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If You Can’t Beat ‘Em… 2005 Honda RC51 RVT1000R for Sale

2005 Honda RC51 R Side

The Honda RVT1000 SP-2 might lack the drop-dead sex appeal of a Ducati, but Honda’s legendary reputation for build-quality and reliability offer up a charm all their own. Back in the mid-1990s, Ducati was seeing unprecedented success on and off track with Massimo Tamburini’s brainchild, the 916 and its derivatives. On-track, it could be argued that rules for v-twins gave the blood-red Bolognese bikes an unfair advantage, but success on the street was the result of styling that dripped sex.

2005 Honda RC51 Front

Of course, the Japanese manufacturers decided “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em” and introduced their own v-twin sportbikes designed to trounce Ducati at its own game, with varying degrees of success. Suzuki’s TL1000S made a splash initially, although maybe not for the reasons they’d hoped, while the supposedly more racy follow-up TL1000R was a disappointment on all fronts. The Honda VTR1000F “SuperHawk” was introduced in 1997 to… crickets, mostly. Much more a sporty bike for the street than a serious racetrack refugee, it was cursed with bland styling and a tiny fuel tank that seriously curtailed the all-day backroad adventures the flexible twin and comfortable handling would otherwise have inspired.

2005 Honda RC51 Dash

But the SuperHawk was never really intended to beat the Ducati in terms of pure performance. That was left to the VTR1000 SP-1 that was far from the lithe design you’d expect for a supposedly Ducati-beating motorcycle, with a broad fairing and bulky styling. But the bike ditched the SuperHawk’s camchains for sexy gears, and the Honda is dead reliable, sounds sexy as hell, and can be serviced at your local dealer, a big plus in many parts of the country. Unfortunately, the handling wasn’t really all that sharp, and huge throttle bodies designed for top-end power made low-rpm fueling pretty chunky…

2005 Honda RC51 Pipe

By the time the RVT1000 [Argh! Acronyms! VTR, RVT… Make up your mind!] SP-2 rolled around in 2002, Honda had refined the formula and while power was up only slightly to 133hp, the bike was much smoother overall, and handling was significantly improved. Fuel range still sucked but, considering this was intended to follow the RC30 and RC45, that slight flaw can probably be forgiven.

2005 Honda RC51 Wheel

From the original eBay listing: 2005 Honda RC51 RVT1000R for Sale

Only 6361 miles
$7,000 in upgrades
Black and gray color, last model before the RC51 was discontinued in 2006.
Marchesini magnesium light weight rims front and rear
Sato High
Mount Bonzai exhaust with titanium mid pipes and carbon fiber cans
Dyno Jet Power Commander III with Dan Kyle map
Sato adjustable rear sets
CRG adjustable shorty brake & clutch levers
European rear tail section with led lights (cleanest looking one made)
New Michelin 2CT Pilot Power front & rear tires
New DID o-ring gold chain
Greggs flush mount front turn signals
Puig tinted racing windscreen
Front and rear bike stands
Bike cover
tender hookup
15 tooth counter sprocket (front)
Café mirror
Have stock parts
Garage kept
Never down
Never on track
2nd mature experienced owner
Just performed maintenance service: Repsol full synthetic oil, front and rear brake and clutch fluid service
Excellent condition
Super fast and expert riders only
Pink slip in hand
$12,200 / best offer

This particular bike looks very sleek in black, something that can’t quite be said for the more common red and silver scheme. Mileage is very low, and the bike has had some very tasteful and useful modifications thrown at it, although the $12,500 asking price seems very high.

2005 Honda RC51 Rearset

The RC51 is still very much a bargain sportbike, but they’re relatively rare and many have been lovingly cared for. Stone-axe reliability, solid handling, and big-twin boom make this a great bike and, if you can stomach the price, this might be a good one to sock away in hopes that it one day reaches RC45-levels of collectibility.

Hint: don’t bother. Just ride the hell out of it instead.


2005 Honda RC51 L Side


  • Beautiful bike, and the best color scheme of the run. $12,000 is pretty steep even with the mods and low mileage/ condition. The wheels are a nice touch and address one of the bike’s shortcomings (weight, slow steering). The Sato exhausts have to be getting rare as well. But I can think of several other bikes that are way more desirable for the same money, and will probably hold their value just as well. GLWS!

  • 12 grand?? Please pass the crack pipe. I’ll have a hit.

    • Agreed. They’ll be lucky to get $7K for that. RC51s are a cult bike these days and are not easy to offload (former SP1 owner here), so buyers have to bear that in mind unless they plan on keeping the bike forever.

    • They would be much better off returning the bike to stock, asking a reasonable market price, and selling the aftermarket bits. Still won’t reach $12k total, but closer anyway…

      dc (current SP2 owner)

  • Gotta chime in: I don’t know if I’m spoiled living in San Francisco, but SP2s are definitely not rare. Is this a nice example? Maybe it’s the best. Because it’s the best, MAYBE, just MAYBE you could find someone who’s been dying for one and then maybe you could ask $8500 and then take $7500. It sucks when you have a rad bike and you pump a bunch of money into it and decide to sell it. If I was OP I’d hold onto it and see what it could fetch in 15 years. Otherwise, you just have to accept that 12 grand is way out of line for a bike like this.

    • Great bike! I have one just for the track. Looks after me quite well

  • I’m recalling 2002 when Nicky won the AMA superbike title on one of these. And in WSBK Colin Edwards’ (SP2) taking the title in that incredible battle with Troy Bayliss (Ducati 998 FO2) in the final at Imola. Some say it’s the greatest one on one motorcycle race ever. If you haven’t seen it or have forgotten (not possible, I guess), go watch it.

  • Neat bike but have to agree on consensus here. As we’re all reminded, it makes no sense to bash what a guy is asking as the free market takes care of that quite nicely. Spot on to put back to stock and sell the extra if total return is the goal. This site has proven first model year, low mileage and dead stock bring the highest returns. I have a 3000-mile 2000 RC51 that’s completely stock except for period Erion Racing slip ons (stock pipes a zero mile take off came with the bike) that I bought from the original owner. Probably not worth a penny more than the $5K I paid for it. My Nicky Hayden signed spare seat cowl probably doesn’t add value either. But who cares.

    • One more add: as we’ve seen on this site time and time again, simple things like stock turn signals, rear fenders, stock pipes and even reflectors add seemingly ridiculous value years down the road. The RC51 models were ravaged in this area more than most with fender eliminators, flush mount signals and anodized farkle almost a mandatory “upgrade” when new.

  • http://suchen.mobile.de/
    I looked up these at the above website.
    The SP1 because of the abrupt throttle response are available at less than 5000 euro.
    The SP2 with better throttle mapping, are priced higher, and have significantly higher mileage.
    Castrol colors, low miles, 6000$
    The Euro and the Dollar are now quite close.
    Could be time to plan a vacation.
    “The worth of a thing is measured by the want of it”

  • Pass the pipe my way Next. When i saw this ad on craigslist a while back I thought the price was a typo.

  • Love RC’s had 2 2001 & 2002 the 01 was a better bike IMHO. This RC is awesome but it’s going to be tough to sell at that price. Good Luck

  • You guys in the States are the only ones in the world who refer to these things as RC51s.
    They are just SP1s and SP2s everywhere else.There is no real HRC magic attatched to their manufacture,they are definitely NOT RARE and are not a homologation model. they are just another regular production run model punched out in the thousands like cookies from a cookie-cutter.
    RC51 was just a marketing ploy by the US Honda distributor.

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