Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Honda's 'RC213V for the road'

A few days ago, Honda announced that it would build a new V-four sportbike. Apparently, Mr. Ito alluded to the venerable RC30, which was sold in limited quantities from 1987-'90. People quickly dubbed this project an RC213V for the road.

Of course, unless Honda plans to release a bike with a $1,000,000 MSRP, it won't really be an RC213V for the road. And I doubt that it will really be analogous to the RC30, which was a true homologation special -- complete with gear-driven cams and magnesium valve covers -- built and sold so that Honda could race it in the World Superbike Championship. It's more likely that Honda's new V-four project is a way to extract value from its MotoGP marketing exercise.

But, the idea begs a couple of interesting questions. The philosophical question is, how loud would SBK competitors howl if Honda did build a road-going version of its MotoGP bike, and then homologated it for SBK? Recall that Aprilia's SBK rivals bitterly complained about the Noale firm moving its ill-fated MotoGP project over to SBK, and Aprilia has a fraction of Honda's ability to execute such a plan. Tranferring even some of the real RC213V dna to a homologated superbike would continue the blurring between MotoGP and SBK that began with the arrival of production-based motors in the oft-lambasted CRT sub-class.

The commercial question is, will Honda remember that as brilliant a bike as the RC30 was -- and as collectible as it is now -- under most riders it was no faster than Suzuki's GSX-R750, which was half the price? Honda may have captured the imagination of sport bike riders and club racers when it released and homologated the RC30, but Suzuki sold them the bikes they actually rode and raced. The Gixxer was the category-defining machine, leaving the RC30 as a glorious footnote.

1 comment:

  1. Dear Mark,

    I really dig your book Riding Man and found your website to tell you so. You are correct that making a living writing is just horrible.

    On a different note, I run a website called Bikes and Buddies , which tells true stories of motorcycles, friends, family and the open road. The website has tales ranging from setting a motorcycle on fire with Gilby Clarke of Guns and Roses, to almost hitting a turkey that craps on the rider, to destroying a mini bike with the band members of Green Day. They are funny and insightful stories about people and culture of two-wheeled travel.

    Take care,