1988 Honda RC30
Motorcycles and the two wheeled thrills and spills that come with them have always played a large part in our petrolhead education. Jack’s Dad had great fun messing about with Norton's, BSA's and the like in the late 1950's and early 1960's. Bedtime stories often centred around exciting yarns of nights spent at the Ace Cafe in London and terrifying Chicken Run escapades along parts of the A406. Barney also spent many a weekend in his youth on the Motorcross track and more often than not an evening in Accident and Emergency with the unlucky parent who drew the short straw.
So, at some point it made sense for us to add a bike to the Classic Heroes collection. The trouble came when trying to narrow down which one met the criteria that satisfied both of us. Even simple things such as era, nationality and type of bike were argued and debated over and over again. In the end, we came back to our tried and tested formula; the bike had to have serious motorsport heritage, it had to be a homologation special which would have been produced in limited numbers with unrivalled engineering excellence.
The final and most difficult requirement was that the bike needed to make you feel special. It had to deliver a connection with the road that was beyond what would normally be expected and deliver thrills and excitement to the level normally only experienced on a track.
In the end, there was a clear winner; the Honda VFR750R or better known to most enthusiasts under it’s factory cipher as the RC30.
Less than a year after it’s launch, the RC30 had become a dominant force in most of the main branches of motorcycle road racing. Grand Prix excepted. In many ways this should not have been a surprise. It was designed with one single purpose in mind; to win the newly created World Superbike Championship. It set new standards of chassis integrity and suspension performance. It was ready to race at national and international level and yet it was still a street bike, available at a price ordinary folk walking into a Honda showroom could afford.
Seasoned racers stood slack jawed at how right the RC30 was straight out of the crate. American Freddie Merkel took full advantage of the genius and technical wizardry of the Honda Racing Corporation’s engineers and won consecutive WSB titles in 1988 & 1989. Meanwhile, a certain Carl Foggerty was proving the new Honda was not just dominant in short circuit racing but that it was also durable enough to win endurance classics as well. Foggy piloted an RC30 to win the TT F1 World Championship in 1988 and 1989 and also the equivalent FIM Cup in 1990. The bike was living proof that in a fusion of magnesium, titanium and aluminium, Honda could build something really special in a world of compromise and mass production.
The RC30 had a host of technical and exotic features. Quick release front forks and a gorgeous single-sided swing arm – essential for speedy wheel changes really put down a marker of intent. A 748cc, 16-valve V4 engine with gear-driven cams and and a close ratio 6 speed gearbox provided the power and drive whilst a host of light but tough special metals reduced the weight to just 185KG. None of this came cheap. The list price of an RC30 in 1988 was £8,499 – virtually double the cost of rival super-sport 750’s.
A total of just 4,782 bikes were hand made and sold between 1988 and 1989. This particular example was originally delivered to Italy and it’s first owner lived just north of Venice in the town of Gaiarne. The bike has covered just 3,100 miles and is in as new condition. It comes with a full set of manuals, service book, tool roll, sales brochures and parts catalogue. It sits pride of place in our showroom with is stunning lines and beautiful livery and is a beacon of attention for most visitors to the Classic Heroes HQ. As Bike magazine stated, “no other bike from the late 1980’s is lusted after like the RC30” and we certainly would agree.