hall of fame
Miguel Duhamel’s Honda CBR600RR
Miguel Duhamel won 86 AMA road racing nationals, more than any other rider in the history of the sport. He rode this Honda CBR600RR, displayed in the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame Museum, to 12 of those victories, earning back-to-back AMA Formula Xtreme titles in 2004 and ’05.
Formula Xtreme had a 12-year run, from 1997 to 2008. Technical rules were liberal, compared with those of some other production-based classes, ultimately resulting in entries from eight manufacturers, every one of the Japanese Big Four—Honda, Kawasaki, Suzuki and Yamaha—plus BMW, Buell, Ducati and Triumph.
After seven years of open-class competition, the displacement limit for four-cylinder machines was reduced in 2004 to 600cc. Stock airboxes, frames and swingarms were mandated, but, similar to Superbikes of that era, factory machines, like this Honda, were state of the art. No expense, seen or unseen, was spared.
“They were 600cc Superbikes—pretty special,” Duhamel said.
Near the end of the development process, Honda reported a peak output of more than 140 horsepower. By comparison, a stock CBR600RR from that period made about 100 horsepower at the rear wheel.
“With Honda, it was always a source of pride to extract the most power from any engine,” Duhamel said. “They went all out, so I would not be surprised by those numbers. It was really a great little bike.”
Duhamel won 32 AMA Superbike races—and, in 1995, the premier-class title—which ties him for fourth overall on the all-time win list for that category. But on a 600, at the time one of the most popular segments in all of motorcycling, the French Canadian arguably was an even greater threat.
“My lap times on the 600 with DOT tires—the CBR600F2 and CBR600F3 [predecessors to the CBR600F4/F4i and CBR600RR]—were so close to Superbike times,” he said. “Back in the Smokin’ Joe’s days, I was begging Honda, ‘Put a Superbike engine in the 600. Let’s be ahead of the curve,’ basically what they are doing today.”
Duhamel, who was inducted to the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame in 2016, is one of only three riders—Kurtis Roberts and Josh Hayes being the others—to win the Formula Xtreme title twice. In 2004 and ’05, he finished either first or second in every race, trading wins with factory Honda teammate Jake Zemke.
“That last race at Road Atlanta in 2005 was epic,” Duhamel said. “Jake and I still get goosebumps watching it.”
Honda CBR600RR engines powered every Moto2 world championship bike from 2010 through ’18. Series rights holder Dorna claimed a relatively modest 125 horsepower at 16,000 rpm.
“I heard that Moto2 was strongly based off those Formula Xtreme bikes that we developed in America,” Duhamel said. “They were the template.”