In 1997, John Kocinski rode the Honda RC45 to 10 wins and the World Superbike championship, the bike’s crowning world title. Factory Castrol Honda team member Aaron Slight finished third in the World Superbike standings that year aboard an RC45.
In 1997, John Kocinski rode a factory Honda RC45 -- built around this limited production model -- to 10 wins and the World Superbike championship, the bike’s crowning world title. Factory Castrol Honda team member Aaron Slight finished third in the World Superbike standings that year aboard an RC45.
The previous year, Slight and Carl Fogarty had some success with the RC45, but Kocinski’s 1997 season showed the world the bike’s true potential on the track.
The RC45 was a limited-edition motorcycle, with 200 units being manufactured and 50 being imported to the United States to meet the AMA’s homologation requirements. Honda advertised the bike as being “designed to dominate worldwide Superbike competition in race-kitted form.” And it certainly lived up to its billing.
The RC45 featured a 749cc 90-degree V-4 liquid-cooled engine that produced more than 150 hp. The DOHC engine came with a gear-driven valve train and a side-mounted gear drive that used two gears instead of three to reduce engine size and internal friction. Precision-programmed fuel injection ensured precise fuel delivery, and a seven-liter air box let the engine breathe.
The RC45 came with a close-ratio six-speed transmission, inverted forks and a single-sided cast aluminum swingarm. Stopping power was provided by 310mm front discs with four-piston calipers and 220mm rear discs with twin-piston calipers.
This bike was on display at the 2015 AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony in Orlando, Fla. Following the event, it returned to the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame in Pickerington, Ohio, where it is on loan from American Honda.