Into the 1960's and Honda surprised the competition and race fans by continually developing outrageous racing machinery and winning across all engine capacities with engine configurations and rev limits previously unheard of...
1960: THE 'RC143': Honda's first World Motorcycle Championship victory came during the 1961 125cc Spanish Grand Prix. Australian, Tom Phillis took the chequered for Honda. The machine is a 125cc twin with DOHC valve gear operated by 'bevel gear shaft drive'! The engine produced 23PS at 14,000rpm and incorporated a six speed transmission.
1960: THE 'RC161': Honda's first World Motorcycle Championship entry in the 250cc class, amazingly appeared at the Isle of Man, not the easiest choice of circuit for a new machine! The motorcycle, in the hands of Japanese rider Moto Kitano, finished a respectable fifth outright. The engine is a 250cc four cylinder, four valve DOHC and gear driven cams. The engine produced 38PS at 14,000rpm and incorporated a six speed transmission.
1961: THE 'RC162': In 1961 Honda dramatically revised their entry in the 250cc World Motorcycle Championship, incorporating a stronger double backbone frame and engine lubrication changed from wet sump to a dry sump system. Mike Hailwood rode the machine to five victories, winning the Rider's Championship and the machine won a total of ten of the eleven races to easily win the Manufacturers Championship. The engine is a 250cc four cylinder, four valve DOHC with gear driven cams. The engine produced 45PS and incorporated a six speed transmission.
1962: THE 'RC163': In 1962 Honda had even greater success in the 250cc World Motorcycle Championship. Jim Redman rode the machine to win all nine rounds of the championship, winning the Rider's Championship and the Manufacturers Championship for Honda. The engine is a 250cc four cylinder, four valve DOHC with gear driven cams. The engine produced 46PS at 14,000rpm and incorporated a six speed transmission.
1962: THE 'RC112': The world's first four stroke 50cc Racer incorporating a twin cylinder DOHC engine which produced 10PS at a somewhat staggering rev limit of 17,500rpm, all this power was delivered to the road through a nine speed gearbox. The RC112 was ridden to victory at the inaugural All Japan Road Race at Suzuka, the rider Northern Ireland's Tommy Robb.
1962: THE 'RC145': This machine won the 125cc World Motorcycle Championship in 1961 and 1962 in the hands of Luigi Taveri. The engine was a 125cc twin with DOHC and four valve heads, producing 24PS at 14,000rpm with a six speed transmission. The camshafts were driven by a series of gears rather than earlier bevel gear arrangements.
1962: THE 'CR72' DREAM RACING: This production racer was developed for clubman racing and it incorporated GP racer technology. Competing against works machinery the motorcycle finished third in the 1963 250cc Isle of Man TT race, a remarkable achievement. The engine was a 247.35cc twin with a DOHC gear driven four valve head, producing 25PS at 9,500rpm with a six speed transmission.
1962: THE 'CR93' BENLY RACING: A 125cc 'Production Racer' designed to GP Standards for clubman racing. Competing against works machinery the motorcycle finished third in the 1962 125cc Isle of Man TT race, a remarkable achievement. The engine was a 124.8cc twin with a DOHC gear driven two valve head, producing 21.5PS at 13,500rpm with a five speed transmission.
1962: THE 'CR110': A 50cc 'Cub Racer' was entered in the the 1962 Isle of Man TT, it competed against works machinery from other manufacturers and finished the race in ninth place, a remarkable achievement. The engine was a 50cc single with a DOHC four valve head, producing 8.5PS at 13,500rpm with an eight speed transmission.
1962: THE 'CYB72': Based on the CB72 this motorcycle is equipped with the genuine Honda Race Kit. The motorcycle was entered in endurance and clubman races. The engine was a 247cc twin with an OHC two valve head, producing 31PS at 10,500rpm with a five speed transmission.
1963: THE 'W3XCR77': Based on the CR77, this works racer in the hands of Jim Redman came second in the 1963 Finland Grand Prix. The engine was a 305cc twin with a DOHC four valve head, producing 40PS with a six speed transmission.
1965: THE 'RC115E' ENGINE: This engine powered the RC115 to domination in the 50cc World Motorcycle Championship. The engine was a 50cc twin with DOHC and four valve heads, producing 13PS at 20,000rpm! all this was delivered to the ground through a nine speed transmission. The camshafts were driven by a series of gears.
1966: THE 'RC149': I was privileged to meet Luigi Taveri at the Isle of Man Centenary TT of 2007, I was further privileged to view and photograph his championship winning RC149. This motorcycle has some of the most outrageous specifications of Honda's Golden Age of racing. The motorcycle in the hands of Luigi Taveri won the 1966 Rider's Championship and the fourth Manufacturers Championship in the 125cc class for Honda.
The engine is a 125cc, 5 cylinder across the frame, with a DOHC 4 valve head arrangement. The truly outstanding achievement is that the engine produced 34PS at an astounding 20,500rpm redline! Honda have placed this machine in the main entry to the Collection Hall and it is very appropriate.
1967: THE 'RC181': Honda wanted to add the 500cc World Motorcycle Championship to their trophy cabinet in 1967, Mike Hailwood rode the RC181 competing against the might of MV Agusta and Giacomo Agostini and despite each rider winning five races each the title again went to Agostini and MV as a result of the final race standings.
The RC181 engine was a 500cc, 4 cylinder across the frame, with a DOHC 4 valve head arrangement. The engine produced 85PS at 12,000rpm with a six speed transmission.
1967: THE 'CB450' RACER: Based on the production CB450 with a sprinkling of RC181 exterior components and 'racing' carburettors, the CB450 Racer competed in the 1967 Daytona 200.
The CB450 Racer engine was a 444cc twin cylinder with a DOHC 4 valve head arrangement. The engine produced 53PS at 11,000rpm with a four speed transmission.
HONDA'S MASTERPIECE 'FIVE':
HONDA'S BIG SHOCK: Honda achieved so much throughout the 1960's and it seemed impossible but they decided at the end of 1967 to retire from all World Motorcycle Championship Racing, this despite the fact that numerous riders were rumoured to have already signed for the 1968 season and the rumours of even more outrageous machinery and engine configurations.
Honda did continue in a somewhat limited way, the Honda RSC (Racing Services Club) continued, offering special race parts and support to various countries race teams.
In 1970 Honda decided to enter the Daytona 200 Mile Race, no doubt to show off the racing capabilities of the magnificent CB750/4 motorcycle, for my links to the Daytona 200 and subsequent Honda racing activities please select from the following pages:
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