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Honda's race history 1959 - 1967........

Honda's Race History 1965
Content © Joep Kortekaas 2002

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RC143 RC143 RC143
RC143 RC143 RC148 RC143 RC143
A Matter of Handling
Honda's own sounds of some of these great bikes
1965 Overview

1965 proves to be a year of mixed results. The Honda Research & Development Company (which covers the racing department, said to contain at this stage 400 engineers, technicians and mechanics) is still heavily involved in the development of the formula 1 car, and the motorcycles might not get the amount of attention they need. After Franchorchamps, halfway through the season, the mechanics return to Japan and the care for Redman's bikes is left to Nobby Clarke.

The works riders this year are Jim Redman, as usual also acting as team captain, Luigi Taveri and Ralph Bryans. Honda skip the first GP of the season, Daytona, where Suzukis win the 50 and 125 cc classes, and Read on the Yamaha the 250 cc. In the end, it makes no difference for the results.

In the 50 cc class, Hondas win 5 of the 8 rounds, and Bryans becomes world champion, with Taveri second and Anderson (Suzuki) third. Honda also wins the manufacturers' title.

The 125 cc class is a total disaster this year. Honda start the season with last year's 2RC146; they retire in Germany and Spain and end up down the field in France. On the Isle of Man, the 4RC146 makes its debut. Taveri comes in second in Man, the best place of the season(!), and comes in 5th in Holland. In East-Germany and Czechoslovakia the Hondas don't start, in Ulster Bryans finishes 4th, in Monza again no Hondas. In the last GP of the season in Japan, the new 5 cylinder 125 cc is unveiled, and though the bike is streets faster than the Suzukis, Taveri has to retire with an oil leak while leading.

Hugh Anderson (Suzuki) becomes world champion, with Frank Perris (Suzuki) second and Derek Woodman (MZ) third.

In the 250 cc and the 350 cc, it's Jim Redman who has a disastrous season. No start in Daytona, in Germany he falls off the 350 in the rain while chasing Agostini on the new and very fast 3 cylinder MV and breaks his collarbone, which prevents his start in the 250 and his participation in Spain. In France Redman retires in the 250 with gearbox trouble while leading from Read. On Man everything goes well, and Redman wins both the 250 and the 350 ahead of Read (Yamaha).
In Assen, in the 250 it's Read ahead of Redman, in the 350 Redman ahead of Hailwood (MV). In Belgium the 250 is for Redman, Read is second, and it's the same in East-Germany, where Redman also wins the 350 cc. In Czechoslovakia in the 250 Redman is third behind Read and Duff (Yamaha), he wins the 350. In Ulster Redman falls off in the 350 and breaks his collarbone again, and again it prevents his participation in the 250, which is duly won by Read. Honda tell Redman that there is no bike for him at Monza, so Redman stays home in Rhodesia. Later it transpires that there was a bike waiting for him a mighty Honda blunder. In the 250 cc class Read uses here for the first time a four cylinder Yamaha. All this bad luck for Redman has brought Agostini on the MV, who wins easily in Finland and Italy, so close in the 350 cc class, that the last GP in Japan must bring the decision. When Redman puts his goggles on for the decisive 350 cc race on the Suzuka course, a bee slips in and stings him over his eye, that swells completely shut. To make matters worse, only 4 of the 6 speeds of his bike are home. But a contact breaker spring (of all things!) of Agostini's MV breaks, and Redman comes in second behind Hailwood (MV) which is enough for the title, while Mike Hailwood wins the 250 on a Honda six. Read becomes 250 cc world champion, with Duff second and Redman third, Honda is second in the manufacturers' world championship. In the 350 Redman is world champion, with Agostini second and Hailwood third.

50 cc RC115

The RC115 has a completely new engine. See images below

Bore and stroke are now 34 x 27.4 mm, giving a total capacity of 49.75 cc. The enclosed valve angle 72 degrees for the RC114, it is now 56 degrees, with 24 degrees for the inlet valves and 32 degrees for the exhaust valves.

Drive to the camshafts is still with a gear train on the right hand side, but is now taken from the clutch drive instead of from a gear on the crankshaft, as can be seen in the first Engine picture. What also can be seen in this picture, is that the megaphones are not welded to the down pipes as usual for Hondas, but slipped over them necessary because they're made of aluminium, to save weight.

Carburettors have the flat slides.

Power output is a healthy 15 bhp at 20,000 rpm.
Lubrication is by wet sump; there are nine speeds in the gearbox. Dry weight is 50 kg compare that with the 61 kg of the single cylinder CR110!

During the season, both high level exhausts and the normal low level exhausts are used. The high level exhausts have the advantage of a smaller frontal area, because the fairing can be kept narrower, which gives less air drag. See opposite image

1965 50cc RC115 Honda

1965 50cc RC115 Honda frontal

1965 50cc RC115 Honda Engine
1965 RC115 Honda Engine

1965 50cc RC115 Honda Engine

1965 RC115 Honda Engine

125 cc 4RC146 & RC148
1965 RC115 Honda

The 4RC146 is an improved version of the 2RC146, and nearly identical to it the only external difference are the shorter exhausts of the 4RC146 (see pic 4RC146).

Power is now 30 bhp at 17,000 rpm. In actual practice, the engine hardly ever runs well, with continual Carburation and ignition problems.

Some interesting data: the piston, as usual for Honda with two compression and one oil scraper rings, weighs 34 g without the pin and rings. The pin, with a diameter of 11 mm weighs 11 g. An inlet valve has a head diameter of 14.5 mm and a stem diameter of 3.8 mm and is 74.4 mm long. Weight: 9 g. Two valve collets and the retainer weigh 1 resp. 3 g. Nobby Clarke said they used tweezers to put the Honda valve gear together.

The RC148 is the great surprise of 1965.

It is a five cylinder, in principle two and a half 50 cc twins.

Bore and stroke are 33 x 29 mm for a total capacity of 124 cc.

Drive to the camshafts is by gear train between the third and fourth cylinders. Power is 34 bhp at 20,000 rpm. There are eight speeds in the box, and the engine has wetsump lubrication.

The four exhausts of cylinders 1, 2, 4 and 5 sit in the normal place, left and right of the bike, the exhaust of cylinder 3 sweeps up and around the lefy hand side of the engine, crosses through the frame, to end up under the right leg of the rider.

Dry weight is given as 85 kg.

1965 125cc 4RC146 Honda
1965 4RC146 Honda

1965 125cc RC148 Honda

1965 RC148 Honda

1965 125cc RC148 Honda
250 cc 3RC164 & RC165  

The six cylinder, used in the Monza GP of 1964, was called the 3RC164 a strange name, because the RC164 part refers to the four cylinder. The same bike is used in the beginning of 1965 (see pic 3RC164-1).

It has two three cylinder crankshafts, coupled in the centre of the engine. The general construction of the engine follows the usual Honda practice.

Bore and stroke are 39 x 34.8 mm, for a total capacity of 249,43 cc. Valve angle is 75 degrees, 34 degrees on the inlet and 41 degrees on the exhaust side. Spark plug size is the by now familiar 8 mm. Of course the ignition is by transistorised system since 1964 the contact breakers are obsolete on Honda racers. Lubrication is by wet sump system.

The gearbox contains an eight speed cluster. The engine is no wider than that of the RC161 four cylinder. Pic 3RC164-2 shows the bike with the larger tank for the TT of Man in the Honda workshop in the Castle Mona hotel on Man.

The RC165 is virtually identical to the 3RC164, but power output is now 56 bhp at 16,500 rpm, with a red line at 17,000 rpm short excursions to 17,500 rpm are allowed.

1965 250cc 3RC164 Honda

1965 250cc 3RC164 Honda with larger tank for the TT of Man

Redmans 1965 250cc 3RC164 Honda with larger tank for the TT of Man

350 cc 2RC172  
The 2RC172 is practically identical to the RC172, with detail modifications. Although the basic design is now already several years old, the new MV-3 is still no match for it as regards speed and acceleration.