Honda RC213V-S – The Real Deal

Honda RC213V-S – A Counterpoint for the 101HP Motorcycle
Marc Marquez pilots the RC213V-S

It seems the newly announced street-legal Honda MotoGP bike – the RC213V-S –  has made quite a stir on social media and chat forums everywhere. Naysayers deride Honda for producing an exotically priced machine that has been laughably emasculated in the horsepower stakes.

Comparisons with other superbikes — BMW’s superlative big-power S1000RR, Kawasaki’s new supercharged Ninja H2, and Yamaha’s brilliant crossplane R1 – seem to be the most compared to Honda’s apparent damp squib.

Everyone seems to be asking: why would anyone buy it?

I do not fall into that camp, and the answer is because the RC213V-S is The Real Deal. It isn’t a “superbike”; it isn’t a “replica”; and it’s not the result of trickle-down technology. It IS the technology.

This is Honda’s production MotoGP machine (the factory model minus the pneumatic valves and seamless gearbox) that has been made street-legal. Other than the aforementioned items it contains all of Honda’s technical know-how, and each machine will be hand-crafted to order.

Crammed with exotic materials and mechanically perfect, the RC213V-S is exquisitely put together; the closer you look, the more the details you see. The RC213V-S is the Honda heritage: Racing experience dating back to the sixties; a depth of engineering genius that brought us things like six-cylinder racer dominance, oval-pistoned engines, and multiple World Championships; they are all part of the RC213V-S.

So I ask you: Why is this even being compared to any other street bike out there? It’s in a different league altogether, and apart from the beautiful but aging Desmosedici, until someone else adds lights to their prototype and puts it on sale, I’m afraid this bike will have no peers.

The internet trolls decry the bike for an anemic power output. But that’s an illusion. This machine is the most powerful street motorcycle ever mass produced; it has merely been temporarily capped to satisfy the bureaucrats. The only way Honda managed to slide this bike past the various governments around the world, is to modify the software in the ECU to keep the revs low enough to pass both emissions and noise testing.

In the case of the US model that means a 9,400 RPM limit, which equates to a mere 101 peak horsepower. In the Japanese market it equates to even less: 7,000 RPM and just 70 horses. I understand the consternation, but who cares what the bike outputs in stock form? The motor hasn’t been tinkered with at all; it’s a MotoGP bike with an electronic cap on the revs pro tem. It isn’t the real power output, and Honda will be selling Sport Packs if you intend to use the bike on track.

Do you listen to your stereo at full volume all the time? Just because “it goes to 11” do you use that? Of course not. If you buy an RC213V-S and you want to feel full power then you can, although US buyers will have to source their Sport Packs from Europe or at least, find a helpful teenage nerd to ‘unlock’ their ECU—but we all know this is a but minor inconvenience.

If you’re in the market for this bike, you will probably want the Sport Pack. Likely to be priced around 12,000 Euros, the Sport Pack contains an unfettered ECU, a freer exhaust system, ram-air intake tubes to replace the lights, and several other performance goodies. With the RC213V-S unlocked it will hit its true 14,000 RPM rev-limit and produce 215 horsepower.

My point being: The RC213V-S isn’t a fake. It’s not a replica, and it’s way more than any superbike. This is a MotoGP machine that breathes the most rarefied air that motorcycling has to offer; it’s the pinnacle, the summit, the zenith of current technology as raced in the most demanding and most prestigious racing series on the planet. If you’re not prepared to compromise, then you will buy this motorcycle.

Priced at 20 Million Yen (U$184,000) the RC213V-S is undoubtedly beyond the reach of most people, and that’s sad if you’re one of them. It is most certainly beyond my personal ability to find such a sum and yes, I find that frustrating. But does it make me angry? No; there are lots of things I’d love to buy that are beyond my financial wherewithal. To put this into perspective, the concept of selling anything high-end that most people cannot afford is nothing new.

The people who deride the price are always the ones that don’t have the money to indulge. Let me ask you: Does Bugatti sell any Veyrons? McLaren any P1s? Rolls Royce any Wraiths? Ferrari any Enzos? Does Patek Phillippe sell any watches? …and so on ad nauseam.

The Honda RC213V-S is actually cheap for what it is — because it is The Real Deal. Truth is, value is totally subjective. What you consider ‘worth it’ may be considered by others to be reckless spending. Try asking a third world inhabitant if they’d be prepared to spend four bucks on a cup of Starbucks coffee if you want an example. How about that iPhone in your pocket? Worth it? I’ll bet there’s are millions worldwide who simply wouldn’t even conceptualize spending hundreds of dollars on a phone.

I’m afraid the harsh reality is that whether something appears to be reasonably priced or not is entirely proportional to your ability to pay for it. Back in the 1930s George Brough produced his Superior motorcycles. They were the pinnacle of technology, they were carefully hand-crafted, and they cost as much as the typical house. Sound familiar?

Sad to say, if you’re one of the ones outraged at the price of the RC213V-S, then I’d venture that you are not lucky enough to be able to afford one. I regrettably fall into that category, but I’m not angry or resentful of those who do; I’m merely green with envy—because I’d buy an RC213V-S in a heartbeat if I could. It is the best, and it’s the real deal. If you can afford one and yet you’d be happy with something else, you’re also likely to be enjoying your fake Rolex watch and that big CZ ring on your sweetheart’s finger. And keep telling yourself that not having the real thing is OK.

2016 Honda RC213V-S Photo Gallery