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
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
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
- 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.