Was this the pinnacle of Honda V4 design?
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.