Here are some photos of a recent ride on the NR by the beach with my friend Jimmy on his SP2 in Rayong Province, Thailand. Given its year of manufacture (1991), the NR still feels fresh and capable, though a tad heavy. It was happy to cruise at around 140 km/h with spurts of up to 200km/h. Brakes are sharp and the chassis is more stable than flickable. It isn't an RC30, let alone a modern sportsbike but it is an enjoyable bike to ride on a Saturday morning cruise and it able enough that you don't need to make excuses for its performance in the company of the SP2. That said, the SP2 has had quite a bit of work done to it and felt taught and lively. Compared to the NR, they are both Hondas and both have RC stamped on their frame. Beyond that, they are as different as chalk and cheese. Without wanting to put the NR down in any way, the SP2 is the more involving and sportier bike of the two to ride and by quite a margin. However, it has to be factored in, that the main factor to riding the NR is that you don't really want to be riding it on the limit. There is always a fear of dropping the NR or even a stone flicking up off a truck as you passing it and causing damage to unobtainium paintwork or screen. (Sorry Jimmy, but your SP2 is expendable ;) ). To a certain extent, with time in the saddle, you get to relax and enjoy the experience. Its retro modern digital speedo (or is that modern but retro now?) and all the various dials on the dash keep you entertained and the bike is comfy and ergonomic. In addition once you've arrived, you get the added bonus of having an extra view of the NR to admire when hanging out on the beach.
The NR gets attention wherever it is parked. Even non bike enthusiasts take a peek at it. The 8 coat red is very bright in tropical sunlight! I once parked it next to a Ferrari and it was interesting to compare bright red. There was no comparison, NR wins by a shade or 4!
You can see just how lardy the NR is. However, you kind of sit inboard and the bulk is behind and in front of the rider. A blind folded person would think the NR lithe from the riding position alone. (Just don't give them the key) It is surprisingly narrow with hardly any splaying of legs around the tank. Reach to the bars is natural and sporty. Screen is low for most people.
Difference in facial expressions. NR smiley, SP2 looks almost startled in comparison. 16 inch front wheel with early fireblade high profile tyre on NR. And like the blade, tyre pressures crucial for low speed handling or it flops into turns.
Jimmy's SP2 showing off.......Ohlins at both ends, Marchesini wheels, full Akrapovik system, TYGA carbon fender and host of other mods. A superb example indeed.
Setting off after a stop for breakfast. We did the first short leg to Ban Chang and sought refreshment at the Camel's Toe. Local food is great and mostly healthy, but now and again, you can't beat a good old western fry up. Time for the next blast...
Temperature was around 37 degrees celcius; usual for Thailand. Leathers are not really practical in this heat for touring unless you are planning on crashing, and crashing was not on my agenda that's for sure!
Stop off at a beach in Rayong Province. Vendor carts are everywhere as usual and a real menace. Every time you park the NR, a bike and sidecar with squid, umbrellas or whatever, weaves perilously close nearly causing me a heart attack. I'd like to say they know what they are doing but having seen them having a few collisions in the past with other parked bikes, sadly this is not the case
NR in splendid isolation. That's better! Screen is iridium coated. Looks fantastic. Not as gawdy as aftermarket ones and more striking than clear screens. The blue of the the screen works well with the red paint, the carbon and the polished parts. Just don't try to blend yourself in on an NR!
Left top view shows the carbon air ducts. Like many bikes of its day they don't actually function. They do hide the screen brace though. Seat is made of seude and definitely not fake. Seems a strange choice for what is essentially a sport bike but feels and looks good. NR wins on that one Jimmy!
This angle shows off the side ducts in the seat cowling nicely. The ducts are functional and the exhaust is otherwise fully enclosed (unlike most other undertail systems) and would build up heat without them. It gets pretty hot as it is with so many pipes around the rear of the bike but no problems so far.
Lower cowling in carbon. Pure sex. The other side has a two piece carbon fairing for the side stand which is a feat of engineering in itself. The way it unfolds and then fits flush with the lowers on retracting the stand is fascinating. Lots of attention to detail on the NR. The NR logo appears all over the place from hand grips to heel guards.
This bike has been fitted with later calipers off the 929/954/SP1/2 and apart from looking nice (the original 1989 NR show bike had gold calipers) they really pull the 200+ kg bike up predicatably and quickly. Rotors 320 mm. Front forks are massive for the day at 45 mm. They are fully adjustable of course.
In this shot you can see the twin spotlights mounted in the fairing. They give the bike a unique frontal presence and intimidate car drivers in their rear view mirrors to get out of your way nicely!
Long shot, long bike! When you ride the NR, you are aware that there is a lot of bike behind you as well as in front especially if you are used to 250 and 400 sportsbikes like I am. Side vents on the fairing are covered with cast aluminium slats. They are not to everyone's tastes but they are a talking point. (the same could be said about the styling in general). The NR does not have side mounted radiators unlike the VTR series. It has two front ones with an oil cooler squeezed in between making for a wall of fins behind the front wheel. They work well even in the tropics.
Tank/seat cover is all in one piece and made from carbon fiber. Yes they are expensive to replace, but you can still get them for 2000 US dollars if you know where to look which is expensive but nothing compared to list price. Pistons and rings are still available, though I am hoping this is a job I will leave to the next owner after I am long gone...
Swing arm was the sexiest seen on a production bike until the MV F4 was launched. The frame has some special (some say) titanium coating. Easy to keep clean and so shiny. Swing arm is actually laquered so best to be careful with solvents and chips. Still looks good after 18 years.
Fat ass! Like it or not, the NR is not to be mistaken from behind. The wheel is a full superbike 6 inch rim but seems tiny compared to the rest of the bike. Tyga exhaust system, droning and snarling from under the tail light. Oval V4, 32V 14,000 rpm music! Must get a sound file...
A day out at the beach wouldn't be complete without a family portait or two with the sea in the background. This picture is taken on the mainland near Koh Samet which is a popular tourist destination. There is a nice road that stretches in both directions from this point. Watch out for dogs and stray food vendors though!
Thailand is a great place to ride a bike once you get away from the industrial and urban areas. Great beaches, weather and roads. Fuel is affordable (needs to be when you have a thirsty NR) and the locals friendly and hospitable. A good morning out. Now back to work!