Having first heard the news of a Moto GP bike for the street I couldn't help but wonder if it was true-was this really Hayden's ex-racer? My cynicism surfaced even as I hoped it wasn't some copycat crapshoot. Sadly, "getting it right" is a description rarely used to describe a replica bike. All too often the paint is just a little off, the details are simply wrong, or all together the attempts miss the mark. So naturally, when I was eventually told the GP bike was actually an RC212V look-a-like I had my reservations.
That was, until I set foot on the abandoned racetrack and saw this CBR1000RR silently perched on its race stand. It looked like it was going 200mph standing still. As clich as it sounds, never before had I seen a bike that evoked so much thought. Staring at the tidy lines and finished details I couldn't help but reflect on different scenes of Hayden spinning up the rear or vying for the pole. Like your uncle's LSD flashbacks to Woodstock I kept skipping between the present and the many times I had watched "The Kentucky Kid" cut his way to the podium. This bike was so similar in form to Hayden's Laguna Seca mount it was almost like looking at the actual bike.
Leaving no stone unturned, owner Dave McEnery pulled out all the stops in his quest to build an RC212V for the street.
"I wanted the bike to look exactly like Hayden's Laguna Seca bike. I thought that scheme was great with the number one plate and all," McEnery said.
As I circled the bike, letting my eyes travel its angular geography I quickly discovered there is little difference between it and the actual RC212V. After taking it all in I wondered how this simple, yet hard-hitting Honda had come to be.
"To be honest, I'm not even that big of a Hayden fan, I just wanted to be different. I didn't want a Gixxer and I wanted my bike to look like a racebike, so I took the Hayden theme and ran with it."
And run with it he did as the bike was dropped off a stocker and returned a Moto GP stylee, thanks to Velocity Moto.
While one might assume a replica is nothing more than some paint, a few stickers and a handful of parts, McEnery couldn't disagree more.
It looked like it was going...
It looked like it was going 200mph standing still.
2008 Honda CBR1000RR
"It took weeks of searching to make sure everything was going to be perfect and in the end, the funny thing was, we based the bodywork, graphics and paint off a small scale model. You know, one of those really expensive ones!"
Over the course of several months the CBR was stripped of its bodywork and carved with a scalpel. While it's undoubtedly very subtle, if you look closely you can see the modified upper fairing, lower cowls and rear fender-they're all custom.
"Without compromising the integrity of the pieces, we trimmed the bodywork away so it would look like an RC212V, and the rear fender is completely custom-it's actually two Hot Bodies fenders molded together that "flips-up" at the end like the real deal."
He went on to add that in addition to the cutting and sculpting, the bodyshop remolded the factory edges over the cut portions. This was done so all of the bodywork would have the factory rolled edges for that fully finished look. If that's not meticulous enough, the bodywork was test-fitted and removed for each step of the install: from the stages of paint to the trimming and molding as well as for the graphics. That means every line and every graphic is perfectly straight from panel-to-panel, and that's virtually unheard of in custom builds despite what many proud owners will argue.
Delving deeper into the mantra of "getting it right," the bike again went under the knife when McEnery wanted RC51 wheels and a bottom-mount rear caliper.
"The RC51 wheels were a must since they look like the ones on the racebike and since most racers have a bottom-mount caliper to make tire changes easy I wanted that as well," McEnery said.
More than just a few shims were needed to mount the wheels to the newer chassis, and when it was all said and done the rear caliper was hung from a one-off mount that precisely held the Brembo binder. To match the new stopper out back the CBR also received matching monoblock Brembo calipers up front.
"It took a lot of trial and error to get the rear wheel and brake to work, but eventually we got it right and along with the Brembos up front the thing really stops!"
After most of the custom work had been tackled McEnery continued pressing for perfection. To complete the look and boost the power, the reshaped CBR received a host of Bazzaz electronics along with the dope Taylormade exhaust to complete the Moto GP look.
Admiring the completeness of McEnery's machine brought with it content. As jaded as many enthusiasts can be, this bike "had it." Before complimenting the owner on a job well done he was quick to mention that the bike was far from complete.
"The rear section will soon be cut down to look exactly like the racebike-we simply ran out of time. I'll also be addressing the suspension before hitting the track."
While his comments about the imperfections in his own masterpiece were welcome, what stood out were his last three words: "hitting the track." Would this one-off really see some knee-down action?
"I used to race and when I got too old to be competitive I gave it up. After a few years I missed it so much I had to build a bike. Coming from a racebike I couldn't just have an ordinary bike, so I built this. It certainly isn't a mantelpiece-it's meant to be ridden-in fact I'm already signed up for a few trackdays."
Front End: RC51 wheel, Brembo monoblock calipers, rotors and RCS master cylinder, Michelin Pilot Power Race tire, Superbike brake lines
Rear End: RC51 wheel, Brembo caliper, custom bottom-mount caliper bracket, Michelin Pilot Power Race tire, Superbike brake line
Motor: Bazzaz Z-Fi TC, Z-AFM fuel mapping and Z-Bomb, Taylormade exhaust, valve block-off plates
Bodywork: Cut and modified factory panels with factory rolled edges and custom paint to replicate Nicky Hayden's 2008 Laguna Seca RC212V
Accessories: Puig windscreen, powdercoated factory rearsets, front sprocket cover removed, Bikelitz fender eliminator, custom fabricated rear fender, RK 520 chain, Renthal sprockets
The Bazzaz traction control...
The Bazzaz traction control and fuel mapping adjusters look like they belong on a MotoGP bike.
For once, a vanity plate that...
For once, a vanity plate that makes some sense...
The CNC machined stock rotor...
The CNC machined stock rotor complements the custom Brembo caliper.