Lies, Damn Lies, And Manufacturer HP Figures: Repsol Introduces Honda's "230 hp" RC213V

One of the burning questions among race fans since the reintroduction of the 1000cc MotoGP machines has been exactly how much horsepower the bigger bikes make. Various figures have been bandied about, some issued in press releases, others bandied about by riders, or measured on the notoriously inaccurate press room dyno. The numbers so far have included 250 horsepower for Karel Abraham's Ducati Desmosedici GP12, in a press release issued by his Cardion AB team, the press room guestimate of 280hp for the Ducati GP12, and Casey Stoner suggesting at Estoril that his bike had 85 horsepower more than the 190 horsepower 500cc two strokes.

To these numbers can be added another, this time coming from the Repsol Media Service, in a press release discussing the Honda RC213V that the Repsol Honda team is campaigning. Honda's 1000cc MotoGP bike produces "approximately 230 HP", the press release confidently states, 20 hp more than Honda's 800cc machine and 10 hp less than the 990cc RC211V, widely regarded as one of the greatest racing motorcycles ever built. The figure of 230 horsepower seems very low, although it is probably as wide of the mark as some of the estimates of 280+ horsepower being bandied about in the media center.

The chances of ever obtaining accurate figures for horsepower of the current bikes are fairly remote, though a little deductive reasoning should allow us to draw a few relatively reliable conclusions. The only horsepower figure I have every reliably been given is 217 bhp, for one of the MotoGP bikes that featured on the grid in 2007. Given that, for example, Yamaha have been reporting increasing power for each successive generation of their 800cc M1 machines, by the end of the 800cc era, all of the bikes on the grid must have been making a great deal more than Honda's reported 210 horsepower. The 20% increase in capacity - though without any increase in fuel allowance, will have boosted engine power by around 10%, though the 81mm bore also acts as a hard limit on horsepower by limiting engine revs.

So both Honda's 230 hp and the 280hp figure making the rounds seem fairly inaccurate. But the fact that a Ducati team released the figure of 250hp, while a Honda team report 230hp should be regarded as significant. There is no doubt that the Ducati is the fastest machine on the grid - the Ducatis regularly top the speed charts, often being the four fastest bikes - and given that one of Ducati's problems is with power delivery that is too aggressive, making it hard to get drive out of the corners, it is clear that the Desmosedici has far more power than either of its rivals. It is equally obvious that that extra power is doing them no good at all, with new engine parts due to be tested on Monday at Barcelona aimed at taming the power delivery and reducing horsepower. A difference of 20hp between the Honda and the Ducati seems a reasonable assumption, which just means establishing a benchmark. My own guess - and it is nothing more than a guess, based on logic and the difference in speeds between the 1000cc bikes and their 800cc predecessors - is that the Honda produces somewhere between 245 and 250 horsepower, with the Ducati making something close to 270. How accurate that guess is we are unlikely to find out any time soon.

Below is the press release on the Honda RC213V, complete with interactive chart, issued by the Repsol Media Service:

More power for title defence

The Repsol Honda RC213V, follow-up to the 2011 World Championship winning bike, is a return to 1000cc capacity.

For the past five years the MotoGP World Championship has been contested with an 800cc engine limit. In 2012, the premier class has a new specification of 1000cc for the grid, marking a return to the powerful machinery that first came to prominence ten years ago with the switch from 2-strokes to 4-strokes. This is set to produce a more spectacular, more even and less expensive competition for manufacturers.

With Repsol colours on the livery and the No.1 plate on the front, the Honda RC213V is the bike to beat. Its design is based upon the RC212V with which Casey Stoner became World Champion and Dani Pedrosa won three races last season.

The Repsol Honda RC213V features a 4-cylinder V engine with a capacity of 1000cc, combining the main characteristics of its MotoGP predecesors. In 2002, Honda kicked off the MotoGP era with the RC211V: The first Honda bike of the 21st century (hence the 21-1 numbering system), it featured a four-stroke (RC) engine consisting of a 5-cylinder 990cc V and taking the Repsol Honda Team to three titles in five seasons —2002, 2003 & 2006— at the hands of Valentino Rossi and Nicky Hayden. Over this period, the team claimed 26 victories.

With the move to an 800cc engine limit in 2007, Honda put the RC212V on track. The second Honda machine of the 21st century, the bike maintained the V engine format but brought it down from a V5 to a V4. The Repsol Honda Team took 84 podiums —24 wins, 29 second places and 31 third places— with the RC212V, and in 2011 Casey Stoner claimed the World Championship. This closed the 800cc era and inspired the design of the 2012 RC213V.


In search of improved stability, the RC213V features a redesigned chassis. The twin beam aluminium frame holds a 230hp engine. Combined with a new suspension system, the bike has better braking precision on corner entry, better tyre contact and better grip/acceleration on corner exit and improved absorption of bumps at a lean angle.

Besides the advances in electronics, engine braking and clutch, the RC213V also has an improved engine that is lighter and creates less friction. This helps to ensure a reliability key to complying with the six-engines-per-season rule.

From the bodywork to the specific fuel designed alongside the Repsol engineers for the engines, every detail has been looked at in order to mount another title challenge this season. The Repsol riders are once again two of the main candidates for the premier class crown over the course of the eighteen-race campaign.

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Great take as always David - indeed, the Ducati is "fast", but "quick" is what wins races - and quick is what Yamaha has been very very good at producing over the years. Subtle but important difference.

Honda has been between the two traditionally, and with Casey has been making the best of it lately.

Rob Muzzy said 3 HP to gain 1 MPH at 200 MPH. What track has the highest top speeds? Compare top speeds there. YEs, I know we are not talking terminal velocities like at the salt flats, I don't think Muzzy was either... Also 230 CV = 227 HP FWIW...

"Power is nothing without control" is a saying which is frequently used in racing. It pinpoints in mine opinion the difference between the Ducati and the Honda (and Yamaha). Ducati is the most powerful bike out there but controlling this power is not yet established.

This is also the main reason why Ducati is backing the power down with their new engine configuration. It reminds me of the '90 in Formule1 when Ferrari always had the highest top speed on the long straights, but the Honda used less time to make the distances on these long straights, because they reached the lower top speed much earlier and carried that same top speed until the braking point.

Summarized my comment with another saying, "The stopwatch never lies".

The only that is relevant is getting whatever power you have to the ground in a way that is usable to the rider. A 280hp bike isn't any better (and possibly be worst) than a 240 HP bike if that power can't be transferred to the ground better than the bike that has a lower HP figure.

Thanks David. Enjoyed that. Your guestimate is probably about right. The Ducati engine revision is an interesting and exclusive one. 930cc to kick off with given the bore limit. Max rpm and bhp. I guess we will find out sometime down the road. I remember Stoner's transponder kicking up 17000rpm + regularly back in the 800 screamer days.
1000cc requires a controllable torque wave,low down given the fuel limit.
Back to the old bug bear. I never did hear any racer complain about a surfeit of BHP.
Honda and Yamaha are probably about 250 BHP and Ducati a smidgeon more.
How the power is utilised by the rider on the day is the crux of the matter.
Computers cannot control a human's throttle hand nor an engineers keyboard hand for that matter.
Sometimes the spanner man/rider/electro technician is key to a good race weekend. Correction. 'Set up' race by race per weekend. A combination that has always ruled the game on any given Sunday.

The Duc engine is definitely something different. The current lump revs to 17,500+, about 1200 RPM higher than anything else on the grid. This has been seen as evidence to corroborate the numerous ~930cc rumours that have been floating about since the season began. OTOH, the same - supposedly undersized - engine is also regarded as making the most power. (!?) Either we're wrong about the displacement and Duc has found a way to combine longevity with insane piston speeds, or their engine is in a truly radical state of tune. I'm inclined to believe the latter option. Such a configuration would likely produce an _extremely_ peaky torque curve. No wonder the Yellow One is bitching about rideability.

I'll be extremely keen to record some good exhaust samples of the new engine when it comes out. This will hopefully provide the correct answer to the above quandary. (I'm willing to bet the revs suddenly drop to match the Asian bikes.)

Tires. Without the rubber side down what I previously posted counts for nothing.
Tires are a dynamic arguably more important than BHP across the race distance.
Simple issues oft taken for granted. Probably not taken fore granted by the riders. I recall Valentino saying without the right tire selection for race day you are F*****. BHP and tires go hand in hand. Without the traction all the BHP in the world counts for nothing. I reckon Ducati are dumbing down the BHP for obvious Black Magic reasons.
On the other hand the Honda is probably too planted (chatter). Yamaha....balance as ever.

It seems to me the most honest source of inside information (whether the company likes it or not) has been Casey Stoner. If Stoner says the bike can make that much, I believe him. The key word here being "can".

The real problem seems to be deciphering how much power the bikes make during a particular weekend. I'm sure the Ducati engine can make over 300HP if pushed to it's limits on an engine dyno. The bikes are tuned to suit whatever challenge they need to overcome at any given racetrack. At Laguna it's acceleration, while at Mugello it might be top speed.

So a real horsepower figure is a bit hard to say since it might make 220hp at one track, then 260hp at another. It all depends on how much you need or can actually use. Honda stating 230CV as a number is probably and average for the whole year. I'm sure it can be "adjusted" to anywhere from 200hp to 260hp depending on what amount of power is necessary. Electronics are quite advanced at this stage of bike development. We reached the "way too much horsepower than necessary" point a while ago.

So when a team says it's bike makes so much horsepower, they might not be lying. That's how much horsepower it's making TODAY. Asking how much HP the Ducati makes will only get you vague responses. Try asking how much HP the Duc makes while at Mugello. You might still get no answer, but I'm sure you'll get at least a coy smile...

Indeed, the bikes use GPS to change the power delivery at each corner. So the power output is different for every corner, not just every race

Actually, GPS has been banned for a few years now. However, it hasn't made any difference, as the electronics are so sophisticated that they know exactly where they are on the track anyway, because of the timing loops and the track map loaded into the ECU.

Power is nothing if you can't put it to the ground effectively (IE Ducati this year).

I believe absolutely 0 of these HP figures. Until you can see a dyno sheet it's all a bunch of bs banter.

Could that figure be a RWHP number? Most of the time it's listed at the crank, but any rider knows RWHP is what matters. If you figure a 10% loss from the crank to the wheel, 230RWHP=253HP at the crank

Good article David,

You could also calculate (roughly) MotoGP horsepower from WSB.

The racing versions of the R1 and the RSV4 both have the largest cylinder bores at 79mm and rev to about 14,500 - 15,000rpm. Go up 2mm on the bore to the MotoGP maximum of 81mm and you'd get about another 1000rpm ....which is about where this years Honda's RCV's are revving to.

Assuming (from the top speeds at Monza) that the RSV4 is making around 230Hp, then adding another 20 -25Hp for the extra 1000rpm and exotic engine internals of a MotoGP engine would seem realistic.

Another thing to look at will be top speeds on fast tracks compared to the 800's (you can't compare the old 990's because most of them ran Michelin's, so their corner entry speed onto the straight would have been a lot slower than the control Bridgestone's). Frontal areas on GP bikes haven't changed much from the old NSR's so if there's a big jump in top speed (say 10 to 15kph) at "known" tracks like Mugello and Phillip Island then obviously there's been a big jump power output.

I'm sure there's posters on this site who'd have all the formula's to work this out!

Power outputs are strange beasts.

Compare +220HP MotoGP with 120HP Moto2 with +50HP Moto3, then
compare +150HP 500cc with +90HP 250cc with +35HP 125cc, then
compare +220HP WSBK with +140HP WSS.

Looking at the lap times makes an interesting case that HP isn't everything, neither is top speed.

Clearly a "warmed over" Moto2 or old 250cc could qualify well in MotoGP/500cc, BUT it wouldn't be able to maintain corner speed (like NSR500V or RSW500 could), those nasty MotoGP/500cc/WSBK parked up in the corner.

Plus the top speed figures are suspect. What needs to be compared is outright top speed, not a draft down the straight and slingshot through the radar.

It would be good to see some actual corner speeds from the different classes.