Honda's Unbelievable 50cc Race Bike With A Top Speed Above 100 Mph

Honda's current 50cc offerings are more associated with efficiency and affordability than outright speed or motorsports. The Honda Ruckus, for example, is inexpensive and fuel-efficient but it's not a speed demon. The same can be said about the Honda Metropolitan scooter. However, in the 1960s, Honda developed a 50cc bike that could not only win races, but reach triple-digit speeds, the RC116.

Unlike 50cc bikes that most people are familiar with, the RC116 — when it came around to the racing circuit in 1966 — had two very tiny cylinders with four practically microscopic valves per cylinder. The bike was built to be as light as possible from its minimal frame to tiny suspension and braking components, including bicycle-like brakes on the front that relied on friction from grabbing the front wheel's rim as opposed to a traditional rotor and caliper setup. The entire bike only weighed 110.2 pounds. But the bike's real claim to fame was how fast it could go.

Honda's miniscule motorcycle

The RC116's 16-horsepower two-cylinder could rev to an astonishing 21,500 rpm. For comparison, a Ducati Panigale V4 R, a veritable superbike, tops out at 16,500 rpm. The RC116's engine is about as far away from a little lawnmower engine as you can possibly get. According to Honda, the bike and its tiny engine could howl along at a top speed of 108 miles per hour. 

Perhaps most importantly, the RC116, as impressive as it is, wasn't a one-off experiment by Honda to see how much power and speed it could get out of a tiny engine. The RC116 won three grand prix races in 1966 which resulted in a manufacturer win for Honda.

As unfortunate as it is, the RC116 never saw any hopes of full-scale production and remains a little piece of Honda's racing history. The high-strung two-cylinder engine would likely be a nightmare to maintain and revving at over 20,000 rpm all of the time probably wouldn't result in a very high service life. Otherwise, motorcycle fans from all over would be zipping around at triple-digit speeds on a bike where the engine could fit in a backpack.