Compact, powerful, and affordable – those are the three words that best describe what the Austrian motorcycle house has created, and we knew from the get-go that the 790 platform was destined to bring us several motorcycle models.
Now, the time has come to ask where is our KTM RC790?
The omission seems like an obvious one from the “Ready to Race” brand, which has built its street bike lineup on top of an uncompromising performance-focused ideology.
It is curious then that KTM has nothing in the supersport or superbike categories, and now that the Austrians have an obvious contender for the supertwin segment, we are left wondering.
We aren’t the only ones asking this question, however. The graphic at the top of this story comes from Indian Autos Blog, as they imagine what a fully faired KTM RC790 could look like.
That image has spurred an unofficial response from KTM, with the company’s Luke Brackenbury (PR Manager for Street) tweeting the concept image, with the simple question “Should we?”
— Luke Brackenbury (@lukebrackenbury) January 7, 2019
The question isn’t as simple as it seems, however. While middleweight sport bikes like an RC790 could be the answer for a fun canyon carving machine, the pedigree is a little bit tougher.
First up, there is the awkward 799cc displacement, which keeps the 790 platform from slotting neatly into existing racing regulations.
We have seen supertwins finding a life on the race track (most prominently at the Isle of Man TT, but also most recently in the MotoAmerica paddock), but that displacement size has hovered around 650cc, not 800cc.
This is the same problem that plagues the intriguing Kramer GP2 prototype, which also uses KTM’s 790 motor.
A dedicated race bike, the new Kramer will most likely have to compete with supersport machines when it debuts next year, which is a tall order from a machine that makes 103hp in stock KTM form.
Now, we have heard much greater performance figures coming from the Kramer camp, with the KTM engine showing great horsepower-making potential, but when you consider the state of the current supersport market, and the costs that are associated with them, it is a tough decision to ask a two-wheeled enthusiast.
KTM is surely keeping an eye on Kramer’s progress, likely letting the German company be the canary in the cage for what comes out of Mattighofen, Austria.
If that sounds like doom and gloom, don’t worry too much. There are plenty of reasons why the KTM RC790 makes sense as well.
For one example, take a look at the Suzuki GSX-R750, which has long been sold as the perfect track bike for closed-course enthusiasts. Barely heavier than the GSX-R600, and with gobs more torque, the Suzuki GSX-R750 has carved out a class all for itself.
The same can be said of the MV Agusta F3 800, Ducati 959 Panigale, and others. Look at the fervor around the idea of a Triumph Daytona 765, or more recently the Aprilia RS660 concept, for instance.
There is the argument to be made that the sport bike market is dead, but as we have seen with the KTM 790 Duke, what the market really needed was a rethink. An affordable offering like the KTM RC790 could be what it takes to get riders excited about these approachable performance machines.
For bonus points, the Austrian brand has proven that it can deliver a robust package (cornering ABS, TFT dash, up/down quickshifter, and IMU-powered traction control) for the bargain basement price of $10,500.
For $11,000 MSRP, we could see the KTM RC790 doing well in the US market, especially since it offers so much more than what the status quo has available.
To answer Mr. Brackenbury’s earlier question of “should we?” on Twitter, I will respond with a question of my own: Why haven’t you already?