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Honda's race history 1959 - 1967........

Honda's Race History 1962
Content © Joep Kortekaas 2002

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RC143 RC143 RC143 RC143 RC143
A Matter of Handling
Honda's own sounds of some of these great bikes
This year a new class is introduced for the world championship races: 50 cc, and Honda decides to participate. Furthermore they participate in the 350 cc class. In the 50 cc they are not successful, the two-strokes are simply faster, but the other three classes yield three individual world titles and three constructor's world titles. The works riders for 1962 are Redman, Phillis, McIntyre, Tanaka, Takahashi and Tommy Robb. Phillis crashes fatally during the 350 cc race on Man while in pursuit of the MVs of Hocking and Hailwood. This causes Hocking, a personal close friend of Phillis, to stop motorcycle racing. He returns to Rhodesia, and is killed when practising for a car race. Later in the season Bob McIntyre is killed in a crash during a national race in England on a Norton. The 50 cc world title is won by Ernst Degner on Suzuki, Hans Georg Anscheidt is second with Kreidler, and Taveri comes in third. The 125 cc title goes to Taveri, with Redman and Robb in second and third place. The 250 cc world title is for Redman, with McIntyre second, and the 350 cc crown is also for Redman, with Hailwood (MV) second, and Robb third.
50 cc RC110, 111 and 112  
The RC110 is a single cylinder with a bore and stroke of 40 x 39, dimensions which are nearly the same as those of most of its competitors. The two over head camshafts are driven by a gear train on the right hand side of the engine. The cylinder is inclined 35 degrees. The valve angle is the same as for the 125 and 250 cc Hondas, i.e. 36 degrees on the inlet and 40 degrees on the exhaust side. Ignition is by crankshaft mounted generator and HT coil, with the contact breaker points mounted on the inlet camshaft. Compression ratio is the by now well known 10.5 : 1 and output is 9.5 bhp at 14,000 rpm. Wet sump lubrication. The bike was developed together with a street version, which explains the five speed gear box and a plugged kickstarter shaft opening.
1962 50cc RC110 Honda This five speed gearbox is already replaced with a six speed cluster when the first GP of the season is held. For the French GP, the bore is increased to 40.4 mm, which brings the capacity to 49.9 cc. The machines used on Man are designated RC111. They have redesigned crankcases, an eight speed gearbox and the inlet length is greater, with a long intake rubber

1962 50cc RC110 Honda



For Assen the bike is provided with a ten speed gearbox, but for the race Taveri prefers the eight speed version - in Finland he uses a nine speed cluster. The last race of the season is held at Suzuka, and here the RC112 makes its debut and also runs its last race.

1962 50cc RC111 Honda
1962 50cc RC112 Honda

1962 50cc RC112 Honda

1962 50cc RC112 Honda

1962 50cc RC111 Honda






The RC112 is a twin, with bore and stroke of 33 x 29 mm, giving a total capacity of 49.6 cc.

There are 2 valves per cylinder. Ignition is by magneto and still works with contact breaker points (!), lubrication is with wet sump system, and the gearbox is nine speed.
Power is given as over 10 bhp at 17,500 rpm, torque is 0.45 kgm at 15,000 rpm. Dry weight is 62.5 kg.
Tommy Robb wins the race, giving Honda its only 50 cc win of the season.

125 cc RC145




1962 125cc RC145 Honda 1962 125cc RC145 Honda

The RC145 is directly derived from the four cylinder RC162, with the drive to the camshafts now by a gear train, taken from the centre of the crankshaft. In principle it's a four without the two outer cylinders. Bore and stroke are still 44 x 41 mm.

The only difference with the four apart from the number of cylinders is the lubrication system, which is wet sump. Power is 24 bhp at 14,000 rpm. Dry weight is 103 kg, and as top speed over 180 km/h is mentioned.

This shows a bike being restored in Honda's restoration workshop in the Honda Collection Hall.

250 cc RC163

The RC163 has some small changes, the most obvious one being larger cooling fins for the cylinders.

Internally the engine is the same. Power output is now 46 bhp at 14,000 rpm.


1962 250cc RC163 Honda
350 cc RC170 and 171  
1962 350cc RC171 Honda
The 1962 350cc RC171 Honda
1962 350cc RC171 Honda
Honda first competes in the 350 cc class on Man, with a 250 four cylinder bored out to 47 mm, giving 285 cc. The bike delivers 50 bhp at 13,500 rpm. Later, a new bike, designated RC171, with bore and stroke of 49 x 45 mm, giving a total capacity of 339.4 cc, is developed, used for the first time at the Ulster GP.
Power output is 56 bhp at 12,500 rpm.
Since there are some cooling problems, the bike gets an oil cooler behind the exhaust down pipes.
Later, after some small changes, the engine is thermically OK, and the oil coolers are taken off again.
Production Racers  
1962 was the year that saw the introduction of the Honda production racers, the 50 cc CR110, the 125 cc CR93, the 250 cc CR72 and the 305 cc CR77.
50 cc CR110
1962 50cc CR110 Honda
1962 50cc CR110 Honda
The CR110 was, except for the colour scheme, virtually identical to the first RC110, complete with five speed gear box and blinded kickstarter shaft hole. Here, too, the five speed gearbox proved inadequate, and was changed to the eight speed version. Contact breaker points are now mounted on the right hand crankcase cover, forward of the clutch. The claimed power was 8.5 bhp at 13,500 rpm, maximum torque 0.46 kgm at 11,500 rpm. Dry weight was 61 kg.
125 cc CR93  
1962 125cc CR93 Honda

The CR 93 was also derived from a street bike, hence the blinded kickstarter shaft hole. The twin had a bore and stroke of 43 x 43 mm for a total capacity of 124.8 cc. Drive to the camshafts was by gear train on the left hand side of the engine.

Compression ratio 10.2 : 1. Ignition was by crankshaft mounted generator with external HT coils; the contact breaker points were mounted on the inlet camshaft.

Wet sump lubrication, with, as an inheritance from the street bikes, had a rotating oil filter. The gearbox had five speeds.

Claimed power was 16.5 bhp at 11,500 rpm, but it was a well known fact, that most of these little gems were much more powerful than that.

Many times Dutch champion Cees van Dongen's CR93 had approximately 22 bhp. The early types had a double sided, single leading shoe front brake, the later types a single sided 2ls brake.

The CR93 was a very popular bike, not only for its speed and handling, but also for its legendary reliability and longevity.

1962 125cc CR93 Honda

250 cc CR72

The CR72 was a twin with a bore and stroke of 54 x 54 mm, for a total capacity of 247.3 cc. Compression ratio 10.5 : 1. Ignition by crankshaft mounted generator with external HT coils and contact breakers on the left hand crankcase cover. Wet sump lubrication. Six speed gearbox. Power output 41 bhp at 12,000 rpm. See pic. CR72.

305 cc CR77

1962 250cc CR72 Honda
1962 305cc CR72 'smooth' Engine 1962 305cc CR72 'smooth' Engine The CR77 was identical to the CR72, but with a bore of 60 mm. Power was 47 bhp at 12,000 rpm

These two types, the CR72 and CR77, remain something of an enigma to me.

Contrary to the CR110 and CR93, they were not developed from or in parallel with similar street bikes. Furthermore they came in a bewildering variety.

First the engines, which were identical, except for the bore.

But, there were at least two types of engine.

One was rather smooth, with light alloy covers the other type more cluttered, with magnesium covers. Some engines of type 2 have external oil return lines from the exhaust camshaft housing, which is clearly visible in the pictures, and mounting lugs for frame front down tubes.


1962 305cc CR72 'smooth' type 1 engine
1962 305cc CR77 'cluttered' Engine 1962 305cc CR77 'cluttered' Engine
1962 305cc CR77 'cluttered' type 2 engine
1962 chain drive prototype 1962 chain drive prototype

Furthermore, there has been a prototype with chain drive to the camshafts, but this model obviously never went into production.

< ..... See pics at right


1962 250cc CR72 Honda

1962 305cc twin front down tubed frame

1962 250cc CR72 Honda

1962 305cc open double loop type frame


1962 250cc CR72 Honda
The frames came in four types: 305cc twin front down tubes frame

1) the spine types akin to the ones used by the CR93, as already shown;

2) some types with twin front down tubes this bike has no external oil lines);

3)the open, double loop type as used on the works racers

4)and a kind of combination, with a central tube under the tank, twin down tubes to the swingarm bearings, and twin front down tubes

Roy Bacon, in his book "HONDA - the early classic motorcycles", states that the CR72 and CR77 were derived from the factory twins - CR250 and CR305, which are the ones with the type 2 engines. However, I've never been able to find any reference anywhere else to those CR250 and CR305 types, and even the chief Honda restorer in the Honda collection hall knew nothing about them.

My own type 2 engine was stamped CR77.

CR72's and 77's were, contrary to the CR110 and 93, never sold to the public. They were used by the works riders during 1963 (about which of course more later), and from them were gradually dispersed.

My own CR77 was left behind in parts at Schiphol airport by the Japanese team upon return to Japan, and never picked-up - Dutch customs sold it afterwards.

For some uncomprehensible reason, Honda now state in their documentation, contrary to their claims of 1962, that the CR72 had 25 bhp. That is of course ridiculous, it would mean less power than the NSU Sportmax of 1955, a pepped-up standard bike, a single with SOHC and two valves, had. So, why did Honda make these twins in the first place? Not to sell them to the public. As a cheap alternative to the fours for the works riders? Hardly. The cycle parts were nearly identical to those of the fours, so that would give no difference in price - and to design, build and develop completely new twin engines with all its necessary new dies, moulds and tooling would probably just as expensive as making a couple of four cylinder engines, or at least make a lot of spares. So, again, why?