Honda Has a Motorcycle That Can Rev Higher Than a Formula 1 Car

A sound you don’t hear every day is 20,000 RPMs. It’s about 5,000 RPM higher than a Formula 1 race car and doesn’t sound street legal. It becomes even more amazing when you realize the sound comes from a 30-year-old Honda motorcycle. The Honda CBR250RR is one of a kind. Re-introduced in Japan for 2022, the old-school model was music to street racers’ ears. 

The Honda 1990 CBR250RR

Honda motorsports logo in black and silver on a grey background.
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The Honda CBR250RR debuted in 1990 and was produced through 1999. In Japan in 1990, Honda made race bikes that you could actually use on the street. This FortNine video details that this bike revs faster than an F1 car. This Honda has motorcycle enthusiasts drooling with 19,000 rpm on the redline and 20,000rpm on the limiter. 

The motorcycle uses an inline-four-cylinder, four-valve-per-cylinder, DOHC powerplant, putting out a minuscule 45 hp. The screaming that turned heads was the 19000 rpm, which equals a modern-day F1 car. 

This race bike was used for street racing in Japan back in the day, and anything under 250cc was exempt from bi-annual emission inspection and other inspections that street racers couldn’t afford. At the time, bikes over 400cc were harder to register and get a license for. The demand for low cc street racers created the rare ride, the Honda CBR250RR, with the highest rev of any production vehicle. It is a motorcycle that will never be made again because of emissions laws. 

As far as the thrill of riding a bike at this crazy-high rpm, riders report that you start to get a hint of what’s to come at around 8,000 rpm. At around 13,000, it gets that racebike howl, and at the 19,000 rpm redline, you realize what looks like a reliable, everyday bike is delivering revs close to 20,000 rpm. It’s a thrill Americans won’t be able to experience unless they visit Japan and pick up a used model.

Why does this motorcycle rev so high?

The Honda CBR250RR has precision engineering to get this small-capacity engine to scream as this one does. It’s accomplished by a gear-driven camshaft that eliminates belts and chains. Straight intake runners and a rigid, aluminum twin-spar frame also help get the job done, and its light weight and responsive suspension make it easy to handle and maneuver all the power. 

Tiny pistons are the real key to achieving 20,000 rpms. 4 small pistons sweeping an area the size of a shot glass keep the bike in control at a manageable 45 hp. At 20,000 rpm, the valves have to open and close 167 times per second. Each part of the engine has to work perfectly in sync to rev so high. 

What’s new in 2022 for the Honda CBR250RR

Unfortunately for U.S. riders, the 2022 Honda CBR250RR is once again only available in Japan. According to Bike Advice, it has mostly the same features as previous models, including the 250cc parallel-twin, cranking out 13,000 rpm. The engine is mated to the six-speed standard quickshifter transmission with a slipper clutch.

The motorcycle has a diamond frame with 17-inch tires and upside-down front shocks. The main change for 2022 is that the street bike now has a new color option, Graphite Black. While there is no indication that this bike will ever be released in the U.S., enthusiasts can admire it from afar and continue to keep hope alive that we may see new cutting-edge Honda motorcycles here in the near future.

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