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Underneath the fairing of the Honda RC211V

Underneath the fairing of the Honda RC211V

Underneath the fairing of the Honda RC211V

HRC lifted the lid on some of their best kept secrets at Brno this weekend, as they removed the fairing from the Honda RC211V and revealed some of the key technical concepts behind the world´s first V5 motorcycle engine. Mr H. Kadu, Project Leader for the RC211V explained exactly how Honda had met their brief of creating a lightweight, compact and easy to ride motorcycle - targets Valentino Rossi would surely agree have been achieved as he has guided the machine to eight wins from ten races this season.

The mass of the V5 engine is highly concentrated into an almost spherical shape. This allows a high degree of freedom in mounting the engine in the frame, permitting ideal centralisation of mass and location of the centre of gravity, which subsequently play important roles in improving the machine´s overall handling. Compared with Honda´s recent V5 engines, most of which have been of a 90º configuration, the RC211V´s narrower V angle of 75.5º results in a shorter engine, front to back. With one cylinder positioned in between the other four, the pistons cancel out each other´s primary or primary-coupled vibration and the need for a balancer is eliminated.

The RC211V´s semi-dry-sump design, which positions the oil resevoir in the transmission cavity, also contributes to making it lightweight and compact, as well strengthening durability. Compared with wet-sump engines, the semi-dry-sump reduces pumping loss and blow-by, stabilises the oil level and strengthens the crankcase. It also eliminates the need for a separate oil tank, as is the case with dry-sump engines.

The superior rideability of the RC211V is achieved through a fuel injection management system in the engine and total mass centralisation in the chassis. The chassis and fuel tank layout are designed with the aim of minimising changes in the centre of gravity of the motorcycle caused by fuel consumption over the course of the race. The engine is positioned as low as possible in the chassis and this combines to create a consistently high level of handling. Meanwhile, wind tunnel testing showed that the distinctively compact fairing of the RC211V achieves an optimum balance of aerodynamics, cooling efficiency and ease of control.

The chassis itself is a development of the NSR500. A newly designed frame and swingarm have contributed to more lateral flexibility and more torsional rigidity, which have proved to increase levels of cornering performance and stability. The radical changes in the chassis were made possible by a new suspension system which eliminates the upper cross-member damper mount. The `Unit Pro-Link´ rear suspension system has a shallow bank angle in tight turns and stabilises the bike´s roll behaviour when accelerating out of the corner - a factor which is crucial to maximising the awesome power of the 990cc engine.

MotoGP, 2002

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