Honda Launch Production MotoGP Racer: 0.3 Seconds Slower, For A Third Of The Price

Honda today officially unveiled one of the most eagerly anticipated motorcycles of recent years, and a key bike in the future of MotoGP. At the Valencia circuit, Honda unveiled the Honda RCV1000R, their production MotoGP racer, for entry in the Open class, which is to replace the CRT class for last year. The bike is a close sibling of the factory Honda RC213V raced by Marc Marquez, Dani Pedrosa, Alvaro Bautista and Stefan Bradl, with a few modifications to make the bike cheaper to produce. This means that while the engine configuration is identical - a 90° V4 - the engine runs conventional metal valve springs rather than the pneumatic valves run by the factory bikes, and a conventional gearbox rather than a seamless transmission. The chassis geometry is also identical, though there are minor differences in chassis stiffness between the two bikes.

The RCV1000R will run the spec Magneti Marelli hardware and Dorna software, rather than Honda's custom and highly complex electronics package run on the factory bikes. One sign of that was the lack of torque sensor on the bike output shaft which is used on the factory Honda. The bike will have a 24 liter fuel allowance, though Honda do not expect to need that fuel. They will also have 12 engines to last a season, instead of the 5 allowed for factory entries.

Despite the limitations, Honda quotes the power output as being 'over 175kW', or over 235 horsepower. That is probably 15 to 20 hp down on the factory bike, but despite the lack of horsepower, the bike was still fast. HRC Vice President Shuhei Nakamoto said the bike was 0.3 seconds slower than the factory bike when tested on the same day, by the same rider, and on the same tires. When the bike was fitted with the special soft Bridgestones the current CRT bikes are allowed to use, that bike dropped to 0.1 seconds. Asked whether that difference in times were set by Casey Stoner or a Honda test rider, Nakamoto quipped 'Both, Casey Stoner is a Honda test rider!' 

Such a small gap between the two bikes was met with some scepticism, from some surprising quarters. Aspar team manager Gino Borsoi told that he expected the gap to be nearer 0.7 seconds than 0.3, citing the quoted price as a reason. 'Why would a satellite team spend 3 million euros, if the gap is only 0.3 seconds with a bike which costs just 1 million?'

That is a good question, and if the Honda is as good as HRC says, then there really is no reason for satellite teams to spend the extra money. The RCV1000R is set to cost 1.2 million euros for the first year, and 550,000 euros for the upgrade package in the second year of a two-year deal. With the total cost of ownership coming in at just under 900,000 euros a season, the extra performance of a satellite bike would cost around a million euros per tenth of a second. If the gap is larger, then that proposition would make more sense. The bike is not a pure purchase proposition either: the teams paying the money will only get to keep the bikes at the end of the two-year contract, after they become effectively obsolete. Before that time, all engine maintenance will still be done by HRC, and Honda will not allow the team to make modifications to the engine.

The bike will first hit the track on Monday, with Nicky Hayden, Scott Redding and Aspar's second rider - due to be announced after the race on Sunday - at the helm. They will have to share testing duties, as HRC only has two bikes present at the circuit. Nicky Hayden was already looking forward to riding the bike on Monday. 'When Honda they get serious about making bikes, they make really nice stuff, so for sure I expect a lot from it,' he told the press conference. Testing commences at Valencia on Monday at noon, and continues for two more days.

Below are the press releases issued by Honda, and after the press releases, a full selection of photos of the bike.


Honda unveiled its RCV1000R production racer at Valencia this afternoon, just four days before the machine makes its European track debut during Monday’s first offseason tests.

The objective of the RCV1000R – based closely on the RC213V that currently leads both the riders and constructors’ World Championships – is to give private riders and teams a fighting chance in MotoGP.

The RCV1000R will be made in limited quantity and sold to private teams for use in next year’s World Championship. Already down to ride the bike are Honda’s former MotoGP World Champion Nicky Hayden, Moto2 race winner Scott Redding and Czech privateer Karel Abraham.

The 999.5cc RCV1000R looks and sounds like the RC213V, using the same 90 degree V4 configuration and firing order as the factory bike, as well as the same chassis geometry. However, there are some crucial differences in technical specification, most significantly the bike uses conventional steel valve springs instead of the factory bike’s pneumatic valve springs and a conventional gearbox instead of the factory bike’s ‘seamless shift’ gearbox. Both these technologies were deemed inappropriate for private teams who go racing on tight budgets.

“This project is very important to Honda,” said Shuhei Nakamoto, Executive Vice President of the Honda Racing Corporation. “The gap between the factory bikes and the current CRT machines [which use engines from street superbikes] was a little too big, so this is the way we like to help private teams – this is the main concept. The target was to produce a reasonably competitive machine for a reasonable price.”

Like other so-called Open machines (ie non-factory), the RCV1000R runs control electronics hardware and software – by Magneti Marelli – instead of factory-spec electronics.

The bike has already been tested by Honda’s 2011 MotoGP World Champion Casey Stoner, who was pleasantly surprised by its impressive performance. At Motegi in Japan, the Australian was just 0.3 seconds slower on the RCV1000R than on an RC213V, using the same tyres. Once the machine had been fitted with a softer rear slick, only available to Open bike riders, the gap shrunk to just 0.17 seconds.

This is not the first time that Honda has supported the premier class with production machinery designed to help riders compete at the highest level in World Championship races.

Throughout the 1980s the factory’s three-cylinder RS500 production racer – based on the title-winning NS500 – was a mainstay of 500 GP grids. And in the late 1990s the company’s NSR500V twin once again gave private teams a chance to compete. One of these machines was the last privateer bike to score a premier-class podium, when Alex Barros finished third at the 1997 British GP. That year Barros bettered several factory machines in the final World Championship standings.

Honda has also enjoyed a close relationship with private riders and teams in the smaller Grand Prix classes, marketing four-stroke machinery during the 1960s and two-stroke 250s and 125s from the 1980s onwards. Honda’s current NS250F four-stroke – built specifically to the requirements of privateers – accounts for almost half the grid in the Moto3 World Championship.

Honda Racing Corporation unveils RCV1000R for 2014

Today in Valencia, Honda Racing Corporation introduced the Honda RCV1000R prototype machine to be used from 2014 in the MotoGP "Open" Class (prototype machines with Magneti Marelli hardware and software, 24 litre tank and 12 engines per season). The goal of this new machine, which will be sold and not leased to the teams, is to compete in MotoGP with a reasonable budget.

Together with HRC Executive Vice President, Shuhei Nakamoto, Project leader, Tomonori Sato, presented the final machine to the World’s media, in anticipation of it’s first outing with the customer teams next Monday at the post-race Valencia test. The RCV1000R chassis is based on the current RC213V prototype bike, as is the engine - a 90º V4 producing over 175KW of power at 16,000rpm, utilising spring valves and a traditional gear box. The bike will be delivered with Öhlins suspension and Nissin brakes.

Four riders will race on the RCV1000R in 2014, Nicky Hayden and TBC second rider (Aspar Team), Scott Redding (Honda Gresini Team) and Karel Abraham (Cardion AB Team). HRC test rider and two-time World Champion, Casey Stoner, has already tested the RCV1000R and provided positive f

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... the 990 era of MotoGP when the bikes were still trick and absurdly fast, but simpler and far more accessible for private teams to afford. Would love to see the series head back in this direction, and it sounds like it ultimately will.

Fantastic gallery btw!

That thing is bad ass. A step (back) in the right direction: cheaper, less electronics, more fuel, and more engines. It is THE benchmark for any new factory entry in my view, and Ducati as well. This would beat the aqua blue snot out of the Suzuki right now for instance. Provides a transitional step and I hope is the bell signaling the death of the fuel limits AND the ushering in of another manufacturer or two as our economy regains footing. Knock knock Kawasaki, BMW, Aprilia, and KTM - come on in, the water is getting less chilly in here!
P.S. please bring back the slides and alternate lines now that we can burn fuel to manage braking and traction.

"and Honda will not allow the team to make modifications to the engine." so, in the end is just a cheap (and slower) satelite bike: Big Woop

at 0.3 secs. off the pace of the factory bikes. For Hayden at least as a motoGp WC, this must cause mixed emotions: if he's slower than 0.3 secs., can he put it down to a): Stoner having more time on the bike, b): Stoner 'developing a bike only he can ride', or c): (pick one..)

If the proddie can get to within 0.1 on the same tyres as the factory bike, then either it is one heck of a weapon for the relative money or Stoner's reputation as being able to flog anything with two hoops of rubber on it beyond its fundamental limitations is going to become even more entrenched. In the latter case, see also: Hailwood, Mike.

Seems they forgot the shield cover on the rear wheel speed sensor wire : )

Good to see Honda put in a solid effort here, afterall its their name on the bikes, but I seem to recall them being coerced into building these and fought it vehneminetly up until Dorna repealed the rookie rule and they promptly confirmed plans to build the production racers two days later.

... they've also put the remote preload adjuster right where Marquez can reach over mid-corner and give his rivals suspension a bit of a mid-race 'tweak' : )

It speaks to the internal hubris of HRC to just how they allowed the situation to exist with the whole traction control wire vulnerability in the first place, that only a few weeks after they had sanctions against team and consequentially their rider that they release a hugely important new model with exactly the same problem.

Honda are an amazing company and create wonders sometimes but then they can be almost the opposite and create things like the CTX1300!

Pedrosa's bike had a straight sensor with a considerable service loop, where it was cut. This design has a right angle sensor that is inherently low profile and does not have any service loop. The wire is closely routed along the top inside edge of the swingarm where the accelerometer used to be.


- Nissin brakes. But Ohlins.
- No carbon cover on the rear wheel speed sensor.
- 1989 CB400RR NC23 kill switch. Nice!

It will be slower in qualifying so will struggle to be above mid pack. But what will be interesting is the effect in race trim compared with a 20L factory prototype. Softer rear tyre plus optimal fueling but less clever electronics. It's not clear to me at all what the difference in race pace will be. The problem even for a quality rider will be starting from the 3rd row.

If HRC would allow Brembo brakes on it? It's a gorgeous piece of engineering. As all racing Hondas have always been. I'm really looking forwards to seeing it ridden on Monday, but even more interested to see it at Sepang in the new year once the teams that have ponied up the dollar (or in this case euros) have had a chance to set it up properly.

If it's as quick as HRC say it is, we should be in for an interesting year next year!! I have to say though, if I was Aspar et al, and I was told my riders would have to "share" the bike. I'd be having words with Nakamoto-san. That's a poor show in my opinion.

If this thing is indeed as quick as Honda says it is, if Dorna decides to try to boot "factories" and "prototypes" from the series, Honda already will be fully up to speed and still kicking everyone's butts.

You can criticize them all you want - I have nothing but admiration for this factory and its ability to produce amazing GP machines, whether they be budget-restricted or full factory efforts.

I hope the production racers are suprisingly competitive, but it's highly unlikely that this bike will be .1 seconds off the RC214V, especially the Repsol bikes.

I'm all for hopeful thinking but I think we all should take Honda's PR statements with a grain of salt.

Anyone notice how its times were compared to the RC213V and not the new bike? Until we see what the RC214V can do, those times don't mean much. According to Honda, even with the soft tire, it was .17 seconds off the prototype's times. That's actually closer to .2 seconds. And the testing was very limited. How many laps did Stoner match that pace? No mention.

You can add two or three tenths when the 2014 bikes are on track. And that's at the beginning of the season.

It's 15-20 hp down without the seamless gearbox and with spec electronics. Oh, and without Casey Stoner. If it's closer to .5-.6 seconds off the factory bikes, that would be a triumph. And it would still put it mid-pack, which will make those battles a little more interesting, but it won't be very close to the factory and satellite Hondas very often. The statement about pneumatic valves and the seamless gearbox not being approprate for teams on tight budgets is pretty clearly bullsh*t. Nakamoto has stated more than once that the seamless box no longer costs significantly more than the conventional one and some of the CRT teams were running pneumatic valves.

And as suspected, there will be no tinkering with the bikes by the teams. It's pretty obvious Honda will have control over their performance. And why would anyone think otherwise? It makes no sense for them to make a much cheaper, truly competitive bike as long as the prototypes are still around.

That said, it does look like a nice piece, as par for the course with Honda, and I'm very interested to see what it actually does on track. Hopefully it gives the Ducatis and the Tech 3s some troubles.

They say that they are building a faster bike than the current CRTs for about the same price, nothing deceptive. Honda never said this would be as fast as the RCs and it would be silly to expect it. .2 or .5 off the Repsol bikes, they are still ahead of all the CRTs and Ducatis.

As far as the components, this is a production racer. Privateer 2 strokes were always a couple of steps behind the factory bikes too. I don't think pneumatics are necessary for this bike. The CRTs running pneumatic valve springs are trying to eek every last Hp out of a production base engine. The Honda engine is a race engine design from the ground up so is likely more efficient to begin with so without a sky high rpm limit there is no reason to go gas. Springs are much lower cost and less maintenance than a pneumatic setup. They can't use a seamless gearbox because that uses electronic control strageties (the sprocket mounted torque transducer) that are not available with the spec software.

I wonder what it would take to get one of the engines shipped to my front door in a crate? I know a chassis design ready for a compact V4.......


...there are a lot of people, not just here, but on other sites who are hoping that this bike will consistently run close to the prototypes based on this press release. Of course I expect this bike to be faster than the CRTs and glad that it will be but chances are that 'll be significantly slower than the factory and satellite bikes. Aspar doesn't even believe Honda's claims.

Notice I didn't use the word deception; I think this is more of a case of Honda presenting the bike's capabilities in the best light possible, which is expected. But we should try to read between the lines. Comparing its times to the RC213V isn't wholly relevant because there will be no 213s in the field. It does give a frame of reference, but in essence it only means that it's slower than last year's model--and we don't even know for sure what spec that 213 was.

Honda, understandably, has a vested interest in preserving the status quo. They're also keen to be percieved as helping to level the playing field--and they are, but only to a limited degree. They are helping independent teams stay in the series with decent equipment and the mid-field competition will heat up a bit. That's good. But what the series really needs is more bikes at the front with at least a reasonable chance of competing for wins. That won't happen under the current rules unless more factories enter or the rules change in 2017 and lessen the influence and resources of the factories.

I'll disagree on one point. I think Honda is being a little cheeky about the cost issue. There was a lot of development done on this bike. It's basically a neutered 213V. I have a hard time believing that it would have been significantly more expensive to sell satellite spec 213Vs to the teams. Most of the costs in these bikes are soft costs. All of development is done and the whatever tooling is required exists. Maybe some parts are hand machined. But how many RCVRs are they going to make? Six, eight, ten? What are they going to mass produce?

Sorry, I don't buy the cost angle. It seems like cover to obfuscate a very carefully considered performance hierarchy. And considering that we now know that Honda will allow no modifications to the bikes and they're not even really for sale, it only lends more creedence to that suspicion.

Back to agreement: I'd also like to get a hold of one of those engines.

EDIT: I have to point out that, as one of the commenters stated below, the naming convention for the RCV prototypes is not based on model year, so, in fact, the 2014 model will still be called an RC213V. This is something I completely forgot about. Considering this, it's only fair to give Honda the benefit of the doubt and assume that Stoner's times were set on 2014 model, although it's not clear because they didn't specify. I guess we'll know more on Monday. I'll stand by the rest of the comment.

MotoGP is a multi tiered competition. This is what sucks about MotoGP these days. However, Honda are not trying to win races with this bike. They are simply trying to win the tier that it sits within. I fully expect that once its performance, within its tier in a racing situation is known, the bike will be tweaked to make sure that it is winning that competition.

Couldn't agree more.

There will always be disparities in the competition. But it's pretty out of whack now. Only four bikes, and possibly three riders, have a realistic chance of winning. No one else is really close. The sport has also grown way beyond the days when you had a bunch of factory teams and a bunch of privateers operating out of vans. Every team, from Repsol down to PBM has to have a big ball of money even to be able to compete. That means you need a lot of sponsors and big TV contracts. And sponsors don't want to hear that their team has spent a lot of their money to finish 12th every race and they don't really have a snowball's chance in hell to do much better.

The sport will not prosper on the backs of nerds like us who ooh and ah over Lorenzo's inch perfect lines or the latest electo-wizardry. It needs closer competition and more potential winners.

Was the time difference taken in qualifying trim on each bike? And if in race trim on the prototype was that 20L race fuelling or 21L. Too many unknowns in all this.

If it was Casey riding, I have to assume they'd do most of the testing in qualifying trim with a nearly empty tank. But we still don't know, and they won't talk, about race trim and how different that is.

the times. Or if they are real, then were there extenuating circumstances such as "was the cheap model running HRC software?"

It will be hard for the sat teams if the budget Honda is up with them or faster but maybe this will simply set the bar to a new high for everyone but the Factory teams.

What the grid looks like in 3 years time is going to be very interesting.

I think the important question is which ECU and and what software maps was the motorcycle using when Stoner set times that were so close to the prototype. And as someone else said earlier, they are probably pitting this bike against this year's prototype and not the next year's. But then I do not expect the new prototype to be faster than the old by some 2 or 3 seconds. I think the more crucial question here is the software maps.

And after somebody has bought the bike from Honda it becomes their property isn't it? Then how can HRC say nothing can be changed on the motorcycle? This kind of scepticism aside, I am sure that the production racer will give prototypes a run for their money, especially if the rider is good (Nicky Hayden?).

Well, that sounds exciting - a entirely different selection of inferior machines trundling around behind the three Spaniards and their doctor. Maybe not quite thrilling enough to get me out of bed to watch it live, but at least there's the compensation of being able to FF>> through the preliminaries, the ads and most of the processional races.

Point of correction, the new bike from honda for Repsol isn't a 214, it's still a 213.
the 21 stands for the 21st Century and the 3 the model. The 990 was No 1, the 800 NBo 2 and the 1000 cc No 3.......
It's simply a 213, for 2104....

And something I totally forgot about. One can then presume that the times were compared to the new bike, although it's not clear. I guess we'll get a better idea on Monday. Thanks.

What's the point of having the extra fuel and double the engine count, if neither the engine nor the spec ECU software can be modified to exploit them?