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Big Bang Theory – 1988 Honda RC30

One of the winning-est race bikes in history, the Honda RVF750 took the first three World Super Bike Championships 1988-90, the AMA Superbike, and countless endurance races and series.  It was homologated with the RC30, an exotic special built in very low numbers by Honda’s racing department.

20150316 1988 honda rc30 right front

1988 Honda RC30 for sale on eBay

The V-4 750cc engine that powers the RC30 is a racer for the road, with 4-valve heads, gear-driven cams, titanium connecting rods, but most distinctively, it uses a different crankshaft and firing order.  Known as a 360-degree or big bang crankshaft, cylinders 1 & 4 fire close together, then the crank moves 270 degrees, then cylinders 2 & 3 go.  This leads to an explosive delivery of power, sounding completely different than the similar-looking engine in the VFR road bike, which fires 1-4-3-2 but with 180 degrees of crank rotation between each.  Check this Canadian RC30 fan site for the sound – http://rc30.yolasite.com/.

20150316 1988 honda rc30 cockpit

20150316 1988 honda rc30 right rear

After a long rest, the current owner got the bike ready to ride and sell – from the eBay auction:

This bike (and it’s 15 serial number older sister shown in the last picture) has been in my collection for over 15 years, I recommissioned it last year, cleaned carburetors, checked fluids, serviced it and got it ready for rides.  Please see the pictures of the bike as it is today.  It has Mavic wheels fitted at present, either these wheels or the original wheels for the bike can be fitted for the new owner. I have the main stand. Since you are looking at this auction I do not have to tell you how rare these bikes are.

The specifications read like the race bike they are, with a twin-cradle frame, 4 downdraft carburetors, 41mm Showa forks, Pro-Link rear, twin 296m disks up front, single 256mm rear.  110 hp and 53 ft-lbs. of torque push 1st gear up to 82 mph ( 11,000 rpm ) and sixth delivers around 150 mph.  A slipper clutch relieves the possible rear wheel chatter from the big bang crank.  The transverse V-4 keeps the engine weight low in the chassis.

20150316 1988 honda rc30 front

20150316 1988 honda rc30 naked

20150316 1988 honda rc30 naked tank

Areas that will keep an owner’s attention are engine cooling, brake rotor wear, and obsolete tire sizes ( though this bike has a more current set of Mavic wheels fitted ).

Only around 300 were produced for the U.S. market in 1990, this example is a Swiss import.  Many European countries received the bike in 1988-89, but only the hundreds.  Truly exotic and certainly a handful, the RC30 is a super performer with a distinctive sound.



  • NOW WE’RE TALKING!! Finally,a decent,rare sportbike.We are back,gentlemen.

  • I like how the owner got the crack in the pavement to perfectly line up with the crack in the windscreen.

  • I’m sure that bike has seen better days.

  • Wow, it sure is green in Johnston Ohio for this time of year.

  • Smaller headlight versions (euro and japanese) were produded in the thousands. So not that rare at all. The US and CAN editions are a different story. Approx. 300 and 88 respectively.

    I think this will effect the selling price. Bringing a lower price than what we have seen from the others on North American soil.

    Just my two cents……

    • The fact that so many motorcycle enthusiasts want one,and there are not enough to go around,make them rare.Supply and demand.

  • This is an odd one. The Swiss variants are rarer, yes, but not more desirable or valuable in my opinion. I have a few obvious questions on this example that make me pause. First, is this an ex-race bike returned to the street or not? Seller doesn’t say either way, and it makes a big difference in knowing what you’re getting into.

    Things that I notice that others may call nit picking and that I make no apologies for pointing out: that cracked/completely separated right side upper fairing by the top radiator is an expensive fix. No signal holes there, either. Turn signals? Where are the original mirrors? Just buy a set you say- they’re on eBay right now…for a mere $1,025 a pair! Windscreen is cracked and unavailable from Honda, I know as I bought the last one for $457 years ago. Should be attached by black rivets. Fork caps are missing rebound adjustor decals. No chain guard. No shift lever rubber. No long black plastic fairing infill strips. Odd front brake rotors: stock gold carriers that have had stock slotted discs removed and replaced with floating Brembo buttons and drilled rotors. Race bike mod, or not?

    This is a perfect example of why I always applaud sportbike sellers for making the effort to show what they’re selling with the bodywork removed, for good or bad. I see lots of things that would have been otherwise hidden. Where’s the model specific denim tool kit roll? You know, the one that every RC30 came with that I see sell used for around $500? Plastic insulator flap around carbs incorrect (race piece?), should be rubber. Breather box vent tube also looks like race mod. Horn mounting location incorrect- should be underneath steering stem. Tail section rectangular rubber subframe cushions held on by duct tape- sloppy.

    I’ve seen enough. If I was looking for an RC30, I would pass on this and wait patiently for one in better condition that doesn’t raise so many questions.

    • Good observations.Most parts are no longer available,so restoring an ex-racer is basically impossible.
      According to “hwood851”,there are “thousands of them”,so you would think parts would be easily accesseable. But this is simply not true.
      Finding a good one is getting harder.THAT’S WHY GOOD RC30’S ARE RARE.

    • I love it when RC30’s come on this board and Sixthgear can find every nuanced (or blatant) problem. Makes this site worth reading, especially when lately people want to talk about darts.

      Good eyes, dude.

  • Sixthgear. I applaud your knowledge of these bikes. ‘nit-picking’ like this can save a buyer from potentially huge problems hidden underneath. As you say, couple little items, couple grand here and there. Half the problem with buying bikes on the net!

  • also the fluid in the brake reservoir looks pretty dark….. think I will keep saving my pennies for a desmosedecci 🙂


  • I love late eighties sportbikes an got a few of them: Paso, ZXR, GSXR, RDs, AF1, Freccia… unfortunately I will never have a RC30, as you are pointing out, prices for every small bit are sky high and owning a proper one means a serious investment

  • yawn. rare, but doesn’t do anything for me.

  • The fact that this was once an HRC assembled RC30, makes it a very competent blast from the past. The fact that it is now is a bitsa bike means it is not worth the $25K asking price.

    For RC30’s and RC45’s if folks want to ask premium price, the bike better be in perfect premium original condition. Miles are not that important, condition is.

    When I sold my RC45 in 2004 it may have had 6800 miles on it, but it was still perfect as delivered right down to the bar code sticker on the full size rear mudguard, which meant I could ask premium price for the day (which was no where near what premium price is today LOL)

    If a bike ends up appearing to be a track refugee or modded import model then the price should reflect that. Then again if someone has the money and the itch they may scratch it for what ever amount makes them happy – Buyer meet Seller.. 🙂

  • The “nitpicking” from SixthGear is exactly why I love this site.

  • there are real RC30 and RGV250 experts on this site, and know far more about those two bikes than I ever will. I’d like this bike to own if the price was right.

  • Sixth nails it again ! Pie Face gets one point too though for noticing the crack lining up with the pavement crack too !

    Hey guys I know this is off-track (oh do pardon the pun !) …call me Rip-Van-Winkle as I have not watched much Moto GP these days . Why do most of the young little pukies put their foot down especially on left hand corners ….just before they hang-off ? I can understand maybe their legs cramping over a long time period …….but every left hander !! Anyways I think it is interesting trivia & maybe someone can shed some light on that for me and possibly other people who might be curious to know . Thanks guys !

    • Just google it. What you’ll find is that nobody can agree on why this started, they can only agree that Rossi started it and because he was winning people began to do it too. Ask the racers why they do it and they can’t give any good answers. Things like more stability in braking, or that it shifts weight. Even they don’t know why they do it. If Rossi never started this you would never have seen it. Personally I think it’s retarded, because if you see someone doing it with their right foot then you know they’re not trail-braking, which is much more complicated than hanging your foot off the peg.

  • Rossi started doing it when his shoulder was injured. Of course everyone copIed him.

  • I remember seeing Schwartz do it in the late 80’s, mostly I suppose because there is no where else to put such long legs under braking 🙂

    • I agree.Schwantz was doing it before Rossi.

      It’s a case of monkey see,monky do.

      Let’s hope Rossi doesn’t jump off a cliff.

  • Yes that’s right “Pie Face”….THOUSANDS !!!!

    4782 to as exact as possible. We as North Americans tend to covet them more than other countries because there were only 396 brought over.

    521 of this Swiss model produced.

    They are very, very nice bikes…… And they carry a certain amount of Cache with them….BUT they are not as rare as you perceive them to be. A bike comes up for sale every other month,…If you do research…..


  • SR88 …..yeah it makes sense ! People are such sheep from my perspective if that is the case . I noticed watching the latest Moto GP from Spain , I believe . 3 out of the 4 top place riders were doing it and the 4th just entered the turn like what we would consider normal a la King Kenny or Freddie Spencer style. . I just don’t know……….when you are braking from such high speeds do you really want to dangle your foot out there ? Seems a bit crazy to me ! Not like all these guys were ex dirt-trackers or motocrossers !

  • hwood851: Yes, there were about 4,000 RC30s produced worldwide, but smaller headlights were NOT in Europe, so not thousands produced.

    • Well….actually closer to 5000 (4782 approx.)

      True as to the small headlights (Japan 1074units) but that would only depreciate this one even more. There were 521 Swiss units produced. That does necessitate value. It that were true, then the non-49 state RC’s (approx. 58) would be worth more than the 49 state models (approx. 252).

      Fact is, they come up for sale every other month (if you scour the internet).

      Due to the high purchase price and uniqueness of the body style, it is highly unlike they were thrashed and customised by owners (unlike other jap models of the period). This would only serve to reason most of the units produced are still kicking around.

      Pie Face, just because there are a lack of NOS/OEM parts available does not mean the bike is rare or produced in limited numbers. It just means they didn’t produce many spart parts. There is not a required amount of parts a company must produce. Just a time frame a company must keep parts for a production model (10 years I believe in the US).

      I am not trying to disparage how nice these bikes are, but they are not as “rare” as the hype or selles would lead one to believe. It’s just a good sell-job. Like colored diamonds or baby potatoes, they used to throw them away until they created a market for them. Now they are worth more.


      Ps. If this is Adam…… Thanks for the Cowel, it came in handy as I “barn-found” another ZX7R K1.

  • This place is great; every time an RC30 comes up, I learn something from the comments on here.

    Regarding leg dangling in MotoGP and WSBK, rather than armchair racing and being critics, I’d suggest you try it yourself the next time you are on track. I tried it a while back and find that it is a useful technique in some situations, mainly threshold braking into a slow corner where you are backing the bike in. It makes things more stable when the bike is sliding. I don’t care the details of why. It’s of course a common style in other forms of riding where backing it in to corners is typical, like supermoto for example. Don’t worry abut who else does it or how it looks, just give it a go and see if it works for you or not. There are plenty of examples of fast guys that do and do not use that style, so it all comes down to preference.

  • There could be issues transferring the title to another state. It’s a Swiss model and doesn’t have the fedral label on the frame and the emissions label on top of the rear fender,

  • Hey Ruben , Thx , I like the insight . It does sound like it makes sense and as you said is like what makes you feel comfortable or not . Still I fell as though I am like Rip Van Winkle ….waking after 20 years of slumber ! I really have not watched much Moto GP ….or as I used to know it as World Superbike since the RVFs stopped . Watched a few times when the new BMWs came in to it ….but that is about it . I do like Moto GP3 class now though …..alot of great competition in there !

  • Does anybody else find it strange and self indulgent that a discussion about the RC30 for sale here has become a thread on MotoGP riding styles? It’s been discussed for a few years now in appropriate forums, and is hardly mysterious anymore. WTF?

  • C’mon Sixth …you got your say here . What are you complaining about ? Does it really bother you that much ? You always get your props dude . Hey call me ignorant ….at least I got my question answered too ! Peace out .

  • i love these things. I have three in various forms. a modified street bike, a pure stocker and a full hrc racer. Whats really cool about these bikes is they are super nice to ride in all forms. The stock brakes have a very wooden felling to them but a set of brembo calipers and race rotors and the thing will stop on a dime. Now matter which one I ride they all deliver a absolutely sublime ridding experience. The HRC race exhaust on the racer delivers a fantastic sound. Problem with these bikes is everyone is buying them now and not riding them because they are “collectable”. What a waste. Isn’t ridding these little jewels the reason we collected them in the first place? I ride all my bikes. From the most valuable collector stuff (NR,R7,OW,RC,NSR etc) to the brand new bikes I have. So what if you knock up a few more miles on them. A well maintained RC45 or RC30 with 20k on it is only going to be worth 20 to 25% less than a 2k mile one. And those 18k miles you road them will bring you endless return in smiles per mile. Ride these fuckers!

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