Honda VTR1000F Tremendous Hawk – Life Earlier than The RC51

Keep in mind when Honda constructed a 1000cc V-Twin and put it in one thing sporty to go in opposition to Ducati and the 916? Then do you keep in mind how Honda solely half-committed to constructing a Ducati beater and the bike actually wasn’t a match for the 916 in any respect? In the event you do, then you definitely keep in mind the VTR1000F Tremendous Hawk, additionally lovingly generally known as the Tremendous Hen. Earlier than Honda bought critical and constructed the RC51 (or the RVT1000R or VTR1000 SP1 in different components of the world), it constructed this.

The Tremendous Hawk had some similarities with the RC, just like the V-Twin engine and side-mount radiators, however when it got here to the efficiency metrics that basically matter, the Tremendous Hawk was no match for its Italian rival. Nonetheless, for these people who just like the considered a extra snug RC51-esque Honda V-Twin from the late 90s, the Tremendous Hawks are enjoyable bikes that may be discovered for reasonable today. Right here’s our overview of the bike from its introduction in 1998.

By Tom Fortune Mar. 29, 1998

Photographs by Tom Fortune and American Honda

American Honda just lately threw a coming-out get together for the all-new VTR1000F Tremendous Hawk, inviting the U.S. moto-press to the bash. The occasion’s backdrop was the picturesque wine nation of Temecula, California, and its maze of gnarly, tight, and twisting again roads proved the right venue to point out off, as one Honda engineer put it, the Tremendous Hawk’s “full of life character.” And full of life it’s, too. With the VTR, Honda feels they’ve “grabbed the essence of what Individuals need in a giant, sporting V-twin. The distinctive sound and really feel that makes a V-twin appear alive.” A spokesman for Honda’s R&D division stated their goal for the Tremendous Hawk was light-weight, gentle steering, and powerful low- to mid-range energy and torque. Sound like a sure lusty Italian bike we all know?

The Tremendous Hawk’s mission chief, Naoyuki Saito, acknowledged Honda needed to create a brand new sort of twin-cylinder sports activities package deal that would rival the Ducati’s degree of efficiency whereas sustaining Japanese high quality and practicality.

Our first impression was that the VTR appeared simpler to journey quick than a 916 however quickly realized this was not a race duplicate. Certainly, Honda claims the Tremendous Hawk was by no means supposed as a racing platform. Relatively, they deemed it extra of a real-world, all-around sporting bike like Honda’s personal VFR750, however with the sturdy energy supply solely a big displacement V-twin can present.

Honda admitted to being caught off guard by Suzuki’s introduction of their TL1000 90-degree V-twin and was much more stunned by their speedy launch of the bike to sellers. Honda shortly moved the Tremendous Hawk’s press launch up by a number of weeks, and manufacturing is ready to hit sellers by April.

Honda introduced alongside two members of the VTR’s household tree – the Hawk 650 and VR980 prototype. The prototype used the smaller Hawk’s beam-frame chassis and bored and stroked model of the 650’s narrow-angle V-twin.

Anticipated retail value of the bike ought to be round $8900, and Honda plans to maintain manufacturing numbers low, with every supplier anticipated to obtain solely two VTR’s over the subsequent 12 months.

In accordance with Honda engineers, the Tremendous Hawk’s body went by six main redesigns. The Tremendous Hawk’s uncommon body design contributes significantly to serving to meet Honda’s authentic design objectives of light-weight and responsive steering.

Honda engineers described the VTR’s chassis as being “full of life” and fine-tuned, with six strategically-placed mounting factors for an engine that additionally acts as a careworn member for elevated rigidity and lighter weight. Centralized engine placement combines with a barely tall caster angle to assist maintain front-end dealing with gentle.

The VR980 prototype was designed and constructed by American Honda as an idea bike for the manufacturing facility – a response to the general public’s name for a bigger Hawk V-twin. Most of the design options seen within the VR prototype have been carried over to the manufacturing VTR, most notably the half fairing, gas tank, and seat part. However many features of Tremendous Hawk weren’t on the prototype. Facet-mounted radiators, truss-type body, engine-mounted swingarm, and even the small chin fairing are all distinctive to the manufacturing bike.

The “pivotless” twin-spar body was designed across the VTR’s OEM radial tires, which use a softer development than that discovered on different sporting machines. Mounting completely different treads, in line with Honda, will upset the “tuned” stability of the Tremendous Hawk’s chassis.

The Tremendous Hawk engine displaces 996cc and options nearly an identical, 180-degree reversed cylinders and heads. 98 x 66mm bore/stroke is an identical to that of Suzuki’s new TL1000S. The six-speed gearbox is situated immediately beneath the rear cylinder.

DOHC, four-valve heads function 38mm consumption valves – the biggest ever used on a Honda manufacturing motor. To assist obtain its high-rev functionality, a single-pin crankshaft, and light-weight, skirtless “slipper” pistons are used.

Nutless connecting rods have bolts threaded immediately into tapped holes within the rods that contribute to a decrease reciprocating weight. “Rods are carburized to permit them to be slimmer and lighter whereas sustaining energy.” This mix ends in a rod that’s almost 40 grams lighter than a standard set-up. 48mm slanted flat-slide CV carbs are the biggest ever used on a manufacturing bike.

We discovered throttle response to be sharp and linear, with no flat spots. Enormous carbs actual a gas consumption penalty, although, and the small 4-gallon tank hits reserve after simply 100 or so miles of spirited using. We netted a better of 32.4 mpg.

The side-mounted twin radiators of the Tremendous Hawk produce the identical cooling space as a single front-mounted radiator, however in line with Honda engineers, the VTR doesn’t have the “useless spots” you discover in a radiator mounted within the conventional location behind the entrance forks, which may end up in as a lot as a 20 % lack of cooling effectivity.

The VTR’s design makes use of the low stress created by wind passing over the outer floor of the fairing to attract air by from the high-pressure zone inside. At low speeds, a big right-side fan blows air over that radiator for cooling.

Distinctive side-mounted radiators enable the VTR to strike a really compact and slim profile. Observe the small oil cooler mounted between the radiators above the entrance cylinder head.

The instrumentation is clear and easy. The white-faced tach and temp gauge are very legible and straightforward to learn even at evening. Observe the low gas warning lamp in tach face – you’ll see this gentle up typically. The cockpit can also be easy and purposeful. Honda needed to maintain the Tremendous Hawk gentle – very gentle – so that you received’t discover any heavy inside fairing panels or dress-up gadgets right here.

Even the clutch grasp cylinder reservoir receives the lighter-is-better therapy, being constituted of plastic reasonably than a heavier aluminum casting. Observe spring preload and ten-position rebound damping adjusters on prime of fork. Twin floating 296mm entrance discs are clamped by four-piston Nissin calipers much like these used on the RC45 highway bike. Coupled with engine braking from the hearty V-twin motor, stopping energy is most spectacular.

“VTR actually shines within the broad unfold of energy out there from its torquey motor.”

We didn’t get to spend a lot time with the VTR1000, however a day of circling Willow Springs Raceway’s 2.5-mile highway course lead us to the conclusion that Honda is appropriate — this isn’t a track-oriented design. “Honda personnel could have described this bike as having a full of life character,” stated Affiliate Editor Gord Mounce after a brief observe session on the VTR. “However like a blind date with a ‘nice character,’ you don’t wish to take her dancing.” Suspension charges that carried out so effectively on the backroads have been too smooth for racetrack obligation.

Within the VTR’s protection, we didn’t have time to vary springs or oil, which might have helped. An even bigger hurdle for these pondering of racing VTRs is the dearth of floor clearance. Rearset pegs and a tighter exhaust pipe shall be mandatory purchases.

The place the VTR actually shines is within the broad unfold of energy out there from its torquey motor. Pace is deceiving on Honda’s V-twin as a result of energy builds steadily with no main peaks or valleys. Such a large powerband permits robust nook exits, with much less sliding of the rear tire than on an inline 4 with its peaky energy. Though the VTR felt sluggish on the straights attributable to this flat energy curve, we discovered ourselves smoking by 600s on Willow’s entrance straight.

We actually plan on getting the Tremendous Hawk again for an extended, extra concerned check quickly. Solely subsequent time we hope to even have Suzuki’s TL1000S, and possibly even a Ducati 916 thrown in for good measure (and what a yardstick to measure by…). Look ahead to the last word sporting twin-cylinder efficiency battle subsequent month in Bike On-line. Stand again and let the competitors start!