HRC executive vice president Shuhei Nakamoto believes the biggest difference with the new 1000cc MotoGP bikes will only be felt in fifth and sixth gears.
“Even with the 800cc we had to reduce the power up to fourth gear,” he said. “So compared with the 800, with the 1000cc we have more power in fifth and sixth gear.
“Straight-line speed is a bit faster, but time gained is only in fifth and sixth gear acceleration. And because top speed is higher you must brake sooner.
“Cornering performance depends on chassis and tyres, which are not so different to 800cc, although the weight has increased. Of course, I expect the lap time to be better than the 800, but not a big difference.”
During the opening test of 2012, at Sepang, Honda's reigning world champion Casey Stoner dipped slightly under his best 800cc lap time from last year's winter tests. Further lap time improvements are expected in the second test later this month.
No official top speeds were recorded at Sepang, but the Hondas were said to be fastest through unofficial speed traps set up by some teams.
Yamaha's 2010 world champion Jorge Lorenzo has expressed concerns about the increase in top speeds with 1000cc bikes, but seven-time MotoGP champion Valentino Rossi thinks the risk is minimal.
“At the fast tracks the top speed will be quite impressive, but I don't think it will be more dangerous,” said the Ducati rider.
The highest official MotoGP top speed is 349.3km/h (217.1mph) by Dani Pedrosa during practice for the 2009 Italian Grand Prix at Mugello. Pedrosa was riding an 800cc RC212V.
The highest top speed of the previous 990cc bikes was 343.3km/h (213.6mph) by Honda's Makoto Tamada, during qualifying at China's Shanghai circuit in 2006.