Ten Most Gorgeous Motorcycle Race Replicas – Part 2
Let’s continue with our Top 10 list of the most beautiful race replica motorcycles.
It occurred to us that race replicas these days look too “busy” as the manufacturer attempts to crowd in sponsors’ graphics as well. Or is it because we’re sentimental? Or getting old?
6. Honda NSR250R
Smoking is hazardous to health but some of the prettiest race replicas came from the era of tobacco sponsorship.
And in all happenstance, it is still considered the golden age of GP racing. Practically all the major tobacco companies splurged on motorsports; however, it was the Rothmans-sponsored bikes that looked particularly pretty.
Rothmans was involved in virtually every form of motorsport, whether it was two-wheels, four-wheels, roadracing or off-road.
Especially beautiful was the NSR250. The later SP version was sharp and sleek, looking pretty much like Mick Doohan’s NSR500 race bike.
7. Honda XRV650 Africa Twin
Honda was also heavily engaged in the gruelling Paris-Dakar Rally (The Dakar) and it produced an aptly named replica called the Africa Twin.
Rothmans was also the main sponsor of this venture but there was the HRC-liveried XRV650 model, built from 1988 to 1989. These were lighter and hand-built by the Honda Racing Corporation (HRC).
It was succeeded by the XRV750 Africa Twin, which arguably popularised the large capacity dual-purpose segment.
8. Suzuki RGV250SP Lucky Strike Special Edition
Yes, Lucky Strike was another big-time sponsor in motorsports, as was another tobacco brand, Marlboro.
Lucky Strike began its World 500cc GP involvement with Yamaha, whose rider was the future 3-time champ, Wayne Rainey. Rainey’s greatest rival and Suzuki rider, Kevin Schwantz, on the other hand, was sponsored by Pepsi.
However, when Marlboro stepped in to sponsor the factory Yamaha 250cc and 500cc teams, Lucky Strike switched to the factory Suzuki team.
The brand soon became synonymous with the Suzuki of the charismatic and hard-charging Schwantz. It was from this moment that no other brand of motorcycle looked “right” with the Lucky Strike theme other than Suzuki. It did not even matter if the Lucky Strike livery said the Kawasaki or Yamaha were genuine ex-factory.
Suzuki had stopped building the RG500 two-stroke streetbike by then, but it still had the RGV250 two-stroke. Suzuki did the right thing by producing the RGV250SP Lucky Strike Special Edition in 1996.
9. Barry Sheene’s Heron-Suzuki RG500
Barry Sheene was Britain’s last Grand Prix champion up to Danny Kent in 2015. “Bazza” captured the 1976 and 1977 World Motorcycle Grand Prix titles onboard the Suzuki RG500.
His Suzuki RG500 “XR14” is long remembered as arguably the most beautiful 500cc race bike ever painted. But just like the RG250 Gamma and RGV250, Suzuki didn’t produce a replica of Bazza’s racer after he left the factory for Yamaha in 1981. Instead, it produced the Walter Wolf edition RG500 Gamma in 1986.
Suzuki fans still regularly paint their GSX-Rs in Barry Sheene colours.
10. Ducati 916
The Ducati 916 was the most dominant bike in the World Superbike Championship until only recently dethroned by the Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R. It had thrashed the competition while being the best-looking bike in the world.
It was a groundbreaking design, featuring two small headlamps, a single-sided swingarm and exhausts placed under the seat. It was also compact in size, no bigger than a 250cc machine.
The road-legal machine was red, to begin with. Besides that, it wasn’t festooned with all sorts of mumbo-jumbo graphics. The homologation “SP” model, on the other hand, had a carbon fibre front fender, gold wheels, a solo seat hump painted white, and that’s it.
24 years on, it is still one – if not the – most gorgeous race replica ever made.