The coolest feature of the Honda Civic Type-R 2023 is a $25 bike part
There’s so much to like about Honda Civic Type R 2023, but after spending time admiring one-on-one, the new hot hatch’s standout feature is a flatbed. Yep, I’m referring to its trick, the 90 degree valve stem. Take a glance at the wheels and can’t miss them; they stand out with a silver finish against the dark satin void of the barrel. And if you look closely, you’ll see that they’re securely mounted at a 90-degree angle to the wheel, perfectly level with the ground. Can you guess why?
At first I assumed it had something to do with the wheel’s internal sensor(s). Yes, even wheels these days have sensors. Tire pressure monitoring systems often (but not always) use a small, battery-powered sensor that is connected to the valve stem inside the tire, and the Type R’s low profile and thin wheels can be cause a bigger impact than usual if the sensor happens to sit too proud of the wheel.
Curious, I grabbed one by Honda PR everyone. I half expected them to postpone me to an engineer who would then invite me for a lesson involving angular momentum and equilibrium tolerances, but instead I received a simple explanation. simple and extremely satisfying: the horizontal orientation makes it easier to place the pressure gauge or inflate the tire on it without the spokes, face or barrel of the wheel being in the line of fire.
If you’re like me and you’ve dealt with technology at an auto racing or track event, you’re probably just as fascinated by this as I am. Trying to test the pressure on a car with someone’s $10,000 mesh wheel set poking your knuckles is a stressful experience. This setup provides a lot of headroom while allowing Honda to fit the valve stem well into the wheel rim, while maximizing internal clearance.
And it turns out, after-sales figured this out a long time ago, but for motorcycle rather than cars. That’s how the Honda engineers got the idea, and I’m not surprised when they put it to work. It’s simple, elegant and functional. What’s not to like?