REVEALED: 2016 Honda RC213V-S

Our Tech Editor provides many details about Honda’s new $184,000 street-legal MotoGP replica.

2016 Honda RC213V-S studio 3/4 view

_Word is spreading like wildfire today about the new Honda RC213V-S, the street-legal MotoGP replica that will be sold as a 2016 model for a cool $184,000. Starting at 3:00 p.m. PST on July 12, reservations for this limited-production bike can be made only at the bike's official website: www.RC213V-S.com.

The RC213V-S, originally unveiled in prototype form at Italy's EICMA show last November, is based on the RC213V that Marc Marquez rode to the last two MotoGP world championships, and Honda says the new street-legal machine is "closer to a MotoGP bike than any road-going model ever offered to the public."

A few details: The RC213V-S is built in an exclusive workshop in the Kumamoto factory, and it’s powered by a compact 90-degree 999cc V-4 with titanium connecting rods. Mass is highly centralized, and race-derived features include an under-seat fuel tank and carbon-fiber-reinforced-plastic fairing. Honda says these parts come directly from the MotoGP bike: the swingarm, the slipper clutch, the magnesium Marchesini wheels (17 inch for the RC213V-S), the Öhlins fork, the adjustable footrests and foot controls, plus most of the Brembo brake components. The RC213V-S also has throttle-by-wire, selectable power modes, engine-brake control and traction control, with position-detection technology.

Cycle World Tech Editor, Kevin Cameron, has been in Barcelona, Spain, and he was present at the unveiling of the new RC213V-S. Cameron reports:_

2016 Honda RC213V-S studio rear 3/4 view

Here I am at the keyboard, just back to the hotel. Price is 188,000 euros . The power kit, which costs 12,000 euros in permitted areas, won’t be available in the US (but if you can afford the bike, just phone your crew, have ’em gas up the jet and then you or your designee pops over to Europe to pick up the kit).

Honda emphasizes (perhaps overemphasizes) that the RC213V-S replicates the maneuverability experience of MotoGP, but not the power. When I asked specifically what parts are actually interchangeable with the real deal I was told 80 percent are the same. For the US model, engine rpm is severely reduced. Europe models rev to 12,000, with the power kit extending that to 14,000. The US model revs only to a disappointing 9,400 rpm (there is no room on this very dense machine to place the exhaust volumes required for US noise levels, so rpm was just cut back until it could pass).

Yes, the 2016 Honda RC213V-S has metal valve springs with all their problems, and yes, even with the power kit and the 14,000-rpm peak, the bike is not at World Superbike level. But the parts, the fit, and the finish are lovely, and my magnet sticks only where it should—front and rear axles brake discs (o carbon discs). The rest of the fasteners are titanium.

And what have we here under the seat? It’s one of the two control motors for the exhaust pipe valves, so useful in controlling engine-braking effects. Exhausts emerge from the front head at 90 degrees to the cylinder centerline, and from the rear head at a radial updraft angle to make the header pipes clear what must be cleared. Love that press-formed, welded aluminum gas tank, which makes the onlooker think of an exotic species of mushroom. Most of the fuel is under the seat, with a forward/upward excrescence that bears the filler cap. Every available space is filled with fascinating electronics, connectors, junction boxes. Everything is eye candy that rewards prolonged staring. Contemplate!

2016 Honda RC213V-S stripped view

Street stuff? Mirrors integrate into right and left lever guards and emerge from the handlebar ends. The license plate bracket and rear directionals suspend from a prong emerging from under the well-ventilated seat (hot exhaust plumbing inside). Headlights are hidden in what looks like the front fairing intake, and front directionals mount to the fairing sides. Race bikes are dense—all space is taken, so fitting in any kind of extra exhaust muffling volume was hard. The front pair of pipes runs under the engine, right next to the deep “dagger” oil sump on the right. Q pressed stainless exhaust is fitted between sump and rear tire.

Engine castings? Nice sand-cast stuff, shaped like the stresses it must contain—nature’s way of imposing beauty upon us. The front engine mount, so significant because it is low on the front cylinder mass, is part of designed-in lateral flexibility so necessary today in providing rider “feel” at the front. Why sand-cast? Sand castings can be heat-treated for elevated strength, and anyway, there is no production model on which to amortize the high cost of casting dies. Welds? Satisfying to contemplate, a piano recital without one mistake. Years ago, there was an engineer named Kudo whose apparent function was to make ordinary parts like brake levers look as if made by gods—or at least by Honda. Art does not come just in ornate gold frames on pedestals. This is art, just as surely as are the motions of the top riders in MotoGP.

Marc Marquez testing the 2016 Honda RC213V-S

The cylinders of the new Honda RC213V-S are integrated into the upper crankcase casting, not separate parts, and for those of you who wonder how a 90-degree V-4 can fit into a compact wheelbase, the gearbox is entirely contained under the vertical noon shadow of the rear cylinder pair.

Might I recommend buying these bikes in pairs? After all, the originals, the MotoGP Hondas that will start practice tomorrow for the GP here at Catalunya, are always in pairs—the ‘A’ bike and the ‘B’ bike that every rider has. Also, this would allow the owner to attempt Marc Marquez's famous never-touch-the-ground leap when changing from a bike on slicks to a bike on rain tires, in a length of time not greatly larger than the Planck limit. Have the full experience!

Service, says Honda, will be performed by trained personnel in three designated service centers, so there may not be a Haynes service manual right away, or ever.

I asked whether the RC213V-S implies that one day soon, a single basic design will be shared by a production sportbike, a World Superbike, and a MotoGP bike. Mr. Yoshituke Hasegawa (who is series Large Project Leader, or LPL) replied, “We have at present a split between inline and V-4, but the V-4 revolution has begun.”

I should know better than to ask such questions.

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Marc Marquez.

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