Honda NSR500

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Honda NSR500
Honda NSR500R
ManufacturerHonda Racing Corporation
PredecessorHonda NS500
SuccessorHonda RC211V
Engine500 cc two-stroke V4

The Honda NSR500 is a race motorcycle from the Honda NSR series. It was created by HRC (Honda Racing Corporation) and debuted in 1984 for the Grand Prix motorcycle racing's 500 cc class. Honda won ten 500cc World Championships with the NSR500 from 1984 to present, six in a row 1994 to 1999. With more than 100 wins to its credit, the NSR500 is the most dominant force in modern Grand Prix motorcycle racing. The 1989 NSR500 that won Honda's third 500 World Championship with Eddie Lawson exemplifies the overwhelming power, acceleration and raw speed that has always been synonymous with Honda's 500 cc two-stroke V4.

1984 - 1987

Designed to succeed Honda's first two-stroke Grand Prix racer, the NS500 triple, NSR500 debuted in 1984 for the for the Grand Prix motorcycle racing's 500 cc class. Building on lessons learned from its three-cylinder predecessor, the new V4 used a single crankshaft, making it lighter and more compact than its dual-crankshaft adversaries. Though tormented by unorthodox chassis technology in its first season, the NSR500 evolved to clinch Honda's second 500 cc GP title in 1985. Opening the V-angle to 112 degrees in 1987 made room for a quartet of 36 mm Keihin carburetors between the cylinders where they could be fed more cool air. The new arrangement also let the engine exhale more efficiently through its four artfully intertwined expansion chambers. By year's end, Honda won a third 500 World Championship.

1988 - 1989

Entirely redesigned for 1988, the NSR500 got a stiffer, twin-spar aluminum chassis and various engine changes. More improvements gave the 1989 NSR500 upwards of Template:Convert/hp at 12,000 rpm — essentially doubling the output of the 1966 Honda RC181 Grand Prix four-stroke. Capable of well over Template:Convert/mi/h, the 1989 bikes had more top speed and acceleration than anything else on the track. To contain all that muscle, the stiffer, twin-spar aluminum chassis used a curved, gull-wing-type swingarm to accommodate more efficient expansion chambers. The result was an unforgiving, but brutally fast, package that earned Honda a fourth 500 cc World Championship in 1989.

1990 - 1998

Though the 499 cc V-4 could produce more than Template:Convert/hp, chassis development, sophisticated engine management and an Australian named Mick Doohan made the NSR500 a legend in the 1990s. Extensive testing in 1991 led to a new aluminum chassis patterned on the successful RVF750 endurance racer. Honda unveiled a revolutionary idea with a 1992 V4 that was timed to fire all four cylinders within 65-70 degrees of crankshaft rotation - the so-called "Big-Bang" engine. Along with a balance shaft that neutralized the single crankshaft engine's gyroscopic effects, the 1992 NSR500 was a breakthrough. Emphasizing acceleration over sheer speed, Doohan used this engine to win five of the first seven 500 Grand Prix races of 1992. Although a badly broken leg denied Doohan's bid for the 1992 World Championship, he would not be denied for long. Beginning in 1994, Doohan and the NSR500 won five consecutive 500 cc World Championships. Winning 12 of 15 races in 1997, he broke a single-season win record that was set in 1972. Combining for 54 total 500 Grand Prix wins, no man and machine in modern history had dominated the 500 World Championship so thoroughly. From around 1997, the NSR500 again featured the older "Screamer" engine in some factory racers, with Mick Doohan preferring the higher outright power of this design despite it being much more difficult to harness.

1999 - 2002

Constant development and ever-increasing sophistication sharpened the NSR500's edge, earning Honda two more 500 World Championships, with Àlex Crivillé in 1999 and again with Valentino Rossi in 2001. Regulations for the World Championship motorcycle road racing 500 cc class were changed drastically for the 2002 season with four-stroke engines being allowed to grow up to 990 cc and up to six cylinders. The name of the class was changed to MotoGP and was limited to race prototypes only. Because of these changes, Honda introduced the RC211V in 2002 to race alongside the NSR500. The larger displacement RC211V and other four-stroke bikes dominated the series and the NSR500 was eventually phased out of the class along with all other two-stroke motorcycles.

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