Sporty – Moto-Net riding the Honda RCV! – Used HONDA

Moto-Net on the handlebars of the Honda RCV !

Sporty - Moto-Net riding the Honda RCV! - Used HONDA

After Rossi, Biaggi, Gibernau, Hayden, Melandri and others, Moto-Net takes the handlebars of the most victorious of MotoGP: the Honda RCV. And the icing on the cake: the RS250RW n ° 1 from Pedrosa. We don’t publish our 1000th article every day !

After Rossi, Biaggi, Gibernau, Hayden, Melandri and others, Moto-Net takes the handlebars of the most victorious of MotoGP: the Honda RCV. And the icing on the cake: the RS250RW n ° 1 from Pedrosa. We don’t publish our 1000th article every day !

Forgotten the sweaters, jackets, mittens and other scarves: not shrinking from any sacrifice for its 1000th article, while the cold has just hit Paris, Moto-Net flew to Sepang, in Malaysia, where Honda invited a handful of European journalists to test their two jewels: the world champion RS250RW with Pedrosa and the RC211V which, if it suffers from the overwhelming supremacy of Rossi, is nonetheless terribly effective.

As soon as they arrived on the Sepang circuit, the Honda officials made the journalists present understand that it was better to avoid dropping the motorcycles … On the program: a warm-up lap then two laps launched and a "honor" lap. . Which seems short at first glance, but on a track of 5,548 m, these four loops allow you to discover these two motorcycles like no other….

The sporting director of the HRC, Carlo Fiorani himself, invites us to join the beasts of the race: two RCV n ° 69 in the colors of Hayden and the 250 n ° 1 of Pedrosa are patiently patient in two stands … The calm before the storm !

On the other side of the grid, the RCVs are getting a final makeover. The mechanics polish the levels, spend a last blow of rag and send compressed air so that the behavior of their divas is irreproachable. At this precise moment, the impossibility of joining the RCVs only increases the desire to get on them but the pressure is mounting: they are beautiful, powerful, expensive and they will have to be tested over four laps without putting them on the ground….

Queen RCV

Led – even roughed up! – by Valentino Rossi then by Gibernau and more recently Hayden and Melandri, the RCV has an impressive track record: three titles of best motorcycle (2002, 2003 and 2004) and 40 times victorious, it was only beaten by six men: Rossi on Yamaha 21 times, Capirossi on Ducati (once in 2003 then three times in 2005), Biaggi on Yamaha (twice in 2002), Checa on Ducati (this year at Sepang), Roberts Jr on Suzuki (under the deluge of Donington) and OJ (in the torrential rain of Shanghai).

In 2005, Honda’s goal was to regain the world pilot title and keep that of constructor … Asked by Moto-Net during this test in Malaysia, Kyoichi Yoshii, in charge of the RC211V project, told us that ‘he asked his engine engineers "to improve power control via the throttle, in order to allow the pilot to better dose and accelerate ever earlier and harder"…

Characteristics of the RC211V

Length (mm) 2,050
Width (mm) 645
Height (mm) 1130
Wheelbase (mm) 1,440
Dry weight (kg) Over 148
Engine V5 (75.5 ° open) 4-stroke liquid cooled, 4 valves per cyl.
Displacement (CC) 990
Max Power (ch) Over 240 !
Frame Double cradle Alu
Wheels (inch) Before 17
Arr. 16.5
Suspensions Before Telescopic Showa
Arr. New Unit Pro-link
Tank (L) 22

At the same time, the development of the whole bike continued but without obtaining the expected results (read our): Rossi and his M1 left only a few crumbs from the 2005 MotoGP championship, which Honda had to share with Ducati. .. The world number one ended the season without any title, with only four wins against eleven for Yamaha and two for Ducati..

Whose fault is it ? No doubt a dispersion of energies and jealousy between pilots. If, at the time of the Doctor, all efforts were concentrated on him and him alone, since his departure Honda has struggled to find the next generation: Barros has not succeeded in confirming his excellent results at the end of the 2002 season, Biaggi no ‘has stopped complaining about many problems and Gibernau, despite having good qualifiers, has only rarely managed to "transform the test" during the races.

Mr. Yoshii has the floor

Asked by Moto-Net, Kyoichi Yoshii (on the right in the photo below) reveals the extent of the problem: "Max for example complained about dribbling problems during braking" Chattering … chattering, chattering! "(in English in the text, Editor’s note) he shouted to his mechanics. After a few laps done on a motorcycle adjusted differently, Max returned to the box and approved or not the improvements as follows:" It is a little worse – or a little better – but still … Chattering … chattering, chattering! "…

At the mention of this recurring "chattering", the engineer responsible for the engine of Biaggi at the beginning of the year, called to other functions in mid-season, cannot suppress a broad smile. Until then, very discreet, he even allows himself a slight laugh which says almost as much as Mr. Yoshii’s speech….

"Max wants to get straight to the point"

"Max is a pilot who sticks to a single objective and seeks to reach it directly: whatever the means, all that interests him is the goal set! He rushes straight ahead while others are tacking further in order to find support sometimes from the HRC, sometimes from Michelin, sometimes from engineers ", adds Kyoichi Yoshii before concluding:" Max is a go-getter, he only knows the straight line! " Unfortunately for the Roman Emperor, this highway to the title has been blocked successively by Doohan, Rossi or even Gibernau … or the HRC itself !

Asked about the Gibernau case, Mr. Yoshii tells Moto-Net very simply that "Sete is a very pleasant person, with whom it is pleasant to work. He knows what he wants and is particularly organized during the tests. problem lies in his mind and the management of the race "… Thus, Mr. Yoshii recalls that on many occasions, Rossi has used the same technique to beat the Catalan:" he stays on his wheel, observes, saves his machine and its own forces for, five laps before the end, to carry the decisive attack and widen the gap "…

And when the Japanese are asked why Sete – or the others – don’t use this method on Rossi himself, it’s his turn to laugh by replying that "this is precisely the next step!" A milestone that no one has yet crossed…

For his part, Randy Mamola confirms to Moto-Net that quarrels between the two big names were frequent: "I remember for example the time when Biaggi had benefited from a special" gold "part on his brakes", laughs the American: "Sete came out of his stand and yelled: what is this delirium! Why don’t I have that?"

Focus on a pilot

Regarding the Honda start-ups that have animated the end of the season, Mr. Yoshii is personally aware that the problems of jealousy will have to be tackled at the root by "clearly focusing on one rider", as in Rossi’s time. However, the choice should logically fall on the number one driver of the Repsol team: Nicky Hayden, whose machine n ° 69 we are going to test….

Especially since the young American has shown great professionalism throughout his first three seasons: "Nicky spends his practice sessions sitting in his stand, reporting on his impressions and asking for opinions". A more rigorous methodology than with his former teammate who will have to be confirmed next season.

But Nicky isn’t the only one riding the Honda hard: Marco Melandri even allowed himself to beat him in the championship, taking one more victory than the Kentucky Kid. And just to increase the confusion, Fiorani himself adds his grain of sand in the machine: "what are your objectives for the 2006 season?", Asks the sports director – Italian – to his foal during a dinner in front of the hurry. "If you had one request to make to the HRC directors here present, what would it be?"

In front of the laughs – polite – of the journalists and the smiles – more tense – of the Honda officials, Melandri answers that he "just asks Honda to reiterate its confidence in me: Rossi will be very hard to beat next year. After all, since five years nobody has succeeded … Seeking in the first race to beat him is not the right solution. I intend to do the best I can throughout the season and I would love to help Honda develop the bike. Nicky had a very good year, he is very competent. I hope we can work together! ", finally launches the Italian who does not despair of benefiting from the same technical innovations as Hayden and Pedrosa (read).

On the Sepang circuit, the garage finally opens on the pit lane and the MotoGP can be approached … Their small size is still surprising as much, as the aura that emerges: after all, if the we put aside the Yamaha M1 driven by Rossi, isn’t the RCV the best bike on the field, the one that most riders want to own, the most victorious since the arrival of the 4-stroke in Grand Prix? ?

A heart rate close to V5…

The mechanics take out the monsters on the pit lane: the motorcycles are ready to deliver their sensations … Randy Mamola, whose luggage remained stuck in Singapore, puts on the leather of Stephane Lacaze from Sportbikes – our only French colleague – to go heat the two RCVs…

That’s it, the first V5 comes alive! Suddenly my heart begins to beat harder, its rhythm rivaling that of the 5 cylinders of the Honda which develops more than 240 horsepower … The noise is infernal, terribly penetrating, especially as the large roofs covering the stands of opposite act as a sounding board: the hoarse sound of the V5 sounds even more beautiful and makes my whole rib cage vibrate !

But Mamola is already on the pit lane and makes four gears on the fly even before reaching the track! The former champion, who has not lost any of his ease, completes the warm-up lap in no time! Hardly got off the first RCV, he gets on the second and sets off again at full throttle…

Oscillating between excitement and anxiety, I land near the low wall of the straight line and observe the first laps of the wheels of my colleagues who pass on the tarmac … The speed is impressive, amplified by the howling of the engine sometimes pushed to breaker! The two RCVs and the 250 run at the same time, the delayed starts avoiding any discomfort between the testers.

My time of passage approaching, I join the locker room to change. The temperature reaches 30 ° C but luckily the humidity is not too oppressive. Still, once I put the leather on, my internal temperature skyrockets! And it is not the arrival of "my" RCV that calms the game…

Hayden’s mechanic signals me to get on the bike, then reminds me of a few things: the reverse gearbox, the gearshift indicator diodes and the fall ban. Then he shows me the exit of the pits and pulls away…

I engage the first, gradually release the clutch lever and can’t help but smile … A bit like a kid who is offered a ride on a tricycle – but a tricycle capable of going up to 340 km / h !

To better appreciate the lines which will follow, the editorial staff of Moto-Net can not advise you too much to select a CD of your choice, both punchy and melodic. "One way ticket to Hell and Back" from Darkness, for example !

First round !

The first characteristic of the RCV that strikes me is its flexibility. I negotiate the first corner in third at very low speed, but the V5 does not flinch. Better it purrs and catapults me to the next left in a split second !

In this rapid change of angle, I then realized with what disconcerting ease the RCV can be steered, at least at moderate speed. The comparison to a bicycle, often used in connection with maneuverable motorcycles, is not usurped !

Then comes a bend that opens to the right and allows me for the first time to accelerate on the angle. I fully appreciate the interest of having an inverted box! Fixed on the footrest, a simple press on the selector allows me to mount the fourth, then the fifth. The gear change is smooth and does not change the course I set.

First braking, my very first with carbon brakes! Warned of the relative ineffectiveness of this type of brake when they are not at the right temperature, I decide to ensure by braking well in advance. Here again, the engine is particularly accommodating: downshifting is done very easily and the almost absent engine brake gives the bike excellent stability..

Easy to drive…

This fourth bend – Langkwai – is a basic straight line that turns about 90 °. It allows me to appreciate the liveliness of the bike which seems to dive by itself to the point of rope. My speed being well below that expected, I straighten the bike very early and accelerate frankly.

But hardly do I have time to push the third one that I find myself plunged into the next long left! If teleportation does not exist – yet? -, MotoGP are undoubtedly what comes closest to it! The engine sings without screaming and provides an exhilarating sensation of speed. But now is not the time to get drunk…

The next three turns go smoothly and I realize that my whole body is tensed on the bike. I decide to relax, trying to adopt more fluid trajectories and movements. Then comes the most closed hairpin on the circuit: having trained on PlayStation, I know not only that this bend is negotiated at low speed, but especially that the terrain is very contrasted: braking on a gentle slope followed by a more accentuated rise on Berjaya Tioman.

And there, surprise: while I have already noted that the game on console only roughly renders the unevenness of the previous turns, this passage, in reality, looks more like a roller coaster than in its digital version! Without competing with the famous Corkscrew of Laguna Seca, this left-right offers a particularly exhilarating feeling !

… but from there to piloting it !

Strong braking – further accentuated by the descent -, a point of rope in the bottom of the "bowl" and a delicate acceleration on the two sides of the tire: sure that with my ZZR, I will have put the handle in the corner in this right which opens before me! But there, my buttocks resting on a missile and I only open the throttle "cautiously"…

The Honda engineers seem to have done a bluffing job and even if Moto-Net’s experience in terms of exceptional motorcycles is so far limited, I confirm the statements of my more experienced colleagues: the RCV is a real pleasure to drive ! Its very impressive performances on paper translate into constant pleasure on the track, without once the beauty turns into a beast, smoothly, without untimely kick or dribble..

But it is true that I only "drive" the RCV. Such a tool, before being really "piloted", requires an insurance that I only store over the meters traveled … In Sunway Lagoon, braking on the angle allows me to taste neutrality again of this motorcycle. On the other hand, the carbon brakes destabilize me: the lever seems softer and the feeling less "direct" than that of a steel brake. I do not manage to regulate the braking power well but fortunately, the slick tires and the behavior of the bike are particularly lenient towards my rough riding. !

I get out of the turn in second and put full throttle. The bike does not move, or rather moves very very quickly towards the end of this first straight line but without any other untimely movement, no beginnings of wheeling, no dribbling. My forearms and shoulders contract and just manage to hold me in place: it’s time to get behind the bubble !

Teleportation exists !

A dart out of a blowgun? A bullet expelled from a gun barrel? A crossbow shot? There is no lack of images – certainly a bit "boat" … The straight line can be crossed in a few seconds: just enough time to take advantage of fifth gear and I get up to negotiate the last turn … which leads to a new straight line !

920 meters of asphalt presented itself to me and only one question obsessed me: where am I going to brake? I thought I had found the answer by watching the other testers pass in front of the pits: a little before the 200m panel seemed a reasonable distance to put out the shoulders, the knee and make a few reports. But on the handlebars of the "beautiful beast", the operation seems much less obvious…

Finally, it is a question of representing Moto-Net with dignity – and its readers! – in front of this parterre of officials on the other side of the world! In short, barely time to procrastinate and here I am a few tens of meters from the panel: commotion! I enter the gears (yes … selector up) and start again in the right … It is set off for three laps !

RRS makes me fall … in his game

Needless to say, with such a short time, the discovery of a new bike on a new circuit by a new "rider" greatly limits performance. So far from me the desire, the pride or the affront to compare my times to the drivers registered in the championship! In addition, I vowed to bring the entire bike back to HRC officials, avoiding any overconfidence or risk taking. So I maintain a steady pace but without aggressiveness.

However, as the curves, the RCV gently makes me fall into its trap … I get caught up in the game and while remaining reasonable, realize that the only risk lies in the brutal accelerations. Little by little, my pace increases and the angles are more marked.

My driving style – more road than tracker – does not allow me to touch the ground for the moment. My sliders have already dabbled in asphalt, but never on a RCV with several (sss) tens (sss) of thousands (sss) of euros (sss) … I decide to go there gradually, turn after turn, aware that the other testers seem to put the knee down without a second thought.

But a large part of the Sepang curves are negotiated blind: my lack of speed in the curve, my swaying more timid than usual and my almost non-existent flexibility deprive me for the moment of the happiness of proudly announcing: "j knee in MotoGP! "

Constant vigilance !

Somewhat disappointed, I got it into my head, as I left Langkwai for the third time, to observe the distance between my knee and the sacrosanct vibrator … As soon as I entered the curve, I looked for the track. But my survival instinct wakes up and tells me to look up … And fortunately! Time to lower my eyes and appreciate my height over the asphalt, which the RCV was already melting in the next bend, Genting.

I jump on the brakes and safely catch up with the trajectory, which is not too hard to regain because it is slightly offset when entering a bend … If on the road driving a motorcycle requires sustained attention, on the track driving a ” RRS requires constant vigilance !

I was able to verify this maxim a second time during my test: during my second visit to Sunway Lagoon, I spotted one of the three photographers stationed on the circuit. His telephoto lens is impressive: he must be able to read the mixture of concentration and sweet madness in my eyes … During the next passage, I decide to give him a frank acceleration, head in the bubble, in the purest style of the teenager, his chin glued to the sport handlebars of his 103 SP !

But my speed in the curve having gradually increased, I get out of the turn in third at half speed instead of my "usual" second. And it is by putting the gas back on that the RCV offers me a superb gift: a progressive and safe wheelie, which I nevertheless cut well before the point of no return. Hoping that the photographer has not fallen asleep despite the weather conditions conducive to the nap, I realize that the torque of the V5 is phenomenal and go back to the attack, higher in the towers where the power does not pitch up the machine.

Contract fulfilled !

I cross the finish line one last time and the waving checkered flag signals me that I must return to the pit at the end of this lap. It’s my last straight line: I push hard and throw the sixth for a few seconds. Far from returning the hand for my "lap of honor", I notice that my braking is done later and that my acceleration is more marked, while keeping a cool head.

My trajectories are as clean as possible, my movements measured, but my commitment is nonetheless important and several signs prove to me that I do not make a simple ride on the handlebars of the RCV: the engine sings harmoniously and does not no longer just hum! Twice, the rear wheel jumps under braking without penalizing my dives in the turns. My brakes are more powerful so that the carbon brakes – hotter – let me see their fabulous potential.

But above all, I achieve one of the goals I had set for myself: in the first S – which includes Genting -, my left knee then my right knee vibrate happily brushing the asphalt! That’s it, my baptism of RCV is complete: bottom of six, wheeling, braking on one wheel and slider posed !

Here the exit…

It is while approaching the penultimate turn – Sunway Lagoon – that I realize that carried away by my joy, I did not spot the pit lane … I am in the home stretch and decide to give back so as not to miss the exit that I am still looking for…

Ah! I finally see an exit outside the last bend, but strangely barricaded by a few studs … I go there and discover too late that this strip of asphalt has no way out. The track marshal confirms it to me with great flag reinforcements: "ok, ok, I got it, I’m a ball …", I said to myself in petto. I then started my U-turn, but I reached the steering stop much faster than expected! My inside leg rolls and easily catches up to the light weight of the bike … Falling to a stop? What next !

The entrance to the pits is actually at the exit of the bend: I take it and then realize that I will have to leave this bike which has been so docile but at the same time angry, fast and agile….

But how do they do ???

It is when I get off the RCV that I become aware of my state of fatigue: the seat backrest that I step over seems much higher than at the start and the locker room much further away! On the way, I meet Randy Mamola. Dripping with perspiration, my breath shorter, I stop and ask him straight out: "but how do they do it?"

The former champion laughs and gives me a tit-for-tat question: "and you, what are you doing next Monday?" A little bewildered, I tell him that I will simply go back to the Empire Moto-Net Building to do my job. "Well here it is! Hayden, Rossi and the others, they will come here for three days to train! It’s no secret, they too have to work like everyone else to be good!" Nice Randy, he didn’t tell me about the gift, about the "Magic Touch" they have and I don’t…

The time to spread the leather, drink two bottles of mineral water on the good advice of my hosts and I approach the stand of the 250. She is on the track and her two mechanics are patient. Somewhat reassured by my conclusive experience on the monster of 240 hp, I begin to wonder if the 250 will not ultimately be more difficult to pilot … And if I inquire ?

The RS250RW

Trevor Morris, chief engineer for Takahashi last season, greets me with a big smile. We start the discussion but Trevor cuts me off apologetically and grabs the stopwatch from the bench. The guy writes down the times of each of the testers !

I warn him: "you shouldn’t laugh when you see my lap times!" "No risk", he assures me, "I note the times to check the good progress of the test, I worry less knowing about your lap times ".

Features of the RS250RW

Length (mm) 1,960
Width (mm) 640
Height (mm) 1,090
Wheelbase (mm) 1350
Dry weight (kg) Over 96
Engine V2 2-stroke liquid cooled.
Displacement (CC) 250
Max Power (ch) Over 90
Frame Double cradle Alu
Wheels (inch) Before 17
Arr. 17
Suspensions Before Telescopic Showa
Arr. Pro-link
Tank (L) 21

I then ask Trevor if the engine is not too sharp: "oh no!", He answers quietly. "It’s a 2-stroke, of course, but its range of use is very wide: the pilots have good pick-ups from 8000 rpm now! This is important because even if the display of the gearbox can be changed, there are always a few bends that cause problems. It happens that the pilot is uncomfortable in certain exits of a curve, for example too high in the laps in second or blocked too low in third … Even if he always asks for more maximum power for top speed, the pilot is also asking us for more flexibility! "

Phew, me who saw myself having to play the box abusively so as not to drown the double world champion! Having said that, I now have a new question: Dani is 1.59m tall and weighs 48kg. With my 1.80 m and my 70 kg, I don’t risk being a little toad on a matchbox ?

There again, the chief engineer is soothing: "your German colleague is 1.90 m tall and he was surprised at the" comfort "of the RS250! Do not worry, in addition you will find steel brakes, that’s fine. go alone! "

A taste of deja vu…

The 250 enters the pit lane and the previous tester leaves his handlebars to me, my face beaming. I get on the "pocket bike" style machine and there, surprise: I find myself thrown back a few years on my Aprilia RS125! Super light – the 250 weighs only 96 kg – I don’t have the unpleasant feeling of having my knees under my chin and the controls fall naturally under my hands and feet.

I skate in first gear and go back to the track that I’m just starting to know. If the RCV is a bike, then the RS250 is a scooter! I negotiate the first turns at moderate speed, just to take my marks, but I quickly increase the pace. Stephane was right: unlike the RCV, this bike is more on a "human" scale and we get caught up in the game all the more quickly !

The pleasure I get from my four laps is so intense that I find in this racing beast the bike of my dreams as a young biker: a 125 cc (of template) which has the power of a 600! A simple and devilishly effective equation…

Everything goes thoroughly ?

But again, my goal is not to test the limits of the machine (or rather mine!) And I remain lucid: so few people have had the privilege of piloting this gem, I do not wish to be the one of the few to have put it down! Especially since the few drops of rain that are starting to run off my visor comfort me in my choice of caution: I wind more than I attack.

However, my pace keeps accelerating and each turn gives me the opportunity to verify that "it could go twice as fast!" This is what is most surprising about this bike … I force myself to take the turns a little faster with each passage and realize that I am still far from the optimal trajectory! In the two "S" of the circuit, I end up wondering if Dani does not manage to pass "to the block", as the Honda is at ease !

With each braking – which I dose more skillfully thanks to the steel discs – I force myself to let go of the lever sooner than I normally would and realize that the RS follows its course without worry to come out of the bend more than one meter from the vibrator … Damned, next time I come home stronger !

Finally, the size of the 250 is not so tiny: by studying the figures, we even realize that the RCV is not much larger. And then once on the track, I spend as much time on it as on the side: the sway, even if it is less necessary than on MotoGP at my level, gives me the impression of attacking !

Next to the 240 hp (and more?) Of its big cousin, the 90 hp (and more?) Of the RS250RW do not stand out. If the engine is not as full as the V5, the small V2 2-stroke offers honorable times from 7,000 rpm! And what a joy to feel the horses tumble faster and faster as the turns! The good old "kick in the ass" that the tester Alan Cathcart "appreciates so much and regrets" since the arrival of the docile and dosable 4-stroke in the premier class…

This type of motorcycle has an undeniable charm and I now understand its protectors better (read)…

As on the RCV, the four laps go by too quickly … Tired but happy, I give the RS n ° 1 back to its mechanics. One last look at the three exceptional Honda’s and I go into the locker room to take off my leather…

Sure that after the test of these bikes, the niac of MotoGP riders – whoever they are -, flirting with the limits twice a month for the win, takes all its scale and becomes simply mind-boggling !

We can’t wait for the pros to resume their service from March 26, 2006 in Jerez for new fights, new exploits, new dramas and new turns by turns … All on Moto-Net, of course. !

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