KTM to stop producing street legal superbikes: Too dangerous for public roads, according to CEO

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Added in: KTM

Upcoming Motorcycles 2015 - KTM RC8

Austrian motorcycle maker, owned partly by Bajaj Auto has officially stated that it would stop producing road-legal superbikes in the interest of public safety. Disappointing as the news may sound initially, it does make some sense, though there is nothing the motorcycle maker can do to stop its Japanese, Italian and German rivals to keep pushing the limits.

Street legal superbikes, of late boast power figures which once were pipe dreams for premier class MotoGP steeds. Too much of a good thing is known to be a bad thing, and for once, putting the enthusiast in us to rest, we tend to believe that the logic applies to this scenario as well. A 200bhp motorcycle for the street is ludicrous and pointless, but so is a 1000bhp Bugatti Veyron. In the end, it’s not the function, but the aspiration that makes a case for such machines.

KTM-RC8 - Official Images - 2

As soon as I came to know of this development, the first thing I remembered was Tony Stark’s speech from Iron Man. “I had my eyes opened, I came to realize that I had more to offer this world than just making things that blow up. And that is why, effective immediately, I am shutting down the weapons manufacturing division of Stark Industries” quips the self proclaimed playboy genius billionaire philanthropist in the first installment of his mega hit movie series.

In a recent interview, Stefan Pierer, CEO of KTM was heard talking on similar lines. The top man at KTM said that ‘if your Superbike is reaching 200 horsepower or more, it’s impossible to argue that it belongs on the street. It really doesn’t, anymore.’ Pierer has confirmed that KTM will phase out its RC8 superbike as soon as its track-only successor arrives.

Stefan Pierer

Pierer said, “We’d like to produce a successor to the existing RC8 V-twin… In which case, let’s do the following: We’ll stick to making a Superbike, but only for closed course usage. So it won’t be homologated for sale as a streetbike. So then to produce that we will take the best prototype development arena available, which is MotoGP. And for the 2016 season there will be new rules introduced when the playing field will be leveled with a standard electronic system, so then KTM can challenge Honda, Yamaha, Ducati, Suzuki and Aprilia on an equal basis. So that’s the concept for development. We’ll call it the RC16 and it will also be available for the normal customer for track days or private use on track, but it won’t any more be homologated for the street. It’ll be a really serious sports and race item for closed course use only.”

Pierer further added, “As soon as the RC16 is available for customers we will stop with the RC8. The design is outstanding. I would say it’s still state of the art, and there is nothing else like it. It’s a classic Superbike. But with the increase in safety concerns, I’m afraid bikes like this don’t belong on the street, only on a closed course.”

KTM-RC8 - Official Images - 1

The comment, specifically the one concerning the RC8 is rather difficult to understand as the model is not the most powerful in KTM’s product portfolio. The KTM 1290 Super Duke, which delivers about 180 PS of peak power, is about 8 PS higher than the RC8 and is four kilograms lighter than the fully faired motorcycle in question. So why is the company trying to single out the RC8?

We’ll think about this topic in detail, and let you know our definitive opinion on the subject in a bit, but in the meantime, would you agree with this philosophy? What is your stand on the topic? Do let us know your opinion, as it really matters – not just for us but for the people who are taking such decisions as well. Share your thoughts in the comments section below, and don’t forget sharing this interesting piece of news with your friends using the share tools below.

Source: CycleNews

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  • The irony is, that the company which doesn’t want to promote fast motorcycles is investing in MotoGP – a sport which is the single biggest contributor in making those bikes, well, faster. Employing those learnings for track-only machines is never going to be commercially viable.

  • Very aptly put, Ricci. We agree with your point of you completely

  • Ruhaan says:

    The truth behind this hypocrisy is:
    1) the rc8 can’t compare to its rival the panigale.
    2) to take the performance to the panigale levels huge investments on rnd have to be made and now with bajaj on the board they seem to be playing conservative.
    3) everyone knows that the faired rc8 is much safer than the insane super duke. Since super duke isn’t yet totally outgunned by its competitors, it’s not going to be phased out.

    I feel if ktms moto gp machine proves to be a success they would reintroduce something to replace the rc8.

    It’s quite sad to sense how the passion of making fast bikes seems to be overshadowed after the intervention of bajaj into the decision making processes. This is a classic example of capitalism raking over art and passionate bike building.

  • Abhiram says:

    You could be right with that theory. Whichever way you look at it, this statement makes no sense at all. With the nearly 1300cc cheater displacement, I’m pretty sure they can get 200 hp out of even the rc8 engine…but i feel they may do a u turn (do a Bajaj) in a few years and bring out a 4 or 3 cylinder bike which is more competitive with the likes of the s1000rr. At the moment though, this sounds like a really stupid excuse for not wanting to invest R&D in the supersport segment.

  • Ricci says:

    Too dangerous, for who?

    Let’s tally the deaths and injuries from trucks/buses/4 wheelers per year basis – to people other than occupants – and then the picture looks dramatically different, right ?

    Fast vehicles scare a lot of people – so ownership of fast vehicles is anyway rare. There’s no telling if the owner is wise or an idiot not much better than a monkey at the wheel, but why blame the car/bike for the owner’s lack of skill or judgment? Most of the hit-and-run cases we hear involve bikes under 200cc – Splendors, Pulsars, the likes of which are nowhere really “fast” ( in the eyes of enthusiasts – for the layman, a 150cc 12hp may be scary , and if so they should stick to Lego and Funskool stuff ).

    Methinks Mr Pierer doesn’t want to admit they can’t keep pace with the ever-rising output which costs lot of $$$ for R&D, something a small firm is capped at, than their bigger rivals.

    These fast bikes may be overkill, but when the subject has anyway moved on to overkill, there’s no such thing as way-too-overkill !