It’s 1989. Superbikes are on the cusp of being quite brilliant, and Honda’s RC30 and the 851 Ducati are now leading the charge
Having penned his current best-selling book The Satanic Verses poor old Salman Rushdie is in a spot of bother. Seems like his criticisms of the Muslim religion haven’t gone down too well in Iran and the Ayatollah has just slapped a fatwa on his head. I have no idea if poor old Salman can ride a bike, but I tell you what, if I’ve got some nutter chasing after me with a murderous glint in his eye I’d as sure as hell want one of these as my escape vehicle. Both these bikes are little more than racers with lights bolted on and are the fastest things on the road today.
Honda’s RC30 and Ducati’s 851 both need little introduction. Since their release in 1987 these engineering masterpieces have revolutionised the way we look at sportsbikes, both on the track and off it. If you are an aspiring racer then the RC30 is the bike you need. Fred Merkel is looking good for his second straight World Superbike title, British up-and-coming four-stroke star Carl Fogarty tied up the F1 World Championship last year and Steve Hislop set a blistering 120mph lap of the TT in May, all on board RC30s.
Want to know where your premium goes when you hand over that huge £8,495 sum in your local Honda dealer? Well just look at the race section in MCN - RC30s are winning everything right now, but that’s not to say the Ducati isn’t a dab hand on track either. Merkel hasn’t had it all his own way in the WSB championship, Raymond Roche on the blood red 851 has been snapping at his heels and even topping the podium on a few occasions. The smart money is on Fred this year, but with a year on the bike under his belt Roche isn’t going to be far behind on 1990. Ducati’s Superbike challenge is coming of age.
So, with two such track-focused bikes to test, we decided to enlist the help of British star and current 500GP rider, Niall Mackenzie, a man not unfamiliar with RC30s. As well as owning one himself Niall raced the RC at the Suzuki 8-hour in 1987 and 1988, sticking it on pole in ’88 and leading the race before the engine went bang. Hopefully we will have no such problems today.
I’d arranged to meet Niall just outside Peterborough, as I had a feeling that with two such fast bikes it would be best to avoid busy roads. His arrival, in typical racer fashion, is a grand one. Impossibly trick white RS Taichi leathers slung on the back seat of his Mercedes 190, that famous AGV with the thistle on the crown resting on the passengers seat. Niall’s attention is immediately drawn to the two bikes.
Continue the Honda RC30 V Ducati 851 Road Test
Become a fan of Visordown
Follow us on twitter
Other Immediate Media Sites
Our eCommerce Platform
© Immediate Media Company Ltd 2012. This website is owned and published by Immediate Media Company Limited. www.immediatemedia.co.uk