Will Honda abandon the V4?
The inlines seem to have it. Overall they are just more competent as a well-rounded powerplant. Yes the Ducati twins are making great power now and handling quite well but the inlines are showing advantages everywhere. The V4 is not the ideal engine for racing nor is the V-twin for the type of racing now done at the Grand Prix level.
When it was 2-strokes, yes the V4 was king, but that is ancient history now.
The inline-4 GP superbike has really reached a high level of development now and the racing is beginning to get almost (not quite) as exciting as when Doohan, Schwantz, Rainey, Spencer, Roberts, and so on were riding the wheels off of those bikes. The diesels are much heavier but have tons of power and great chassis and suspension, and the electronics are pretty well along now.
Yamaha's revised YZR-M1 is showing itself superior in every respect. The Vee engines are tough to get right in terms of position in the chassis, CG management, and location of airbox/exhaust/suspension. Yes it can be done, but much more easily with the I4.
I have had four of the Honda Interceptor superbikes (the ones before they ruined it and made it a touring machine) and could see it was very obvious where Honda had to stuff a lot of junk into a small space.
As I look at my GSX-R 750 and Gen 4 Ninja, there is lots of room and to spare, plenty of leeway to put everything where it needs to be.
Honda's having issues, I wonder what they will do? Suzuki's new I4 is also coming along really well for a first-year bike but then no one questions the fact Suzuki knows how to make a superbike.