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Honda RC30

Honda VFR750R RC30RC30

With World Superbike (WSB) four years in the planning, Honda knew what kind of bike it would need to win the championship. Fortunately the company already had such a bike in the shape of the awesome V4-powered RVF750 race bike. Trouble was, the RVF was costly to produce and certainly wouldn't have been cost effective to replicate in road bike form. So enter stage right the toned down version, the legendary Honda RC30.

True to plan, Honda won the first ever WSB championship in 1988, with hard-chargin Fred Merkel riding the wheels off it. However, even Honda doesn't always get it right straight out of the box and the RC30 experienced crankshaft and valve problems, on the track. But Honda has always learnt from its mistakes quickly and the RC30 soon became the dominant force in WSB, taking the championship title again in 1989 and 1990.

That first WSB success stirred the minds and the loose change in privateers racers pockets worldwide. Soon the RC30 was everywhere and, more importantly, winning everything.

In the senior level of World TT Formula One, men like Roger Burnett and Joey Dunlop were battling head-to-head on their RC30s, but to no avail. A young, 23-year-old Blackburn lad called Carl Fogarty  weed on their fires when he won the 1988 F1 Championship, also on a RC30, the bike occupying all three positions on the podium. Joey Dunlop tasted success at the IoM TT the same year when he rode a race kitted, road-going RC30 to a new lap record in the Formula 1 TT.

Meanwhile, the RC30 was starting to set fire to the underpants of World Endurance racers, especially privateers who couldn't get near an RVF. By the time the 1989 championship was underway the Honda was occupying the starting positions previously held by Suzuki and Kawasaki machinery.

Demand for race RC30s meant few examples of the hand-built Honda made it onto the open road. At the time the official list price for the Honda was £8499, although stories of £10k or more being exchanged to secure one is believable.

Carl Fogarty said: It was ahead of its time like the Ducati 916 a few years later. On road circuits it worked well and I didn't have any problems but on short circuits I had a problem with the front end. It has the fastest engine out there, but the front end stopped me winning so many races. At a long fast corner like Gerrards at Malory as you wound on the gas the front tried to tuck then the next minute it would be bucking and weaving. The only way to stop it was to back off, something Inever wanted to do.

RC30 Specification

  • Power - 103bhp @ 11,500rpm
  • Torque - 53ft-lb @ 10,500 rpm
  • Dry weight - 185kg
  • Top speed - 152mhp
  • Fuel capacity - 18litres

Engine - Liquid-cooled 748cc (70 x 48.6mm), dohc four-stroke V4, 16v. 4 x 35mm Keihin carbs, six-speed, chain drive.

Chassis - Aluminium twin spar. 43mm front forks with adjustable preload and rebound. Prolink single rear shock, adjustable preload and rebound.

Brakes - 2 x 310mm front discs, 4-piston calipers. 220mm rear disc.