Re­lease it from its ship­ping crate and prep it for its owner Con­tin­ued over

Motorcycle News (UK) - - New Bikes - By Andy Downes SE­NIOR REPORTER

here it is. In­side a sim­ple alu­minium flight case, shrouded with a plain white plas­tic cover that de­tails the con­tents be­neath in ba­sic, black type. No fan­fare – noth­ing but that stark let­ter­ing to hint at the wildly ex­otic con­tents in­side. This is one of first cus­tomer Honda RC213V-S to ar­rive in the UK.

This may be a £140,000 Mo­togp road bike replica, but there’s none of the hus­tle and glam­our of a Mo­togp pad­dock here. It’s a bit­terly cold, grey and wet day in Bat­ley, York­shire - the home of the world-fa­mous Pad­gett’s Honda deal­er­ship which has turned out some of the most suc­cess­ful Isle of Man TT race bikes in his­tory. It’s also one of the only of­fi­cial HRC (Honda Rac­ing Cor­po­ra­tion) work­shops in Europe.

This crate, as with ev­ery­thing HRC pro­duces, touches or tunes, ex­udes an aura of calm, me­thod­i­cal, clin­i­cal per­fec­tion – the lack of histri­on­ics only in­creas­ing the in­ten­sity of the oc­ca­sion. Be­ing in its pres­ence trans­ports me back to the early 2000s when, as MCN’S World Su­per­bike reporter, I wit­nessed HRC – time and again – un­crate stun­ning cre­ations, such as the Cas­trol Honda SP-1 and SP-2. Watch­ing the team me­chan­ics un­wrap care­fully bagged, num­bered and bar­coded HRC parts showed the level of care and at­ten­tion im­posed on even the most mun­dane of parts. I once watched an im­mac­u­lately turned-out tech­ni­cian ap­ply a Honda top yoke badge in ex­act ac­cor­dance with the mea­sured pa­per po­si­tional tem­plate to a race bike that may well have cartwheeled through the gravel min­utes later. But that’s the level of de­tail HRC work to, and all of that pre­ci­sion lives within the RC213V-S.

The white, plas­tic ma­te­rial cov­er­ing the crate un­der­neath has a zip run­ning up one edge to en­able it to be lifted off ef­fort­lessly. With the help of Pad­gett’s boss Clive Pad­gett, I un­zip the cover, and we lift it clear of the crate. Clive care­fully folds it up for safe­keep­ing. He then im­pressed upon me that ab­so­lutely

Tnone of the wrap­ping or con­tents from the crate must be chucked away, as the owner may want it all for the fu­ture. My mouth sud­denly feels dry, so I just nod, skin prick­ling with the an­tic­i­pa­tion of what comes next.

All that stands be­tween us and see­ing the bike – which I know from the la­bel on the out­side is an un­painted car­bon­fi­bre ver­sion – are the dozen 10mm stain­less steel bolts se­cur­ing the sheet alu­minium lid to the crate walls. With a 10mm socket fit­ted to a 12v elec­tric drill, we get to work re­mov­ing them. The me­chan­i­cal ac­tion of drill on bolt starts to re­ver­ber­ate through the metal crate as the bolts suc­cumb one by one, and we drop them into a parts tray for safe-keep­ing.

The fi­nal bolt is re­moved, and I put the cordless drill down so Clive and I can lift the lid off the crate and peer in­side. As the lid rises, a ghostly white form be­comes vis­i­ble within. The RC213V-S is wrapped in a sim­ple white neg­ligée, tan­ta­lis­ingly ob­scur­ing the car­bon-fi­bre fair­ing pan­els. We care­fully stack the lid out of harm’s way, and gen­tly re­move the dust­sheet to re­veal our first glimpse of the bike be­neath.

As the car­bon tail­piece is re­vealed it re­flects a grey Bri­tish sky for the first time. It’s odd to think that this is the first light to hit it since be­ing care­fully wrapped up in Ja­pan; the dust still cling­ing to the tyres hav­ing come from the HRC fac­tory floor.

We can’t see any­thing else yet, as the crate’s brac­ing struts – wrapped in bub­ble wrap – are hin­der­ing our ac­cess. The front strut has an at­tach­ment bolted onto the steer­ing stem adding to the se­cu­rity of the bike in tran­sit, while an­other rests across the rider’s seat to help keep the bike sta­ble in its wheel chocks. Each bit is un­bolted and re­moved, so the front sec­tion of the crate can be dropped out of the way and the bike in­side re­vealed at last.

With the dust­sheet lifted away we step back, draw breath and just take a mo­ment to stare silently at the amaz­ing un­painted car­bon fi­bre-wrapped bike be­neath. It’s a real priv­i­lege to see it up close. Both wheels are held in place against wheel chocks, re­cy­cled pack­ing

ma­te­rial shield­ing the black-painted wheels from any po­ten­tial harm caused by the re­strain­ing ratchet straps.

My eyes are roam­ing across each of the bike’s com­po­nents. Ev­ery el­e­ment is some­thing spe­cial, some­thing race-de­rived and ex­pen­sive, with per­for­mance be­ing the only goal. The next stage is to charge and hook up the bat­tery, check the flu­ids are topped up, and then add a splash of fuel be­fore – hope­fully – fir­ing it up.

Af­ter 10 more min­utes of check­ing and fet­tling, the bike is freed from the crate and the side sheets of alu­minium moved care­fully aside. The base re­mains and the two wheels are both clamped into black-painted se­cur­ing pieces. The rear clamp is bolted to the floor of the crate and with me hold­ing the han­dle­bars – rather ner­vously I have to ad­mit – Clive un­bolts the rear wheel and the bike is now free.

“Would you like to wheel the bike out?” Clive asks.

“No, no I wouldn’t,” I re­ply as the sick­en­ing sound of some­one else’s £140,000 mo­tor­cy­cle top­pling over onto con­crete re­peat­edly plays in my mind. Clive takes over to get the bike off the crate, be­fore hand­ing it back to me to push into the Pad­gett’s work­shop.

The bike had ar­rived in the UK via Honda Rac­ing in Louth, whose ex­perts had given it the first cru­cial once-over, yet the Pad­gett’s team still metic­u­lously in­spect the bat­tery and flu­ids, just to re­as­sure them­selves that ev­ery­thing has been dou­ble-checked be­fore mak­ing any at­tempt to start it.

The ex­pert tech­ni­cians at Pad­gett’s get to work. Dur­ing the day th­ese guys work on nor­mal road bikes, but as soon as the road rac­ing sea­son starts they are the ones who put to­gether bikes like those that Ian Hutchin­son won five Isle of Man TT races in one week with back in 2010. But even for them, work­ing on the RC213V-S is some­thing spe­cial.

A close-up in­spec­tion of the bike re­veals some in­ter­est­ing jux­ta­po­si­tions. Here is a road-le­gal ver­sion of the 999cc V4 bike Marc Mar­quez won the 2013 Mo­togp world cham­pi­onship on. The en­gine cases use the same sand­cast moulds as the rac­ing bike – only the metal is dif­fer­ent. The hand- made swingarm is fab­ri­cated by the same HRC ar­ti­sans who build all of the Mo­togp bikes; the bodywork crafted from rac­ing spec­i­fi­ca­tion car­bon fi­bre. And yet the steer­ing lock owes much to the tech­nol­ogy of a 1950s mo­tor­cy­cle be­cause Honda hasn’t fit­ted the bike with a tra­di­tional ig­ni­tion bar­rel. In­stead there is a lock hid­den away un­der the top yoke, be­tween the front sus­pen­sion struts, be­hind a metal cover.

Even the key fob is un­usual. It has a mod­ern wire­less main sec­tion that talks to the bike’s ECU and al­lows the bike to start as long as the fob is near enough. In­side one end is the fuel cap key and smug­gled safely at the other end is a key for the steer­ing lock. Honda clearly know th­ese bikes aren’t go­ing to be see­ing daily ac­tion, as part of the wiring loom con­sists of a plug-in socket for a Honda-badged Op­ti­mate bat­tery charger. This slides in on the left side of the en­gine above the crank­shaft cover.

The bat­tery is now charged and con­nected and we’re ready to get the bike started. With no key to insert into a bar­rel it’s sim­ply a case of flick­ing the kill switch to the ‘Run’ po­si­tion, be­fore thumb­ing the starter but­ton. Al­most in­stantly a growl­ing, me­chan­i­cal wave of noise erupts, wash­ing over us and re­ver­ber­at­ing through the Pad­gett’s work­shop. There is a loud tick­ing noise from the en­gine at idle too – the geardriven cams adding an un­usual and dis­tinc­tive sound­track of their own.

Within sec­onds the smell of hot metal is waft­ing up from the bike as heat starts to build in the en­gine and ex­haust sys­tem. The un­der­seat ex­haust is hot enough for me to slightly burn my fin­ger­tips on the pro­tec­tive wire gauze af­ter less than a minute of the bike run­ning. We switch off af­ter 90 sec­onds or so for Clive and the me­chan­ics to check the bike over again. All seems well. The next job for the Pad­gett’s tech­ni­cians will be fully clean­ing the ex­otic Honda be­fore it heads off to its new owner.

What an in­cred­i­ble bike to own. This one be­ing des­tined for a long­time Pad­gett’s cus­tomer – hav­ing been bought as a birth­day present to him­self. As an RC213V-S owner, his name will grace one of the rarest group of log­books in the world.

If you were as sexy as an RCV-S you’d de­mand to be trans­ported in a mir­rored room too!

Car­bon-fi­bre trim and HRC elec­tron­ics Stun­ningly light titanium track ex­haust

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