1982~1983: THE 'NS500' TWO STROKE: If you can't beat them etc etc... Honda's FIRST Grand Prix Machine with a TWO STROKE ENGINE appeared in 1982. Honda were determined to win the 500cc (Senior) World Motorcycle Championship, the 'NR' Series were quietly put aside and 'two stroke' technology was adopted to take the fight to the opposition. Of course Honda being Honda the engine design had to be different, a three cylinder V formation! Cylinders one and three faced rearward, allowing for easier exhaust pipework and cylinder two, positioned forward had the exhaust pipework routed under the engine, exiting under the right hand side foot peg. One of the thoughts behind the V3 was to offer a frontal area no wider than a 250cc machine.
American Freddie Spencer was chosen by Honda to campaign their first two stroke 500cc machine, he won the World Championship in 1983 by a mere two points from fellow American 'three time world champion' Kenny Roberts and Yamaha. Spencer became the youngest ever 500cc World Champion at just 21 years of age.
The NS500 Racer engine was a 500cc three cylinder 'two stroke' V3 with a piston reed valve arrangement, producing over 122PS at 11,000rpm.
1984: THE 'NS500' TWO STROKE: This was the last 'V3' NS500 manufactured for Freddie Spencer. Freddie used this motorcycle in the 1984 500cc World Motorcycle Championship in selected events as well as the NSR500 V4.
This NS500 Racer engine was a 500cc three cylinder 'two stroke' V3 with a piston reed valve arrangement, producing 127.5PS at 11,000rpm.
1984: THE 'NSR500' TWO STROKE: Following on from their success in 1983, Honda further developed the 'two stroke' V format developing a V4 to combat the increasing performance of opposition manufacturers. Whilst the concept of locating the fuel tank under and the exhausts over seemed logical, heat issues and a change in the mass centre as the fuel load decreased upset the handling.
American Freddie Spencer once again headed Honda's 'two stroke' campaign, however he could only manage fourth place in the 1984 World Motorcycle Championship following three wins on the NSR500 V4 and two wins on the NS500 V3.
The NSR500 Racer engine was a 500cc four cylinder 'two stroke' ninety degree V4 with a reed valve arrangement, producing 140PS.
1986: THE 'ELF3' - (NS500): In 1985 Honda took a 'new direction' with their two stroke engines, supplying engines to selected teams. One very unique donor motorcycle was the 'ELF3', this motorcycle had a single sided rear suspension and an extremely radical front suspension purported to offer a fixed wheelbase regardless of suspension action. This motorcycle was raced by UK rider Ron Haslam.
The NS500 engine was a 500cc three cylinder 'two stroke' one hundred and twelve degree V3 with a reed valve arrangement, producing over 127PS at 11,000rpm.
1988: THE 'ELF5' - (1987 NSR500): Into 1988 Honda continued there involvement with the ELF project providing improved power in the form of the NSR500 V4 engine.
The NSR500 engine was a 500cc four cylinder 'two stroke' one hundred and twelve degree V4 with a reed valve arrangement, producing over 150PS at 12,500rpm.
1988~1989: WAYNE GARDNER & THE 'ROTHMANS NSR500': With a revised chassis and sponsorship, Honda's fifth generation 'factory entry' NSR in the hands of Australia's Wayne Gardner finished the 1988 500cc (Senior) World Motorcycle Championship in second place.
In 1987, Wayne Gardner campaigned a similar specification machine and won the 500cc (Senior) World Motorcycle Championship, the first Australian to win the Senior class.
The NSR500 engine was a 500cc four cylinder 'two stroke' V4 with a reed valve arrangement, producing 150PS.
THE 'NSR's AND 'ELF' DISPLAY':
HONDA'S MASTERPIECE 'NSR':
HONDA'S 'TWO STROKE & FOUR STROKE' ATTACK: Throughout the 1990's Honda persisted with two stroke Grand Prix racers with continued success in the early part of the following decade, ultimately a generational change in 2003 witnessed Honda's return to four stroke engines in the premier class. Honda persisted with two stroke racing in the smaller capacity classes with considerable success.
Honda also increased the pressure on other manufacturers in World Superbike racing with V four and V twin four stroke machinery, for more Honda racing activities please select from the following pages:
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