Ten Most Gorgeous Motorcycle Race Replicas – Part 1
Aprilia RSV Mille R. Image source: motorcyclespecs.co.uk
Manufacturers produce “race replica” models for a number of reasons. Chief among them are:
a. Limited Edition Homologation Models
Production-based racing series such as the World Superbike Championship (WorldSBK) and other domestic superbike championships, such as the Malaysian Superbike Championship (MSBK), require manufacturers to adhere to a certain formula. Those rules state that the race bikes must be as close to the production model as possible in order to be eligible for racing.
Consequently, manufacturers build “special”, “limited edition”, homologation models that are packed to the gills with racing tech, ready to race and win. The Ducati 888 SP5 and Honda VTR1000 SP2 are prime examples.
b. Commemorating a victory
Win on Sunday, sell on Monday. That mantra still applies today.
c. Involvement in racing
This is especially true for models that do not share the same traits as the superbike homologation models. For example, the two-stroke 250cc bikes that are finished in the paint scheme of the factories’ 500cc GP racers, such as the Suzuki RGV250 Lucky Strike.
Look into The Soul of the Motorcycle.
And with that, here are the first five of 10 Most Gorgeous Race Replicas ever produced: –
1. Any Yamaha with “Speed Blocks”
The yellow and black “Speed Blocks” seem to the be Yamaha’s eternal special paint scheme. Not even the current Movistar blue scheme in MotoGP could take its place.
The “Speed Blocks” scheme was a part of Yamaha America’s effort in promoting Yamaha’s involvement in motorsports and it had to be memorable.
Yamaha got what it hoped for when Kenny Roberts won the 1973 and 1974 AMA Grand National Championship titles. Roberts then went on to join the World 500cc GP scene, in which he captured the 1978, 1979 and 1980 championships on the YZR-500.
The “Speed Block” became a global phenomenon. Yamaha has since featured the paint scheme on almost every model they produced – from mopeds all the way up to the YZF-R1 superbike and the YZR-M1 MotoGP racer on special occasions.
Yamaha YZR-500. Image source: Yamaha
2. BMW R90S
BMW had been involved in motorsports for decades but the buying public of the late 1960s and early 1970s still associated the brand with pipe-smoking and slipper-wearing forty-somethings.
BMW sought to change this perception by hiring Hans Muth to redesign their bikes. (It was Hans Muth who designed the iconic Suzuki Katana in 1980.)
The result was the R90S which was unveiled in 1973. It had the distinction of being the very first production bike to be fitted with a fairing. BMW promptly entered the new bike into AMA superbike racing and was rewarded with a one-two finish at the 1976 Daytona superbike race. Reg Pridmore, who scored second at that Daytona race, went on to wrap up the AMA Superbikes Championship during that very year.
BMW commemorated the Daytona victory by issuing a special colour called “Daytona Orange”.
BMW R90S. Image source: MCN
3. Ducati 900 Mike Hailwood Replica (MHR)
A combination of lots of red and green paint may put off some manufacturers from attempting that path, but it was Ducati who got it right.
Mike “The Bike” Hailwood came back to racing in 1979 and went on to win the Isle of Man TT on a Ducati 900. The victory prompted Ducati to produce the 900 Mike Hailwood Replica, resplendent in red and green. It paved the way to the future “Tricolore” editions.
Ducati 900 MHR. Image source: Pinterest.com
4. Kawasaki KZ1000R ELR (Eddie Lawson Replica)
One of the purest of Kawasaki’s race replicas is the 1982 KZ1000R ELR. It was a direct homage to Eddie Lawson’s AMA Superbike Championship title in 1981.
Besides the signature lime green and blue striped paint scheme, the KZ1000R ELR features gold Comstar wheels, 4-into-1 Kerker megaphone, Öhlins rear shocks and a stepped seat.
Kawasaki KZ1000R ELR
5. Honda VFR750R RC30
The 1987 Honda VFR750R – better known as the RC30 – was hand-built by the Honda Racing Corporation (HRC) as the weapon to dominate the World Superbike Championship and any domestic superbike championship around the world. The bike shot to fame when Fred Merkel won the inaugural World Superbike Championship in 1989.
The RC30 was and is still beautiful, 31 years on.
Honda RC30. Image source: half-mag.com
More gorgeous bikes coming soon in Part 2 of this article…