Honda RVF1000R | Coming Soon?

Honda's Next-Generation V4 Superbike—and MotoGP Platform?

By Ben Purvis, Illustration by Jean-Marie Guerin

Honda is planning to revive the RVF model name as soon as 2012 with an all-new, 1000cc, V4-engined superbike called the RVF1000R. Just like the mid-nineties RVF750R—better known as the RC45—this new version will likely be a limited-production, race-oriented machine, positioned well above the CBR1000RR in the firm's range and serving as a new platform for production-based racing. That means not only World Superbike, but also MotoGP, where—beginning in 2012—privateer teams will be able to compete against the factory prototypes using production-based, 1000cc engines mounted in custom frames.

Honda recently renewed its trademark on the RVF nameplate, and newly granted patents have now revealed some of the technology the firm plans to debut with this bike, including details regarding its VFR1200F-derived powerplant. One key difference explicitly referred to in the patent text is a more conventional DOHC cylinder head design in place of the VFR's Unicam arrangement. Whether those cams will be chain- or gear-driven like the RC45 remains unclear: “Rotational power is transmitted in a one-half speed reduction ratio from the crankshaft via a transmission unit to the intake-side and exhaust-side camshafts,” the patent states. “Transmission unit” could be either chain or gears—or a combination of both.

Patent drawings show the bottom end of the engine is basically unchanged, retaining the same unusual, RC212V-inspired cylinder layout with the front connecting rods located outboard of the rear rods on the crankshaft. Another noteworthy change is a new transmission with chain final drive. The VFR cylinder bore is already 81mm—conveniently, the maximum bore dimension allowed by 2012 FIM regulations governing production-based engines. Shortening the VFR’s stroke from 60.0mm to 48.5mm arrives at the 1000cc limit, and creates even more oversquare engine geometry than the quick-revving 80.0x49.7mm BMW S1000RR engine that is currently seen as the favorite for privateer use.

Just as the RVF750R was sold alongside the CBR—at nearly twice the price—the new RVF will be a high-end product aimed at delivering racing success. Honda is certain to continue fielding a pure prototype for its works MotoGP team, but as a firm that prides itself on making the best engines in the world—and the sole engine supplier in Moto2—it is no doubt keen to have privateers choosing its engines for MotoGP use, too. There's little chance any team would opt to use the current CBR engine, which is comprehensively outgunned by the BMW S1000RR and now the Kawasaki ZX-10R. This proposed RVF1000R puts them back in the game.

By Ben Purvis
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