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Apr 14, 2019

Historic Racebike Illustrations: 1959 Honda RC 142

Historic Racebike Illustration by Mick Ofield: The 1959 Honda RC142, the first racebike Honda competed with in the Isle of Man.


FEATURED IN THE APRIL 2019 ISSUE OF ROADRACING WORLD...

     When you watch Marc Marquez and Jorge Lorenzo race the amazing Honda RC213V in 2019, think 60 years back in time to Honda’s first purpose-built road race machine. In the early 1950s, Honda was a large company manufacturing a range of small capacity motorcycles. To take the next step, the company needed to gain international recognition for performance and quality.

     This goal could be reached by racing at international events, and the most prestigious was the Isle of Man TT. In early 1954, Soichiro Honda made this statement: “I here avow my definite intention that I will participate in the TT races and I proclaim with my fellow employees that I will pour in all my energy and creative powers to win!”

     Attending the 1954 TT as an observer, he was shocked at the high level of performance of the European machines. Soichiro knew his company had a lot of catching up to do, a task made harder as Honda had no road racing experience and Japan had no road racing tracks! It took five years to develop a machine Honda officials thought would be competitive, the 125cc RC142. For the 1959 Ultra Lightweight TT, five RC142s, four CB92 streetbikes, a large container of parts, and 12 Honda team members arrived at the Nursery Hotel in Onchan, Isle of Man, to take on the world ...

"Historic Racebike Illustrations" by Mick Ofield, in the April 2019 Issue of Roadracing World

It was not an overwhelming debut -- Honda's best finish was sixth. But four of the five RC142s finished, giving the company the TT Manufacturer's Team title. And the presence of the twin-cylinder RC142 against a field of singles announced that Honda intended to push the limits of motorcycle performance. Read about the origins of Honda's international racing efforts in the April issue of Roadracing World!

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