Monday, June 25, 2012

The Honda production racer I'm drooling over

As early as 2014, Honda will sell you a production-racing variant of its current MotoGP contender, assuming of course that HRC sniffs your butt and wags its tail, and that you've got a check for €1M. 
As initially reported by David Emmett, Honda will be producing a 'production racing' variant of its RC213V MotoGP racer, which it will sell to privateer teams as early as 2014. The price, I read, will be 'under a million euros'. Given my background in advertising, I interpret that to mean, € 999,999.99 (except in Greece, where it will sell for a trillion drachmas.)

I'm not sure whether that price includes some certain number of engines, or exactly how a serial-production race bike fits into the current CRT rules; I don't know if those details have even been sorted out. Emmett quotes FIM President Vito Ippolito as saying that the series needs a bike 'like' the TZ750 that he raced in the '70s and '80s.

I'm in the middle of transcribing a great chat I had with ex-TZ750 ace Rich Schlachter who, again, underlined for me the uniqueness of the four-cylinder Yamaha -- it was an affordable bike that came out of the crate with close to world-class speed. (It could be affordably tuned to deliver truly world-class speed; Schlachter's privateer TZ went through the speed trap at Daytona at 186 mph in 1978 or '9.)

The key word here is 'affordable'. Now, obviously, a contemporary MotoGP bike -- even one dumbed-down with, say, conventional valve springs instead of pneumatic valves -- is two or three orders of magnitude more complex than a TZ750.


Corrected for inflation, the price that Schlachter paid for his TZ works out to under $15,000.

I.E., the privateer's production-racer price tag has gone up two orders of magnitude, too. That makes racing motorcycles the only area of high technology that's not subject to Moore's law.

Of course, the availability of semi-competitive, megabuck privateer MotoGP bikes means squat to me. But there is a Honda production racer that I'm drooling over. It's the track-ready CBR250 that Honda has made available for racers in a Japanese domestic CBR250R Cup series.

I'm not sure what, if any, other markets are destined to get this bike, which is basically a stock CBR250R with race bodywork, a quick shifter, and uprated ECU. What a great idea!

Honda here in the U.S. will, doubtless, fail to see the merit in an affordable track-day bike that won't eat tires. After all, U.S. dealers still routinely advise beginners to start out on 600s. Why would they want to sell anyone a bike like this, that's learner-friendly and will create a safe, avid, expert motorcyclist for life? 

[Author note: That was sarcasm. American Honda, please bring this bike to the U.S. market!]

While I was looking for some other pic of the CBR250R Cup bike -- because every web site and blog on earth has used the same pic (seen above) that was supplied by Honda -- I came across this photo of the racers in a Malaysian CBR250 spec class. It was on the MotoMalaya blog, which is posted in English with the amazing subtitle "News updates and mods about underbone and superbikes." Yes, you read that right, 'underbone'. Now, I don't know what underbone means, but judging from this crowd of teenaged riders, and remembering how excited motorcycles used to make me, I have to admit that in use, this motorcycle probably is under a bone.

After I posted this, H4L's Wes Siler sent me an email explaining that 'underbone' is a term for scooters in southeast Asia. Oh well; I guess I should have known, since I have an underbone. But I still think my definition is better...

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