WHETHER on the racetrack or in the showroom there’s a constant battle for superiority among motorcycle companies. Getting the slightest advantage over your rivals can lead to victory in both areas.
While there’s plenty of merit in simply applying established thinking in a more elegant way than others, a lateral-thinking shortcut is often the best route to getting ahead.
Here are our top 10 machines that interpreted the ‘rules’ – whether those imposed by race organisers or those established in the market place – most creatively.
10: Honda NR series
Whether it’s the original NR500 GP bike that first appeared in 1979 or the ultra-exotic NR750 production model that emerged in 1992, you’ve got to admire Honda’s dedication to alternative thinking. Sure, the NR project was ultimately a failure.
The GP bike wasn’t a winner and the road model, though gorgeous, offered little to justify its insane price tag. But has another company ever dedicated such resources, time and money to such a wonderful folly?
Of course, the key NR concept was the application of oval pistons, each with two con-rods and sitting in cylinders that hosted eight valves. Creating a workable oval piston ring was an incredible challenge, but once done it meant Honda had a V4 engine that operated, to all intents and purposes, as a V8. And all because racing rules at the time didn’t allow more than four cylinders. In theory, the idea would give more revs and more power than a conventional four-stroke V4. In reality, it was just much easier and more effective to use a two-stroke. But as an engineering project, the oval-pistoned NRs were unparalleled.