Race replicas is not a new thing – motorcycle makers have been putting them out for decades. After all, the adage “race on Sunday, sell on Monday” has held true in terms of the financial returns, and manufacturers know this.

However, most “race replicas” tend to be standard catalogue models, tarted up in racing livery, with maybe a few go-faster parts and sold with a premium price tag. Sometimes, just occasionally, there comes a confluence of a perfect storm, and a true race replica is offered for sale to the general public.

In the case of the Honda RC213V-S, this is, pretty much, the closest thing you can get to a MotoGP bike, on-the-road, with lights and turn signals, and no pretence of being anything other than what it is, pure speed. What you get, out of the box, is near enough the same machine as what Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa ride, save some items in the engine room installed in the interests of road-going longevity.

As a limited edition motorcycle – Honda was mum about final numbers to be produced, but we have heard production is at a temporary halt due to factory issues and no word on when the line will resume – the RC213V-S is now topped out at some 180 or so units. So, this is all you get, and what we got during the Honda Asian Journey was a chance to take a crack at the RC213V-S.

With a price tag of some RM1 million – you heard right, that’s a one followed by six zeroes – the RC213V-S is Honda’s halo motorcycle, and we expected great, not just good, things from it. So, come with the boys from paultan.org and read along as we found out what was what with the RC213V-S.

As an engineering exercise, the RC213V-S is the pinnacle of Honda Racing Corporation’s prowess. As we first approached the RC, we were taken aback by how small the entire package was.

We’ve ridden superbikes of all stripes, up to and including proper World Superbike Championship weaponry, but the RC is an exercise in super-dense packaging, and there is absolutely no wasted space anywhere on the bike.

Decked out in HRC colours of red, blue and white, with a prominent red roundel on the sides of the fairing, the RC213V-S is certainly a beautiful looking machine, and purposeful with it. Throwing a leg over the 830 mm seat settles the rider into the “office”.

Again, no pretence at being any sort of comfortable here, or with any road-going sensibilities. This is a track weapon in every sense of the word, with the single seat thinly padded and cut specifically for the rider to transition left and right for knee-down cornering.

Thumbing the 999 cc V-four to life, we found the exhaust sound very muted. Releasing the snarl from the engine requires installing the exhaust from the race kit, a 12,000 euro (RM59,114) option that lets all 215 hp and 118 Nm of torque out.

In this case, the RC213V-S we rode was limited to about 100 hp at 9,500 rpm, in street trim. There are several reasons for this, chief amongst which is noise regulations, and also Boon Siew Honda was not about to let a bunch of moto-journalists high-side a million ringgit motorcycle.

Starting off on the RC213V-S revealed another sign that this machine is bred for the racetrack. Putting the gearbox into first – it must be noted that this is one of the most precise gearboxes we’ve ridden in a while – and letting out the clutch gave almost no forward motion.

As is typical of race bikes, first gear is very, very tall, and requires a full-on race start, with engine revved into the stratosphere, to get going. The penalty for not doing so is having to slip the clutch mercilessly and we thus elected to slip into race mode and get moving.

Which made us run smack into the test track speed limit for the day – 60 km/h. Bumbling along the first lap, we dropped back a little due to a missed shift, and this allowed us the chance to whack the throttle open for a little fun time.

And we then hit the 9,500 rpm engine limit. Still and all, this did allow us a taste of something else on the RC213V-S, something very special indeed.

Fitted with Ohlins TTX25 forks and Ohlins TTX36 rear shock absorber, we noticed something about the test track as we traversed the corners. During a previous test session with the 2016 Suzuki GSX-R 1000 in race trim at the same circuit, we found the surface rutted and rippling, with the forks on the Gixxer bouncing up and down at the slightest provocation.

Riding the RC213V-S was like flying a magic carpet. The bike tracked smooth and stable through every turn, and changing direction was a matter of thinking, and the action was executed.

The degree of cornering precision the RC213V-S afforded was nothing short of amazing, and we wanted more. Pushed hard on second gear, the bike was completely composed, despite a few ham-fisted lines through the corners.

There was no protest, no complaints, from the RC213V-S, and it did exactly what it was supposed to do. If anything, the standard for suspension settings for any other test bike the author may encounter in the future may have been set impossibly high.

Inside the engine room, the hand-built V-four was smooth as silk, delivering power in a very linear fashion. Fuelling was impeccable, with no hint of stutter or stumble and considering what Honda is asking for this bike, would you expect anything less?

It was a shame though, that we couldn’t feel what 160-odd hp would feel like on the Honda in actual street setup, or the full 212 hp with the race kit fitted. However, considering how tight the test track was, and the riding capability demonstrated by some of the other participants on the day, we felt that the 100 or so ponies allowed was fine.

As a basis for comparison, right after getting off the RC213V-S, we rode the 2017 Honda CBR1000RR. Under normal circumstances, we would have liked the CBR1000RR very much, and would have considered it to be a very capable superbike indeed.

Unfortunately, after having tested the RC213V-S, Honda’s best road-going superbike felt clumsy and heavy, and somewhat rough. Not putting the CBR1000RR down, but it has to be said, when you’ve ridden the pinnacle of motorcycle engineering, everything else is put into the shade.

When we say shade, we mean it quite literally. Dry weight in street trim for the RC213V-S is about 170 kg, and in race setup, it weighs in at 160-odd kg, which is about bang on race-spec weight. In reality, the RC213V-S did not feel at all heavy, that is how perfectly balanced it is.

Braking on the RC213V-S is done with Brembo, naturally, using M50 Monobloc radial-mount callipers as found on many top-end superbikes. If anyone is wondering why Brembo GP units with carbon discs are not used, it should be remembered that the discs need to be brought up to temperature to work, and a typical road-going bike will never usually get the discs warm enough to do so.

Aside from that difference between the RC213V-S and the V version that Marquez and Pedrosa race, also omitted are the pneumatic valves in the cylinder head, and the seamless gearbox used on the racing grid, replaced with a six-speeder taken from Honda’s RCV1000R WSBK machine.

Inside the cockpit, a single LCD panel does the job, and the wing-mirrors are afterthoughts hung on the ends of the handlebars. The LED light unit is designed to be quickly detached from the front fairing, which allows the different ducting from the race kit to be installed. Meanwhile, the rear light is so minuscule, you forget they even exist.

There is, of course, the rub that you are riding a motorcycle that costs ten times more than a typical super bike, is hand-made and hand-built, with magnesium and titanium and carbon-fibre, the only items made of steel are the wheel spindles. If you are entertaining dreams of buying one of these, and we have a friend who does (and can afford it), bear in mind there are only three places in the world where the RC213V-S can be serviced and worked on.

Naturally, if you can afford one of these pieces of unobtanium, then the workshop bills probably will not phase you out in the least. Possibly, like the McLaren F1, you could have the technician flown out to where ever you keep your RC213V-S, perhaps on your private island off the coast of Sabah.

The reality of it is many RC213V-S examples are destined to become garage queens, and kept as a show piece in some wealthy collector’s air-conditioned room. Which is a real shame, because the Honda RC213V-S is, perhaps, the perfect expression of the ultimate motorcycle.