Birth of the NR500 & Debut at Silverstone.

By the time the OX engine was undergoing dyno testing, the 1979 season was already underway. As always, testing revealed many problems which had to be solved, but machine development progressed at a furious pace. In July, the project was officially named NR500, and the first NR500 was completed shortly thereafter. As a racing machine, it was still a work in progress. Still, Honda decided to enter the NR500 at the Silverstone in August. The high-rpm V4 engine produced more than 115PS and was mounted in a semi-monocoque, aluminium shrimp-shell frame fitted with inverted forks, common-axis swingarm, side radiators and other avant-garde technology. It was a premature debut, however, for although both machines qualified for the race neither finished. In fact, there remained a large gap to be bridged before the NR500 could battle for victory. But this early disappointment only spurred the engineers on to greater effort, and the pace of development increased.

1980 NR500(1X) Engine British GP: T. Katayama

1980 NR500(1X) Engine British GP: T. Katayama

1980 T. Katayama & T. Fukui

1980 T. Katayama & T. Fukui

1981 NR500(2X)All Japan Championship

1981 NR500(2X)All Japan Championship

1983 NR500 Tokyo Motor Show Exhibition Model

1983 NR500 Tokyo Motor Show Exhibition Model

1987 NR750 Le Mans 24-Hours Endurance Race: M. Campbell/G. Roy/K. Nemoto

1987 NR750 Le Mans 24-Hours Endurance Race: M. Campbell/G. Roy/K. Nemoto


1987 NR750 Le Mans 24-Hours Endurance Race: M. Campbell/G. Roy/K. Nemoto

1987 NR775 Engine

1987 NR775 Engine

1992 NR Engine(Production Model)

1992 NR Engine(Production Model)

1992 NR(Production Model)

1992 NR(Production Model)

Progress is made. Performance increases.

As new engines were made with improved gear trains and a revised V-angle of 90°, power increased to more than 130PS. To compensate for excessive engine braking, a slipper clutch was developed. With increased emphasis placed on actual performance and lap times, the revolutionary suspension units were replaced with more conventional items. In 1981, the latest iteration of the NR500 made history by winning its first race, the Suzuka 200km endurance race. Still, in WGP the NR500 found it hard going. In 1982, after four years of developing the NR500, Honda decided to put its main effort behind the 2-stroke NS500. And although race appearances of the NR500 became fewer, bench testing of the remarkable engine continued. As one of the engineers said, "The value of the engine lay in its remarkable potential." Behind the scenes, development continued. In 1987, the fruits of those labors were revealed when the NR750 debuted at the LeMans 24-Hour Endurance Race. Development of the production version of the NR began the following year. The project culminated in 1992 with the release of the NR production machine, a supersport bike the likes of which the world had never seen. Today, the spirit of the NR lives on in the V4 engines which have powered so many of Honda's successful road machines and championship-winning racing machines.

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