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Two Bangs

The legendary Honda SP2

 



Race winner


It’s quite the testament to the SP1 and the SP2 that over two decades since they were discontinued that a clean one still wouldn’t look out of place at a track day. The Honda V-Twin came to market at a time when bikes had taken a huge leap forward in terms of performance. The new Fireblade, R1 and GSX1000R had all delivered on power delivery and handling, in ways that we hadn’t seen before.

 

On the V-Twin front there wasn’t a whole lot of competition. The Ducati 916 had done little but damage the Italian marques reputation. Hondas Firestorm was less that interesting and the TL1000 was fascinating in the sense that the rear shock mount was biding its time before snapping and doing its very best to murder you. It has to be said, though, that particular Suzuki was a whole lot of fun.



A thing of beauty

 

Having had quite enough of it being handed to them in WSB by the larger capacity Ducati, V-Twins were allowed to run up to 999cc while any four cylinder bikes were capped at a mere 750cc, the girls and boys at Honda came up with their own V-Twin.

 

In 2000 they released the SP1. With Edwards on the Castrol teams' bike he won the championship. While the Ducati took it back, the 2002 season was once again Hondas. Over in the US Nicky Hayden was busy winning the AMA championship on one. The great news for us mere mortals was that the rules stated that the bike had to be available to the general public.

 


Way ahead of its time


133 bhp may not sound like much these days, but with no ABS, no traction control and much more basic suspension, taking a standard one on a trackday relied on the old adage, ‘What you don’t know can’t hurt you’.

 

In 2002 the bike got a reworking. While having the same layout as the original the SP2 benefited from a more rigid swingarm and frame. These were identical to the WSB machines. Power was up by a mere 4bhp, but thanks to ‘shower head injectors the fuelling was ‘cleaner’ and allowed the bike to be used in a more predictable manner.

 


V-twin racing


Eventually the rules in WSB changed and the in line four machines were allowed use 999cc engines. Hondas Fireblade took over and the SP2 was relegated to history.

 

In the US the bike, while designated an RC 51, leaned heavily on the companies heritage and was known as the RVT.

 

Now a clean SP1 or an SP2 is a very rare thing indeed. However, thanks to having a much larger market and significantly better weather, the American RC 51 bikes, from back then, tend to be in much better condition. As a modern classic some of us would have ridden them, some of us would have owned one and some of us admired them from a distance.

 


A steering damper was always a good idea!


There is one on offer here in Ireland. Half man, half motorcycle racer, James Doyle from City Spares has a pristine black RVT model available. Give him a call on 0852810616 and relive the magic!

 

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