TACKED onto the end of a press release about the new four-wheeled Honda Civic Type-R, came this official statement from the Honda Motor Co CEO, Takanobu Ito. It reads:
'Honda is developing a new super sports motorcycle which will feature technologies derived from Honda’s MotoGP machines. This bike will seek to deliver the same passion and excitement that the RC30 super sports bike created when first introduced in 1987.'
From what were just rumours a day or so ago, it appears those whispers are now fact. Honda have quietly been developing a 1000cc V-4 Supersport bike and it's nearly ready to justify an official statement. There's obviously no word yet on a production schedule, but we understand the intended timescale is to reveal the bike in a year's time, with production starting in early 2014.
From the description, the bike won't be a replacement for the FireBlade but a new machine sitting at the very top of Honda's range. Think Ducati Desmosedici RR. It's understood that the road bike project is linked to Honda's plans to create a customer MotoGP machine to compete against the Aprilia ART bikes in the CRT class. Far cheaper than a full-on RC213V (which satellite teams can only lease from Honda, not buy) the CRT bike will be offered as a production racer, available to any team with the money to buy it.
The road-going derivative also opens up the possibility for a similar V4 bike to compete in WSB, like its RC30 and RC45 forerunners, but only if the production volumes are suitable high to meet homologation rules.
The MotoGP technologies that Ito referred to could include ideas like a variation on the seamless-shift gearbox that Honda's works riders enjoy as well as hugely high-tech traction control, launch control, top-line suspension parts and exotic materials throughout.
If it has just a fraction of the impact that the RC30 had when it burst onto the scene in 1987, it's going to be special.