FIRST RIDE REPORT: Honda RC213V-S

Published: 17 September 2015

So many questions. Is this RC213V-S really a MotoGP bike with lights? It is better than a top road-going superbike, like an R1? Why is it so expensive? Aren’t they all sold out? Won’t it just be a rich man’s toy?

All these questions and more are pin-balling around my head as I roll along a red hot Valencia MotoGP pitlane, ready to enter the track. The RC213V-S (‘21’ for twenty first century, ‘3’ for third generation RCV) is slim, compact and so much smaller than it looks in pictures. Think somewhere between a gnarly Aprilia RSV4 and an exquisite NC30 and you’re somewhere there.

You’re canted forward, cuddling the short tank, like Marquez, but even for a six-footer like me it’s not cramped or uncomfortable.

A few minutes ago I was ogling the sublime attention to detail – the hand-fabricated chassis, Öhlins gas fork, magnesium wheels and the swathes of flawless carbon fibre. Like me, you’ll probably never be able to afford the RC213V-S, but it is worth the 188,000 Euro (£137,000) asking price when you see what you get for the money, and when you consider that last year’s RCV1000R ‘open’ MotoGP bike cost a million Euros to lease… and another million to run. The RC213V-S certainly looks like a bargain when you think of it in those terms.

This standard version has 159bhp, which isn’t a lot by modern road-going superbike standards, but the V4 power motor is like velvet, with no lumps, bumps or surges in the delivery.

With just 170kg to push along, the standard RC213V-S accelerates hard enough to keep you interested and it’s easy to turn in fast lap times.

Then there’s the handling. It’s not just more agile than a 1000, it makes 600s and 400s seem like lumbering hippos. It turns like a 250cc GP bike and there’s no sense of mass-produced bulk or flab. It’s hand-made, blueprinted perfection – and a bike made to flatter the rider.

But it’s a bit of a pussycat, too – a bit… soft.

After a few laps you start to overcome the grip of the road-compound Bridgestone RS10 tyres, the road brake pads and then you start pining for more power. Enter the Sports Kit version.

If you can afford the 188,000 Euro RC213V-S, you can probably go the extra 12,000 Euros for the Sports Kit, which shaves 10kg off the weight, gives you a full 215bhp, a race-pattern gear shift… the list goes on. It also has race pads and today Honda have fitted our test bike with sticky Bridgestone V02 slicks.

Now we’re talking.

With its titanium race exhaust the RC213V-S is now louder, angrier and seemingly more intimidating. But within a few corners you realise it’s just as friendly as the stock version and as easy to ride. Its bark is definitely worse than its bike, but it’s so much faster, harder accelerating harder and longer revving.

Now it’s a screaming, ear-piercingly loud MotoGP bike with lights. Its limit is so far away from what a normal rider like me can muster. It’s unreal. It wouldn’t just wipe the floor with the best superbikes out there, like the R1, S1000RR and 1299 Panigale S, it would laugh in the face of a Desmosedici RR, and with a good set-up a BSB bike or factory WSB machine, too.

On the standard RC213V-S the electronics are too strangling, but now you’re glad of the nine-stage power control, the anti-wheelie and the chance to knock a fraction off the initial power delivery. The rider aids work smoothly and help you ride very fast, very safely, like the latest R1 and 1299 Panigale.

Every single RC213V-S is hand-made, just like Marc and Dani’s bikes, and shares most of its parts – except for the seamless gearbox and pneumatic valves – too. Other than that the only things changed are the components that make it reliable, durable and not cost a million Euros.

They’re not all sold. Numbers 26, 27 and 93 are reserved for Honda’s most famous RCV riders, but there’s still time to place your order, if you’re really quick. Each bike takes around 2-3 days to make and production continues to the end of next year. Expect around 250 to be made by the end.

And as for the RC213V-S being a rich man’s toy? Well, yes it clearly is, but isn’t it wonderful that it exists? It shows Honda really does have a heart. Plus, the technology in this will filter down to their road bikes one day. A V4 Blade with full electronics, anyone?

 

See more information about the new RC213V-S, and watch Michael deliver his first riding impressions.


Read our full launch report special in MCN this Wednesday available in print at your local newsagent, or on iPad and Google editions from September 23.