Additional photos of this Honda NR750 are available here for your perusal.
The easiest way to summarize the NR is to simply say that when it was released, it was the most expensive production motorcycle the world had ever seen. But the NR is much, much more than a hefty price tag – it’s a symbol of what can happen when one of the world’s best manufacturers goes all out. Engraved on the gas tank is a simple message, but it’s a bold claim from a company as large (and typically modest) as Honda: “THE RESULT OF A DECADE’S PERFECTION”.
Just 300 examples were built, and with a price tag of approximately $50,000 when it was released, the NR has only been available to a select few. The bike owes its existence to Honda’s NR (New Racing) program, which started with the NR500 Grand Prix racebike of 1979. It was Honda’s attempt to fight off two-stroke dominance while being boxed in by GP rules that limited the number of combustion chambers in an engine to four. Honda got around it by essentially creating a V-8 as each piston was oval-shaped with two connecting rods. It was insanely complicated, but the 500cc race motor was capable of putting out 130 horsepower at 20,000 rpm!
The street bike was also known as the RC40 and while it’s informally called the NR750 the correct name is simply “NR”. The street motor produces 120 horsepower at 14,000 rpm, and it was full of features that were either incredibly rare or completely novel to a production street bike: eight valves per cylinder, twin connecting rods, partial carbon fiber bodywork, digital speedometer, titanium-coated windshield, underseat exhaust, single-sided swingarm…the list goes on and on. Many of the styling cues were unobtanium to the public until Ducati came out with the gorgeous 916 a couple of years later.
Approximately 300 examples were produced worldwide, and people are still in awe about what Honda was able to bring together in a production road bike. For more examples of what made the NR ahead of its time, check out this profile on Visor Down.
This NR (VIN: RC40-1000033) has an interesting history. The bike spent the majority of its life on display in the window of a Honda dealership, and that’s why it has just 5 kilometers on the odometer.
After the earthquake, the original owner (left in the picture below) partially removed the bodywork thinking that he would fix the tail, though that did not happen and the bike sat on display in his small Honda dealership in southern Japan for the next 24 years. In mid 2019, the current owner heard about the bike and travelled 400 miles by bullet train to discover this one owner NR. He was able to purchase it off the now elderly owner on the condition it would be properly cared for. Knowing our history with these iconic bikes, the current owner sent it to us approximately 5 months ago to look through and reassemble.
The bike was delivered to us with the mirrors and some of the bodywork in boxes, and it was quite dusty. Although stored away from direct sunlight nearly the whole time, the left side heel guard was still slightly faded. Wanting the bike to be the best it can be the owner had us track down a NOS set for ~$1,000 and install them.
This NR was also missing some bolts/hardware, which took us approximately 3 and a half months to source and replace. Per our friends at American Honda, when these bikes were sold new the key with the carbon inlay was taped inside the tail, and that’s where Adam found the key in this bike, almost 30 years after it left the factory.
It’s been over a quarter of a century since the NR was first released, and it’s still a revelation to this day. We love the history of this example, and we know it will make for an amazing centerpiece in any collection.