Zonko’s attack on the Honda RC30 AMA superbike

Zonko’s attack on the Honda RC30 AMA superbike

Freddie’s comeback

Content of

Almost Freddie Spencer returned to the AMA Superbike Championship in 1990 on a Honda RC30 from the Two Brothers Team. Exactly this machine was ready for an attack at the Pannonia ring. What’s in the racing wing that was hard to beat back then?

D.he greatest moment? “Three days after winning the world championship in the premier class, I was welcomed at home by Soichiro Honda. He opened the door, took me by the shoulders, looked deeply into my eyes and said: Thank you! ”Recalls Freddie Spencer. In 1983, the then 21-year-old American had fulfilled a great dream for the Japanese visionary and founder of an empire. Honda had become world champion in the highest motorcycle racing class for the first time.

Zonko’s attack on the Honda RC30 AMA superbike

Freddie’s comeback

Original Spencer RC30?

And then he got on the Honda RC30 from the Two Brothers Team, which he had ridden in the AMA Superbike Championship on his comeback in 1990, and fired it on the street circuit in Schwanenstadt with such freedom that it set a new track record in the world was. Almost Freddie! It was amazing how easily and playfully he moved the almost quarter-century old AMA-RC30! The crowd went wild. Since Spencer will be competing again this year at the Oldtimer GP in Schwanenstadt (September 17/18) and Bertl Gastinger, the owner of Freddie’s RC30 at the time, wanted to do some laps on the Pannoniaring to ensure that the machine is in top shape , I got the chance to ride a horsepower attack on the insane wing. Wow!

The VFR 750 R with the internal abbreviation RC30 was an incredibly good sports motorcycle when it appeared in 1988, which mutated into a real racing machine with a kit. Honda won the Superbike World Championship, which was held for the first time in 1988, won victories at the Isle of Man TT and was also a force in the AMA Superbikes for years. Spencer himself could no longer win a championship, but still achieved some spectacular victories with the Honda RC30. Early 90s.

"It’s completely original"

“It looks exactly like the Spencer machine, but of course it is no longer,” I said to Bertl Gastinger and was outraged: “It is completely original. That’s exactly how he drove in 1990. The magnesium factory fork from the NW6, i.e. the factory racing machine based on the Honda RC24, the short kit swing arm, the Ohlins strut with the Showa spring, the short first standard gear, the geometry, the jet titanium connecting rods from the RC15. We haven’t changed anything. Two years ago in Schwanenstadt, he couldn’t get the feeling that he felt back then immediately. When he came back after the first few laps, he had a big grin on his face. And he was incredibly fast right from the start. "

“I won’t be incredibly fast now. But do I have to spare them? How high can I turn it? ”I wanted to know while I was threading the chin strap into the double D of the Arai. 13,500 rpm would not be a problem, protection would be superfluous, but scrapping it was not a good idea, said Bertl, before he got ready to push. I nodded. All right. I’m not a barbarian.

This side of today’s traction controls

Press the second gear down, let the pushing Bertl get up to speed, force the very best into the saddle, let off the clutch – the V4 is alive! Murderous sound! Not insanely loud, but rough, hoarse, full and very, very honest. I mean, under me is a 750 four-cylinder with 135 hp peak output, which really worried everyone at the end of the 80s and beginning of the 90s, and it just mustn’t sound like a state-of-the-art toggle engine in the Euro 4 craze.

As I roll cautiously through the pit lane towards the track, I am still amazed at the comfortable seating position. Okay, the knee angle is super sporty and serious and the flat HRC seat pad is spartan, but the saddle and handlebars have a perfect distance for me, the upper body is slightly inclined forward, but there is no great pressure on the wrists. The Honda RC30 definitely does not have the extreme front-wheel orientation of today’s superbikes.

Without driving modes, without traction control, without ABS

Will turning in a feat of strength? Will the chassis of the Honda RC30, which I found very soft when getting on, bend its knees when anchored and accelerated? Is that even worthy of braking? Will I be able to dose the distinctive range of the V4 when the real thrust ignites between 7000 and 8000 rpm?

I was really excited. But I wasn’t nervous. I’ve driven hundreds of Hondas in my life and not a single one has been malicious. Even the RC211V from Rossi back then, with which I was allowed to drive five laps, was not a deceitful or tricky diva, but shone with an absolutely logical, self-explanatory driving behavior. Spencer’s Honda RC30 wouldn’t make my life difficult now, I was absolutely sure of that. Without driving modes, without traction control, without ABS.

Noble parts, crazy effort

Since the AMA Superbikes were much further removed from the series than in the Superbike World Championship, the Two Brothers RC30 from Spencer contains incredibly noble parts and insane technical solutions. The fork, for example, is a HRC Showa factory telescope that was used in the factory NW6 (Honda RC24). The immersion tubes are made of steel, the feet of magnesium – milled from solid. The hydraulic anti-dive system is extremely effective. When anchoring, the brake calliper moves a small lever that closes a valve. This restricts the flow of oil that pushes up when the fork is immersed. Honda also had this system on the forks of its GP racing machines.

The interior is dominated by ultra-precise parts made of titanium. Who can do the service for such a noble piece as the Honda RC30? “First I took the fork to the German Showa technician Andi Vogt,” says Bertl Gastinger, “and he was really impressed. Kit aluminum forks could be bought, but a genuine factory fork was not. He had never seen one like this himself. Now my brother Peter can also do the service. "

The fact that the dip tubes protrude far out of the upper triple clamp seems strange, but there is a good reason: The RC24 was higher than the Honda RC30. At the back, Spencer trusted the kit swing arm (the HRC technicians cut the original swing arm apart, shortened it by 15 mm and welded stiffening profiles) and an Ohlins shock absorber with Showa spring. The rear, ultra-light 6-inch magnesium rim comes from an NR 750, the 320 mm brake system from the NW6.

“Spencer’s Honda RC30 is a little higher at the back than most RC30s were in racing at the time,” Bertl had explained to me. In connection with the short kit swing arm, the resulting very compact wheelbase of 1390 mm and the low weight (160 kg) I expected sharp handling.

What a landing gear!

But already after the first turns it was clear that Spencer’s Honda RC30 is by no means nervous, but needs a certain amount of input when turning. For me and my speed, however, absolutely good-natured and encouraging trust. The almost 30-year-old brake was of course not super-sharp, but it was by no means slack either. The controllability was very good for me, but for the real bite I had to choke the lever considerably.

I was really excited about the chassis. When getting on and strolling through the pit lane, I still had the feeling that the suspension elements were too soft, but at full speed the chassis provided wonderful firmness and stability. The anti-dive system worked so well when braking – in contrast to the almost ineffective production offshoots at the time – that I had a very clear feeling for the front wheel during the entire phase of the weight transfer to the front. Wow! And although I was on the road with Michelin Pilot Power 3 with street air pressure in Pannonia in real monkey heat (Spencer will only drive the machine in Schwanenstadt), I turned the Honda RC30 more and more lap after lap, because I think the Honda RC30 as a whole is as logical as one Hammer could use. At some point the bird in its brain screamed: “Go into the box! You’re going to overdo it! ”Good idea.

In the engine it plays Jet-Granada

After I handed the Honda RC30 back to the owner, I gushed out: “It’s amazing how canvas and killer-good chassis and engine fit together. I had already forgotten how full and soft a perfectly tuned carburetor is. It is also wonderful when the V4 accelerates at 8000 turns. Great punch! I would never have believed that a 26 year old motorcycle could move around the ring so well. Smooth and thrill at the same time. A great experience. Thank you, Bertl! "

What’s in the engine? Essentially, it’s the parts of the HRC kit. However, the TT-F1 constant pressure carburetors from 1988 are used, which were banned in the Superbike World Championship due to the 36.5 mm cross section (series: 35.3). With 39 flat slides, the Honda RC30 had a little more peak power (approx. 140 hp), but the power delivery was significantly more toxic and the usable band was narrower.

Amazed looks when disassembling the engine

Another big difference to the Superbike are the connecting rods: In the Two Brothers-RC30 it is not the HRC titanium connecting rods that work, but rather the honed titanium connecting rods of the Honda RC15 with new bushings. Why then? Bertl Gastinger shrugs his shoulders: “I don’t know exactly. Gotthard Gugler and I were amazed ourselves when we completely dismantled the engine for the first time. It is known that the Americans were better at Titan than the Japanese at the time. In any case, the RC15 jet connecting rods are still in remarkably good condition."

The American way of tuning hot engines can also be seen in the cylinder heads of this Honda RC30: “The run-in phase before the valve area is extremely excluded, so that the fresh gas comes to the valve even faster. This type of processing is not known from European tuners. Two Brothers heads are very special, ”says Bertl.

Have you always been a Honda fan??

Gastinger not only owns Spencer’s Honda RC30s, but also the two Honda RC15s with which Fast Freddie won the Daytona 200 miles in 1983 and 1984. After the AMA had reduced the permissible displacement for the 1983 season from 1000 to 750 cubic meters, Honda did everything in its power to win the title with the V4 Interceptor. The series VF 750 weighed 240 kilos at the time, the racing version with dry clutch and titanium connecting rods only 180 and made 120 hp.

After the test we sit with a coffee, the Bertl burns off a firework of V4 knowledge, and I still have to clarify one question: “Have you always been a Honda fan?” No, he wasn’t. For him Kenny Roberts was the greatest back then, and he painted his moped like the GP-Yamaha. When Spencer defeated Roberts, Bertl was not at all pleased. But when he was able to buy his first motorcycle, he asked his friend Gotthard Gugler, an expert on technical issues, for his opinion. And it was clear: “Definitely a Honda with a V4. From a technical point of view, they are far in the lead. A brilliant concept. The others won’t keep up. ”So he bought a VF 500 with 70 hp and drove the Honda Cup. And the passion for the V4 from Honda burns to this day. Last question: “Would you sell the Spencer-RC30?” – “Never. There is so much heart and soul in it. I’m not rich, but I can get by. "

Technical data Honda RC30


The VFR 750 R with the internal abbreviation RC30 was an incredibly good sports motorcycle when it appeared in 1988, which mutated into a real racing machine with a kit.

90-degree V4, four valves / cylinder, 99.2 kW (135 PS) at 13,000 / min, 82 Nm at 11,000 / min, 748 cm³, bore / stroke: 70.0 / 48.6 mm, Keihin constant pressure carburetor, Ø 36.5 mm, oil bath clutch, six-speed gearbox, chain

frame & Brakes
Light alloy bridge frame, steering head angle: 65.3 degrees, caster: 91 mm, wheelbase: 1390 mm, Showa magnesium HRC factory fork with hydraulic anti-dive system, Ohlins central spring strut with Showa spring, magnesium rims, 3.50 x 17 / 6.00 x 17, front tires: Michelin Pilot Power 3, 120 / 70-17, rear: Michelin Pilot Power 3, 180 / 55-17, 320 mm double disc brake with four-piston fixed calipers at the front, 220 mm single disc with single-piston Floating saddle at the back

measurements and weight
Seat height: 795 mm, weight: 160 kg (dry)



Zonko: "This perfectly coordinated and perfectly balanced Honda RC30 made me realize again how wonderful and direct it is to drive without electronic assistance systems."

When I think about the AMA-RC30, I am deeply impressed by how great this machine, which is more than 25 years old, can be moved on the racetrack. This perfectly coordinated and perfectly balanced Honda RC30 made me realize again how wonderful and direct it is to drive without electronic assistance systems. I also have great admiration for Bertl from Gastingen, who keeps old V4 racing Hondas alive in his garage with great technical know-how in tireless detailed work and with the help of the engine genius Gotthard Gugler.

Not because he wants to make money with it, but because he sees these machines as irretrievable cultural assets. In view of the Honda RC30, I cannot avoid sending an urgent request to Japan: “Honored Honda technicians, don’t let the ruling red pen managers get you down, who have no idea how much the motorcyclist’s soul is for exceptionally sharp devices burns , and builds another approvable, reasonably affordable V4 milestone that worries everyone. Thank you! "

Related articles

Related articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *