Honda RC181 as raced by Mike Hailwood

Honda RC181

Mike Hailwood

Honda entered the 500cc GP class in 1966 in an effort to interrupt MV Agusta’s eight 12 months stranglehold on the title.

The RC181 was the bike used and the riders have been Mike Hailwood (who had received the earlier two years’ titles for MV) and Jim Redman.

Mike Hailwood tried to break MV Agusta's stranglehold on the 500 cc GP title with the RC181
Mike Hailwood tried to interrupt MV Agusta’s stranglehold on the five hundred cc GP title with the RC181

Though Redman received two races and Hailwood three, it was Giacomo Agostini who completed on high with three wins and 5 second locations – Hailwood failing to attain within the first 4 races.

The RC181 proved up to the task in Hailwood's hands
The RC181 proved as much as the duty in Hailwood’s arms

1967 was to show a basic season with Hailwood and Agostini battling it out all 12 months with each ending even on factors with 5 wins every. Agostini being handed the title by advantage of his three second locations to Hailwood’s two.

85 hp at 12,000 rpm and weighing in at 154 kg were the figures
Initially 85 hp at 12,000 rpm and weighing in at 154 kg have been the figures

The 1966 bike was good for 85 hp at 12,000 rpm and weighed 154 kg. The next 12 months noticed these figures enhance to 93 hp at 12,650 rpm and 141 kg.

A boost in power and massive weight savings saw the bike lightened and power jump to 95 hp
A lift in energy and large weight financial savings noticed the bike lightened and energy bounce to 93 hp

The RC181 was famend as not the perfect dealing with of bikes – “Bloody terrible” to cite Hailwood, so after pre-season testing in Japan revealed no progress on this entrance, he commissioned Ken Sprayson of Reynolds to design and make a brand new body for the beginning of the ’67 season (Honda did reinforce their design after Hailwood’s suggestions).

Handling did not exactly get the Hailwood seal of approval...
Dealing with didn’t precisely get the Hailwood seal of approval…

Sprayson was of the opinion that the issue lay in Honda’s use of an open-cradle body (to decrease the centre of gravity), so designed a big diameter single-loop body (that allowed clearance for the exhausts), together with main bracing on the head-stock and swing-arm pivot.

Hailwood commissioned Ken Sprayson of Reynold to build a better frame
Hailwood commissioned Ken Sprayson of Reynold to construct a greater body

Honda decreed that the bike was to not run in Grand Prix so Hailwood used it in a number of non-Championship occasions, the primary of which was in Rimini.

Honda RC181
Honda RC181

He completed second to Agostini after working off the monitor, then received the next race at Imola. With Honda’s exit from GPs on the finish of the ’67 season, and Hailwood being paid by them to not race for ’68, that was just about the top of the bike’s profession.

Honda RC181
Honda RC181

The unique magnesium carburettors have been “misplaced” earlier than the present proprietor bought the bike so aluminium objects at the moment are fitted.

Non original carburettors are fitted
Non authentic carburettors are fitted

It’s now part of the Solvang Classic Bike Museum in California.

Engine stamp on the RC181
Engine stamp on the RC181
Honda RC181
Honda RC181
Honda RC181 badging
Honda RC181 badging
Front wheel hub on the Honda RC181
Entrance wheel hub on the Honda RC181
Honda RC181 engine from the side, with non-standard carbs
Honda RC181 engine from the facet, with non-standard carbs