In this 360-degree video, Dave Roper turns over the controls of Team Obsolete’s precious Honda RC166 to Steve Plater for a dramatic lap around the Snaefell Mountain course—well, a partial lap anyway.
Famously ridden by Jim Redman, Mike Hailwood, and “Little” Ralph Bryans, the RC166 is arguably the most famous Honda racer of all time. Hailwood praised the bike for its speed—it was good for 155 mph—but decried its less-than-stable handling. Nonetheless, he won the 1966 and ’67 250 championships on it.
The shrill howl of the 250 six needs to be heard at a NSFW volume. Grab your headphones. But its otherworldly shriek is only the half of it. The 250 six is one mean cuss. Note how difficult the thing is to get off the line… and then keep it going. Because the RC166’s crankshaft is so light, closing the throttle kills the engine. Plater first kills it going into Ballacraine (around the six-minute mark) and the tension’s written all over his face. Rounding the corner, slipping the clutch to fire it back up, and revving the RC’s guts out, Plater gives a toothy grin and exuberant yell to the crowd. Undeterred, he keeps it pinned through Kirk Michael, strafing the curbs, tachometer bouncing above 17,000 rpm. Brutal. Brilliant. Beautiful.
Plater makes it to Ramsey before killing the engine for the final time, grinning beneath his goggles and pudding bowl helmet. The bike’s temperamental nature highlights the cost of innovation, of sacrificing rideability for outright performance—a hallmark of the era.
Surely, it was an emotional, once-in-a-lifetime ride for Plater. You just get the sense that he was simultaneously pinching himself and peeing himself the entire time.