Honda Might Be Developing A VTEC Superbike

Honda motorbike fans everywhere may not want to admit it, but it doesn’t make it less true. When it comes to bikes with brute power, Honda is failing miserably. Even their CBR1000RR is somewhat lacking in the Superbike field. That’s all set to change if the rumors are true. What rumor do you ask? This one, of course – Honda might be developing a VTEC Superbike.

Rumor or fact? You decide

There have been rumors kicking around for years that Honda’s going to make a new CBR1000RR. Ever since some of the basic components found on the current model were patented. Another big clue, last October Honda finally got the trademark rights needed to use the Fireblade name in the US. What Americans know as the CBR900RR is known as the Fireblade everywhere else. But with Honda finally getting the rights to use the name on their motorcycle in America, it seems that the title is about to be officially adopted. At this point, of course, this is pure speculation. But, why else would Honda have gained the Fireblade trademark rights for America? They’ve been fine without it for years. Is it possible that they’re planning a name change because CBR1000RR is no longer a suitable title for a next-gen bike? One can only dream.

Fuel on the fire

Honda recently applied for some patents that suggest they’re back in the superbike game. Based on the intel, the innovative firm that revolutionized variable valve timing and lifts in their vehicles is planning to do the same thing to the aforementioned sports bike. In the motorbike industry, this isn’t exactly a new thing. Both Ducati Diavel and DVT Multistrada models use a hydraulic cam phasing system. Kawasaki has done the same thing with their 1400GTR for over a decade. Suzuki GSXR1000 is in the game as well, with their unique all mechanical VVT step setup. Still, Honda’s experience in the field may be just what they need to take their version of a superpowered superbike to the next level.

Consider their revolutionary VTEC System. It’s based on having two sets of cam lodes and it’s been a success. This feature has been part of the Honda family of cars for about two decades. The new variable valve timing in this design is based on the same idea. With this design, every valve has a mild lobe that’s best used for low revs, good fuel economy, and basically other low key activities. When you’re ready to get a little crazy, there’s a wild lobe that’s used at high speeds to provide you with maximum power.

Imitation is the best form of flattery

Possibly because the above concept must be modified to fit on a bike, the patent applications show a set up that looks more like BMW’s ShiftCam then a VTEC system. For instance, the patent shows a design for multi-part camshafts. This feature is found in the ShiftCam as well. In addition, the design shows a splined inner shaft and the cam lobes mounted on outer sleeves. That’s right. You guessed it. BMW has the same thing.

The Devil is in the Details

Where the Honda defers from the BMW is in the tiny but important details. For instance, the patent shows the engine using the cam system on both the intake and exhaust sides. BMW, on the other hand, changes the lift and timing of the intake valves. The differences don’t stop there. Honda’s design shows each cylinder has separate camshaft sleeve sections. BMWs latest version of the S1000RR uses two sleeves and each one has two cylinders.

The biggest difference is the way the outer camshaft sections move. Both Honda and BMW do this by pushing retractable pins into a little groove in each sleeve. This ensures that the camshaft rotation moves everything the way it’s supposed to. Honda’s design for this doesn’t disappoint. They use a sliding ladder with lateral shafts that pull double-duty for the pivot. The oil pressure releases the solenoids and this moves them from side to side. BMW, on the other hand, uses solenoids that place direct pressure on the pins to get them to the correct groove. It works but it’s a slightly aggressive way to do it.

The bottom line

Honda’s disappointing version of the Superbike has let his fans down. But, there’s a light at the end of the road. If the rumor holds true, it’s possible that Honda motorbike lovers can hold their head up high once again. Of course, it’s all speculation at this point. But still, it’s an exciting possibility,


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