Was this the pin­na­cle of Honda V4 de­sign?

Classic Motorcycle Mechanics - - CONTENTS - WORDS: BER­TIE SIM­MONDS PHO­TOS: MOR­TONS AR­CHIVE

In this is­sue you’ll see we’ve con­cen­trated on the ma­jor V4s from Honda of the 1980s and 1990s. These are the road-go­ing gems, the VF750 F and the VFR750 F-R, but while the VF had its faults, those meant that Honda tried even harder with the F-R. It ar­guably be­came the best sports-tourer ever. And then there were the rac­ing V4s. Of the ho­molo­ga­tion ver­sions (that is, based on ‘road-go­ing’ ma­chines) the VFR750R ‘RC30’ was cer­tainly the most suc­cess­ful and prices show that to­day, but ar­guably the ul­ti­mate in­car­na­tion was its suc­ces­sor, the RC45… The RC45’S life is re­ally one of two halves. At birth, the bike – which was launched for the 1994 model year – had a tough rep­u­ta­tion to live up to. The RC30 had won the first two World Su­per­bike ti­tles with Fred Merkel and was the bike to beat in race form in the Isle of Man TT. From the very start, on track, the RC45 had a tough life. In the UK the bike of choice for the hard-up pri­va­teer was ei­ther a Kawasaki ZXR or – if you had some cash – a Ducati 888-based 926/955 and later the 916-based ver­sions. Even a ‘fac­tory’ Cas­trol-backed squad in 1995 had a mare with the bike, de­spite hav­ing Ian Simp­son, Phil Bor­ley and Terry Rymer aboard. In World Su­per­bike even the fac­to­ry­backed Cas­trol Honda squad had is­sues and that’s with the tal­ents of for­mer champ Doug Polen and Kiwi Aaron Slight on board. Even­tu­ally the bike did win the 1997 WSB ti­tle – the tal­ents of John Kocin­ski and years of de­vel­op­ment saw to that – and it had some no­table suc­cesses at the TT with the likes of Steve Hislop and Phil Mc­callen. To­day, while not as lusted af­ter as the RC30, the RC45 still holds its value well and – while it never had the looks of the Ducati 916 – his­tory has fi­nally been kind to it. And for that we should be glad.

LEFT: Jap-spec 8-Hour bike is ‘horn’! BELOW LEFT: Road bike looks good. BELOW: Steve Hislop at 1994 TT.

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