Honda VFR750R RC30

Motorcycle News (UK) - - Feature -

Al­though Bi­mota’s YB4IE grabbed the first WSB plau­dits, as 1988 un­folded it was very much Honda, with its VFR750R, which be­came the most cel­e­brated. To­day, Honda’s V4 re­mains the de­fin­i­tive ho­molo­ga­tion bike of the early WSB era and the most prized of all Ja­panese ‘ex­ot­ica’.

The idea was for a V4 pro­duc­tion racer to com­pete in WSB, en­durance, the TT and F1 and so pro­mote V4 road ma­chines such as the VFR750F. Ac­cord­ingly, it was called the VFR750R, al­though the in­ter­nal ‘RC30’ des­ig­na­tion, ap­plied by HRC, which de­vel­oped and hand-built the ma­chine, be­came more fa­mil­iar.

No ex­pense was spared. Al­though out­wardly sim­i­lar to Honda’s then-dom­i­nant RVF750 racer, the RC30’S 90° V4 was very dif­fer­ent: cams were gear-, not chain-driven, its fir­ing or­der was 360° not 180°, ‘short-skirt’ forged al­loy pis­tons had just two rings, cases were mag­ne­sium and it was the first road ma­chine with ti­ta­nium rods (at eight times the cost of tra­di­tional steel ver­sions).

Chas­sis and pe­riph­er­als were equally spe­cial: its body­work was hand-laid fi­bre­glass; the swingarm was the Elf-de­vel­oped sin­gle-sider; while the forks, too, were de­signed for world en­durance with quick­re­lease axle clamps.

The re­sult was a phe­nom­e­non – not for out­right power (the 112bhp V4 was never about that), but for an in­com­pa­ra­bly in­te­grated de­sign which be­came the new bench­mark for han­dling, an amaz­ingly flex­i­ble and lin­ear power de­liv­ery and, above all, its beau­ti­ful clean-sheet de­sign.

Al­though only 500 were re­quired. Honda’s first run of 1000 sold out in­stantly upon its 1987 re­lease in Ja­pan, de­spite its 1,480,000 Yen ask­ing price (about £10K). When it came to the UK in ’88 it cost £8499, nearly twice any ‘nor­mal’ 750. It didn’t mat­ter. The world fell in love with it. A love that con­tin­ues to this day.

Fred Merkel took two WSB ti­tles on an RC30

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