IED student reimagines the KTM RC8 with a more aggressive look

Jun 06, 2024

The story of the KTM RC8R revival began with a spark of inspiration. The idea was born in a classroom, sparked by a professor’s challenge to reimagine and modernize a discontinued bike model. Among the various options, the KTM RC8 stood out—a motorcycle known for its polarizing design and performance. With production spanning from 2008 to 2016, the RC8 was a machine that enthusiasts either loved or hated. This project aimed to bring it back to life with a contemporary twist. This blend of old and new promised to create a bike that would appeal to both nostalgic fans and new riders.

Disclaimer: This is a personal project from an IED student and not an official project from KTM

The goal was to adapt the RC8 to meet modern market demands. This meant looking into KTM’s current offerings, particularly the RC8C, a track-only model. The RC8C provided a solid foundation with its advanced components suitable for road use, such as the chassis, swingarm, and rear frame integrated with a fuel tank. However, the project required modifications to make it a street-legal sport bike.  The engine and fairings were two critical aspects needing attention. 

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The RC8C’s engine, optimized for track performance, wasn’t ideal for road use. Instead, the student chose the 121-horsepower twin-cylinder engine from the 890 DUKE R, a perfect fit for sporty road riding. The fairings of the track model also lacked provisions for headlights, essential for street legality. Thus, the design process had to incorporate these functional elements without compromising the bike’s aggressive aesthetic.

Innovative Design Approach

The original KTM RC8 was renowned for its sharp lines and forward-leaning posture, embodying a sense of relentless acceleration. The new RC8R aimed to preserve this spirit while updating the design for modern sensibilities. The bike’s form was divided into three distinct parts: the rear air intake, the side fairing, and the main fairing. This division allowed for a harmonious blend of aesthetics and functionality. The design challenge was to convey motion and speed even when the bike was stationary. This was achieved by extending the lines from the tail forward, creating a sense of imbalance that suggested forward momentum. The high, light tail not only enhanced this impression but also reduced the bike’s visual bulk from the rear. 

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The bike was sculpted to integrate seamlessly with the rider’s body, allowing for an optimal riding position. The rider’s legs, arms, and head were all considered in the design, ensuring maximum comfort and aerodynamic efficiency. One of the defining elements of KTM motorcycles is the trellis frame, known for its strength and visual appeal. In the RC8R, this frame wasn’t hidden but celebrated as a central design feature.

Furthermore, the fairings were designed to expose the trellis frame, integrating it into the bike’s overall aesthetic. This approach not only highlighted the bike’s mechanical beauty but also underscored its engineering prowess. Above the exposed frame, the seat and the area traditionally occupied by the fuel tank continued the design’s fluid lines. Even though the actual fuel tank was positioned under the tail, the design maintained the appearance of a traditional tank, with lines flowing forward and transforming into the distinctive KTM blade.

This blade, a hallmark of KTM design, symbolized the bike’s cutting-edge nature and performance-driven ethos. The design of the bike's side was envisioned as a flowing journey, starting from the tail and picking up speed as it reaches to hug the rider's legs. As it progresses, it gathers even more energy, reaching its peak at the tank, before transforming into the driving force that propels the bike onward.

The KTM RC8R is lightweight

The fairings featured arrow-shaped openings that housed movable wings. These wings adjusted their angle based on the bike’s speed and lean angle, providing additional downforce when needed. This innovative solution improved stability and handling, making the RC8R not just a visual marvel but a technological one as well. The RC8R was designed to be lightweight and agile, providing an exhilarating riding experience. Every aspect of the design focused on reducing weight and enhancing performance, ensuring that the RC8R would be a joy to ride on winding roads and open highways alike.

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The rebirth of the KTM RC8R showcased the lasting appeal of innovative motorcycles. By blending the original RC8's aggressive design with modern technology and engineering, the RC8R project aimed to create a bike that was both visually impressive and highly functional. The new RC8R kept the spirit of its predecessor while offering advancements for today's riders. It was a powerful, controllable, and precise sportbike designed to feel like an extension of the rider. The KTM RC8R project wasn't just about reviving a bike—it was about celebrating the blend of style and performance, creating a machine that was both beautiful and capable. This modern version of the RC8 highlighted what could be achieved when passion, creativity, and engineering excellence come together.

About Designer

Lorenzo Benzoni attended art school with a focus on figurative studies and is now a third-year student at IED Torino, specializing in transportation design. In addition to his interests in automotive and design, Lorenzo is passionate about art, analogue photography, and motorcycling. His dedication to this project is particularly strong, as he has only ever owned KTM bikes and hopes his project will perform just as well as they do. 

Lorenzo's approach to design is based on maintaining an open mind, allowing him to perceive his surroundings in fresh and innovative ways, which he then reworks and represents in diverse forms. Whether the next project involves oil painting or another medium, his goal is always to inspire and excite with his creations.

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Lorenzo Benzoni