1988 – Honda VFR750R RC30
No list of ‘80s icons would be complete without the RC30. Built to satisfy World Superbike Championship homologation purposes, it was a fully-faired, single seat sportsbike, filled with race-derived technology. Even today, more than 30 years later, it’s unequivocally the machine against which all superbikes are compared.
Soon after its debut, the racing RC30 won the first two World Superbike Championships (1988 and 1989) in the hands of American Fred Merkel, while across the pond at the Isle of Man TT, Carl Fogarty and Steve Hislop were making Honda history.
Derived from the manufacturer’s RVF750 endurance racer, the RC30 was powered by a 748cc gear-driven double overhead camshaft V4, with the road going version producing 120PS (118bhp) at 9,500rpm and 70Nm (52lb ft) at 7,000rpm.
In a first for a production machine – using the term ‘production’ lightly, for only 3,000 were built – it featured high-performance competition components, including titanium connecting rods, intake and exhaust valves in the cylinder head, a slipper clutch, a single-sided swingarm, fully adjustable Showa suspension at both ends and fork sliders that held the front brake callipers in place during quick wheel changes.
The design spoke for itself, a beautiful amalgamation of form and function – the latter taking precedent of course. The twin-spar aluminium frame peeked from beneath square fairings, the HRC colours sweeping from the forks to the tail. It set a benchmark for fast class.