For a company oftentimes accused of soullessness in an industry built upon an altar of passion, Honda’s been the epicenter of controversy since word of the RC213V-S and its corresponding price tag became public knowledge. Judging by the comments to the RC213V-S Review, the Video Review, and our ever-colorful Youtube commenters, it seems as though some can justify the bike’s valuation while many others cannot.
Like the opposing sides of the abortion, gay marriage and climate change debates, I doubt this list will sway existing opinions that the RC213V-S is nothing but a “high-priced dust collection device.” But, had I the financial wherewithal to purchase one, here’s 10 means of justification I’d use to convince myself the decision was a sound one.
10. Bragging Rights
Motorcyclists are always interested to learn, but generally more eager to tell other motorcyclists how many bikes they currently own, have owned over their careers, then list each with alphanumeric precision. When it’s my turn, mentioning ownership of an RC213V-S will certainly generate interest and trump most other motorcycles. When someone retorts that his production superbike is faster than my expensive Honda, chances are (based on my ability to afford the RCV) my collection will include his bike as well as 20 or 30 other bikes that are all better than his.
Ownership of the RC213V-S is limited to 250 examples worldwide. Chances are I’ll never see another one on the road unless I’m out for a spin with some of my multi-millionaire riding buddies. At which time he and I will resort to #10 and begin a bragging rights competition over whose collection is more vast, eccentric, valuable, etc. Regardless, like other secret clubs, most people won’t even know I’m a member of this one, and those who do are probably members themselves. For those wanting to be members, only ownership gets you in, but you won’t be finding this bike on eBay.
8. RC213V-S Project Bike
If you’re on board with fantasizing about my ability to afford one RC213V-S, let’s assume I can afford to buy two. One would be kept in stock trim inside a glass case in a man cave at one of my numerous homes. This is the investment bike (see #3). The other would be shipped off to Jeremy Burgess at the Ascari Race Resort to whittle down the bike’s weight and unleash as much MotoGP potential as possible from the V-4 engine. Now let’s see who’s production superbike is faster than my expensive Honda.
I have the advantage of familiarity with the RCV, having already ridden one at its press launch last month. The bike’s handling attributes are sublime, and the race-kitted version was thrilling to ride on the track, and the street-legal version would be a serious weapon on the road. The RC213V-S may not be as powerful as some production superbikes, but when do you use that much horsepower outside of a race track environment? I’ll take the light weight and handling capabilities of the Honda over a more powerful production superbike, especially when it’s time for hustling to the end of one of my favorite, super-tight set of SoCal switchbacks for bragging rights.
The RC213V-S is the latest in a long tradition of Honda making available a limited number of expensive, special models powered by V-4 engines: RC30, NR750 and RC45. The RC30 featured gear-driven cams and exotic materials such as titanium connecting rods. Like the RCV213V-S, the NR750 was based in Grand Prix technology and is the only production engine in the world to feature oval pistons. Also like the RCV, the RC45 was a performance sleeper in stock trim, but that didn’t stop collectors from scooping up the rare homologation model and modifying it to unleash its full power potential.
5. HRC Engineering
Honda’s racing efforts were originally an integral part of the Honda Motor Company. In 1973 Honda established the Racing Service Center (RSC) as a separate company to operate Honda’s various racing programs. In 1982 the Honda Racing Corporation (HRC) was founded and replaced RSC. HRC has since become synonymous with engineering excellence, and this is seen and felt in every aspect of the RC213V-S. Modern Honda MotoGP machines go to the crusher, the Honda museum and, occassionally, individual GP riders – that’s it. The RC213V-S is the only way to own a taste of true HRC engineering.
4. Cool Factor
Being cool is as subjective as it gets. Your idea of cool may be a stretched and slammed ’Busa with a ridiculously large rear wheel and a $10k paint job, or maybe it’s a 1975 R90/6 with an open-face helmet and smoking a pipe. In my book the RC213V-S is cool for most of the reasons listed in this Top 10: It’s expensive, exclusive, hand-built, valuable, high-performance, inspires desire and jealousy, and it’d definitely boost my personal narcissism (see #2).
There’s better and quicker ways of doubling your money than purchasing an RC213V-S and letting it sit in a crate for 20 years. If I could afford one or two RCVs (see #8), it goes without saying I’ve got money working for me elsewhere. But, rest assured that when 2035 rolls around, the $184k paid for an RC213V-S now will seem like chump change compared to its future price tag. The sticker price in 1990 for an RC30 was $15k. If you can find a pristine model with zero miles expect to pay at least double that amount, probably more. Same goes for NR750s and RC45s.
Have you read Gabe’s recent Skidmarks column? The poor guy’s been suffering a lifetime of Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD). An RC213V-S would probably make his head explode. What $184k motorcycle wouldn’t? Given the choice between a ridiculously expensive, gaudy, loud, bright, ill-handling chopper and the RCV, I’d choose the Honda to tickle my narcissistic tendencies.
1. Because I Can
If I owned a Bugatti, yacht, and Learjet, dropping $184k on a motorcycle is akin to an impulse purchase of a Snickers bar in the checkout line. It doesn’t financially register. No one buying an RC213V-S is doing so on a payment program. Folks inhabiting this echelon of financial freedom do as they like without care to what you or I think about them or their purchase. If I won the lottery tomorrow I’d buy an RC213V-S just to spite all the vocal naysayers who can barely afford the insurance premiums on their R1s. Yep, add money and I’m an instant rich asshole, but I’m a rich asshole who owns an RC213V-S! And in Grey Poupon etiquette I’d correct anyone calling the bike the RC two-thirteen V with the appropriate RC twenty-one three V nomenclature.