Words by Ben Purvis
Ever since MotoGP transitioned from 500cc two-strokes to 1000cc fourstrokes in 2003, rumors have been whirling that Honda would build a proper MotoGP replica for the street. While the 2010 VFR1200F did borrow some technology from the RC211V, that 594-pound sport tourer could hardly be called a racer replica. But now, 10 years later, there are clear signs that a road-going version of Honda’s MotoGP racer will finally arrive in showrooms in 2014.
Honda President Takanobu Ito said as much in a speech this past September outlining the firm’s future plans, announcing, “Honda engineers have begun development of a new super sports bike to which new technologies from MotoGP machines will be applied.” Less than a month later, new patent documents from Honda were published detailing a “water-cooled V-type engine, and motorcycle including the same,” giving clues to what shape this new superbike will take.
Those patent documents revealed a V-four motor nearly identical to the firm’s current RC213V GP machine’s, with the same mounting brackets and a similar cylinder head design with the exhaust camshaft mounted lower than the intake to allow for shorter exhaust valve stems that reduce overall engine length. The new engine is DOHC, unlike the SOHC VFR, and a 90-degree cylinder angle further distances the new design from the 76-degree, 1200cc V-four. Other modifications seem specifically aimed at reducing production costs, like an unusual water pump configuration driven by the exhaust cam rather than the crankshaft, to simplify engine plumbing.
This new superbike will not replace the CBR1000RR. On the contrary, Honda insiders suggest it will be very exclusive, expensive, and exotic—think NR750—to serve as a “halo” product highlighting Honda’s considerable engineering expertise. A bold, daring technological tour de force, just like Honda used to do regularly in the good old days?
We can’t wait for that!