A Glimpse Of The Future Of WSBK - Honda's V4 Homologation Special Confirmed, But Not Ready For 2014

That the Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade is getting a little long in the tooth has been obvious for several years now. And that Honda is planning a very special V4 sportsbike to take the Fireblade's place on the World Superbike grid has also been broadly mooted for the past couple of years. The existence of the V4 1000 was first publicly acknowledged by Honda president Takanobu Ito, who spoke openly about the bike at the end of 2012.

Since then, there have been constant rumors that the new Honda superbike was to be introduced at EICMA in Milan this coming November. So persistent had the rumors become that Honda Italia last week was forced to issue a denial, sending out a press release to the Italian media insisting that the bike will not be introduced at the EICMA this November. Leading Italian site GPOne.com has the contents of the email in full (in Italian), but the summary of the email is simple. It is a request to members of the media to stop spreading the rumors that the Honda will be presented at EICMA, while acknowledging that the bike exists.

The email refers to it as 'one of the most sophisticated motorcycles ever produced by Honda', giving a glimpse of the intention of the bike. Like the Honda NR750 before it, the V4 Honda is to be a specially constructed motorcycle aimed at the very high end of the market. Pricing is likely to be around the 75,000 euro mark, indicative of what the bike's performance should be. For comparison, a Yamaha R7 homologation special was priced around half that sum, after compensating for price inflation from 1999. 

This appears to be a new business model for Honda - or rather a return to an old business model. With the return of the homologation special, high performance motorcycles are being sold to a very wealthy clientele, a market so far dominated by European manufacturers such as Ducati. In fact, Ducati are rumored to be producing a 'Superleggera' version of the Panigale, retailing at around the same price as the Honda V4, and produced in a limited quantity for a selected group of customers. Like the Superleggera, do not expect to see one of Honda's V4 superbikes on a road near you any time soon: rumors from the WSBK paddock suggest that several teams already have them on pre-order, with the bike expected to dominate in most Superstock-based classes around the world. 

The interesting thing is how other manufacturers will respond. Kawasaki, BMW and Ducati dominate Superstock championships, but until spec for Honda's V4 Superbike are released, we will have no idea whether the other manufacturers will be able to compete with their existing machinery. With global sportsbike sales in decline, turning from mass production to a high-end niche could save the sportsbike market. They won't be a common sight on the roads, but they could turn manufacturing sportsbikes into a profitable enterprise once again.

Honda's new V4 Superbike is now expected to debut at the end of next year, ready to race in 2015, under the new EVO rules. With the EVO rules restricting the amount of engine modification which can be done, having a bog standard bike capable of competing will be paramount. With Casey Stoner testing the RCV1000R MotoGP machine which the V4 Superbike is expected to be based on, that machine should be very competitive indeed. For a taste of the future, here is a short video released by Honda showing Stoner riding the Production Racer RCV1000R:

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Just because you can afford one doesn't mean you can ride one. Judging by what I've seen at track days the Desmocedici must be the slowest bike Ducati ever made Lol

As it seems with the economy/sportbike market as of late... I hope Honda gets it right with this V4 from the jump. The world shouldn't expect to see any new (ground-up) models from the Japanese until late 2015 or 2016! Just color changes will happen with the R1, CBR1000rr, GSXR, and ZX10 for the next few seasons. There was no way Honda would dismantle their CBR-line of motorcycles. Honda still sells a lot of CBR1000s even though the bike doesn't do well on the race track. Honestly, the CBR1Krr is a great street bike nonetheless.

You nailed it. But if someone were willing to swap bikes for a session, I would certainly oblige. LMFAO.

Eh, what did I need a retirement account for, anyway?


On a more serious note, how are a pair of $75,000 motorcycles - that's $75,000 before you start prepping them for the track - from Honda and Ducati going to make WSBK and WSTK more accessible to more race teams, or increase the competitiveness of the field?

That's more than US$100 000.

And still less than a current factory race kit that they currently use at National level, let alone WSBK. Special race parts have always been expensive. A family member was the Australian 250GP champion and his domestic A bike cost the sponsors A$300,000 after they bought the 3rd level race kit from Honda. That was still 2 short of the World 250GP bikes - they were considerably faster and more powerful than his bike even after spending a medium sized fortune on it.

Relatively this is cheaper than current bikes - they've shifted the expense from the upgrades to the initial purchase.

That's more than US$100 000.

And still less than a current factory race kit that they currently use at National level, let alone WSBK. Special race parts have always been expensive. A family member was the Australian 250GP champion and his domestic A bike cost the sponsors A$300,000 after they bought the 3rd level race kit from Honda. That was still 2 short of the World 250GP bikes - they were considerably faster and more powerful than his bike even after spending a medium sized fortune on it.

Relatively this is cheaper than current bikes - they've shifted the expense from the upgrades to the initial purchase.

Wonder what the race kit for this critter will set you back ... :)

To run at the front always costs a fortune. Roadracing World just ran in its 10 Years Ago column a story about the Aprilia race department from 2003. The reporter who visited was shown three 250cc GP bikes. The $85,000 one would get you onto the grid. The $500,000 one was a top-10 bike. The top-3 bike was $1 million, but upgrades were included.

I personally knew guys who, four or five years ago, were buying tires directly from Japan so they could win the Ninja 250 races at Willow Springs.

Don't believe for a moment that these 75,000 Euro bikes (thanks for the correction) are anything other than a starting point. The winners are still going to be taking them apart and doing everything within the rules to make them faster.

Subscribers only online. Aprilia Corse department tour information in October 2013 issue, page 8, bottom. Magazine info available at Roadracingworld.com.

it's all going, surely everyones aware of the amount of month BMW chucked at WSBK in order to try to get a world title. Millions of euros. Millions. A 75,000 euro bike from Honda is going to be a steal. Can't see that there's going to be much needed to make it go quick right from the off. Sure it'll need setting up and a few tweeks here and there. But I'd be amazed if that cannot be done for a fraction of what it costs now.

Wondering where this type of thing will lead WSBK and the sport bike market. It's true that the garden variety Japanese 600 and 1000 sales have been caving but I wonder if this is a vaccine or poison for motorcycle racing. What's the difference between a multi million dollar MotoGP prototype and a $75k street bike no one can get their hands on? I say, nothing as far as the larger world of sport riding and racing are concerned. It's just locking the price control for a WSBK machine to factory issuance instead of the teams building them. It'll just be MotoGP-lite.
Nothing wrong with a factory racer package and at that price point. As a halo product though you'd think that would be the top of a pyramid where it's price & limited numbers were followed by a model of similar configuration but mass produced for a third of that cost. In today that would be a V4 sportbike for between $15-20k. BMW and Ducati are doing very well in that price point. Followed on by masses & masses of budget bikes that may sell on association with similar cosmetic style cues.
What we look to have when this comes out is some flagship unobtanium with a $75k theoretical price, a bunch of $10-13k CBR's, and a sea of budget commuter bikes. Something's missing. How about this:
HRC MotoGP RC213V-priceless. (Full on MotoGP factory race bike.)
HRC MotoGP RC1000RR- $1M (Customer RC213V without the factory add ons.)
Honda RC1000R-$75k (Factory WSBK homologation special)
Honda RVF1000-$20k (mass produced street bike based on homologation special without top spec components)
Honda RVT750-$13k (lop off two cylinders & make a street twin with same design lineage as V4)
Honda RVT500-$5k (cheap sporty Vtwin with styling cues that nod to the performance bikes. Beginner bike. Fun, torqy, slim, cool. Compete with KTM390)

The Ducati D16RR was successful because it leveraged the impeccable marketing credentials of 990cc MotoGP competition. If the new 1000cc SBKs move closer to GP design and technology, SBK will appear to be a development series, rather than its own specialized discipline. Furthermore, if manufacturers want to sell $100,000 bikes, would it be smarter to market them as GP replicas or SBKs? Seems like a rhetorical question.

If I ruled the world, Moto2 would move to 500cc twins, according to the previous 3-class GP format. Kids would come up through Moto3 and Moto2, or the national equivalent, but only the sharpest would move to MotoGP. Everyone else goes into the insane circus of WSBK or to a respected national series.

In the interest of cost, SBK would be 600cc/675cc/750cc, but for international competition, the engines would use special pneumatic-valve cylinderheads, rather than the standard spring-valve systems. Pneumatics would make the engines more reliable, at a given rpm ceiling, and simplify engine catalog/distribution rules. The national series would use homologation specials with standard spring valves. Ducati is just desmo across the board.

MotoGP would be the crown jewel at 1000cc, but with SBK at 600cc, the door would be open for displacement reduction in GP, if preferable or necessary. The 1000cc street bikes would be GP replicas. The manufacturers would decide to build a 1000cc GSXR for the common man or a 1000cc RCV for the uncommon plutocrat. No more lame fuel-limited racing with bore limits. Fuel-flow limited racing or rev limited racing. Figure out how to reintroduce the tire war in all series.

It goes off the rails when it tries to dictate the market, or just races under displacement rules that bear no relationship to what you can buy in the showrooms.

GP is the one that ought to be 600cc IMO, with higher fuel limits and any cylinder configuration you like. Rather than pursuing fuel conservation through starving big engines they should be doing it by seeking maximum power from small engines, either way its about getting the maximum power out of each millilitre of fuel consumed. You'd have bikes that howl like F1 cars and I bet within 3 years they'd be back to breaking lap records.

The full-fairing sportbike market is completely off the rails. According to your own maxim, this occurrence is the result of forcing the market towards an undesirable product. Regulators apparently don't like the product, either, as they've tightened emissions and licensing laws. Insurance is also a threat to the SBK industry.

The 1000s are breaking records. They don't howl like F1 cars b/c GP manufacturers can choose the crank phase, exhaust system, and firing order they want. F1 mandates 180-degree crank, 90-degree V8, and 4-into-1 exhaust which creates the signature scream. If MotoGP engines had the same regulations for V4 engines, they would sound very similar to F1. Changing displacement won't make any difference. The bikes didn't scream when they were 800s, though they revved higher than F1 cars.

You can't force manufacturers to build different bikes by changing WSBK rules. In the end they build what they hope will sell and that's that. For me it becomes less interesting when the bikes on track bear no relation to what the fastest street bikes are. As far as MotoGP goes, clearly the sound would be different if you had screamer 600s revving to 20k instead of long stroke 1000s but each to his own as far as that goes. I'd prefer to see more technical variation and innovation in engines which has really been stifled under the 1000cc format with ridiculous fuel regs, which has still driven up cost and driven down factory participation.

They won't stop building litre class sports bikes, so what would be the relevance of 600 'Superbike'. It'd be lame as.

The 1000s could become GP replicas and open class bikes. The manufacturers could build whatever they want and price it how they want, rather than trying to make the current WSBK rules functional on the racetrack and in the showroom. Honda can build their €75,000 V4 RC bikes, and Suzuki can continue building the current GSX-1000R. Whatever they think will work.

The 600s are more clearly defined. They were designed to be raced out of the box, without millions in development parts. The AMA ran 600cc superbikes in the Formula Xtreme class. It was popular with fans and manufacturers.

Are Honda, and Ducati really going to be able to sell 2000 £65,000 motorcycles each in one year to homologate them for production racing?

What are the current homologation requirements? I doubt it would sell in those numbers. Who'd be buying?

20 max for WSBK if they go back to two bike rule?
maybe 6 for each of the national series' (BSB, IDM, AMA, CEV, CIV, roads series', etc) so say 50 tops worldwide?
Club racing privateers? Bwahahaha!
Rich, old guys in plus size leathers, young tech & banking hotshots, & scions of oil oligarchies? Maybe 200?

That wouldn't scratch half of the homologation numbers if it's 2000. Maybe if they change it to 200 and they've got a winner.

There will be a market for them however. Take the D16RR 1000 of years back. Originally 500 were penned for production at about 50000,00 USD a pop. On track they did nothing a 1098R couldn't. Demand for the thing pushed production up to eventually 1500 or so. Tom Cruise has one. WOW!
Back to the HRC model. Obviously they will not unleash it for 2014. They need data from 2014 to assess its potential before making a belly flop with it,hence 2015 proposed. They will astutely watch 2014 and the new rules commensurate unravel before giving it the green light for 2015. Braking new elitist ground for Honda in the sport bike category is nothing new,but,no matter how chic, it will never hold the alure a Ducati exclusive limited edition will command. Price now and price hence.
How much would anyone offer for an NSR 750 vs an original Ducati round crank cover '74 750 Desmo SS? Moot point,but the Japanese dominance of hypersport road bikes is fading fast. The ZX10R is doing a fine job in the hands of Sykes and he will take this years' title. Manufacturer's? Noale is my guess with essentially an old bike,yet highly effective one. Biaggi was probably right when he said a week or so back that the RSV is the best bike to be on. The ZX10R works fine with Tom and crew's ability to set it up right, but for the layman the current Aprilia is the current ticket.
HRC have to start contesting STK and SBK in earnest before they have a chance of selling my ego a 750K L-4.
Very interesting the future of STK. Currently dominated by Kawasaki,BMW and Ducati. How the Dorna/GPC condense the difference between STK AND SBK will be interesting. I reckon they should condense it into a a single class vastly removed from MGP prototype. Get it back to race on Sunday,buy on Monday. Save costs,allow competitive riders and teams in. 750K specials are not an option.

>>Braking new elitist ground for Honda in the sport bike category is nothing new,but,no matter how chic, it will never hold the alure a Ducati exclusive limited edition will command. Price now and price hence.<<

I beg to differ...
I consider myself a ducatista through and through, but one motorcycle that I lust like forever, even more than the Duc 888SP4, is the Honda RC30 (aka VFR750R ...remember those?).
One of the very few bikes that I still trick myself into thinking "I'll own one someday" (riiiight, dream on).


Now, I'm not sure I'll digest the "manga" futuristic look that the images seem to hint this new Honda V4 SBK will have (and that price tag...! *yikes*), but I suspect it may be every bit as special as the RC30 was back in its day.
Personally, I'm way more interested to see it on track than any 'Panigale' version that Ducati may invent.

I love the idea of a homologation special, seems like SBK getting back to it's roots in a way. But IIRC the RC30 was only about twice the price of the cooking model VFR at the time. It was expensive, but not hugely so. The Honda at $100k is similar in price to the Desmosedici RR, and those sold like hot cakes (unmatched 'wow appeal'). However the D16RR was ironically never intended to be a race bike, so the high price was just for cashed up collectors, not struggling race teams.
On the subject of "specialness", I also feel that a really special Honda is at least the equal of a special Ducati. Most of the Ducati specials are by and large the cooking model streetbike with some extra bling (D16RR excepted). The RC30, RC45 and NR750 were supremely exotic and desirable bikes, no doubt in my mind at least.

Correctly the proposed $75K. Nevertheless. I'm all for upsetting the applecart. A WSBK run much along the lines and format of GP would be my ideal. 250cc singles. 500cc twins(rather than 600cc 4's) and 1000cc 4's. Ooops and so what. Ducati have enough experience of 1000cc 4's. Get in the ring. Oddball within the heat of the kitchen is 600cc 4 whether in Moto2 or SS. That's always been driven by the the Japanese 4,but it makes no sense within the ambit of the sport.

If the price of the specials becomes ludicrous they won't be able to sell the numbers needed to homologate them. I personally like the limited run specials that get built, I love drooling over exotic sports bikesand still get a kick out of finding old R7s, ZX7RRs and RC45s in the classifieds. Another way to go would be to just increase the homologation number required.

if any of the above press release had anything to do with Jonathan Rea and Leon Haslam sticking with Ten Kate again. I'm thinking (however wrongly) that maybe Ten Kate know something most don't about this WSBK RCV project...

... and HRC's unprecedented move going to such startling lengths to deny rumours, suggests the absolute opposite is true and the new bike will appear much sooner than mooted.

I think the current problem with the bike being bland is that the bike and suspension can handle more power than it has, a bit like taking 200hp out of a Ferrari. It'd still be fast enough on the street but the car itself wouldn't struggle with the power.

I reckon all that Honda really need to do with the Blade is add enough power that it needs a decent TC system, and then give it one.

The end result would be a lot like the S1000RR, IMO.

I admit, I am a fan of the Fireblade line.

a big big difference between the new Honda and the new panigale is the honda will be good the panigale won't. they can put 220 bhp in the panigale but it already has 220 bhp in sbk form and it doesn't work. even if you put 260 bhp in the panigale it won't work. instead of making big horse power engine they should work on a new frame for the panigale. al bike's from ducati with no frame never worked and wil never work. even the old 1098 is faster!!!

@ Yogi

The Ducati GP machines have always been a "frameless" design. The swingarm has always mounted to the engine and there has always been an upper subframe. The rearsets of the bike were actually part of bodywork. The subframe changed to incorporate the airbox as one unit when it went to carbon fiber.

Once Bridgestone was able to workout the kinks in the tire design, the GP bike was a very well balanced machine. Unfortunately when the spec tire rules came into play it pretty much destroyed the design of the motorcycle.

As far as the new V4 Honda, I thought the rules indicated they only had to produce a certain amount for sale to the public, not necessarily sell them off the showroom floor.

btw, all the rulebooks for MotoGP, Superbike, etc., are available on the FIM website:

Homologations for Superbike, Supersport and Superstock.
A manufacturer
that requests homologation for a
Supersport or Superstock, must observe the following

The manufacturer must have produced at least a quantity of
prior to the homologation inspection
(this number may be adjusted
upwards in 2013, for 2014 models)
. The motorcycle must be on sale to the
public at that time.

The minimum quantity of
units must be reached by the 30
June of the
current year.

The minimum quantity of
units must be reached by the 31
of the current year

The minimum quantity of 2000 units must be reached by the 31
December of
the following year

The ABS or non-ABS variant of the homologated model must be
chassis and for all electric/electronic components. The only exception
will be for all components required with the installation of the ABS
version (i.e.: pump, ABS ECU, hydraulic lines and related wire-loom
and sensors).

All ABS and non-ABS versions will count towards the total required
production number into one FIM homologation.

The homologated sub variant (i.e. ABS version or the non-ABS version)
will be produced in 250 units as minimum quantity.

Only one homologated throttle body and air box may be used or
approved without regard of the sub variant.

Proof of production quantities must be provided by certified documentation
as stated in Article 2.9.2

But it becomes a very expensive way to win WSBK if they build 2000 expensive motorcycles that don't sell. But it's a moot point, the more exclusive they are the faster they'll sell, by the time the new Honda is pre released virtually every unit will be spoken for such is the excitement surrounding it.

Well summed up. In a semi-nutshell, bring back the tyre war. Hell,old Valentino himself said years back something to the effect that if the tyres don't work on the day you are f'cked. Hence his chase after Bridgestone. I don't blame his quest given the scenario of the day. Flyaway races. Bridgestone call the shots right now on any Sunday. That situation governed by current rules is a tarmac contact patch monopoly within the sport.
Something like banking kleptocrisy. I rob a bank and get caught, I sit in Parc Ferme for 25 to life. The bank robs me and the CEO's get paid bonuses.
I don't know how interested other Eastern tyre manufacturers are within the ambit of the sport but sure, a hell of a business opportunity is available through all classes. And if the tyre war should ever be resumed,keep it strictly business within the interests of the sport. No preference relative to Bike manufacturer, team, nor rider.

Unfortunately PitBull I don't think there is an economic climate for a tire war right now.

The thing about the spec tire that bothered me the most was that no one was complaining when Michelin dominated for some 13 years in a row during the tire wars. IMO, and this is not being critical of Rossi, but I believe no one cared because Dorna's cash cow was winning. When BS got the formula right in 2007 by creating a tire that worked in a wider operating range, and Michelin couldn't figure it out without the over night specials, it created a persona that Dorna couldn't live with. I believe that Michelin would have eventually came good on making a tire equal to BS, and this would have allowed the tire companies to cater to each team.

We now have the factories dumping a stupid amount of money in making sure the bike works with the tire design, instead of the other way around. It's cheaper for the tire companies to make a specific tire, than a factory making a bike specific for a tire.

I hope Hayden gets to run the RCV1000R which paves the way for him to running the production V4 blade in WSBK. I've wanted to see Hayden in WSBK since 2010.