The 2011 KTM 1190 RC8 R seems to get everything right, starting with the looks. The angular lines and aggressive design makes it look like a two-wheeler Lamborghini. It is no exaggeration to say that most people would be ready to buy the bike with just one look at it. Last year, the bike looked almost just as amazing, but it lacked in terms of performance and disappointed a lot of people. This year, however, comes with a lot of changes. Everything from the suspension spring rates to the engine internals have been changed, solving the problems from last year and taking the bike further ahead. The Austrian bike maker has been surprisingly quiet about these changes, calling them little tweaks and tricks, but the fact of the matter is that the 2011 KTM 1190 RC8 R feels and rides like a completely new bike. First of all, the crankshaft and flywheel of the engine have become heavier to reduce the buzzy and high-sprung nature of last year’s engine. It also helps improve torque at lower ends, equating to a more V-Twin engine-like feel.
The engine improvements address torque while exiting corners and further improves rear-end traction while accelerating. Last year’s engine tried to be retain V-Twin-like handling along with the top-end power of an inline four-cylinder, but in the process it compromised too much. Thankfully, KTM has changed that with a lot of changes. The throttle input has been modified so that a smaller inputs lead to smaller engine output. This, in turn, helps smooth the transitions between on and off throttle at critical times. Another change in the KTM 1190 RC8 R is the addition of a new dual-spark cylinder heads, which improve the engine efficiency and take out more power from it. Another result of the twin-sparkplug placement is the change in cam timing, making the bike a lot more aggressive while still keeping the engine durable.
The clutch basket and gearshift linkage have also been design for improved and more precise shifting while accelerating and cornering. In other words, the KTM has changed the characteristics of the transmission in such a way that it uses what the V-twin shines at, which is corner-exit torque and drivability. The chassis has been changed too, making it so planted and stable at mid-corner that it gives the rider a lot of confidence in the bike. The overly stiff shock from last year has been reworked for better compliance with valving and spring rates. Up front, the fork now has larger air chambers for less bleed-through between compression and rebound valving. This helps keep the bike in the stroke while braking and still remain compliant mid-corner. The ride height has been made more adjustable for riders for improved street or track performance. In terms of pure styling, the 2011 KTM 1190 RC8 R is actually very similar to that of last year’s model. Nevertheless, the bike is probably one of the best-looking motorcycles in the market today. The flat black color has been dropped and a gloss finish has been applied throughout. The orange tail section extends further into the side fairing, which is a great touch. The white and orange color scheme is absolutely breathtaking.