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Over the past few weeks, a handful of riders have taken to the track riding superbikes for their pre-season training as they awaited the arrival of the Qatar Test. It’s common to see MotoGP™ riders using superbikes as training bikes in the off-season, however, one bike always stands out amongst the crowd as it gives a bit more of that MotoGP™ buzz than most.
Since its release in 2015, many Honda riders have turned to the Honda RC213V-S as a training bike, none more recently than Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team). Yesterday, at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, the eight-time World Champion's preparation to be fit for the opening round of 2021 took a huge step forwards thanks to the RC213V-S's thoroughbred MotoGP™ machine connections.
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The RC213V-S was inspired directly by the 2013 and 2014 Honda RC213V and the Open Class RCV1000R of 2014, with it taking a large portion of the MotoGP™ bike’s DNA. But, regardless of its prototype look and V4 soundtrack, there are a number of key differences which make it far more of a road bike than a MotoGP™ bike.
The resemblance to the RC213V is clear, the RC213V-S inherits a very similar chassis, swingarm and engine but all with tweaks and technical changes to make the 'S' model more suited to the road. But, undoubtedly, the largest divide between the MotoGP™ machine and 'S' model is the engine. The S model didn’t inherit the pneumatic valve system, instead, it has the conventional coil spring valve system which ultimately creates much less power.
Another huge difference is the seamless shift gearbox which, again, the RC213V-S doesn’t have. The changes mean that the 'S' model puts out 159 horsepower in standard trim and 212 horsepower with the track kit fitted. Compare that to the full Grand Prix-spec bike of the time and it was believed that the 2013/2014 RC213V produced somewhere in the region of 240-250 hp.
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If you had to summarise the RC213V-S, it’s a very, very special superbike. It takes the very best of MotoGP™ and applies it to the road, which is why in the 6 years since its release we have seen so many riders use it as a training bike. A stiff chassis, which is very slim thanks to the V4 engine, make the S model light and flickable, meaning it gives the closest sensation to a GP bike a rider can get without riding the real thing. Plus, you get the extra bonus that the V4 is the old screamer variation making it sound like Hondas of old.
The whole 'MotoGP™ bike for the road' idea isn’t something that’s new either. Ducati did it back in 2008 when their Desmosedici RR was released. It too was a V4-engined, MotoGP-inspired road bike that was built to take the prototype world to the street. Between the RR and RC213V-S, they’ve been able to do exactly that, albeit in a limited and diluted way. While the S model is now 6 years old, it does still share a large portion of its DNA with the MotoGP™ machines of today, so it’s likely that we’ll still see it being used as a training bike for a few years to come yet.