Another transition from dirt track to tarmac. Having made its presence felt in the World Motorcycling Championships, KTM advances its reputation in road bike circles with the RC8 concept, a prototype at the Tokyo Show and expected to reach showrooms by 2006.

The design of this minor KTM revolution is the work of Kiska, the Austrian design studio that has worked with its fellow-Austrians at KTM for the past thirteen years. Kiska had been briefed to create a bike built for speed that was as light and stripped down as a motocross model and also delivered an unambiguous message to KTM’s rivals: “This bike takes no prisoners”.

Kiska started work on the project in December 2002 and worked so fast, albeit with the utmost care and attention, that by the end of August 2003 the new KTM RC8 was practically ready for its catwalk appearance in Tokyo. There it made an instant impact on both public and trade press. This was partly because it marked a watershed in KTM history, but also because it introduced styling unlike anything the Japanese had been shown before by the great names of local (or indeed European) motorcycle design. At the same time, it is a revolutionary concept that is a perfect fit for the KTM brand and shows how perfectly the Kiska team have carried out their brief to take KTM forward without abandoning their tradition.

“Takes no prisoners”, they said. This is true of the line that has the genuine flavour of motorbike aggression. And it’s just as true of its low weight (only 175 kg) and its declared top speed of 280 km/h. The RC8 makes no attempt to be modest, but flaunts its virtues to enthusiasts as blatantly as a naked bike. Apart, that is, from the exhaust system which is carefully concealed inside the fairing, apart from an outlet area along Formula 1 lines.

The article continues in Auto & Design no. 144

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