1984: Honda NSR 500


we'll dream of Honda's most bonkers racer to our grave

We’ve got a theory. 

The things you’ll carry with you through your life, that will inspire you more than other things – will emerge from the years when you were at your height of youthful discovery – when the hormones were surging strongest and when the life you desired to lead had most chance of becoming actual.

From members of the opposite sex to music, clothes, cars and motorbikes; the ones that turned you on when you were, say, between sixteen and eighteen years of age, will be the ones you cherish the most for the rest of your life.

I left school in 1984 in an aether of strange romantic attachments and testosterone. That’s why motorbikes from 1983-1985 tend to resonate with more force than any other.

And there’s few more definitive bikes of that era than Honda’s all-conquering GP machine the NSR 500.


The NSR first made an appearance in 1984, ridden at the top-flight of motorcycle sport by ‘fast’ Freddie Spencer, who’d won Honda’s first 500cc title in ’83 on the sublime NS500 triple.

The liquid-cooled, single-cranked V4 NSR 500 proved to be a much more hard-to-handle prospect and produced 144BHP – absolutely awe inspiring by the day’s standards.

In many ways the NSR 500 was the two wheeled analog of the Group B madness going on on four wheels at the time. But where the rally formula died a spectacular death by mid-decade, the dominance of Honda’s V 4 made it the most dominant two-stroke Grand Prix engine ever created.

But it’s not just the engine on the NSR that we always loved. It’s just the colourful design – the pure, unadulterated period typeface of the Honda works team and its all-round mentalness.

Has anything since reached the NSR’s level of bonkersness?