1964 Honda RC146: resisting the two-stroke revolution
In 1963 Hugh Anderson and Suzuki won the first 125 cc world championship on a two-stroke, beating Luigi Taveri and Jim Redman on the four-stroke factory Honda. Honda’s resistance to the upcoming two-stroke revolution came with the RC146. This factory Honda RC146 returns to the ‘Cathedral’ where it won the 1964 Dutch TT in the hands of Rhodesian Jim Redman and with which Taveri from Switzerland reconquered the world championship, winning his 2nd of 3 world titles, Honda’s last in the 125 cc category with a four-stroke.
The new Honda counted 4 cylinders, 2 more than its predecessor, built in-line. It had a two-shaft overhead distribution with 4 valves. Through an 8-speed gearbox it would rev up to 18.000 revolutions per minute reaching a top speed of over 200 kilometers per hour. Honda won 7 out of 11 GP’s with the RC146; 5 for Taveri, 2 for Redman with the latter winning the Duch Grand Prix.
After being beaten by Suzuki and Anderson for a 2nd time in 1965, Honda made one last successful attempt at winning the 125 cc world title on a four-stroke with the 1966 5-cylinder RC149. After ’66 the category was to be dominated by two-strokes and it would take 24 years for Honda to win another 125 cc world title, this time on a two-stroke with Italian Loris Capirossi.