2013 Honda Rally Bikes

Where is my Honda Dakar Replica Bike?

1995 Honda EXP2

( I am being a little lazy, this is a rehash of a story I wrote a couple of years ago, but with the latest Honda Dakar announcement, the topic has been brought to life once more)

Now that  we have word of the 2013 Honda Dakar rally bike, I thought I would take the chance to pose this question again. Where is our great Honda rally adventure bike?

Is the 2013 Honda rally bike going to be something all new? Is Honda going to get back to it’s roots of making the most technologically advanced motorcycles in the world? Will they do it just to show the world that it can be done? Isn’t that what Mr Honda and HRC were really all about? Or are we just going to see a rehashed CRF450x?

My magic cube is telling me that it is going to be a 450x. The reasons are practical and economically compelling. JCR Honda has just spent two years working on the Dakar challenge. With a minimal budget and mash up of parts they put together a reasonably competitive package. More importantly, it was a very reliable bike.

Honda just needs to just expand on those ideas, using the might of HRC to bring it together as a complete concept. For the job at hand, the X motor is probably still competitive. Although, now that we have gotten a better look at the KTM Rally motor in the 2012 Baja bikes, we know that they are making far more horsepower. Honda, is that a challenge I hear knocking at the door?

All of the current Dakar front runners are shying away from fuel injection. Old fashioned carburetors are still the most reliable system when the conditions get their worst. One would have to imagine that Honda would not set out to build a new motor without EFI. So score one more point in favor of using the current motor.

Honda has a basic frame design for the rally bike also. Quinn Cody’s Dakar bike simply used the factory Baja spec frame. It uses the old 2007 spec geometry that is a bit more stable than the current production 450x. It also has all the light and fairing mounts built into it. The subframe needs some work to handle all the extra fuel load, but that is an easy enough task. There are at least two aftermarket companies building complete rally kits for the X, so there is plenty of existing R&D to draw from in making a full factory spec rally bike.

Alas, if I am on target, that means there will never be a production version of such a bike. No rally racer refugee with a license plate for the street. Let’s face it, that is what we all really want. A road going version of a Dakar bike. How can it possibly be that not a single bike manufacturer in the entire world can produce such a thing for the flocks of dedicated enthusiasts?

Hear my call – Honda, please get back to your roots of technical prowess and give us something to be shocked and astounded by.

If you want to hear more such sob stories, go visit your local Honda dealer and ask about what exciting new products they have to offer for 2013.



Filed Under: FeaturedThe Blog

RSSComments (10)

Leave a Reply | Trackback URL

  1. Blanco says:

    It is a 660, looks like the quad Raptor motor with the dual head pipes. Slap some knobby’s on and shred fire roads.

  2. Blanco says:

    Why doesn’t Yamaha sell that 600 Tenre thing in the USA? I would be interested in that as a fire road machine and pick up a used 2 stroke for the trails and enduros.

  3. Chilly says:

    Don’t even get me started on the topic of a modern big bore 2T. I have been telling KTM that for years. Can you imagine a new 400 2t with E start and a nice balanced contemporary motor!

    Funny, I was just talking with Danny Laporte. They bought a cherry 91 KX500 at FMF. He took it around the parking lot and was floored by how much power it had. So they ran in and put it on the dyno. Any guesses? 58hp on the FMF dyno!!! How much would it cost to get that (at the rear wheel) from your 450 4t?

  4. Bear says:

    Honda – just unearth the EXP 2, do some updates, sign up a couple of Dakar ‘Aliens’, and destroy the 450 4ts. What did it get in 95 – 5th outright?

    Oops, wrong company – Honda, the “all 4t, all the time” company sure as hell wouldn’t do that. As they will never make 2ts again, will they……..

    And that, is a crying shame.

    350…400…450cc modern 2t – the ultimate dirt bike engine – or,in that size range “any type of bike” engine.

  5. Scott says:

    I agree that KTM could easily produce an adv bike based off the exc 500. Go with the 565 cc (100mm x 72mm bore & stroke)since the 500 already has the 72mm stroke crank. This should give it between 55 – 60 hp. Add a cushy seat, a 5ga (200mi range) tank, cush hub and some other farkle for a long comfy ride.
    It would be more difficult for honda to produce a larger displacement motor based off the 450X with the short stroke (62mm?) that it has now so they may have to start from scratch.

  6. Chilly says:

    After testing the KTM 500exc this year, it left me wanting a rally replica version. On the highway it is almost as comfortable as the 690. I think the same could be said about any 450cc Dakar bike. Just bump up the displacement a little for a production bike, 500-550 range, and make a great 300lb ADV bike out of it.

    I can’t help but think there is a real market for such a bike. Even KTM can’t get their act together enough to build this. Out of all the models they have, they can’t just make one really cool looking ADV/rally replica bike??

  7. Pat says:

    Seems like Honda could start with the ol’ XR650R and end up with a 700 (ala the quad) and or 750 with very little work. The could port the head better, use the HRC cam, redesign the intake and air box, add a real EFI that works, and they’d have a little giant killer for 400lbs or less. Or, for something really fun, take the old CR500 and make it into a twin within a new frame. Those CR500s were, like the XR650R, bombproof.

  8. Scott says:

    Chilly, The rules for Dakar are a maximum displacement of 450cc. Even if honda went through the expense of building a whole new motor, chassis, etc. for the Dakar rally, this isn’t what the adv crowd is looking for, just not nearly enough displacement. What I see out there is a cry for a DIRT WORTHY twin of between 650-800cc based off a dirt bike (not a glorified steet bike that can go down a dirt road once in a while). Now honda would sell a load of these if done right.

  9. Brian says:

    Chilly; I am jones’n for a ADV bike , been reading everything out there ! So far I took your lead and started drawing up specs for a XR650ADV of my own.
    Last week was doing that with a KTM 650R ! But a couple things caused me to stop and think longer on that one .
    Early 80’s had a new XL600 , not bad bike, hopped up some,tires back then was like two not so good choices.
    I have a Buell XB12X and it is great right up to the end of the gravel roads. I own a 07 300 XC-W that I have personalized with many things, and feel it is the best off road bike I have had so far.
    Keep up the great job your doing !
    This site along with a few others are a blessing for those out there that don’t have a job that lets them spend their working hours on or around motorcycles.
    Thank You.

  10. Len Faltyn says:

    Chilly, I would cancel my year 39 KTM for a Adventure bike I could touch the ground on!

    I had a Honda Transalp but at the time I was moving around a lot and didn’t have a place to put it.

    There are times it would be nice to take the wife on a ride and the 450’s and 500’s KTM makes won’t take rear pegs. A few company’s started to make them but quit because of liability. I know there are the slip on the front pegs but……crap.

    You would think some manufacture would get it!