Honda - NR
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Honda D2-492-04-13
Photo ou archives : F-M. Dumas

Capacity : 500
Model : NR
Production : 1979 -
Category : (R) Racing


NR 500 Grand Prix - 1979

Technical summits


Honda's announcement that it was returning to 500cc grand prix racing in 1979, after an absence of 12 years, caused less of a sensation than the news that their GP contender was a four-stroke, at a time when two-strokes seemed to rule GP races.


A Fake Eight-Banger

Moreover, it quickly became apparent that this engine was really an eight- cylinder whose pistons had been "welded" in pairs to meet the rule prohibiting more than four cylinders in the 500cc class. In fact, the pistons and bores had a cross section like a rectangle with semicircular ends. This ploy allowed the engine to run at over 20,000 rpm, producing a power output equivalent to that of a two-stroke.


Monocoque Frame

And that wasn't the only original feature of the machine: its 16-inch wheels were something new at the time, as was its front fork with external springs and its lateral radiators - which even as late as 1992 had not been adopted by other makers. Nothing like its streamlined light-alloy monocoque exoskeletal frame has been seen since. Despite all Honda's efforts, the career of the NR was a fiasco, which led the company to create the NS, a two-stroke three- cylinder that Spencer rode to the world title in 1983. Nicknamed "Never Ready," the NR continued as a test vehicle long after its racing days were over.



Engine: water-cooled 500cc four-stroke 100 degree V4; oblong pistons with twin conrods

Power output: 100 hp @ 20,000 rpm

Valves: 8 valves per cylinder

Fuel system: quadruple double-choke carburetors

Transmission: chain final drive

Suspension: (front) telescopic fork with external springs; (rear) lever arm

Brakes: (front) disc ; (rear) disc

Wheels: built-up spokes; (front) 16 in: (rear) 16 in

Weight: 330 lb

Maximum speed: 175 mph


Takazumi Katayama rides the Honda NR in its first race, the 1979 GP of France.

Motorcycle encyclopedia Moto Passion, realised by François-Marie Dumas, include almost 2000 photos presented with an exhaustive history of the motorcycles exhibited.

This unique collection has been realised with the participation of many specialists. With many thanks in particular to Yves Campion, Michael Dregni, Didier Ganneau, Jean Goyard, Helmut Krackowizer, Michel Montange, Christian Rey, Bernard Salvat, Mick Woollett, etc

One can order here

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