In the saddle
I had a poster of the RC45 all through my high school years. It’s a bike I’ve lusted over, and dreamed about, never thinking I would get the chance to even sit on one, let alone ride one. For me, the RC45 is a mythical machine, steered by legends like Slight and Edwards, and I’ll admit I was scared it would disappoint in a “don’t meet your heroes” kind of way. I’m glad, this time, I was wrong. There are several highlights when riding an RC45, but none, absolutely none, tops hearing that gear-driven cam V4 at full song. It’s a flat, droning roar, so far removed from any V4 since this bike came to market in 1995 for a lucky 200 riders. But there’s a problem with the 45 in that Honda was greedy. The power is underwhelming and the motorcycle’s weight excessive—Honda would supply the RC45, but it was up to the respective owner to purchase various HRC kits to really make them fly—hence why so many privateers went for a Suzuki or Kawasaki for a fraction of the cost. Despite the lack of outright power, the motor is incredibly smooth in its delivery for a bike with a primitive 25-year-old fuel injection system, and the gearbox, with its short throw and close ratios, is how a superbike ’box should be. There’s no getting away from the fact the RC45 is heavy, and you sit very low in the chassis. It’s heavy but easy to change direction on and extremely stable at speed, although at traffic speed you’re not even scratching the surface of what this thing can do. Another highlight comes in the form of the dash. The twin analogue tacho and speedo is from a totally different age to what we’re used to today, the revs sweeping up almost in unison with the speedo and the crescendo of noise from the single outlet exhaust, it’s as 1990s as hypercolour t-shirts and Nirvana. The RC45 is not today-level fast. A modern 600cc Supersport would annihilate it. But the RC has a presence about it today’s bikes can only dream of. A genuine, homologated racing motorcycle from the biggest company of all, the Honda RC45 may not have reached the racing heights demanded of it, but that doesn’t make it any less special. I’d still have one – in an instant – if only to hear that beefy, menacing drone from that gear-driven cam V4.