Honda RC211V V-5 Pictures

Colin MacKellar
by Colin MacKellar
The Japanese are wheeling their new 4-stroke GP bikes out onto the track and the media seem to be having a fairly easy time getting shots of them. It was Yamaha, but now it's Honda. Wonder what it sounds like....

With the 2001 GP season underway, it's time for the testing to start for the 2002 bikes and of course that means that Honda and Yasmaha are wheeling out their new prototype 4-strokes which have been developed at tremendous cost to exploit the new regulations. A few days ago, Yamaha not only published a photo of the new bike, but apparently let someone into their test track to take a video of the new machine. Honda have responded by letting their security curtain slip during testing at Sugo and the place was immediately crawling with photographers. They were barred from the Honda pitbox, but the rest of the track was pretty much open to them. Here are three shots that were taken by top GP photographer Sigeo Kibiki.

We can all speculate what is underneath the fancy Repsol fairing, but other than the basic facts that it is a V5 (3-2) water-cooled engine displacing close to the maximum permitted displacement of 990cc., we know nothing. We can't learn much more from these shots, but it is clear that (thank God) Honda have limited themselves to a fairly unorthodox engine configuration, but have not gone nuts on the rest of the bike. The illustrious heritage of the RC211 includes such legendary bikes as the first V4 NSR of 1984, which featured a fuel tank under the engine, resulting in a low centre of gravity but a bike that was incredibly difficult to turn. Go back to the Honda's previous 4-stroke GP machine and we find the NR500, not only sporting the infamous oval pistons, but in it's first incarnation, a full Monococque chassis, that needed to be split in half for the engine to be removed.

There seems to be little chassis innovation visible in these shots. The rear swingarm is incredibly massive, but otherwise conventional in design, and nothing special is visible on the Showa front forks. The only really unusual feature is the mass of metal under the sub-frame above the rear wheel. It looks like this might well be a radiator, which has been moved from the congested front end of the bike to the relatively spacious rear end. Probably there are some smaller radiators up front with the rear acting as an auxiliary. Honda (and other manufacturers) have been experimenting with radiator location for many years, so it's not so strange finding it at the back of the bike. Currently just a single exhaust and no attempt to increase flow with multiple exhausting as yet.
That's about it! Maybe you see something we've missed.......

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Colin MacKellar
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