890 transmission alone. Back cut gears, or some other treatment to enhance shifting would only add to the premium-bike experience. When shifting quickly, especially going down gears in rapid succession, the trans doesn’t always feel positive in its engagement.


While the engine on the RC8c is definitely special, the speed and precision of the bike’s handling is the secret sauce here. The chassis is designed so the rider can put the bike exactly where they want it, time after time, with utmost confidence. Forged Dymag wheels make turning effort next to nothing. Combine this ease for turning with repeatable accuracy, and the riding dynamics make you feel like a hero. Isn’t that why we do this?

Portimao’s long straight begins with a climb before flattening for a few hundred meters, then drops off a cliff again before entering turn 1. Toprak Razgatlioglu pulled off some heroics in the World Superbike race there on his Yamaha R1 last year, braking later than anyone thought possible so he could keep Ducati-shod Alvaro Bautista from getting away. It was truly a sight to behold, and though I’m nowhere near as talented as he, the RC8c encouraged me to wait until the last possible moment before the steep drop to deploy the anchors.


You might think 290mm brake rotors couldn’t possibly get the job done, especially in today’s sportbike landscape with discs as big as 330mm, but when you factor in the lightness of the bike, it is, in fact, all you need. The bike I was riding was being shared all day with two other riders, meaning it never took a break (pun not intended). Despite the constant running, the brakes never showed signs of fading or overheating. Braking stayed strong and consistent all day, and the feedback through the lever communicated exactly what the front tire was doing.

Let’s Talk Crashing

If you’re still reading this far then you have a good idea where the RC8c and its Kramer cousins shine in terms of riding dynamics. You know it’s light and nimble with impeccable handling. You know the power reaches that sweet spot of power and excitement without going overboard. And you also know the bike is expensive – $41,499, to be exact.


Purpose-built motorcycles aren’t cheap, but while racing and track riding are part of that purpose, so too is maintenance. Crucially, Kramer Motorcycles also understands crashing is a part of racing. All of this factors into the design of the bike. From the maintenance side, quarter-turn fasteners keep the bodywork in place for quick and easy removal. Nearly all bolts for any given component are the same size so you don’t need to hunt for four different tools just to do one thing. And those 290mm brake rotors? They’re small enough to allow the front wheel to be removed without the need to take off the calipers – they just rotate out of the way. Special bonus: there’s no need to remove and reapply safety wire, too. Clever.

Bigger isn’t always better, as is the case with the brake rotors. They stop the bike just fine and you’ll appreciate the size even more when you don’t have to take the calipers – and safety wire – off each time you remove the wheel.

As far as crashing goes, any component that can make contact with the ground is protected with a sacrificial slider or protector of minimal value, so they’re cheap and easy to replace. The molded plastic fuel cell is designed to flex and bend in a crash instead of rupture, as evidenced by still being able to win a 5-hour endurance race despite my teammate tossing our Kramer end-over-end and still being able to ride back for minor repairs. Kramer really does think of everything when designing a track-focused motorcycle. Imagine what it would cost to fix an R6 that was tossed down the road…

Hidden within this picture are several easter eggs of the Kramer design. The swingarm eccentric (aka the “flip chip”) allows you to change the swingarm angle in minutes. Located on the swingarm, behind the footpeg, is a sacrificial plate designed to save the swingarm from a smack with the peg in a crash. Cheap, replaceable metal is used for the spool mount in the back, too. The red cap at the bottom of the fuel cell hides a quick-release fuel drain.

A Fitting Farewell

As we bid farewell to the RC8c, it’s only right to address its successor – KTM’s 990 RCR. Personally, I don’t know if it’ll live up to what the RC8c offers. First and foremost, it’s a production bike hamstrung by homologation requirements. Despite the fact KTM is going to offer two versions of it for either the street or track, it’ll be heavier than the RC8c and likely come with inferior hardware. It certainly won’t have titanium hardware inside, either. On the plus side, it should slot in at a price considerably lower than the RC8c, which presumably will be enough to convince buyers that they can live without all the bells and whistles.

And that’s exactly why RC8c owners shouldn’t feel like they got duped by KTM or Kramer. All those bells and whistles mean something and contribute to the bike’s purpose-built nature. The RC8c will have staying power for a long time to come, not to mention the exclusivity that comes with it. The 990 RCR will be good, but it won’t be the same.


Now, let’s see what Kramer does with the 990 engine…

Scorecard

Engine

19.5/20

Suspension

14/15

Transmission

9/10

Brakes

9/10

Instruments

5/5

Ergonomics

9/10

Appearance

9/10

Desirability

9.5/10

Value

7/10

Editors Score: 91.0%


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Troy Siahaan
Troy Siahaan

Troy's been riding motorcycles and writing about them since 2006, getting his start at Rider Magazine. From there, he moved to Sport Rider Magazine before finally landing at Motorcycle.com in 2011. A lifelong gearhead who didn't fully immerse himself in motorcycles until his teenage years, Troy's interests have always been in technology, performance, and going fast. Naturally, racing was the perfect avenue to combine all three. Troy has been racing nearly as long as he's been riding and has competed at the AMA national level. He's also won multiple club races throughout the country, culminating in a Utah Sport Bike Association championship in 2011. He has been invited as a guest instructor for the Yamaha Champions Riding School, and when he's not out riding, he's either wrenching on bikes or watching MotoGP.

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2 of 6 comments
  • David K David K on May 21, 2024

    Even in a street version, it would still be out of my price range. I don't own or desire a super sport type motorcycle, but if I did I would still take a "boring" Suzuki GSX-R750, which is a much better value overall, with equal or better performance.

  • Paulévalence Paulévalence on May 24, 2024

    Sounds like an amazing machine! I especially love the focus on designing for the crash, Bravo. I do prefer the appearance of the Kramer though.

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