Honda Factory Trials – RTL – ‘Racing Trial’
During the ninteen-seventies, Honda Motor Company decided to create a purely ‘Racing’ division, separate from their normal motorcycle production activities and core businesses. This saw the advent of Racing Service Center Corporation or ‘RSC‘ for short. Later, in September 1982, they developed from RSC, Honda Racing Corporation or HRC for short, which exists to this day and controls the racing activites of Honda. HRC produce and sell racing/competition motorcycles and spare parts. The parts, although well made and of high specification, are by their nature, not warranted for street use as they are for ‘racing applications only’. HRC European headquarters are based in Aalst in Belgium. The world HQ is at Asaka, Saitama, Japan. Below we can see some of RSC & HRC’s creations over the years.
Honda RTL300 – Short Stroke ‘Racing Trial’ of Nick Jefferies, 1977. Photo by Heath Brindley, Bristol.
Rob Shepherd aboard the factory 305cc short-stroke Honda. This rare photo was taken by Rob Edwards outside the Espluges Montesa factory in Barcelona. Photo courtesy and copyright: Rob Edwards, Middlesborough.
Honda RTL 300 Long-Stroke – Marland Whaley (USA) from 1977.
1977 – Scottish Six Days Trial at Glen Nevis – Marland Whaley on his factory Honda RTL300 (305cc) who finished in 13th position losing 102 marks for the week. Photo: Copyright Iain Lawrie, Kinlochleven.
Marland Whaley on Blackwater in 1978 on the Honda RTL300 – Photo copyright: Iain Lawrie, Kinlochleven.
1984 – Honda RTL360 – Eddy Lejeune (Belgium) at Fersit, Scottish Six Days Trial. Factory only machine, not on general sale. Photo: Mark Lamplough, Coventry.
HRC RTL360 motor from 1984. Photo: Patrick Pissis, France.
February 2014 – Telford Off-Road & Racing Show. Jean Caillou (left) and Patrick Pissis from France, show their RTL360 from 1984. Photo: Copyright: Trials Guru/MoffatRacing 2014
Telford, February 2014 – RTL360. Photo, Copyright: Trials Guru/MoffatRacing, 2014
RTL360 generator side close up. Photo, Copyright: Trials Guru/Moffat Racing, 2014
British Honda/HRC factory rider, Yorkshire farmer, Rob Shepherd (Honda/HRC RTL300) tackles ‘Grey Mare’s Ridge’ in the 1979 Scottish Six Days – © – Iain Lawrie, Kinlochleven.
1986 – SSDT – Eddy Lejeune (Rothmans Honda RTL270SW) on Lower Mamore – Photo Copyright: Iain Lawrie, Kinlochleven
Three times FIM World Champion, Eddy Lejeune (270cc Rothmans Honda RTL270SW) on Ben Nevis in the 1986 Scottish Six Days – © – Iain Lawrie, Kinlochleven.
Full factory machine, this is the RTL270SW Honda Racing Corporation/Rothmans Racing of Steve Saunders seen here at Ben Nevis in the SSDT from 1986 Photo: Trials Guru/John Moffat – All Rights Reserved
The RTL250SW was for factory Honda riders only, not available for general sale and had the single down tube frame with offset exhaust port.
1986 – SSDT Steve Saunders (Rothmans Honda RTL270SW) on Ben Nevis – Photo Copyright: Iain Lawrie, Kinlochleven
1986 – RTL270SW (270cc) Honda Racing Corporation/Rothmans Racing – with single down-tube frame and oil cooler. Strictly factory only.
Tommy Sandham’s Book – ‘Four Stroke Finale?-The Honda Trials Story’ Click… Honda/Four Stroke Finale?
John Moffat (Trials Guru) was fortunate to be permitted to take the ex-Eddy Lejeune 1982 RTL360 for a brief excursion at the Highland Classic 2 Day Trial at Alvie Estate in June 2015. This machine is now in the ownership of Jean Caillou.
The 1982 Honda/HRC RTL360 shown above was once the factory machine of World Champion, Belgian, Eddy Lejeune.
Jean Caillou, a French trials enthusiast who has a passion for the Honda brand was fortunate enough to meet with Lejeune at his home in Belgium. It was during this meeting that Eddy revealed that he still had the 1982 ex-factory machine in his possession. The RTL360 was disassembled, but all the parts were there at Eddy’s house.
Jean Caillou: “I met with Eddy Lejuene at his home and he explained that he had just bought his daughter a horse. So he presented me with the invoice for the horse and said that if I paid him the same figure that he had just recently paid for the horse, then I could have the Honda. I did not hesitate further and the deal was agreed. I had effectively paid for Eddy’s daughter’s horse, but I now owned the Eddy Lejeune 360!”
Eddy Lejeune from Verviers, Belgium was three times FIM World Trials Champion (1982-1984) and seven times Belgian National Champion (1980-1986). He rode Honda for the majority of his trials career, switching to the Spanish Merlin in 1988 and then to the Honda owned Montesa for 1989/90 when he retired from top flight trials.
The Montesa Cota 4RT 260cc is the modern day equivalent of the RTL with the motor supplied by HRC. In Japan these machines are sold as Honda RTL260. Photo: Trials Guru/Moffat Racing.
Cover photo: Steve Saunders (RTL270SW Rothmans sponsored Honda HRC) on Lagnaha in the 1986 Scottish Six Days. Before the days when tobacco sponsorship of motorsport was curtailed and finally banned. – © – Iain Lawrie, Kinlochleven (World Wide Copyright – All Rights Reserved.
© – Article: Trials Guru/Moffat Racing, John Moffat – 2015 (All Rights reserved)
© – Images/Photographers:
– Heath Brindley, Bristol
– Rob Edwards, Middlesborough
– Iain Lawrie, Kinlochleven
– Patrick Pissis, France
– Mark Lamplough, Coventry, England
– Trials Guru/Moffat Racing/John Moffat
Interesting link to the Honda Trials Story: Click… Only Trial
For current HRC information see their website: Click… HRC-Honda Racing Corporation