Few people knew that KTM were throttling something special on the dyno back in the factory’s R&D department towards the end of the last century. In 2003 they finally took away the covers and unveiled the very first KTM 950 ADVENTURE with the growling V-twin LC8 as the vibrant force at its center.

Two years on, mass production of the distinctive KTM 990 SUPER DUKE cemented the LC8’s stature and since then it has been mined, refined, improved, and re-invented. It initially provided the rasping performance for the KTM RC8 and then the expansive output needed for the superlative KTM SUPER ADVENTUREs and the gut-wrenching torque and fun of the KTM 1290 SUPER DUKEs. A bike labelled THE BEAST simply must have rhythm and thunder in its soul.

The LC8 is perhaps best known for its 1301cc 75-degree V-twin inside the KTM 1290 SUPER DUKE R, where luckily advances with electronics mean that cornering motorcycle traction control (Cornering MTC) and anti-wheelie can help tame some of the 140 Nm of torque. The hype is not only about the LC8’s current 180 hp and eye-watering top speed. It’s about the reams of bottom-end grunt that gives each KTM STREET and ADVENTURE model such a strong identity. The LC8 allows KTMs of a certain breed to be completely READY TO RACE but the practicality – and synergy with KTM’s latest generations of ride modes and aids – permit a range of character: from docile dependability to long-range reliability thanks to 15,000 km service intervals. The LC8 can breathe fire on the track or pull anyone up the side of a mountain, scaling all manner of obstacles on the way.

2021 saw a significant chapter in the evolution of the LC8 as the engine was converted to meet Euro5 emissions regulations. KTM engineers were fully convinced by the potential of the technology and their own R&D skill to re-invent the LC8 for a fresh era and to maintain the unique READY TO RACE brutality. The development came through dedicated work with valve and exhaust system efficiency as the LC8 shape-shifted once more. To also shed over 1.5 kg of weight at the same time further enforced the engine’s position as one of the lightest and fiercest motors in any motorcycle dealership. The newest form of the LC8’s architecture included thinner engine cases, new pistons for even better longevity, a new oil line, twin spark ignition and titanium inlet valves, new air intakes and more, all helping to trim kilos and retain key power figures.

The result? Naked bike riders can profit from the improved handling, stability, and output, while also knowing a small twist of the throttle would both drop jaws and open minds. Sports Tourers and Adventurers have the same thrilling access to power, performance, and weight, as well as the reassurance that the bike would be able to take them wherever and whenever without qualm.

Versatility was also paramount. In recent long-term tests conducted by the factory, with almost double service intervals accumulated – touching 30000km – the LC8 of a KTM 1290 SUPER ADVENTURE S spent nearly 40% of this period running at under 3500 rpm. This means that the LC8’s torque and efficiency in the low rev range was essential for nearly half of the total distance covered. The total usability and generosity of the LC8 was also highlighted by the fact that just 1% of the test distance was spent above 6500 rpm. KTM therefore remain steadfast in their conviction of the V-twin architecture and its benefits. No matter the road, pass, or trail, whatever the conditions, whatever the demands, the LC8 is primed for the challenge.

Looking ahead and to future incarnations of the KTM SUPER DUKEs and SUPER ADVENTUREs, the LC8 will be the envy of everyone on the tarmac or the trail for a long while to come.