1985 Honda RTL250S Trials Motorcycle
Frame no. RTL250SF-5593
Engine no. RTL250E-0005695
A top-flight competition machine aimed at expert riders, Honda's RTL250S trials iron was a limited-edition model handmade in relatively small numbers by the company's racing department, HRC (Honda Racing Corporation). Its introduction in 1985 followed a long and difficult development programme that had begun back in the early 1970s when Honda decided that to capture a major slice of the burgeoning market for trials motorcycles it would have to produce one capable of success at the highest level.
Flying in the face of conventional wisdom, Honda was determined that its trials bikes would be powered by four-stroke engines like almost all of its road range, rather than the two-stroke engine favoured by every other manufacturer. Honda turned to off-road supremo Sammy Miller for assistance with development. Miller's first brief was to develop the TL125, which he did by retaining the basic engine while subjecting the chassis and suspension to considerable revision. This process was repeated for the TL250 and in 1977 Rob Shepherd took the ultra-competitive British Trials Championship riding a Miller-developed Honda.
Success at the top level took a little longer but in 1982 Eddy Lejeune became World Trials Champion riding the works RTL360. Honda's first in the World Championship, his victory was also the first ever by a four-stroke machine, ending a period of two-stroke dominance that stretched back to the Championship's inaugural year of 1975 and in the case of the European Championship, to the 1960s. Lejeune was World Champion again for Honda in 1983 and 1984, and the following year's RTL250S incorporated many of the lessons learned in developing Lejeune's championship-winning machines. The RTL250S was produced by HRC for only four years, many considering the first year of production model, which boasted increased ground clearance, as the purest and most desirable.
Today, survivors of this limited-edition model are extremely rare and highly sought after, and all the more so in this condition. The concours-standard restoration of this 'excellent survivor' was carried out in France by renowned marque trials specialist Patrice Duchesne in 2009. Owned by the private vendor since 2008, the Honda has been stored since completion and remains in excellent condition, started regularly, its engine 'on the button' and very quiet. Offered with a copy of the period HRC specification sheet.