Honda RC45 Racer Test

Born in 1993, it took four years for the Honda RC45, the successor to the legendary RC30, to win the World Superbike Championship.

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by Kel Edge

1997 Castrol Honda RC45

Engine: 748cc liquid-cooled 4-stroke 16-valve DOHC 90-degree V4, 72mm x 46mm bore and stroke, 13.2:1 compression ratio, 180hp @ 14,750rpm (at crankshaft)
Top speed: 188.9mph (304kph)
Fueling: Honda-PGM FI, four 46mm Keihin throttle bodies
Transmission: 6-speed with HRC power-shifter, chain final drive
Electrics: Nippon Denso digital electronic CDI
Frame/wheelbase: Extruded aluminium twin-spar frame with cast aluminium steering head and swingarm pivot/54.72in (1,390mm)
Suspension: Fully adjustable 47mm Showa inverted telescopic forks front, cast aluminium single-sided swingarm and fully adjustable Showa monoshock with rising-rate link rear
Brakes: Dual 12.6in (320mm) Brembo stainless discs front, single 7.7in (196mm) HRC stainless steel disc with with Racing CTS integrated brake system
Tires: 12/60 x 17in radial front, 18/67-17 radial rear
Weight (dry): 357.15lb (162kg)

Honda’s V4-engined RC45 had a difficult birth, at a time when Superbikes were challenging 500GP lap records.

Born in 1993, it took It took four years for the successor to the legendary RC30 to win the World Superbike championship, but on the eve of Honda’s 50th birthday, American John Kocinski delivered the prize the company’s founder Soichiro Honda coveted above all others on two wheels: the top honor in 4-stroke racing for a company whose corporate and sporting success over the previous half-century had until recently been based on ever more sophisticated 4-strokes. To do this in 1997, the company’s engineers produced a virtual 4-stroke GP bike that revved to nearly 15,000rpm.

It was a sweet triumph for Honda, whose previous World Superbike titles had been won a decade earlier in 1988 and 1989, courtesy of Fred Merkel and the Team Rumi RC30. Honda then sat out the Superbike class at world level for three years at the start of the decade, while they worked on their next-generation successor to the RC30. But throughout this time they continued to win Suzuka 8 Hours endurance races run to TT Formula 1 rules on the RVF750, which allowed full-on 4-stroke racers with essentially just the engine castings derived from a street bike.

The absence from contention as the Superbike class attained significant World status must have been acutely frustrating to Honda management, in commercial as well as sporting terms. To make matters worse, the RC45 was at least a year late when it appeared at the end of 1993.

Order the September/October 2019 issue of Motorcycle Classics to read more about the Honda RC45. Contact Customer Service at (800) 880-7567 or contact us by email.

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