When Honda returned to Europe in 1960,
a lot has changed compared with the year before.
In the first place, instead of competing in only one race, all the
Grand Prix are contested. Furthermore, next to the Japanese riders,
Tom Phillis and Bob Brown are contracted to ride for Honda, later
joined by Jim Redman, the future six-times world champion on Hondas,
after Phillis crashes during practice for the Dutch TT . Unfortunately,
Bob Brown fatally crashes at the Solitude in Germany.
In the 125cc class, the MVs and MZs are still faster than the
Hondas, and the world champion is Carlo Ubbiali on the single cylinder
MV, with Gary Hocking on an MV second and Ernst Degner on MZ third.
However, Honda ends up third in the manufacturers' world championship
behind those two marks. Best individual results for Honda are fourth
places for Redman in Monza and Assen.
In the 250cc class, Ubbiali and Hocking on their MVs take first
and second place in the individual world championship, with Luigi
Taveri on another MV in third place, but in the manufacturers' world
championship the result for Honda is better, with a second place.
Best results for Honda are a second place for Phillis in the Ulster
GP, just 2 seconds behind Ubbiali, and a second for Redman in Monza.
The RC143 is a completely new bike from the RC 142, the most
conspicuous change being the switch from leading link front suspension
to telescopic front forks, and although the frame type is still
the spine type, practically everything else of the cycle parts is
The brakes are changed from single sided two-leading shoes to
double sided single leading shoe.
The drive to the camshafts is still with bevel shaft and gears,
but the cylinders are now inclined under 35 degrees. The position
of the magneto is changed from the inlet camshaft to a place behind
the cylinders. Bore and stroke are still 44 x 41 mm, and the poweroutput
is now 23 bhp at 14,000 rpm. The carburettors still have remote
float bowls. The dry weight is 93 kg.
1960 125cc RC143
The RC161 is a totally new bike and has nothing in common
with its predecessor.
Frame, front suspension, brakes (with the same changes as described
for the 125 cc twin RC143), all is new. Like with the 125 cc, the
cylinders are inclined at 35 degrees and are cast in one piece with
the top part of the horizontally split crankcases, which are cast
in light alloy, as are the cylinder heads (cast in one piece for
the four cylinders). The various covers are cast in electron, an
alloy of aluminium and magnesium.
The double overhead camshafts are now driven from the centre
of the crankshaft by a gear train between the cylinders. To reduce
the width of the engine, this gear train is partially situated behind
the cylinders, and from there drives the magneto for the ignition.
The valve angle is 76 degrees: 36 degrees for the inlet and 40 degrees
for the exhaust valves. Bore and stroke are still 44 and 41 mm.
Carburation is by four Kei-hins with remote float chambers, with
a rather steep downdraught angle for the inlet bellmouths; later
they are replaced with concentrics with a short bellmouth in line
with the inlet track.
There is a six speed gearbox and the engine has wet sump lubrication.
Power output is given as over 38 bhp at 14,000 rpm. Maximum torque
is 2.1 kgm at 12,000 rpm. Total weight of the bike is now 128 kg
dry, top speed is given as over 220 km/h.
left ...... Tom Phillis in the Isle of Man with the RC161
and a mechanic.