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The face of Honda's MotoGP road bike?

Published: 20 May 2013

Updated: 20 November 2014

Few bikes are as intriguing as Honda’s forthcoming MotoGP-derived ­superbike. Since its announcement last year, details of the machine have remained a mystery. But now a new patent filed by Honda might give us a clue to the all-important ‘face’ of the bike.

The patent shows LED (light emitting diode) headlights inside the bike’s twin air-intakes. At the moment, LED lights are often used for sidelights but rarely appear in either dipped or high-beams, with only high-end machines like Ducati’s Panigale S offering LED versions of the main bulbs, while even in cars the technology is limited to the most expensive models.

Honda’s patent shows a front end with distinct family link to its RCV MotoGP machines. The LED bulbs, which need no separate lenses or reflectors, are mounted in a mesh covering the intake, allowing air to pass around the lights and on into the bike’s airbox.

As a useful secondary effect the air also cools the light units, which are fitted with fins at the back to improve their cooling. While the benefits of being lighter and more compact gives the LED units an advantage over conventional halogen lights, the real bonus in Honda’s method of using them is the way they’re hidden inside the intakes. That could be a particular boon on a bike intended to ape a headlight-less MotoGP racer.

As well as the initial layout, with two LED bulbs in each intake, the patent shows alternative designs including four versions with single air intakes and either two or four bulbs.

That illustrates another advantage to the system: the light units could easily be moved to different positions without needing an expensive redesign. Again, that could be of use on a MotoGP replica because it means the front of the bike could be relatively easily redesigned to emulate alterations regularly made to the full-on race version.

While the patent is new, the potential of the idea appeared in Honda’s RC-E concept bike at the 2011 Tokyo Motor Show.

It took a close look to spot the headlights at all on that machine because they were tucked deep inside the air intake.

Given the reception that machine received and the extra detail in this latest patent, it’s looking increasingly likely that the production V4 superbike will adopt the same idea.

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