What The Facts – Honda RC213V-S Riding Notes
Following are our top-10 riding notes after piloting the MotoGP derivative – Honda RC213V-S – at Circuit Ricardo Tormo, Valencia, Spain.
1. The most noticeable and ultimately impactful thing about the Honda RC213V-S is its astonishing light weight coupled with incredible balance – and that of course affects everything else. The street version with lights is (give or take) around 80 lbs. lighter than any current liter bike such as the Yamaha YZF-R1 and around 130 lbs. lighter than the supercharged Kawasaki H2 / Kawasaki H2R. The track version with the Sport Kit fitted is 22 lbs. lighter than the street version. But it’s not just the lack of weight, it’s how well that weight is placed and balanced in the chassis. Although it doesn’t feel particularly diminutive, once underway, it feels as though it has almost no mass to it, bringing “intuitive” to another level when riding it. Now I understand why Marc Marquez rides the way he does – the RC213V-S is so confidence inspiring he is able to throw it around like a toy, and he has the skill to pull it off.
2. I rode the Euro-spec version (before the uncorked edition with Sport Kit) and 150-odd horsepower feels like way more than it does in a typical liter bike because of its lack of weight. I remember actively thinking that the bike had plenty of power and it was only later that I discovered it “only” had 157 horses (at the crankshaft). The power from the V4 is smooth and liquid in delivery, so it’s not intimidating at all. The throttle connection is exemplary and coming back on to the power is seamless.
3. No, it’s not pronounced “RC-two-thirteen-V-S” as everyone seems to think (us included); it’s actually called the “RC twenty-one (for 21st century), three-vee (for third version), S (for streetbike)”. Who knew?
4. The brakes have exceptional feeling. The initial bite is strong and gets progressively stronger with little effort. The Sport Kit uses race-compound Brembo pads and the feel and efficiency is taken to another level again. Under hard braking the load on my body was less than usual, again because of the lack of machine weight. It was less fatiguing to brake hard and ultimately encouraged me to try to brake later into corners.
5. Handling is (yes, again) exceptional: the Honda RC213V-S is not nervous or twitchy, neither does it dive into corners because of its light weight. Amazingly the bike does precisely as asked, and although I’d never ridden Valencia before I immediately felt at home on the bike and only had to concern myself with my lines around the track.
6. The Sport Kit adds another 2,000 rpm to the Euro-spec version and redlines at 14,000 rpm. That equates to 214 horsepower, which by MotoGP standards is relatively modest; by my standards it’s more than sufficient. Interestingly, the RC213V-S is mapped so well it did not take on a crazy character at high rpm; it simply accelerated much faster.
7. The MotoGP electronics package has three functions: 3x Power Modes; 10x Traction Control levels; and 4x Engine Braking levels. I rode both versions of the RC213V-S in Power mode 1, TC 2, and EB 3. The electronics work very smoothly in the background so there’s no conscious interference, although I could see the TC light flashing occasionally.
8. The Sport Kit saves a further 10 kg (22 lbs) and yet it feels as though the bike has shed half its weight. It is simply a much sharper, tauter feeling machine that the one with lights. Forget surprising, this was jaw-dropping. I simply couldn’t believe it. Honda took the street version and what was already easily the best motorcycle I’ve ever ridden–and made it feel heavy and slow by comparison. Really.
9. $185,000 for a motorcycle? And with the Sport Kit (that would have to be sourced from Europe) it’s more like $200,000? Yes, indeed, and I’d be happy to pay it. I suppose it’s lucky I don’t have a first-born, because he’d be out the door in a flash. I wonder how much I’d get for my arm and a leg?
10. The only downside to this motorcycle is that most people won’t get to ride it even once, and I will never again. But truly, the RC213V-S has changed my perception of how a motorcycle should work. I’m sad that my inadequate grasp of English does not really get across how much I’m in awe of what Honda has built.
Stay clicked to Ultimate MotorCycling for an exclusive review of the 2016 Honda RC213V-S from the Valencia circuit in Spain.