Honda VFR 750 R / RC 30 from 1988
That thing from the ring
“Nothing is older than last year’s super sports car,” the hectic zeitgeist trumpeted through the streets. Haaa, Roland Eckert laughs up his sleeve and pushes his brand new Honda VFR 750 R, built in 1988, in front of the photographer’s lens. A real gem that, as the basis for the Superbike World Championship, drove the knee slider faction crazy and some even for 25,270 marks. MOTORRAD editor Werner “Mini” Koch looks back.
E.t is not always easy to get hold of such rare pieces as a Honda RC 30. Especially since people become one of the most accurate in journalism. The motorcycles for the MOTORRAD impressions should already be original. So the phone calls until the ears glow, only to end up back where you started: with Roland Eckert, the former Honda dealer and master tuner who is somehow married to the RC 30. And that for 13 years.
Tuned by expert hands and revamped with the Honda racing kit, it stomped down the entire superbike scene at the end of the 80s. In the first two years, Fred Merkel won the world title on the Rumi-RC 30, and countless national championships followed. Only in the serial trim, because the beautiful Vau had her ailments. Logical, after all, roadworthiness was just a necessary evil to overcome the homologation hurdles of the Superbike regulations. A little bit of light, zero comfort and an engine set-up for walking – nothing more.
That is why the Metzeler test driver Helmut Dähne carted his diva straight to Uncle Eckert in the Hohenlohe town of Kuperzell-Belzhag, where the tuner “just peek at”, and the migraines were over. 125 instead of 100 hp presses the good piece on the roll, with a Krawallo bag there are five more. Well, if Roland Eckert takes a quick look, something will come of it. For example, the small series coolers that brought the VFR engine to heat collapse in summer temperatures. Instead, huge radiators fan the cooling water for the V4 unit, which is tightly packed in the frame, to moderate temperatures.
If so, because already, thought the master and put the superbike pistons into the cylinder liners of the engine. Less because of the pistons themselves, but because of the kit piston rings. They keep the oil where it belongs, while the standard RC 30 pushed the lubricant through the exhaust, like an RG 500 two-stroke engine that was adjusted too rich. The reason: the piston rings worked with too little contact pressure. What else Roland Eckert has changed is hardly worth mentioning. An improved exhaust manifold, meticulous sewer work, turned the compression screw a little, “Gloinichkeita”, with which the RC 30 specialist spent whole nights and weekends in his workshop, or rather his laboratory.
They have come a long way, Helmut Dähne and his pepped up Vau. On the Isle of Man they practiced jumping hill jumping at the senior TT, and with it the Bavarian, typically Dähne, became German Zuvi champion four times. Not to forget the 1993 record lap on the Nordschleife of the Nürburgring: 7.49.72 minutes. Not undercut to this day and also no longer overturned due to the renovation of the green hell.
And now I can drive with it! With all its scratches, quirks and sanding marks, I actually prefer ten times more than the virgin series part from Eckert’s museum. Right down to the last screw in absolute series condition, it is ideal for photo production, but not for heating. Because if I put them in the corner, I will never be able to show myself at Eckert for the next hundred years. And with Helmut’s blue and white legend, you probably won’t even notice if there are a few scratches. Although my colleagues warned me about my departure, about not being insured and the good reputation of the editorial team and so on. “Cook, drive carefully, it’s not about anything, okay?” Nah, okay. But driving slowly with the RC 30? It is like asking your snails in the garden to leave the lettuce alone.
Finally: open the flap, out with the good piece. But everything runs very differently than usual. The RC 30 is maneuvered out of the van with the utmost care, the photographer, mechanic and knowledgeable passers-by from the paddock grab hold of it. Hold, support and pretend that the Honda is not made of aluminum and plastic, but of Meissner porcelain. Schwupps, the blue and white woman stands proudly on her assembly stand. Done. Somehow, for whatever reason, the thing spreads a certain respect. No: awe.
But wait, before we slide down on the knee sliders and sing Hosanna before we start driving, we’d rather ignite the machine. Choke, starter button, the diva coughs, spits, but runs. Not always on all fours, mostly only on three and a half cylinders, refuses to gas, burps through the air filter. “It doesn’t really work under sixty degrees.” Helmut knows his good thing. With rhythmic bursts of gas, the small pointer on the thermometer trembles upwards until the candles and motor have burned themselves with one blow and the sickly cough turns into a flawless concert of four wind instruments and a bass that has washed itself. In terms of sound and symphony, this motorcycle degrades all athletes in the world to ordinary riot bags. Rattling spur gears, snorkeling pulsating intake air, the dull growling rumbling through the exhaust? an internal combustion engine made from real shot and grain.
Ssssssst, racing suit closed, lid open and gas. Pfutsch and off. That’s right, the RC 30 already had a real racing gearbox with a miserably long first gear as standard. Second try – the Honda rolls. And how to sit on it – great. Short, slim tank, high seat, fits like a tailor-made suit. The person engages? clack – like the ski boot in the binding. Much more of a real GP bike than you can tell from the old lady.
Brrrrraaaaab, second, brrrrrrraaaaab, third, brrrrraaaab fourth gear – what a machine. No other one that growls so badly, is so attached to the gas and as soon as the gritty growl turns into power, vibrates and trembles so explosively, as if the cylinder heads from the engine block were blowing up any moment. Every single course, turned to the limit, is a first-class radio play. And a sprint that has it all. 125 hp against 208 kilograms, an easy game. My God, what have the designers of the motorcycle scene been doing for the past fourteen years? That’s right, a bunch of more power from a bunch of more displacement, magic with ram-air and electronics. But otherwise?
“The tires,” Helmut said, “they are never very fresh, the first few meters don’t foar so sloping.” No problem, then I’ll just take a few more laps. The mere thought that I could put the old lady in the gravel bed because of all the banging would cost me a five degree incline anyway. But the way the RC 30 slips around corners, the rubbers can’t be that porous. On the contrary, like Pattex, the Honda wraps around on the asphalt, circles around the long arches as if pulled on a string, snaps from one incline to the other as light as a feather, brakes so that the asphalt makes waves. So precise, so full, so natural. And zap, did it happen – now the snails are eating the lettuce.
I’m sorry, I can’t help it. Insurance and the good reputation of the editors or not, I bend ?? the box now around the corner, as it should be. Weird, weird, schraddel. The rests, planed into short stumps in thousands of racing kilometers, chirp softly white lines, man and machine become one through the combined ergonomics. And suddenly everything is very simple. Because the RC 30 knows no nasty things, but rather transparently signals when it gets too colorful and demonstrates with an excellent balance that the much-invoked drivability was by no means an empty term back in 1988.
Maybe after the RC 30 era, too much was left to computers in design and development and too little relied on people. What would have come of this if, instead of the characterless successor model RVF 750 / RC 45, this compact, small RC 30 power pack had been optimized in detail? With injection, sleek fairing, a stately upside-down fork? Maybe years ago we would have had a MotoGP1 bang under our bums like Valentino Rossi does today. The genes of the RC 30 would have been ideal for this.
Technical data – Honda VFR 750 R / RC 30 from 1988
Engine: Water-cooled 90-degree V4 four-stroke engine, bore x stroke 70 x 48.6 mm, displacement 748 cm3, rated power 74 Kw (100 PS) at 11,000 rpm, four valves per cylinder, driven by two overhead gearwheels Camshafts and bucket tappets actuated, four constant pressure carburettors, 0 35.5 mm. Chassis: bridge frame made of aluminum profiles, load-bearing motor, telescopic fork, 0 43 mm, single-sided swing arm, central spring strut operated via reversing lever, steering head angle 65.5 degrees, caster 91 mm, wheelbase 1410 mm, Weight with a full tank of 208 kg, price in 1988: 25,270 marks Contact: Roland Eckert, Kupferzell-Belzhag, phone 07944/915010.
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