BARCELONA -- Under a white plastic dome tucked within the famed Circuit de Catalunya, Honda unveiled something special here today, something it's calling an "absolute MotoGP machine for the street." It's named RC213V-S, it is one of the fastest motorcycles ever produced and you can buy it if you have the money. But, you can't necessarily have all of it. Read on and I'll explain.
Though that name is a bit of a mouthful, it serves as a strong clue to the bike's heritage. It's largely based on the RC213V, Honda's completely custom prototype machine, built to compete in the world's premiere motorcycle racing series: MotoGP. It's on the RC213V that Marc Marquez won his first world championship, making it the de-facto fastest motorcycle in the world.
Honda is billing the RC213V-S as a street version of that bike, but it isn't quite the company's top-shelf, full-factory effort. The road version lacks a few trick things. For example, the pneumatic valve system on the race bike has been replaced with metal springs that are far better suited for the road. Likewise, the finicky seamless-shift transmission, which provides near-instantaneous ratio changes, also hasn't made the transition.
Crucially, there's something else lacking here that the race bike has in abundance: power. The street version of the European and Australian RC213V-S is rated at about 160 horsepower, slightly less than Honda's road-going CBR1000RR. Hold your breath, because it gets worse. The American version will be even further castrated, cut down to roughly 100 horsepower. That's less even than Honda's much smaller CBR600RR.
But, add on the optional race kit and that power jumps significantly, up to a massive 215. The race kit swaps out the ECU, shifter, front brake pads, air intake and lots more bits and bobs, making it a proper track tool. Lights and mirrors, meanwhile, are easy to remove. There is another catch, however, and it's a big one: this race kit will not be available in the US, and importing one won't be easy.
Honda representatives say this was the only way to bring the bike into the US due to American noise and emissions regulations. And, again due to US laws, it's impossible for them to sell a kit that would allow riders to make their bike non-street legal. However, given the choice of importing this bike in a limited form, or not importing it at all, they opted to at least bring the thing over.
As frustrating as that is, you given the choice you have to feel this is a right one. There's a lot more to a bespoke machine like this than power -- and you can't help but figure that creative hackers will find a way to unlock all 215 horses from this thing's ECU. They may even find more hiding in there.
So, it's a dream machine for the streets that, thanks to American regs, has been tragically gimped. But, don't feel so bad. Those in Japan have it even worse, with a maximum of roughly 70 horsepower! They, at least, will be able to buy the race kit.
Pricing is eye-wateringly high, as you'd expect given the exclusivity. In the US you're looking at $184,000. In Europe it's €188,000 (about £135,000), while Australians will pay AU$244,000. Production is set to begin in late September with bikes available soon thereafter. (No word on a cost for the race kit, but don't expect a bargain.) Production will continue through 2016 and, while there isn't a hard limit on the number that will be produced, it'll likely be fewer than 250. So, get those orders in. In the mean time, try to find yourself a copy of "ECU Hacking for Dummies."