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Honda RC51 – Final Thoughts

Many readers have asked about the dry weight of the Honda RC51 (a claimed 441 pounds), and why it is so high relative to some of the other, recently introduced sportbikes. Here are some of Honda’s comments from the press intro on this subject, and some of my own thoughts.

As I mentioned yesterday, the RC51 chassis weight is high due to the strength and rigidity requirements of professional superbike racing. If you think about it, as long as Honda can take the homologated street bike down to the minimum weight permitted by relevant superbike rules (and they certainly can with the magnesium, titanium and carbon fiber parts used on their racers), their main concern is to make the homologated street version serve as the best starting point for their race bikes. Period.

Honda’s Doug Tohland also pointed out that a 1000cc V-twin motor is inherently heavier than an inline 4-cylinder motor. In part, this is due to the existence of two-cylinder casings in the V-twin configuration. This probably explains why all recent V-twin superbike platforms (Suzuki TL1100R, Ducati 996 and Aprillia RSV Mille) comfortably exceed 400 pounds dry weight, while newer inline four-cylinder designs (such as the R1 and 929RR) are comfortably under 400 pounds. The RC51 is “in the ballpark” weight-wise with modern V-twin designs.

Besides, the RC51 (at some $5,000.00 less than a Ducati 996) is worthy of some after-market weight-saving parts. Titanium pipes? Titanium sub-frame? Carbon fiber/Kevlar gas tank? Magnesium wheels? You can trust that all of these will be available and more. If you want your V-twin to be as light as the latest inline fours, you’ll need to invest in parts like these whether you own an RC51 or a competitors’ V-twin.

By the way, Honda’s superbike “kit” parts are still in development. Final component specs and prices are not yet available.