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.
The RTL250SW was for factory Honda riders only, not available for general sale and had the single down tube frame with offset exhaust port.
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.
Former British Trials Champion (1977) and factory Honda rider, Rob Shepherd is making a comeback to trials with a machine that he was associated back in the seventies. Honda powered four-stroke power. ‘Shep’ a Yorkshire farmer has been practising constantly with a Drayton BSA Bantam which he hopes to ride in Pre’65 events next season. He was particularly taken with the Montesa 4RT. Shepherd rode for Montesa back in the early seventies with Rob Edwards, before switching to Honda UK Trials Team with Brian Higgins and Nick Jefferies, managed by Sammy Miller.
According to Rob’s younger brother Norman, also a very competent rider on a Bultaco, Rob has worn the rear tyre of the Bantam to ‘slick’ proportions. He told Trials Guru at the recent Scott Re-Union: “He’s never off the thing, he’s worn the knobbles off the rear tyre”.
Rob Shepherd has been out of the sport since 1983 when he last rode it was an Appleyard 340 Bultaco in 1982/83 and a Majesty Yamaha in 1981.
The 1987 Honda (HRC) RTL250S (actual capacity 270cc) of Eddy Lejeune (Belgium) seen in the paddock at the 1987 Scottish Six Days Trial in Fort William. The machine was maintained by mechanic and enduro competitor, Derrick Edmondston. The machine differed in many respects from the production version having a much more voluminous exhaust and single spar downtube frame and was also fitted with an oil-cooler. Lejeune came home in 3rd position on this machine losing 82 marks. The machine was registered in the UK by Honda Britain. Photo copyright: Donald Young, Stonehaven, Scotland UK.
The Premier Trial Sport Website for articles, photos, news and the history of motorcycle trials