Tired of the seemingly unfair advantages in World Superbike competition where V-Twins enjoyed a 1000cc displacement compared to Fours that were limited to 750cc, Honda produced a direct competitor to Ducati in the form of the RC51. Colin Edwards aboard the factory race version VTR1000SP, twice won the WSBK championship (2000, 2002), while Nicky Hayden claimed the AMA Superbike Championship also in 2002 aboard the V-Twin racer.
Other race versions of the bike won the LeMans 24 Hour and Suzuka 8 Hour endurance races. The 999cc liquid-cooled 90° V-Twin powering the street-legal RC51 was force fed air from a ram air duct running directly through the steering head. Honda claimed the stock version produced 126 hp @ 9,000 rpm. Despite being sold for seven years (2000 to 2006), the RC51 is a rarity and, like the NT650 Hawk, enjoys a cult status among sportbike riders.