1977 Honda RC500


The 1977 RC500 is with out a doubt Honda's most refined and successful open class bike of the 1970's. It is an updated version of the 1976 Type ll model. Jim Pomeroy won the first moto at the Carlsbad USGP and had a successful Trans-am series with this bike. I was at the 1977 Carlsbad USGP and I distinctly remember watching Pomeroy in practice. The sound that bike made as he went up the Carlsbad uphill was like no other. It was way faster than anything going up that long uphill. Marty Smith won the 1977 AMA 500cc National Championship with a bike exactly like this also. The frame was made more compact and the suspension travel was now increased to nearly a foot of travel at both ends. Throughout the 1977 season this bike received updates and was retired after the Trans-am series. Other than new paint and grips the bike is in original (including the tires) condition as it was last raced.

Jim Pomeroy was visiting during 9/11/2001 and posed with his works Honda in the backyard. This was the bike he won the 1st moto of the USGP at Carlsbad with in 1977. Godspeed Jim Lee.


1977 Honda RC500 Photos


Jim Pomeroy's comments:

The first time I raced this bike was at the 1977 USGP at Carlsbad and I won the first moto. The bike was so fast, it would pull anything. There was power everywhere, it used a lot of gas though. Later, Honda made special (camel hump) gas tanks by cutting the top of the tank off and welding an extra capacity top on. The bike gave me so much confidence in myself. It turned, the front end grabbed, it did everything right. It was very predictable. I used special Fox Shocks set up for different types of tracks. They worked much better than the Showa's at the time. I also raced this bike at the 500cc Canadian GP and I did the Trans-am series with this bike. Prior to this I did some testing in Japan when they were designing it. In 1976 and 1977, Honda worked real hard on these bikes. The bikes were really well developed. It was a lot of fun to ride. For sure this bike was the best Honda I ever rode.


 

Marty Smith's comments:

The 1977 RC500 Type ll was my favorite factory Honda of all time. The bike handled well, the front was perfect, the back was perfect. The first time I rode it, I felt good right away. I felt that I was the best rider in 1977, and with that bike, my confidence level was even higher. I was in great shape, my speed was there, I had the best bike, a great mechanic (Dave Arnold) and Honda was behind me. Everything just came together. We raced it pretty much as we got it. The bike was so good that it didn't need much development. My mechanic Dave Arnold, did little things for personal preference, but that was it. It was easily the fastest bike on the track. The motor was balanced well with the chassis. Our works Hondas always had good motors. The bike was also very reliable. When I was on the track, it was just one less thing to think about. The only DNF I had, was with the Type ll 250 at Red-Bud. The gear box broke while I was very much in contention to win the 250 National Championship. To me, this is by far the best works Honda ever.

 


Detail Photos


Dave Arnold's comments:

Any shortcomings with the 76 bike were met with the 77 bike. Smitty just loved it. The suspension was updated along with the chassis. It was a very well balanced package. The power band was much more broad than before. It was easily the fastest bike, but easier to ride. Prior to this bike, we would have to jet them to make the power more manageable. This bike did everything right. The team that designed this bike was hitting on all eight cylinders. They really had their finger on the pulse with this one. For 1978 the design team rotated and a new team came in and designed probably the worst 500 bike. The 1978 RC500 was a real lemon. All the magical traits of the 1977 bike were lost. The power came on wrong, there was too much of it and it didn't balance with the chassis at all. The motor inertia would actually cause the bike to swap all over the place, kind of like a hinge. Marty hated it so bad he reverted back to his 1977 championship bike for much of the 1978 season. For 1979 the bikes got better again and then in 1980 HRC was born and there was now one company just to design and build championship bikes. And as they say, "The rest is history."

 


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Historical Photos


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