Honda Collection Hall: Track-testing the Exhibits

About the Track Tests

October 10, 2016

The Honda Collection Hall preserves its historic products and racing machines in a fully operational state. As part of maintaining the machines, track tests, open to the public, are held periodically. On October 10, former Honda factory rider Hikaru Miyagi tested machines in front of a crowd of appreciative Honda fans.

2014 2015

The Machines

RC116 (1966)

RC116 (1996)

The Ultimate Title-defending 50cc Racer

Engine: Air-cooled 4-stroke 2-cylinder DOHC 4-valve Cam gear train Displacement: 49.8cc
Maximum output: over 14PS/21,500rpm
Weight: 50kg
Other: 9-speed, transistor ignition, caliper rim front brake

The RC116 is the final iteration of the RC112, the world’s first 4-stroke 2-cylinder racer Honda challenged the 1962 World Grand Prix championship with. Weighing 50kg, lighter than a 2-stroke bike, the RC116 was the ultimate 50cc racer with a maximum output of 14PS/21,500rpm, taking it to a top speed of over 175km/h. It won three of the six grands prix in 1966, contributing to Honda winning the constructors title.

4RC146 (1965)

4RC146 (1965)

The Last 4-cylinder 125cc Machine to Challenge the 2-stroke Competition

Engine: Air-cooled 4-stroke 4-cylinder DOHC 4-valve Cam gear trainDisplacement: 124.9cc
Maximum output: 28PS/18,000rpm
Weight: 87.5kg
Other: 8-speed, transistor ignition

The 4RC146 is the final iteration of the 125cc 4-cylinder machine Honda introduced to World Grand Prix racing in 1963. It descends directly from the updated 1964 2RC146, with major modifications to increase output. A flat valve carburetor and friction-loss reduction helped the 4RC146 to output 28PS/18,000rpm. Weight was also reduced at the component level, shaving 1kg off the engine. The 4RC146 struggled against the 2-stroke competition, and a fifth-place finish in the 1965 Japanese Grand Prix was the last accomplishment by a Honda 125cc 4-cylinder machine.

RC181 (1967)

RC181 (1967)

Isle of Man TT Dominator and Lap Record Setter

Engine: Air-cooled 4-stroke 4-cylinder DOHC 4-valve Cam gear train Displacement: 499.6cc
Maximum output: over 85PS/12,000rpm
Weight: 151kg
Other: 6-speed, transistor ignition

The RC181 is Honda’s first foray into the premier 500cc class of World Grand Prix racing in 1966. Development began in February the previous year, with the first model achieving 70PS/12,000rpm from a 449.5cc engine. It was never raced, however, as its displacement was well short of 500cc. When the RC181 debuted in 1966, its displacement was 490cc thanks to expanded bore, outputting over 80PS, the best in its class. Mike Hailwood and two with Jim Redman took the RC181 to 5 victories, giving Honda its first 500cc class constructors title. The 2nd generation RC181 was equipped with a 499cc engine, approximately 10cc larger than its predecessor. Hailwood took this machine to a historic victory at the Isle of Man TT race, setting a lap record that would not be broken for years to come.

RCB1000 (1976)

RCB1000 (1976)

24 Wins in 26 Races. They Called it “Invincible”

Engine: Air-cooled 4-stroke 4-cylinder DOHC 4-valveDisplacement: 997.48cc
Maximum output: over 120PS/9,000rpm
Weight: 190kg
Other: 5-speed

The RCB1000 was developed, in only six months in 1976, as Honda’s full-scale entry into endurance racing. Its engine was based on the CB750 Four’s, modified to DOHC 4-valve specifications. Its aim was to race 5,000km without maintenance, and it could endure 10 straight hours of racing. The RCB1000 won its debut race, and went on to win the championship. Improvements were made consistently, resulting in 24 wins from 26 races over three years. Winner of every race in the 1977 and 1978 seasons, the RCB1000 was dubbed and respected in Europe as “Invincible.”

RVF750 (1991)

RVF750 (1991)

The 1991 Bike Ordered to Win the Suzuka 8hours

Engine: Liquid-cooled 4-stroke 4-cylinder V4 DOHC 4-valve Cam gear trainDisplacement: 748cc
Maximum output: over 140PS
Weight: 142kg
Other: 6-speed, Pro Arm

The 1991 model RVF750 was Honda’s vindication from retiring in two previous Suzuka 8hour races. V4 engine outputting more than 140PS powered was adapted to the new machine. The RVF750 was nearly as powerful as grand prix bikes at the time, and performed as well as a sprint racing machine, with its nimble handling despite its weight. Honda’s determination paid off, with its 8th win at the Suzuka 8hours race.

RS125RW-T (1981)

RS125RW-T (1981)

Factory Racer with Motocross Engine

Engine: Liquid-cooled 2-stroke 2-cylinder case reed valveDisplacement: 124.89cc
Maximum output: over 40PS/14,000rpm
Weight: 77kg
Other: 6-speed

The water-cooled 2-stroke 2-cylinder RS125RW-T was based on a factory motocross bike, the RC125M. The RC125M’s 2-cylinder engine had been shelved, with changes in All-Japan Motocross Championship regulations, but gained a new lease on life as the power plant for the RS125RW-T road racing machine. The new machine debuted in 1981 in the All Japan Road Race Championship, and alongside its stablemate, the RS125R, contributed to Honda winning the championship that year. The RS125RW-T also raced in the four Malaysia International Race rounds, winning all of them, a clear display of how competitive the 2-stroke engine was.

RS125RW (2003)

RS125RW (2003)

Pedrosa’s Favorite Bike Wins 125cc Title

Engine: Liquid-cooled 2-stroke single cylinderDisplacement: 124cc
Maximum output: N.A.
Weight: N.A.

In 2015, Honda had won 700 FIM Road Racing World Championship grands prix. Of those wins, 131 races - or around 20% - were won by the RS125R, a production road racer. Dani Pedrosa, currently racing in the MotoGP class, won the 2003 championship on a 2003 model RS125R.



The Machine that Kept On Winning Despite Faster World Grand Prix Speeds

Engine: Liquid-cooled 2-stroke 4-cylinder V4 case reed-valveDisplacement: 499cc
Maximum output: over 180PS/12,200rpm
Weight: over 130kg
Other: 6-speed

World Grand Prix racing became faster every season in the 1980s. In 1984, Honda responded by introducing the V-4 powered NSR500. The 1984 model had a unique layout, with the fuel tank under the engine and the exhausts above. Although the early model NSR500’s performance was unstable, its output was top-class at nearly 150PS. A more conventional engine layout was applied in 1985, resulting in 7 wins out of 12 races, and the championship title. Honda went on to win the 1987 and 1989 crowns, but continued to develop the bike, pursuing a high-powered machine that is easy to handle. In its 19 years on the track, the NSR500 won 10 riders and 9 manufacturers titles, including six consecutive titles from 1994 to 1999.

RA301 (1968)

RA301 (1968)

A New-era Machine Borne of Honda’s Challenging Spirit

Engine: Liquid-cooled 4-st. 90°V-12 DOHC 4-valve (RA301E) Displacement: 2,992cc
Maximum output: 440PS/11,500rpm
Weight: 530kg

One aspect that needed to evolve from the previous year, was weight. The RA300, predecessor to the RA301, was 610kg, far heavier than the competition, which typically weighed 500kg. It needed to be much lighter. Magnesium alloy was used for the monocoque’s materials, and the engine was thoroughly reworked to bring the car’s weight down to 530kg. This year also heralded the aerodynamics era, and the RA301 was equipped with a fully-developed rear wing. Problems arose during the season, such as broken wing pillars. The RA301 was the only machine during Honda’s first era in Formula One racing to win pole position, although it did not win any grands prix.

McLaren Honda

McLaren Honda MP4/6(1991)

High-powered V-12 Contributes to Consecutive Titles

Engine: Liquid-cooled 4-st. 60°V-12 DOHC 4-valve (RA121E)Displacement: 3,498cc
Maximum output: 735PS/13,500rpm
Weight: 505kg
Other:Honda variable intake pipe length system (VIS)

McLaren-Honda contended the 1991 season with the V-12 powered MP4/6. It was equipped with Honda’s variable-length intake system, to realize a optimal power band. The engine was also 5.5kg lighter than its predecessor’s V-10, and could output 735PS or more. The MP4/6’s greatest departure from previous MP4’s was the changing of the front suspension from pull-rod to push-rod, which improved chassis rigidity and aerodynamics. In the opening round, Ayrton Senna led from pole to finish victorious. He then went on the win Brazil, San Marino and Monaco to set a record four consecutive wins. Seven wins during the season gave Senna his third title. The MP4/6 also contributed to Honda winning its sixth consecutive constructors title, including its seasons with the Williams team.


Lotus-Honda 100T

The Machine that Made its Mark with Satoru Nakajima on Japan’s Formula One History

Engine: Liquid-cooled 4-st. 80°V-6 DOHC 4-valve twin turbo (RA168E) Displacement: 1,494cc
Maximum output: 685PS/12,300rpm
Weight: 540kg
Other: Honda PGM-FI (Programmed fuel Injection)

In 1988, the year that ended the turbo era in Formula One racing, the Lotus-Honda 100T was released. Electronically-controlled active suspension introduced in the 1987 season’s 99T had not matured enough, and was dropped for the 100T, which was developed as a more conventional machine. The power unit, however, was a class-leading 1.5 liter V-6 turbo engine. The 100T did not dominate the season, but it finished 3rd in the first two rounds, and made its mark in the history of the Japanese Grand Prix by qualifying 6th and finishing 7th at the hands of Japanese driver Satoru Nakajima.

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