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2025 KTM 990 RC R First Look


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KTM has announced that the prototype 990 RC R will go on sale early in 2025 as a normal production model, not a limited edition.
KTM has announced that the prototype 990 RC R will go on sale early in 2025 as a normal production model, not a limited edition. (KTM/)

It’s been more than 15 years since KTM last produced a street-legal, fully faired production sportbike. The last model to fill that slot in KTM’s lineup was the 1190 RC8/RC8 R which was last sold in 2016. In the time frame since then, KTM has only produced the very limited edition, track-only RC 8C. If you were lucky enough to get your paws on one of those unicorns, good on you. But for 2025, KTM has announced plans to return to the class with the brand-new 2025 990 RC R.

With a growing demand from its customers for such a bike and its ever increasing success in the MotoGP world championship, the time is ripe to get back into the fray. There will be a couple of versions within this new family, including the standard road-ready 990 RC R, and then later in 2025 the 990 RC R Track edition, the latter of which will be a stripped-down version more akin to the RC 8C.

Related: KTM Serious About Sportbikes

Right-side view of the 990 RC R prototype.
Right-side view of the 990 RC R prototype. (KTM/)

KTM knows for a fact that the demand is there based on how quickly the two production runs of the $39,599 RC 8C were snapped up by consumers. The first run of 100 units that was released in 2021 sold out in just four and a half minutes. While the 200-unit run in 2023 sold through in just half that.

The RC 8C was only produced in two limited runs.
The RC 8C was only produced in two limited runs. (KTM/)

“The KTM 990 RC R is a groundbreaking innovation for those who live for the thrill of cornering,” said Riaan Neveling, head of KTM global marketing. “It’s for those who lean close to the road, almost brushing their knees, and then push the limits, dragging elbow to the tarmac on the racetrack. This bike offers power and prestige without the exorbitant price tag.”

KTM LC8c 990 Engine

We already know that the bike will utilize a version of the LC8c engine that is currently used in the 990 Duke. That model uses the brand-new 947cc iteration which in the Duke produces a claimed 123 hp at 9,500 rpm and 76 lb.-ft. of torque at 6,750 rpm. Bore and stroke in the “990″ measure 92.5 x 70.4mm with updates including new pistons, rods, crank, cam timing, and exhaust system.

While we assume the version that will power the 990 RC R will be similar, we also know the 889cc version in the last RC 8C produced a claimed 135 hp. That engine used titanium connecting rods and intake and exhaust valves, and had a higher 14:1 compression ratio and larger throttle bodies. So we’ll have to wait for more information to confirm the final output and specs. One of the small details included in the press release is that the bike will come standard with a shifter that can easily be reversed to a racing shift pattern for track usage.

We expect the 990 RC R will come with a full suite of rider aids as standard, with optional modes and features available with the purchase of Performance and Track modes, as found on the Duke. We also expect the latest 5-inch TFT display that is used on the 990 Duke and Husqvarna Svartpilen 801.

Chassis, Ergonomics, and Aerodynamics

Chassis details from KTM’s press release are limited, but we do know that the 990 RC R will use a steel frame with a fixed 25-degree rake angle. The Duke has 24.2 degrees of rake and 3.9 inches of trail, while the RC 8C has a steep 23.3-degree angle and the same trail. From its description we can confirm that the frame will be similar in design to the naked model’s unit with a die-cast aluminum subframe. This is quite different from the early prototype that we spied back in December testing, which used a trellis subframe while engineers were settling on positioning for the passenger pegs and other details.

Related: NEVER STOP! KTM 990 RC R Development, Chapter 1 – Design | KTM

Left-side view of the KTM 990 RC R prototype.
Left-side view of the KTM 990 RC R prototype. (KTM/)

The bike will use WP’s 43mm Apex open-cartridge fork and shock. On the Duke the fork has provisions for rebound and compression damping, while the shock has provisions for preload and rebound adjustability. Will this more track-ready model get full adjustability front and rear? Or will that be saved for the Track version? The RC 8C had fully adjustable Apex Pro units, so we’ll have to wait and see here too.

Lightweight cast aluminum wheels will be wrapped in Michelin rubber. From the images we can see that the front end sports a pair of blacked-out, radial-mount four-piston Brembo calipers with wave-style brake discs in place of the Duke’s J.Juan units (the RC 8C got Brembo Stylema units). We’ll have to wait to see if the 990 RC R gets this setup, or if the model pictured here is the Track model with a different spec.

The prototype 990 RC R in action.
The prototype 990 RC R in action. (KTM/)

The press release mentions that engineers have spent a lot of time working on the ergonomics to ensure that riders will be comfortable on the street. But the seating position will also be sporty enough to ensure control on the track, with a new tank used to help achieve this. We can also see that the wind-tunnel-developed aero wings will be utilized, at least on the Track version. The prototype we spied at the end of 2023 utilized a fairing with a single headlight and no winglets, so there are more questions than answers at this point in terms of final spec on each variation.

“At last, we can unveil our KTM 990 RC R and introduce a truly exceptional motorcycle to dealerships in early 2025, fulfilling the anticipation of countless riders and race enthusiasts,” adds Neveling. “Our Duke range and other street products have garnered a loyal following for their distinct character; we believe the KTM 990 RC R will quickly attain cult status because it excels at the two things it was designed for so remarkably well. Success will be evident on the track, but the unparalleled experience for customers on the road will truly set it apart.”

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