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The $184,000 Honda RC213V-S Is a Stripped-Down, Street-Legal MotoGP Motorcycle

Though its power is electronically limited, the bike still puts its road-going competitors to shame…

Limited to 200 units and handmade to order at a rate of just one per day, the Honda RC213V-S is the company’s MotoGP race bike made street-legal.

Based on the production version RCV1000R MotoGP machine (as raced by Nicky Hayden in 2014), this RCV213V-S streetbike is almost identical except for the carbon brakes; it is equipped with the Brembo steel brake setup as used by the Honda racebikes in the wet. The streetbike also omits the seamless gearbox and pneumatic valve system used on the Repsol Factory racing machines. All three systems would be totally impractical for road use.

The RCV1000R has a dry weight of just 375 lbs; and its compact 1,000 cc V-4 motor produces 214 hp at 14,000 rpm in unrestricted form. Compared to Honda’s light and powerful CBR1000RR street bike, the RC213V-S has an additional 50 hp and is approximately 35 pounds lighter. That does not sound like much, but in reality those numbers make a huge difference, giving the motorcycle performance that defies comparison to any other street bike.

Somewhat controversially, the RC213V-S complies with the spirit, not just the letter, of emissions and noise regulations. The motorcycle’s engine control unit electronically limits the engine to different rev ceilings, depending on the market. For the United States that means the motor will top out at a mere 9,400 rpm and generate an anemic 101 hp. The good news is an optional track-use-only Sports Kit (expected to be priced around $13,600)—that eliminates the lights, exhaust catalyzer, and, of course, the restricted ECU—will be available to European riders. Irritatingly, Honda America has no plans to offer the Sports Kit; however, anyone contemplating the purchase of the RC213V-S will likely have ways to source one from Europe. Even without the Sports Kit, the hundred-odd horsepower on a machine this responsive will still make for an enjoyable street experience. Those owners who value their licenses and ride the motorcycle as intended on the street probably will not feel unduly hampered.    

The engine is otherwise undiluted MotoGP technology, with a 360-degree crank phase angle providing optimum traction at the rear wheel. The motor runs so smoothly and vibration-free that it does not require a balance shaft.

Exotic materials are used extensively throughout the motorcycle. For example, the RC213V-S is equipped with sand-cast, closed-deck crankcases that resist cylinder deformation at high rpm; nickel-silicon, carbide-composite plating on the cylinder walls to reduce piston friction; and engine components that include titanium con-rods, a high-strength alloy crankshaft, and lightweight bridge-type pistons. Ten coaxial gears drive the camshafts, a system that is far more complex—but more precise and reliable—than the usual cam-chain-drive method. A finger-follower, rocker-arm system operates on rigid titanium-alloy valves, and a large valve lift is used for optimum intake and exhaust efficiency. Power is transmitted to the 6-speed conventional, cassette-style gearbox by way of a slipper clutch; and the gear change is operated by a quick shifter, allowing for full-throttle upshifts without having to come out of the throttle or dip the clutch.

The key to exceptional MotoGP handling is minimizing chassis roll (side to side) and yaw (rear slide-out) so that the machine feels more maneuverable than even a 600 cc super-sport bike. This is achieved by concentrating every part of the mass close to the center of gravity, allowing the bike to turn into corners unbelievably quickly and to transition through fast S-turns with minimal effort; in part, the RC213V-S achieves this due to the relative positions of the cylinders inside the engine, which are lowered to reduce the height. By using oval, tungsten-alloy crankshaft counterweights, the bottom dead-center position of the piston can be closer to the center of the crankshaft.

The fuel tank is intricately shaped to ensure the gasoline stays close to the center of gravity, even as it burns off and the tank becomes lighter. In fact, every component has been looked at carefully, and the farther it is away from the center of gravity, the lighter it has been designed and manufactured. On the street bike, the battery and starter motor have been carefully located in order to avoid upsetting the delicate balance established with the MotoGP bike. Honda’s MotoGP electronics package on the RC213V-S includes the full ride-by-wire system with three power modes, nine levels of traction control, and four levels of engine braking. The instrument panel can be set to read out either track or street information.

The lightweight aluminum frame and swing arm are straight from the race bike. Both are TIG welded by hand and optimized for torsional rigidity. The suspension consists of an Öhlins gas-charged fork up front and an Öhlins TTX shock at the rear—also borrowed from the racing bike. Marchesini forged, 17-inch wheels are shod with Bridgestone RS10 street tires, while the Brembo brakes emulate the steel brakes used on the MotoGP machine in wet conditions. The bodywork is constructed from exquisitely hand-finished carbon fiber and is available either in unfinished black, ready for custom painting, or the Honda racing–themed tricolor red, white, and blue.

The RC213V-S (along with front and rear maintenance stands and an exclusive, lined, indoor cover) is priced at about $184,000. For those interested in owning a truly race-worthy super bike—sanitized for mere mortals—the RC213V-S is the real deal. (rc213v-s.com)

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