The Honda RC51 had a short but eventful life before the Japanese manufacturer discontinued making it after only six years. In 2000, its first year out of the factory, Colin Edwards rode it Victory in the World Superbike championship in 2000 and again two years later. That same year, factory racer Nicky Hayden won the American Motorcycle Association’s superbike challenge. Honda rewarded both riders by naming special editions of the RC51 after them. Honda stopped racing the RC51 in superbike competition in 2003 after a change in racing regulations made it less competitive. Honda eventually replaced the RC51, known as RVT1000R in the United States, with the CBR1000RR Fireblade in superbike competition. The RC51 was made to be a high tech bike that required low maintenance.
The factory and production models have the same 999 cc V-twin engine. The main difference between the motorcycles was gearbox sprocket changes for street riding. The factory RC51 was geared for top speed. While not in production any more, the RC51 remains popular with motorcyclists; the Hayden and Edwards special editions bikes are especially wanted by bikers, but hard to find since not very many of them were made compared to the base RC51. Stickers and some minor equipment additions are the main differences between the special editions and production models. Whether on the track or on the freeway, the RC51 was a winner because of its stability and handling, especially when it came to corners where this sportbike was noted for taking really sharp corners with ease. The RC51 was known as VTR1000 in Europe and Australia. In 2006, black with gray was the only color scheme available.