Interest in race-replica models is beginning to wane in favor of the more public road-oriented naked bikes and streetfighters, but you’d never know it looking at the work Honda put into the RC213V-S.

The “S” is based on Honda’s RC213V factory racebike currently competing in the MotoGP circuit, and it is important to mention here that this is the bike that carried Honda to the Riders’, Constructors’ and Team Championships in both ’13 and ’14.

While this isn’t quite a straight-up racebike with turn signals, it’s a fairly faithful reproduction and is as close as you will find among the production bikes on the road today. Let’s face it — to unleash a 100-percent genuine racebike on the public would be irresponsible at best, and criminal at worst, so the factory had to nerf it just a little bit. These bikes are hand built by specially trained mechanics using model-specific tools at a rate of one unit per day, part of the reason for the limited-edition run. Join me while I see how close to that line the Red Riders dance with this awe-inspiring machine.

Continue reading for my review of the Honda RC213V-S.

  • 2016 Honda RC213V-S
  • Year:
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Model:
  • Displacement:
    999 L
  • Top Speed:
    200+ mph
  • Price:
  • Price:


2016 Honda RC213V-S
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Honda’s mission statement for the “S” states that the intended purpose of development is to allow riders who aren’t professional racers to experience much of what the pros do. Wind-tunnel-tested fairings are of an entirely purpose-driven design for maximum penetration/minimum resistance, and the rest of the body panels serve to reduce drag along the length of the bike.

In order to keep weight down, the body panels are made up of layers of carbon fiber that is thick where it has to be for strength and thinner everywhere else. Centralization of mass seems to have been the engineers’ mantra when laying out the “S.” They moved the fuel tank toward the rear and placed it directly beneath the rider, and when all other considerations are factored in the center of gravity is just above axle level and slightly forward of center for a remarkably low inertial mass. What this means is that the bike will roll and yaw without having to fight its own weight, so it will flick into corners with great enthusiasm and perform steering reversals with little in the way of hesitation.

Based on the available metrics, what we have here is a liter bike that handles better with less apparent mass than production bikes with engines half that size. Lest you think such maneuverability is a waste at anything less than WFO, the effects of the weight layout can be felt even at moderate speeds and under street-riding conditions. In short; you get to feel the same surgical precision as do the pros, and you get to feel it while puttering around town or carving up backroads, no need for a closed-circuit track.

Speaking of carving, the footpegs can be mounted in one of six positions on the frame so you can get your feet tucked in just like you like them, but you will have to spring for the inverse shift drum that comes with the Sports Kit if you want the upside-down, GP-style shift pattern. The kit also comes with everything you need to turn the “S” into a genuine, closed-circuit race machine with none of the relative street friendliness of the stock model.


2016 Honda RC213V-S
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To call the aluminum diamond frame construction process “labor intensive” would be an exercise in understatement. The various pieces are meticulously machined and welded, and every one of the titanium-alloy fasteners gets a dab of molybdenum before going under the torque wrench for final assembly — a step taken to try and ensure consistent results. Although dirt bikes can benefit from a little bit of torsional flex in the frame, bikes like the “S” are all about rigidity under acceleration, so Honda took steps to boost strength in that axis while keeping weight down with thinner stock in the non-crucial areas.

While the “S” doesn’t get the RC213V’s adjustable steering head that allows for changes to the rake angle sans cutting torch, it does get the same adjustable-and-variable steering damper as the open-category RCV1000R as well as the adjustable steering stops from the RC213V. The swingarm represents a compromise between strength, weight location and the need to make room for the oddly-shaped fuel tank. An all-aluminum fabrication, it relies on an underslung, triangular brace for the extra strength and rigidity needed to handle the forces placed on it, and the placement of the brace keeps that extra weight as low as possible; just one of the many things the factory did to reduce the overall inertial mass.

Ohlins supplies the inverted front forks complete with its TTX25 pressurized cartridge technology that provides better tire contact feel and control through a shorter damping-buildup time when the stroke changes direction. In back, we have Ohlins again with a coil-over, piggyback, GP-spec, TTX36 monoshock on a Pro-Link mount that comes with a knurled knob for quick preload adjustments. That’s the good news. The bad news is that the suspension must be regularly maintained by qualified technicians to remain in peak condition, but it’s not alone in this respect, and is to be expected on a bike like this.

Since one can never be guaranteed of having dry riding conditions and most folks don’t have the luxury of completely changing your brakes every time the weather changes, the “S” comes with stainless-steel discs instead of carbon like the “V” runs in dry weather. Dual, four-pot, opposed-piston Brembo calipers bind the front discs, and the Sports Kit allows for adjustments to brake-lever play as well as braided-metal lines to combat pressure variation due to hose flex. Marchesini makes the forged magnesium rims, and Bridgestone supplies the 17-inch, RS10 hoops.


2016 Honda RC213V-S
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Honda modified its race-winning, 999 cc RC213V engine for use in the “S,” but really didn’t nerf it as badly as they might have. Originally designed in an effort to cram a 1,000 cc mill into the space taken up by an 800 cube plant, the engine runs a 90-degree, V-four configuration set in a transverse orientation in the frame. Dual overhead cams time the four titanium valves in each head, but instead of the pneumatic valve-closure system used by the “V,” a set of conventional coil springs close the poppets. Before you grumble, this was actually done for the owner’s convenience because the pneumatic system is even more high maintenance than the early Desmodromic systems, and ain’t nobody got time for that!

Another change with the “S” motor involves the valve train drive- and idler-gear adjustment, namely that there actually is adjustment. A set of adjustable idler gears allows you to adjust gear lash without having to size and change the gear out for another size. While this doesn’t reduce the maintenance headache of maintaining proper lash, it does make it cheaper to keep up with.

The “S” comes with the same “power selector” function as its racing brother that changes the way the engine responds to inputs from the throttle-by-wire system depending on which of the three profiles you have selected. Additionally, the “S” runs Honda’s Selectable Torque Control (HSTC) system that functions more or less as a traction-control system that monitors wheel speeds and intervenes when slip is detected. The level of slip and intervention is determined by which of the nine setting you choose.

Wet, hydraulic-powered, slip-and-assist clutches are fairly common, but the “S” runs a dry clutch so Honda designed a mechanical-cam system to perform the same job when accelerating and decelerating, with a centrifugal hub lock for starting.

Oh yeah, speaking of starting – unlike the full racebike version, the “S” comes with its own, on-board starter. Bet you’re glad to hear that. The clutch feeds engine power to the constant-mesh, cassette-style, six-speed transmixxer, and one very strong chain makes the final connection to the rear wheel.

In the end, all of this delightfulness gives us a total of 101 horsepower and 66 pound-feet of torque at 8,000 rpm. Naturally, absolute top speed will be affected by environment and skill, but you can count on over 200 mph from this rocket of the crotch. Yeah, it’s stupidfast. ’Nuff said.


2016 Honda RC213V-S
- image 684625

Bikes of great capability are usually priced well out of the range of the entry level, and so the sticker acts as a firewall of sorts. Having said that, the $184,000 tag on the RC213V-S will likely be a stumbling block for the vast majority of us. Just so we’re clear; that is not a typo, and you can indeed count on dropping nearly 200 large if you fancy one of the 400 units out of the limited-production run.


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2016 - 2017 Yamaha YZF-R1 / YZF-R1S / YZF-R1M
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2015 - 2016 Suzuki GSX-R1000 / GSX-R1000 Commemorative Edition
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Many companies offer some sort of race-replica model for their die-hard fans, frequently they do little more than borrow the race-team livery and run a nerfed version of the race engine. Kawi has its Ninja ZX-10R ABS KRT Edition (or the H2 R), Yamaha offers its YZF-R1M and I suppose the Suzuki GSX-R1000 fits the bill as well, but none are quite as race-tastic as the “S,” and none come close to having the same shock value at checkout.

Bottom line is; anyone looking for a ride like the “S” is not liable to be looking at these other bikes at all... not unless that sticker scares them back into the less-expensive brackets, that is. It’s nice to dream, though.

He Said

“Wow. Just wow. Nevermind the sticker, ’cause I’m not paying that much for anything I can’t live in, but I can’t even get my head wrapped around why anyone needs a bike that fast for riding on public roads. Granted, it ain’t alone in the brute-speed category, and there are plenty of other, cheaper bikes fast enough that you can’t use but a fraction of the potential on the streets, and they roll for a fraction of the price. That said, I gotta hand it to Honda here, both for its boldness in making such a bike at a time when the markets are shifting as they are, and for the finished product.”

She Said

My wife and fellow motorcycle writer, Allyn Hinton, says, “Are you kidding me? Why ask me about a bike like that? Not only am I not a speed demon, there’s no way I’ll ever get the chance to ride one. It’s rare; it’s elite. It’s suppose to be a dream to ride and if anyone reading this gets to ride one, I want a report!”


Engine type: Liquid-cooled 4-stroke DOHC 4-valve V4
Total displacement (cm3): 999
Bore × Stroke (mm): 81.0 × 48.5
Compression ratio: 13.0
Maximum output (kW[HP]/rpm): 75[101]/8000
Maximum torque (N・m[lbf・ft]/rpm): 90[66]/8000
Fuel supply: PGM-FI (Programmed fuel injection system)
Starter: Self
Ignition: Full transistor, battery ignition
Fuel tank capacity (L): 16
Clutch: Dry multi-plate, coil spring
Transmission: Constant mesh, 6-speed return
Transmission gear ratio:
1st : 2.125
2nd: 1.647
3rd: 1.368
4th: 1.217
5th: 1.100
6th: 1.032
Reduction gear ratio (primary/secondary): 1.933/2.471
Caster angle (degrees): 24.6
Trail (mm): 105
Front: 120/70ZR17M/C
Rear: 190/55ZR17M/C
Front: Hydraulic double disc
Rear: Hydraulic disc
Front: Telescopic
Rear: Pro-Link
Frame: Diamond
Overall length (mm): 2100
Overall width (mm): 770
Overall height (mm): 1120
Wheelbase (mm): 1465
Minimum ground clearance (mm): 120
Seat height (mm): 830
Vehicle weight (kg): 172 (dry)
Maximum number of riders: 1 person
Minimum turning radius (m): 3.7
TJ Hinton
T.J got an early start from his father and other family members who owned and rode motorcycles, and by helping with various mechanical repairs throughout childhood. That planted a seed that grew into a well-rounded appreciation of all things mechanical, and eventually, into a formal education of same. Though primarily a Harley rider, he has an appreciation for all sorts of bikes and doesn't discriminate against any particular brand or region of origin. He currently holds an Associate's degree in applied mechanical science from his time at the M.M.I.  Read More
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