It started well for Honda in the World Superbike Championship. A VFR750R (RC30) took the first two titles in 1988 and ’89, but then Ducati took a hat-trick of victories, followed by Kawasaki winning in 1993. Honda needed to hit back, and the 1994 RVF750R (RC45) was the bike to do it, although it took a little longer than intended.
The RC45 was a pure, homologation special from the ground up, but being hand-built by HRC it was produced in significantly lower volumes than its predecessor. It’d be easy to view the RC45 simply as an RC30 with sophisticated fuel injection as they both have a 16-valve DOHC 90° v-four motor in a twin-beam alloy frame with a single-sided swing arm, but the RC45 was pretty much all new. Developed jointly by HRC and Honda R&D, the narrower RC45 engine had relocated gear cam drives, new bore and stroke dimensions, new valve angles, new crankshaft, new frame, new upside-down forks, new brakes, and so the list goes on.
On the road, in road-legal production trim, the sweet-handling 118bhp RC45 was peerless, but it carried a price tag to match – £17,780 was £1,580 more than Ducati’s 916SP homologation special, and £5,980 more than a 916 Strada.
In competition, the RC45 swept all aside at the IoM TT for four consecutive years during the mid ‘90s, while also taking victory in the prestigious Suzuka 8-hour, Bol d’Or 24-hour and Daytona 200 races. Championships were won in World Endurance, and in the American and Australian Superbike series, but, for reasons various, it wasn’t until 1997 that the RC45 finally did what was primarily intended of it; lift the World Superbike crown.
This RC45 is fitted with an HRC race kit, an Ohlins steering damper and a Termignoni race exhaust system. Having competed in the Italian SBK Championship from 1995-1997 it remains in original race configuration.