The last word in motorcycling exotica in its day, the Honda NR750 (RC40) cost five times as much as the newly introduced FireBlade when it was introduced in 1993 and was the most coveted bike on the planet at the time. Honda’s technological tour de force originated in the failed NR500 V4 four-stroke Grand Prix racer of 1978. Restricted by the rules to a maximum of four cylinders, Honda built what was, in effect, a V8 with conjoined bores. When even that proved insufficient to subdue the dominant two-strokes, Honda shelved the project but later resurrected the idea for its flagship NR750 superbike.
Designed with no expense spared by Mitsuyoshi Kohama, who would later design the RC211V MotoGP racer, the NR750 was intended to showcase Honda’s advanced technology. Like the NR500’s, the NR750’s complex engine used oval pistons, each supported by two titanium con-rods, while each cylinder had eight valves, twin spark plugs and two fuel injectors. The NR750 remains the only production motorcycle ever to use this technology. On the chassis side Honda were less adventurous while still offering what was state-of-the-art at the time. Thus the NR750 came with a twin-spar, aluminium-alloy beam frame – albeit titanium coated to prevent scratches – single-sided swingarm and ‘upside-down’ forks. The exhaust system exited under the seat, a common enough feature since but rare then, while the two radiators were mounted at the sides, an arrangement later to appear on the VTR1000 Firestorm. Honda’s forward thinking was further reflected in the use of carbon fibre for the bodywork; digital instrumentation (combined with analogue); and indicators integrated into the mirrors.
In strictly performance terms the NR750 was not any faster than many of its more mundane contemporaries, having a top speed of 160mph or thereabouts, but what really blew everybody away was its supremely sexy styling: never before had a production motorcycle looked more like a two-wheeled Ferrari. Only 200 of these amazing machines were built.