Chinese Whispers

The rumour mills are at it again.  Honda has recently patented several designs which has seen some of the motorcycle press start some wild speculations.  This recent round has kicked off with Motociclismo.  What I find interesting is the snowball effect this has generated.

First, a bit of context may be in order:

  • Motorcycles are about passion.  Even the most practical motorcycle in the world relies on passion to sell.  Let’s face it, motorcycles aren’t practical transport when compared with a car.  The bike does not have to be Italian to generate a fan base and as such, the loyal fans of a model like to see it improve with time.  As such, forums often feature posts with respect to new models.
  • Honda appears to have altered their development model in recent years.  There was a time when every two years saw an “incremental update” to one of their models and a larger update every four.  Recent times have seen phenomenal development by all of the Japanese manufacturers of two sports models: the 600cc category, and the 1000cc category.  Changes have been more significant in these two models than in previous years.  I believe, that this concentrated effort has been to the detriment of Honda’s other models.
  • Several of Honda’s less popular long term models have recently received their first real upgrade in years.  They include the Deauville, and the Trans Alp
  • A couple of “former flagship” models the CBR 1100xx Super Blackbird  and the VFR 800 Interceptor  are looking decidedly long in the tooth.  A new paint-job doesn’t make a new model…
  • When the premier racing class (MotoGP) changed formula from 500cc two stroke engines to 990cc four stroke, Honda built and raced a five cylinder (Vee configuration) engine.  Building such an unconventional engine might seem like a gamble, but Honda knew what they were doing and it paid off – the RCV211V was virtually untouchable, until the genius of Valentino Rossi upset the apple cart by moving to Yamaha.  Since the class moved to 800cc engines, Honda have not had a use for their V5 engine.

So, from what I can gather, Honda have filed patents for:

  •   A V5 configuration engine.  It will undoubtedly be less exotic than the one that graced the Honda RCV211V, but it is decidedly unique for a street bike.
  • For want of a better phrase: a two part chassis. The front and rear sections both bolt directly to the engine and not to each other.
  • An electronic version of their Dual-combined braking system.  As far as I know, it is not currently commercially available, so it makes sense that future Honda models may incorporate such a system.

With that background, it is fair to speculate that at least one new Honda road model may be available for the 2009 model year.

So, keen to fill a web page, Motociclismo ran an article speculating that the VFR and Blackbird models would be replaced by a new “exotic” V5 model.  This was picked up by the major brand-specific motorcycle forums.

I don’t speak Spanish, but with the benefits of on-line translators and judicious amounts of allowing for dodgy translations, this article really didn’t go much beyond stating that they had an “inside-source” that a new model was coming and then proceeded to guess what goodies it may feature – given the new patents.  From the article, there was not much indication that the artistic impressions were anything but just their interpretation.  – This didn’t stop forum members even saying things like “I don’t like the colour!”

Next, “Faster and Faster”  picked up the Spanish story.  They didn’t add anything to it “news wise”, but suddenly the forums had two references to a bike! (even though Faster and Faster correctly accredited their information to Motociclismo).  More links on forums, more excitement, more chances for cynical forum members to use the little animated icon of a bovine creature producing excrement

Next Motor Cycle Specs (a South African site) picked up on the story.  They too gave attribution to Motociclismo (and Faster and Faster) and appeared to use a technique I would refer to as cut-n-translate-n-paste.  They didn’t have anything new either, but by this stage it’s all just fuel-on-the-fire.

So, is there any truth at all to the one story?  I guess we will find out in September (when the article predicted the model would be released)  There probably will be new Honda models this year.  I just hope they are not pale blue! :-)
An XKCD comic

(Image courtesy of xkcd.com)

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