4 Awesome Road-Legal Race Bikes

We often hear of sports cars that steal technology from their racing counterparts, but there are a number of motorbikes that are so highly tuned that they're more at home on the track than the road. Here are some of the most extreme
4 Awesome Road-Legal Race Bikes

Honda RC213V-S

4 Awesome Road-Legal Race Bikes

We’ll start with a bit of a controversial one. On the face of it, the catchily titled RC213V-S should be an absolute monster: a MotoGP-derived bike that’s barely been toned down for road use.

Except it had been toned down in the power stakes - especially in America. The 999cc V4 engine is essentially the same unit as you’ll find in the race bike, albeit with an Electronic Control Unit limits the revs to 12,000rpm; however, to make it road-legal in America, Honda had to limit power to 101bhp and revs to 8000rpm. The latter makes it rather underpowered for a bike that’ll set you back a whopping £132,000 (€188k, €184k).

Ignore that incredible price tag, though, and even without the heady 12k rev limit, you’re getting a hell of a lot of bike. As far as Honda’s concerned, it’s not the power figure that makes this bike what it is, it’s the sum of its parts; it’s a lightweight, compact, hand-built racing motorcycle with headlights and indicators. If the compromises really concern you, there’s always the track-only Sports Kit, which uses a new ECU that allows 215bhp at 13,000rpm, free-breathing exhausts and a quicker shifting gearbox to bring the RC213V-S closer to its MotoGP roots.

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Much like the Honda above, this Ducati was derived from its MotoGP equivalent; only 1500 production bikes were made available with the first deliveries made in 2008. As someone who’s used to writing about cars, the performance figures that come from this 989cc V4 engine are mind-boggling: a claimed 197bhp at 13,800rpm.

Again, like the Honda, you could specify a few track only upgrades which included a race-only exhaust system and race ECU. And the noise it makes is utterly fantastic, with a delightfully raw noise that sounds like a pure race-spec engine.

Kawasaki Ninja H2/H2R

4 Awesome Road-Legal Race Bikes

I may be a bit biased since I’ve always had a soft spot for the Ninja, but this track-only H2R model is by far the most gorgeous bike ever created. The little bodywork that’s present is all angular like an origami depiction of an evil motorbike, with its exposed machinery underneath beautifully crafted. And then there’s the exposed exhaust curling its way beneath the machine. Just wow.

And the stats are just as impressive as the looks, with 300bhp catapulting the H2R to a theoretical top speed of 250mph. If you were one of the lucky few to drop £33,000 (€47k, $50k) on one of these beasts, you had to sign a disclaimer that you were aware you should only use the bike on track, should only ride it after using tyre blankets, should store it raised off the ground to avoid damaging the tyres, and should only use the specific tyres designed for the bike. You’re also warned the exhaust may be too loud for certain tracks, and you can only purchase certain replacement parts with proof of ownership of the bike. This is a serious bit of kit.

The road-going version - the H2 - is a little more tame, but is still a potent thing. It uses the same 998cc supercharged inline-four as the R version, with the power reduced to a slightly more reasonable 200bhp.

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This homologation special was built so Yamaha could race in the World Superbike series. It follows the same principles as some of the above, by using trick kit to justify its specialness rather than epic outright power, with just 107bhp on tap.

What you get instead are Ohlins forks plus rear shock, uprated brakes, and the kind of stability most normal bikes can only dream of. Two race trims were available, upping output by 25bhp and 55bhp each, however they were very pricey. On paper the bike didn’t seem great value for money, but the exquisite engineering and road presence make it a must have for the list.


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