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2010 KTM Streetbikes and Superbikes: First Impressions

After riding high-powered superbikes around Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca all day, the last thing I want to do is sit at my computer and write a teaser, but it was an exciting event and I want to whet your appetites a little for a full feature next week. Today, KTM officially announced five new or redesigned street models, and I had a chance to ride four of them.

First was the 2010 RC8R (like all the “new” models, it’s been available in Europe for a year now). It gets a raft of upgrades, including a different chassis and radically revamped motor. The standard RC8 got big changes, including a new transmission to improve function. There’s also a new-for-U.S. 990 Supermoto R, which I can say with certainty is a great bike, street or track. It has a slightly softer, but vastly more practical, cousin called the Supermoto T that, for many MD readers, may be the perfect motorcycle.

But the fun didn’t stop with the new bikes. Race-trainer-to-the-stars Jeff Haney with Skip Barber Superbike School (yes, that Skip Barber: they do motorcycle training now) had his crew of coaches on hand to guide us around Laguna Seca, including the small-but-fearless Jason DiSalvo and tall-yet-graceful Michael Czysz, designer of the amazing MotoCzysz C1 GP bike and E1pc electric Isle-of-Man racer. Misfortune struck when Dave Searle, editor of Motorcycle Consumer News and the nicest guy you’ll ever meet, went down, badly injuring his shoulder: We send him our best wishes for a speedy recovery.

That was partially offset when a Bay Area motorcycle lifestyle publication snared an RC-8, and started photographing it underneath an attractive young lady wearing only orange body paint and a red wig, bringing all the riders off the track “so we could take a break,” according to a Skip Barber School staffer. Uh, huh.

I’m still waiting on pricing information (to be released after a dealer meeting), as well as an embargo to lift on some very cool special-edition bikes that will be shown next week in Milan. I’ll also have some doubtlessly exquisite photos from ace lensmen Kevin Wing and Brian J. Nelson, and full riding impressions of the four bikes I got my dirty little paws on. In the meantime, you can take a look at this detailed press publication provided by KTM on the RC8s and 990 Supermotos.

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MD Readers Respond:

  • I’m looking forward to a full write up on the latest imports from KTM.
    The teaser on Friday peaked my attention on the bikes as I currently
    ride a 950SM. I’m especially interested in the new 990SMR. Please do a
    follow up, in depth article soon! Steve

  • The third picture in the article on First Impressions of the 2010 KTMs
    is not composed all that well, and I can’t make out any detail.
    Would you happen to have a better view of the orange leathers that the
    rider sitting on the bike is wearing?
    I know you do. Please forward it. Thanks.

  • How could you do that to us…show a small distant picture of the painted KTM girl, and not at least allowing a link to a more detailed photo?

    That’s just cruel and unusual punishment. I’m guessing I’m not the first person to write and complain about this oversight.

    Love the website, other than this glaring mistake. Jones