Best known as TVs favourite speed merchant, Guy Martin says that the Honda-Six is the most amazing motorbike hes ever ridden. He put the bike, valued at £450,000, through its paces over eight laps at Castle Combe in Wiltshire on July 16th 2017.
The Honda-Six with just an engine capacity of 297cc is a mind-blowing technological marvel with pistons the size of thimbles, 24 valves and an 18,000rpm rev-ceiling. It sounds like absolutely nothing else and works brilliantly. In the 1960s it dominated 250 and 350 GPs (indeed winning 1966s 250 crown by the seasons midway point); becoming inextricably associated with arguably the greatest racer of all time, Mike Hailwood who rated it the best bike he ever rode. And Guy doesnt disagree.
Mike gained enough points by winning all races in the first half of the 1967 season to clinch the Championship. George Beale of H&H Classics
, its builder and owner, says: Guys view on this bike is not unique. Mike Hailwood told me that this was the best bike he had ever ridden.
The bike is one of eight super expensive RC174 replicas built by George Beale of H&H Classics who says he was a bit nervous when Guy threw his leg over the bike. Im always nervous when they go out, smiled Beale wryly. Guy is such a character and I have been very impressed by his mechanical knowledge. I think the combination of Guy and the Honda Six is the best you could imagine to attract the publics attention. He has achieved his ambition now, and so have I.
Thats the most amazing motorbike I have ever ridden, was Guys verdict after eight laps of the Castle Combe circuit on an exact replica of the 50-year-old 296cc RC174 on Sunday July 16th.
Martin fulfilled a lifetimes ambition by riding the exotic machine in a series of tribute laps to Mike Hailwood, the nine-times world champion, during Castle Combes annual (and only) two-wheeled meeting, the Grand National, on Sunday. The biggest crowd in over a decade flocked to the Wiltshire venue to watch the spectacle that also included an appearance by three-time Grand Prix world champion, Freddie Spencer.
It was the most nervous Ive ever been, Guy said as he explained how he felt about the outing. I went to sleep nervous and I woke up nervous. There have only been three bikes in history I have really wanted to ride, the Britten and my Pikes Peak Suzuki, which Ive ridden and now the Honda Six. And it was better than I ever thought it would be.
George Beale of H&H Classics, (the bikes builder), told me not to do more than 16,000 revs but I had to roll off everywhere just to keep it to 16 because it just wants to go! laughed the Lincolnshire ace after his stint aboard the screaming 250. I was expecting it to be a nightmare to keep singing, but although it isnt the most usable bike, it was alright. It is half usable and it really goes.
If the Honda-Six was a car, it was a Ferrari 250GTO mixed with a Ford GT; if it was a movie star it was James Dean married to Marilyn Monroe. If it was a creature, it was a unicorn. In fact better: it existed. No machine demonstrates Hondas abilities better. The Six was the culmination of Hondas dream for GP dominance during a period of both an inexorable rise of the Japanese factories and (virtually) unlimited GP technical regulations.
By its very definition, the magic of the Honda Six is all about the engine and even the bare numbers are astonishing. Its a four-stroke, DOHC, 24-valve, inline six producing peak power at 18,000rpm, a speed that wouldnt be repeated until F1 began experimenting with pneumatic valves in the mid-1990s.
Hailwood came to define the Honda Six, and Guy was delighted to take part in the weekends tribute to Mike the Bike. Guy said that the chance to ride the Honda Six was one of the main reasons he was coming out of retirement when he signed to return to the roads for Honda Racing in January.
(Original article by Stephen Davidson & Phil West of MCN Magazine)