KTM 270hp RC16 MotoGP Bike Completes First Test At Valencia

After its earlier roll out in Austria, KTM has completed its first proper test with the RC16 MotoGP bike at Valencia. On Saturday and Sunday, test riders Alex Hofmann and Mika Kallio put the RC16 through its paces on the Spanish track. 

The test sees KTM stepping up the pace of development on the bike. Alex Hofmann has been used as a development rider, to verify the bike is working correctly and is being developed in the right direction. New hire Mika Kallio has been brought in as the performance rider, the 33-year-old Finn freshly retired as a full-time racer, and therefore having the speed to push the limits of the bike. Kallio also has more recent experience of MotoGP machines, having ridden for Pramac Ducati in 2010, and having tested the Suter CRT MotoGP machine in 2012. Kallio was known in his former teams for his attention to detail and ability to pinpoint areas that needed improvement.

In a press release (shown below), Mike Leitner, the man leading the MotoGP project, pronounced himself very happy with the progress of the bike. KTM are working towards preparing the bike for a full-time return to the class in 2017, though KTM CEO Stefan Pierer recently told German-language publication Speedweek that they intended to contest the last race of 2016 at Valencia.

The interview with Pierer contained a number of interesting details. It was already well-known that KTM would be using a 90° V4 engine housed in a steel trellis frame, but Pierer revealed that their engine is already making around 270 horsepower. The bike is using a seamless gearbox, developed in conjunction with X-Trac. Though KTM have already asked Dorna CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta for a wild card entry at Valencia, they could enter earlier, should the bike be ready.

The key to success for KTM's project will be the ability to hire a competitive rider for 2017. That will require them to show fast times during testing. No times were released from the Valencia test, and as the project is still at such an early stage, there is still a lot of testing left to do. But with everyone out of a contract at the end of 2016, KTM need to be able to demonstrate that their bike could be competitive as early as possible.

The official press release from the test appears below:


Just four weeks after the official rollout, KTM test riders Alex Hofmann (GER) and Mika Kallio (FIN) last weekend completed the first tests with the new KTM MotoGP motorcycle at the Circuit Ricardo Tormo in Valencia, Spain.

Thanks to excellent conditions on the four-kilometer circuit, the two riders were able to put in numerous laps with Hofmann riding the new RC16 on Saturday and Kallio at the helm on Sunday.

Mike Leitner (MotoGP Consultant): “I’m very impressed with what the team has achieved in the four weeks since the rollout. There is already an excellent team spirit and this means a quick response onsite followed by considered action at the factory. The GP circuit at Valencia had a lot more grip than Spielberg (Austria’s Red Bull Ring) but even this worked very well with our package. I’m also happy with our current driver lineup. Both are working very professionally and are very analytical. Alex (Hofmann) delivers many useful inputs and even after one day Mika (Kallio) is already at a level where we can continue to work on improving the entire performance.”

Mika Kallio (MotoGP Test Rider): “Clearly there was still a lot of question marks before the test, but I’m now very happy and I can go into the winter break with a good feeling. Alex and the team have already done impressive work, we had absolutely no problems and we’re already on a really high level. Nevertheless we still have a long way to go and I’m looking forward to the next test. Until then I’m going home to do some racing on ice to keep myself fit.”

Alex Hofmann (MotoGP Test Rider): “It’s good to hear that what we have to say about the bike is going in the same direction. Mika was racing here a few weeks ago and he’s still in full racing mode. He was able to put in very respectful lap times at the end of his first day on the bike. This makes it clear that the entire package is working, which is another important step for the team before the winter.”

In the coming weeks there will be intensive further development of the KTM RC16 using the data collected and the inputs from both test riders ahead of the next test at the beginning of February.

Back to top


Well, as we (think) we learned this year, it's not necessary how much you make, but how you use what you have. Honda got it wrong this year, Ducati got it right(?) and Suzuki didn't have enough to get it wrong or right. We never talk about 'power' when discussing Yamaha, but clearly they also got it right within an overall superior package.

It has been suggested that Zarco will move to Moto GP with Team Ajo in 2017. And Ajo has ties to KTM. So it would seem possible that Zarco pilots a KTM in Moto GP.

But as David points out, just about everybody will be out-of-contract for 2017, so we could see some interesting shuffling.

Pretty unusual for a factory to reveal anything specific like that power figure. Without knowing the others it's difficult to judge how impressive that is.

Peak horsepower is only of moderate importance.

From what I've read, Yamaha and Honda only get about that much out of the engine in fairly high tune - but run less normally. I wonder if KTM are letting everyone know the 270hp figure to take attention away from a poor power curve or something of the sort.

Correct me, if I'm wrong. But, they could simply be trying to sell the thing to potential buyers.

270hp is a massive figure, no doubt about that. I remember reading that the old 990 era V4 (as used briefly by Team Roberts) was exceeding the 240 mark.

That's a fair amount of progress, over the years. Especially considering the limits on internal engine dimensions and the mileage that is now required out of an engine over the course of a season.

Presumably, the Ducati and Honda lumps are good for even more?!?!

Was wondering if that would go extinct after Ducati had (was forced) to abandon it

It wasn't really the trellis part of the Duc that was the problem I think. They were just lost... I want to say, it was the engine as a stressed member design that was flawed, since they switched from trellis to carbon and still failed. But then the Panigale has the engine stressed member frame design and it isn't a failure. I love steel trellis frames... I hope they do well with it, nice to see some variation.

at the time, Ducati communicated that there was no problem with the trellis itself, but with the conscistancy of the frames : 2 identicaly made frames behaved or at least felt different so they couldn't use 2 bikes to compare set-ups as the frame itself already made a difference.

"I want to say, it was the engine as a stressed member design that was flawed"

I'm fairly sure that just about every sports bike, for road or racing use, built within the last 25 years or so uses the engine as a stressed member of the chassis. From the ancient FZR-EXUP to the reasonably modern R1 that I have now.

That concept is completely proven.

Part of the problem with the Ducati (supposedly) was that the engine wasn't just a stressed member, it was the majority of the centre part of the frame - with the rest just bolting to either end.

Whenever people talk about the power of GP engines, no one is specific if that's at the wheel or at the crank.

The speculation is that the Ducati and the Honda make very close to 300hp and Yamaha about 10hp less than. The 240hp quote by Yamaha is VERY likely to be at the rear wheel.

Additionally, if you read the words closely KTM say that they're glad they're "already" making 270hp, meaning they don't have much longer to go before catching up with the rest of the grid. If I had to guess based on the information floating around, this is a similar ballpark to where Suzuki is right now.

Based on information that I've read from various sources (speedweek is definitely a good one even with translation), it seems that your estimate for Ducati and Honda is reasonable. I was calculating the Ducati at around 290 to be conservative, there was a noticeable uptick after Brno in top speed differences compared to Honda so I'm assuming they found some extra ponies there.

Speedweek mentioned Aprilia being limited with the WSBK engine casing at around 255 hp, and they were marginally slower through the speed traps than Suzuki which we've all heard were around 25 hp down on Honda.

Granted this is all speculation, but here is my guess:

Ducati ~290 bhp
Honda ~285 bhp
Yamaha ~275 bhp
Suzuki ~255-260 bhp
Aprilia ~255 bhp

KTM is for sure already in a good position, and with a year of advancement I don't see any reason they can't get to 280-290.

the Ducati engine is the frame. That is unusual and the WSBK has 'allegedly' been very difficult to tune because of it. You cannot believe anything you read in the media though....

I wish KTM well with this, as they seem a real bunch of petrol heads and I like everything I have seen them and their brands do this past few years. Their trellis frames are a good aesthetic too.

As we all acknowledge, the bike is a package. Peak HP is great, not the" be-all end-all" as Honda keeps finding out. Power delivery is also very important as Honda riders found out. The stressed member engine concept is quite settled. Perhaps the issue is not the type or material of the frame, but tuning the stiffness of the frame to accomplish the optimum handling. After all this is not a drag race thus corners are where the game is.

A frame can be too stiff or not stiff enough enough, (see Goldilocks) and lack of compliance might cause chatter and lack of feel. Michael Czycz took on this issue with his concept bike, built in Portland Oregon where I live. All who rode it raved about the handling and feel allowing them to go faster. It's all about confidence and feel.

My engineering mind suggests that having essentially a front sub-frame with the steering head and a rear sub-frame with the rear suspension might make independent tuning of frame characteristics more easily isolated from each other. Just guessing.

Finite element analysis (look it up) can help isolate which elements of the trellis are not of optimum stiffness and allow tuning. I am sure that Ducati and anyone else making frames uses it to do the tuning through simulations. Frame design and tuning are complex, but there are some well known parameters that can get the designer close before doing that final work. As we all know 90 percent of the job takes 10% of the time and the remaining 10% takes the other 90%.

It's not the simply frame or its type but the package needs to take into consideration:

  • forks
  • wheel size
  • tires
  • track forces, [camber, grip, slope, bumps]

All of these are tunable, except the outside forces and things goverend by rules like wheel size and nature of the tires (as VR said the DNA of th tires). These issues are among the reasons I find motorcycle vehicle dynamics so fascinating.

Time will tell but my gut tells me that Ducati wil have an extraordinary 2016.

Nein ich bin nicht deutsche, sondern amerikanische, aber ich las es. Es erlaubt mir, Speedweek in der Muttersprache lesen und verstehen, Nuancen, die in der Übersetzung verloren werden

Just playing with y'all. I'm a good guy from the USA. I read the Speedweek article in German and it was fascinating. Red Bull doesn't do things on a whim so expect them to come on like a Pamplona Bull in 2017.

By forcing the use of a standard software package, do most manufacturers now think they can join the game and be competitive? Starting to appear that way.