Speedway Workshop

Today in Motorcycle History

The Honda (1998)

"When Mick Grant, former British Road Racing champion and team manager of the Sanyo digicam Honda Britain Supersport racing team met up with Eric Boocock, they discussed the problem with Speedway today - and both agreed that the spiraling costs of modern day machinery plus tuning costs were a major factor.

The idea was laid out. What was needed was a machine that was cheap to run, reliable and provide for closer racing. They looked at what was available from the current Honda range and the 650 single-cylinder engine, the 650SLR appeared to be very suitable for the task.

An upright, single cylinder, four-valve single overhead cam, air cooled unit that came from a very basic road machine. The increase from the usual 500cc limit for speedway machines was to enable an output of 50bhp to be reached without the need for the engine to be specially tuned.

Running on ordinary unleaded fuel, the idea is for the units to be totally sealed, with the riders only being able to perform slight adjustments to the engine.

Rev limiters are currently being used to keep the revs down to 9,000rpm. A standard speedway engine revs at around 10-15,000rpm which is seen to be too high and as a major factor to causing the kind of problems associated with the modern speedway engine.

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It will no doubt be some time before we know if the Honda has a place in Speedway. Currently undergoing trials at tracks around the country, minor problems are being worked upon. But it may well be the Governing Body of the sport, riders or even the spectators who will decide the outcome of the latest development to the speedway engine.

Honda will need to convince many people if it is to succeed in replacing the more conventional type of speedway engine.

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