RC181 (1967)

Isle of Man TT Dominator and Lap Record Setter

The RC181 is Honda’s first foray into the premier 500cc class of World Grand Prix racing in 1966. Development began in February the previous year, with the first model achieving 70PS/12,000rpm from a 449.5cc engine. It was never raced, however, as its displacement was well short of 500cc. When the RC181 debuted in 1966, its displacement was 490cc thanks to expanded bore, outputting over 80PS, the best in its class. Mike Hailwood and Jim Redman took the RC181 to 5 victories, giving Honda its first 500cc class constructors’ title. The 2nd generation RC181 was equipped with a 499cc engine, approximately 10cc larger than its predecessor. Hailwood took this machine to a historic victory at the Isle of Man TT race, setting a lap record that would not be broken for years to come.


Engine Air-cooled 4-stroke 4-cylinder DOHC 4-valve Cam gear train
Displacement 499.6cc
Maximum output over 85PS/12,000rpm
Weight 151kg
Other 6-speed, transistor ignition