How much for Honda's RCV road bike?

Does £38k sound about right?

HONDA'S road-going MotoGP-inspired superbike could cost as little as £38,000 according to some Japanese reports – but others put the price as high as quarter of a million pounds!

The whole issue is confused because Honda is developing not one but two machines, both derived from the RC213V MotoGP bike and both set to be offered for sale. One will be the firm's rival to Aprilia's ART off-the-shelf MotoGP bike, the other a true road-going superbike.

It seems likely that the higher priced bike, placed at “more than” 30 million Yen in Japan (over £230,000), will be the racer. Effectively slightly down-spec'd RC213V it's no surprise to see it costing so much. The bigger question hangs over the price of the road bike, due to be made in larger numbers and to be the machine to drool over when it's launched in a couple of years' time.

While some reports put its price at 5 million Yen (around £38,000), others place it at nearer 15 million Yen (£114,000). And at the moment it's still way to early to know which end of that scale it's going to sit at.

But looking at Honda's history might give a few hints. Taking inflation into account, the old RC45 from 1994 (£18,000 then) would cost around £29,000 in today's money. Factor in the higher VAT we all pay now and you'd be looking at a £30,000-plus on-the-road price. But that was a very simple and relatively high-volume bike compared to the forthcoming MotoGP-derived V4.

For a closer comparison, it's perhaps more suitable to look at the firm's NR750 from 1992. Back then, it cost a terrifying £38,000. That's more than £64,000 in today's money, and would be more like £67,000 including today's 20% VAT instead of the 15% we used to pay.

At the moment, since Honda has only just given the project the green light, the final price is actually unlikely to have been decided yet, and although the engineers working on the project must have been given a target price, it's not a figure that Honda is ever likely to release, as it would be embarrassing if the firm failed to meet it. The fluctuations between the Yen and other currencies will also have a huge impact.

Can the market sustain a bike that's likely to cost in excess of £50k? In fact, it seems it probably can. Ducati's £40,000 Desmosedici RR flew out of showrooms, even when the production was pushed to its maximum of 1500 machines (making more would have meant re-tooling the production line at enormous cost).

When it comes to specification, the Japanese sources are all agreed that some form of seamless-shift transmission is likely to be used, along with high-spec datalogging and traction control. The exact type of gearbox may vary between the road and race versions – dual-clutch systems like Honda's DCT are more suitable for road bikes but are banned in MotoGP, where Honda has instead developed a single-clutch seamless-shift box at vast expense. This seems likely to be carried over to the firm's CRT machine providing it can be made cheaply enough (at the moment, each of the works Repsol bikes' gearboxes is thought to carry a six-figure price tag).