Honda’s new V4 superbike is taking shape for 2019 unveiling

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While the new Fireblade is grabbing the headlines right now, Honda’s engineers are already moving on with a secret V4 superbike that’s expected to be unleashed in 2019.

Scheduled to coincide with Honda’s 70th anniversary, the new bike is planned to be a true V4 homologation special in the vein of the legendary RC30 and RC45.


Details published last year gave the first clue to the bike’s design, and showed a cast-aluminium semi-monocoque chassis like Ducati’s Panigale, wrapped around the RC213S’s GP-derived V4, and designed to be cheaper than that bike’s hand-formed beam frame to help meet the €40,000 price cap on WSB homologation machines.

Now a whole rash of new patents have emerged to flesh out the Honda project.

Patents show the way

The first reveals a new tail unit design that’s intended to reduce aerodynamic drag. A pure single-seat set-up, it routes air through intakes either side of the seat pad and through a duct in the top to allow the airflow to continue an uninterrupted path from the slope of the rider’s back.

The ducts merge into a single exit hole between two tail lights. Tellingly, the patent specifies that there is a licence plate bracket bolted underneath and indicators built into the twin brake/tail lights. The patent also specifies that it has a V-four engine and chain final drive. A second, connected patent reveals the design of the exhaust hanger and footrest bracket, and confirms that all four cylinders are vented through a belly-mounted pipe, with no RCV-style under-seat exhaust.

The front sections of these patent drawings are just placeholders, though, showing a beam frame and a fairing like an old-school RC211V racer. The real thing will use the new monocoque.

HRC-glory for the road

Further patents show a new nose and intake design with a lightweight triangulated support structure for the instruments, probably made of carbon. It features a central intake similar to the current RC213V racer’s but with tiny LED headlights hidden inside. The main air intake runs straight through the steering head and perfectly matches the monocoque frame design patented last year. The mirrors are also patented, with their own LED indicators in the mirror stalks. For the purposes of the patents, this nose is shown attached to an inline-four bike, but again this is just a placeholder. They’re the work of one of the same designers that’s currently on the V4 project…

And Honda need this. They build some of the most accomplished bikes on the planet, but what kudos they gain from their racing tends to lose its allure as it’s refined for the road. This new V4 could capture that raw HRC magic, and imbues it into a production bike. 

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Ben Purvis

By Ben Purvis