WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT THE YZ450F’S
LAID-BACK ENGINE? Yamaha is very different.
Basically, Yamaha’s direction is always very different than
my company. Yamaha is Yamaha!
WHAT ABOUT THE APRILIA V-TWIN? I like the
Aprilia because it is interesting technology, but a V-twin
will never be right for motocross, as it’s too heavy.
AND KTM’S 350SXF? KTM’s 350 is a good idea. It
looks like it is fun to ride, especially for a customer who is
an average rider. But I have no idea right now if Honda
will look at a 350. I really do have no idea! But I do think
electric start is too heavy, though.
WHAT DO YOU THINK THE FUTURE WILL BE
FOR MOTOCROSS BIKES? Centralization of
mass, weight, power and handling. Our target is
everything! Our number one priority is to give the
customer what they want.
WHAT DO YOU THINK THE CONSUMER
WANTS MOST? I think they want lower weight
(which is very important). And especially the placement of weight, towards the center of the bike. Then
comes power. Not the amount of power, as we have
lots of that, but controlling the power. I think electronic
control systems will be important. It’s important that we
make it easier for customers to tune their bike’s power.
Now they have to use a laptop, which is okay for some
people. But we have to make it easier for everyone.
WILL WE SEE A LOT OF NEW TECHNOLOGY ON
THE PRODUCTION BIKES SOON? It depends on the
economy–the economy for Honda as a whole, not just the
motocross bikes. If the whole company is not doing well,
development is slower and new ideas will take longer to
get into production.
HOW FAST CAN A MOTOCROSS BIKE BE
DEVELOPED? Sometimes this can be quite fast. For
example, on the 2009 CRF450, we started testing some
new ideas on the HRC bikes in Japan in 2007. We tested
lots of parts and had lots of choices to make. We then
made prototypes and tested them. When a bike is close to
production, it is tested by my employees in Japan. They’re
not famous riders—just test riders. It is then tested in Japan
and America, and finally in Europe. Sometimes we use our
factory riders to get their comments.
HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE FROM START TO
FINISH? Typically it takes three years from design to
IS THERE A FUTURE FOR TWO-STROKES?
There is no future for two-strokes at Honda. Our
policy is 100-percent four-stroke. It’s a green issue.
Honda strongly believes in this in every product it
makes, from motorcycles to garden trimmers. I
They’re completely stock, with no HRC parts on them. I
don’t race anymore; I just ride for fun with my son. But
overall, 450 four-strokes are far better than two-strokes now.
WHAT WERE THE WORST BIKES HONDA EVER
MADE? I cannot say! But the CR125s were never very
strong. In the very early years they were powerful, but in
later years, not so good.
WHAT IS HONDA’S GOAL IN MOTOCROSS? Good
bike sales and good production bikes. A lot of emphasis is
put on building a really first-class production bike. That’s
where a lot of effort and finance is put. Racing success is
left to our riders and teams.