1976 Honda RC500M

 


 

On May 2nd in Fermo Italy at the 500cc Italian Gran-prix, Honda unveiled this bike. The RC500A1E Type ll. It was Honda's first "designed from the ground up" Grand-prix motocross bike. News traveled fast through the pits that day that Honda had a new ultra trick bike. Pierre Karsmakers qualified fastest to World Champion Roger DeCoster during time trials. In the first moto Pierre was left standing on the starting line with a fouled plug. The second moto Pierre won wire to wire. The journalists that covered this race, talked more about the bike than the race itself. It definitely stole the show. No bike drew more attention since Yamaha came out with the monoshock in 1973. Honda had arrived.

When you look at this bike it is immediately apparent that there was a lot of thought in designing this bike. The attention to detail is amazing. A lot of innovations that are used to this day were started with this bike. I have tried to explain this in the text below. Other than paint (the original was too far gone) the bike is in 100% original condition including the tires since the day it was parked.

Karsmakers shows Honda power for the first time in Fermo Italy at the 1976 Italian Grand-Prix. Pierre went wire to wire for the win.The world would never be the same.


1976 Honda RC500M Photos


Pierre Karsmakers' comments:

We got this bike a few days before the Italian Grand-prix. During time trials, I had the fastest lap times, but the bike was pinging a little on top end. I told my mechanic to put in a larger main jet to cure this. Instead he put in a colder spark plug and the bike wouldn't start for the first moto. By the time we put the warmer plug in I was already a lap down. I still passed DeCoster and was in front by 29 seconds but a lap down. The second moto though, I got the holeshot and wheelied away from everyone! The bike was so fast and had a very smooth powerband too. The motor had a very good characteristic. The suspension was also fantastic. The bike was so superior at the time, everybody was just shaking when I was there (laughter). It was really a good feeling. It was the first bike made just for the long travel design. I had a special set of Koni shocks made just for this bike. The spring rate and the damping were just right the first time. Koni made all the right calculations when they built them. The front forks were fantastic also. The only problem I had was sometimes the fork gators would get caught between the external springs. That, sometimes was not a nice feeling. That was the only problem. The bike was very reliable, no problems at all whatsoever.

I was very instrumental in the design of this bike. It involved a lot of testing, meetings and travel all over the world. I was actually the guy responsible for getting the countershaft sprocket moved close to the swing-arm to keep the chain from coming off due to the long travel. It was the perfect bike. The bike was fantastic!


Detail Photos


Dave Arnold's comments:

When the crates with these bikes arrived, you knew something was up. The crates themselves were a work of art. They were made of a mahogany type wood, and when we opened them up.....WOW. You could just smell the horsepower. There was so much titanium and magnesium, everything was so trick. There was actually a smell that I can remember to this day. This was a works bike like no other. Prior to this we would get the bikes and parts and we were pretty much on our own for the season. This time we knew Honda was serious. When we took them out to break them in and set them up, we went to Saddleback. The motors were just so shriekingly fast! They were almost too fast. Honda's ability to stay on top of engine development at that time was second to none. They were definitely pushing the envelope with this bike. Each bike came with two front ends. One with external springs and one with internal springs. With the new chassis and laid down shocks, every thing came together.

 


Details


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pierre Karsmakers on the Type II at a test session in early 1976.  The bike went from a blank sheet of paper to a state of the art GP bike in about 3 months.


Historical Photos


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