Wednesday, September 27, 2006

New MotoGP Honda isn't their first 800

Honda have unveiled their new 800cc MotoGP bike, with a V4 engine rather than the rumoured triple. However, this isn't their first 800cc engine. They built one for their cute little 2-seater sports car of the 1960's - the S800.
The S800 was tiny, and followed on from the even tinier S600 and S500. The notable thing about these cars was the engine technology. Honda had used their knowledge of bike engines to create these little masterpieces.
The S800's 791cc inline-4 engine was way ahead of its time in terms of car engineering, using bike engine features such as aluminium construction, double overhead camshafts, roller bearings for the crankshaft and a pair of twin carburettors, i.e. one carburettor per cylinder. It kicked out 70bhp at 8,000rpm and could allegedly hit 11,000rpm for a short time without blowing up. That's astounding when you consider that the average British sports car of the sixties could barely struggle past 5,000rpm.
With that kind of engineering, the teeny S800 could touch 100mph on a good day.
These days there is a cult following of bike engined cars. For instance the Legends, small scale replicas of 1930's American cars, are hugely popular racing machines. Also, in the UK there are various bike-engined road cars built for track-day use. Deafening, low-torque bike engines aren't great for trundling along in a traffic jam, but on a track, keeping the revs up with the sequential bike gearbox, people love them.
It's interesting though, that there is a link from the brand new Honda MotoGP bike, which will rev to around 20,000rpm and produce well over 200bhp, and one of the most advanced little sports cars of the 1960's.
Honda have always had bikes in their blood, even when designing cars.

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