1988 HONDA RD03 AFRICA TWIN XRV650
Dakar success: 1986 & 1987 NXR750V (Cyril Neveu), 1988 NXR800V (Edi Orioli) & 1989 (Gilles Lalay)
“By the mid-1980s Dakar success was a major selling point for an off-road bike as Mark Thatcher getting lost in the desert during the 1982 race gave it a dangerous allure and that sparked Honda’s interest. But being Honda they really went to town with their bike.
“The RD03 was the first Africa Twin and, in typical Honda fashion, is a simply beautiful road bike, lovely off-road and a very successful racer. HRC helped design the Africa Twin and after looking at the simplicity of the BMW, threw everything at their racer. The NXR, which was the race version, was the first water- cooled bike to win Dakar and is a work of art, which is reflected in the road bike. It has a Pro Link rear end, a proper bash plate, the works – in fact some privateer racers entered the Dakar on the road bike.
“After its Dakar success the Africa Twin road bike’s sales took off and the original RD03 is better in quality than later versions and certainly more offroad targeted. This actual bike has been to Dakar as it was used as a press demo machine back in ’88, which is very cool.”