After a break of more than fifteen years in the road-legal supersport motorcycle segment, KTM is back with the announcement of the 990 RC R.  This model benefits from KTM's long-standing involvement in MotoGP and other racing series, where the company has gained a wealth of knowledge and success.  The 990 RC R is the result of an intensive development phase in which KTM incorporated all of its racing expertise to create a motorcycle that can be used both on the race track and on public roads.

Technical details of the KTM 990 RC R

The KTM 990 RC R is powered by an LC8c engine that has been optimized to 128 hp (94 kW, 126 hp) and a torque of 103 Nm at 10,500 rpm for the 2025 model year.  In the Duke 990, the engine produces 123 hp at 9,500 rpm and 103 Nm at 6,750 rpm.  So it doesn’t rev as high there either.  However, KTM has not yet revealed what changes have been made to the engine to achieve the extra power and higher revs.

The 57 kg engine is embedded in a steel frame, which is designed to be more front-heavy, has a steering head angle of 25 degrees and is more rigid to improve stability during acceleration and on uneven surfaces.

The suspension consists of a fully adjustable WP APEX open cartridge fork, which allows for individual adjustments in compression, rebound and preload.  These features are designed to enable the rider to adapt the bike precisely to their personal riding habits and the requirements of the route.  For example, the gearshift can also be changed to a racing gearshift (reverse shifting scheme – 1st gear at the top, all others are stepped through to the bottom) as standard.

 

Ergonomics and design

Great importance was attached to ergonomics.  KTM has worked intensively on optimizing the contact points between rider and bike to ensure the best possible integration.  The customization options include adjustable footrests and a redesigned tank shape aimed at improving posture and reducing strain on the arms and hands.

The rear silencer is made of stainless steel.

It should also be noted that all the images published are of the KTM 990 RCR Prototype.  This means that a few minor details could still change before the production version is released and it has not yet been confirmed whether the road version will also have the winglets.  However, I assume that it will, as this is a very good way of emphasizing the sportiness and the connection to the experience gained in MotoGP, which has been incorporated into the development process.

 

Market launch and availability

The KTM 990 RC R will initially be presented as a prototype on various European racetracks in 2024 to demonstrate its functionality and performance under competitive conditions.  The model will compete in various races with a wild card without points classification.  The road version of the motorcycle will be on sale in early 2025, with the price likely to be below the 20,000 euro mark.  This price level is considered realistic compared to other models in this segment.

 

Road version and racetrack version

The TRACK Edition, a version purely for the racetrack, will follow in the second quarter of 2025.  It should be noted that the normal version can also be converted into a TRACK Edition at a later date.  KTM offers this “conversion” at the factory in Austria and describes it as follows: “Removal of the requirements for road approval, integration of protective components, fine-tuning, further individualization and revision of the racing bodywork, including a complete exhaust system”

If you look closely at the pictures published so far, you can also guess that there are two different models.  The most striking difference is probably the opening in the front, where the headlights will probably be located.  However, this opening is not to be found in all of the pictures, which would make it possible to distinguish between the two models. 

It can therefore be assumed that there will also be an adapted fairing, at least for the front.  The brakes on the “road model” feature black Brembo brake callipers and the ABS ring.  This ring is also present on the “racetrack model”, so the racetrack version will also have ABS and the brake callipers are silver.  Even if they appear to be masked off in some pictures, the Brembo branding can still be seen in some cases.

The footrest system is similar.  The road version is in black, the race track version in silver and in a modified version.

The exhaust system appears to be identical, although some of the Akra lettering is missing from the pictures.  However, the shape is the same, which leads me to assume that this is the special stainless steel system for the racetrack and that we have not yet seen the road version.

 

The promise

“The KTM 990 RC R is a groundbreaking innovation for those who live for the thrill of cornering. It is aimed at riders who lean close to the road, so that their knees almost touch the ground, and then go all out on the race track. This bike offers power and prestige without being exorbitantly expensive. We can finally unveil our KTM 990 RC R and launch a truly exceptional motorcycle in early 2025 that will fuel the anticipation of countless riders and race fans. Our DUKE range and other street products have secured a loyal following due to their special character. We believe that the KTM 990 RC R will quickly achieve cult status because it masters the two worlds for which it was developed so remarkably well. Its success will be seen on the race track, but it’s the unparalleled experience for our customers on the road that really sets this bike apart,” says Riaan Neveling, Head of KTM Global Marketing.

 

Summary

The KTM 990 RC R is a strategic addition to the KTM portfolio that aims to bridge the gap between race-oriented motorcycles and everyday super sports bikes.  It combines advanced technology with racing expertise to offer a versatile and capable motorcycle that serves its purpose both on the road and on the track.

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