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22 days ago
By motogp.com

Back When: Honda RC211V 2004 – Equally competitive

In the early days of MotoGP™ Honda not only had the best factory bike, but also a deadly fast satellite machine.

motogp.com takes a look through history with ‘Back When’, exploring some of the most important races, bikes and riders throughout history.

When the 500cc class departed in 2002 and the MotoGP™ class was introduced, the Honda RC211V became the first reference in terms of technology and sophistication, Honda’s rivals working overtime to catch them.

Honda approached the new MotoGP™ class with the same philosophy they had in the Formula 1 championship, developing sophisticated prototypes with only the smallest influence from their street machine. Instead the technology developed in the prototype series would eventually trickle down to the street level, MotoGP™ and F1 a testing ground for innovations.

The engine produced 300 horsepower with ease

The RC211V held true to this spirit and dominated the opening races of the new MotoGP™ era. One of the Honda’s key strengths was the 990cc 5-cylinder V engine at 75° (three cylinders in front, two behind) with electronic fuel injection, a world apart from any other Honda. It was more expensive than other more conventional configurations but this was of little importance to the technicians who sought only the highest possible performance. It is said that the engine produced 300 horsepower with ease.

As such the engine was limited to help improve power delivery and traction, both much more important than the raw power of an engine when looking to produce the best possible lap times. With the unique configuration Honda again proved they were leaders in the field, not haggling over the economics and instead looking to boats about their technological prowess.

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MotoGP Race - Full session video

After overcoming some early clutch problems and abruptness of the first versions of the bike, Valentino Rossi playing an important hand in the development. By 2004 the technicians were able to increase the power slightly, the true number a closely guarded secret as no team wants to give their rivals a true ideal of their strengths and weaknesses.

The engine was unique but the chassis of the RC211V was far more traditional, a twin beam aluminium design. In 2004 Sete Gibernau helped push the bike forward and received many upgrades including a Unit Pro-Link rear suspension with the rocker arm above the swinging arm itself. The fairing retained the sharp outlines of the first models but enjoyed better aerodynamic penetration that allowed Honda to close in on Ducati, the kings of top speed.

Although the official HRC team in 2004 was sponsored by Repsol, the Honda RC211V of Team Gresini, sponsored by Movistar, and ridden by Colin Edwards and Sete Gibernau was theoretically identical. The parity between the machines was clear in the results of Gibernau, factory riders’ only advantage was being top of the new part list.

Tech Specs

Engine 4-Stroke, 5 cylinders in V at 75º, 20 valves
Capacity 990cc
Cooling Liquid
Fueling Electronic fuel Injection
Power Over 260 bhp
Chassis Twin beam aluminium
Front Suspension Showa telescopic front forks
Rear Suspension Unit Pro-Link with Showa monoshock
Brakes Two Brembo carbon/steel discs
Tyres Michelin

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