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KTM to join next generation supersport race with 990 RC R

2025 KTM 990 RC

KTM has announced it will be entering the fully faired sportsbike class once again, when the 990 RC R hits showrooms early next year, although we won’t need to wait that long to see it in action as a prototype is set to race against the likes of the Ducati Panigale V2 and Yamaha R6 in supersport competition this summer.

It’s been 15 years since KTM last made a high performance sports bike but since then the Austrian brand has been a major player in the MotoGP world championships, developing its sportsbike knowledge and reputation. With a company motto of ‘Ready to Race’ the RC R is being developed both as a street bike and to compete in next generation supersport racing championships, where models as diverse as Triumph’s 765cc Street Triple RS, Ducati’s 955cc Panigale V2, MV Agusta F3 800RR and the Chinese QJMOTOR SRK 800RR do battle with more traditional 600cc inline fours like the Honda CBR600RR, Kawasaki ZX-6R Ninja and Yamaha R6, not to mention the obsolete Suzuki GSX-R750. A KTM development bike is being allowed to compete in several European supersport race series ahead of the formal launch of the homologated road bike for 2025.

KTM say the road going 990 RC R will feature a 126bhp version of the LC8c parallel twin motor taken from the 990 Duke, a little less poky than the Panigale V2 but in line with the 600cc fours which historically populated the class. Far from just being a faired version of the naked bike, the steel chassis will be much more race focussed than that found on the Duke, with a sharper, 25 degree, steering head angle and modified offset. The frame has been stiffened while the racy ergonomics, which include a dedicated fuel tank and adjustable footpegs should make the RC R track focussed from day one. Confirming the new bike’s racing heritage, the 990 also gains MotoGP style aerodynamic wings which are said to provide stability under braking and through corners.

 

2025 KTM 990 RC Street

 

KTM has unveiled a prototype of the machine, ‘disguised’ in a camouflage wrap aimed at disguising the final look of the production bike. The early reveal is, in part, because KTM will enter some prototypes in various European supersport races in the coming months, with some appearances expected in the British Supersport Championship, where the KTM powered Kramer machines already compete with some success in the parallel British GP2 series. It’s not sure who will ride these bikes, or if they will be eligible to score points, but British Grand Prix legend Jeremy McWilliams is among KTM’s roster of development riders. Who would bet against him making an appearance?

With the production bike still around a year away, KTM are very much carrying out their development in public – and are even creating a behind-the-scenes documentary about the project, which we can follow through their social media channels.

Yamaha’s world supersport team boss has been reported as saying his manufacturer is set to introduce a new ‘R9’ to replace the current R6 in the race series, presumably based around the current three-cylinder MT-09 design, giving even more diversity and intrigue into this new generation of sports bike. Add in some lighter machines like the Aprilia RS 660, which KTM admits was a benchmark for its new machine, as well as the venerable Honda CBR600RR and Kawasaki ZX-6R, and it really is an interesting time of change for this once very popular class of motorcycle. The 2025 World Supersport Championship is going to be very fascinating indeed, and will give us a glimpse into the future of road going sports motorcycles.

KTM are not a company known for doing things by half and we’ll watch with curiosity to see if they can revive interest in the supersport sector.


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