Honda motorcycles come in a wide variety of flavors: from super bikes to scooters, from casual commuters to continent crossing tourers, so without further ado lets look at the top Honda motorcycles ever made.
The history of Honda is a long and illustrious one: from its original conception back in 1946, when it became an incorporated company in 1948, when it launched its first US subsidiary in 1959, winning awards, championships, and honors every step of the way. Today, Honda is an automotive and industrial giant that makes everything from aircraft to robots – but no matter how many fantastic machines they build, it’s their two-wheeled vehicles that have captivated the world. As impressive as their cars can be, as reliable as their machinery certainly is, or as innovative as their research and development laboratories are, Honda are best loved for their motorcycles.
Honda Powersports is generally a term used to cover most of Honda’s products that aren’t cars or heavy machinery, but it’s still a pretty broad term. Since we specialize in road going vehicles, we’re going to drop some of Honda’s products from our lists. Snowmobiles and jet-skis won’t make the cut. ATVs will also be culled. We’re a motorcycle page after all. Despite all that, we’re still going to use the “Honda Powersports” title as a cover-all banner for all things two-wheeled. Honda have made some fantastic scooters and mopeds, they’ve built some luxurious cruisers, crafted trail smashing dirt bikes, and of course, they’ve engineered championship winning sports motorcycles. Under the banner of Honda Powersports, we’re going to look at their Top 15 models over the years – scooters, dirt bikes, sport bikes and cruisers alike.
Naturally, Honda have made so many interesting and innovative motorcycles that it would be impossible to satisfy everyone, and we’re damn sure we’re going to have missed a lot of models that should have been included and included a few models that you might think are undeserving. Sadly, that’s the nature of the game and while I’ll adamantly insist that the Honda A-Type (or Bata Bata as it’s sometimes called) model, Honda’s first motorized bicycle is certainly one of the most important motorcycles ever made, it’s hardly one of the company’s best. So it doesn’t make the cut. But what does? Read on for our top 15 Honda Powersports motorcycles…
Honda Powersports: Top 15 Two Wheeled Machines!
#15: The Honda NR750
Did it sell? Not really. Was it outrageously expensive? Most definitely. Does it have enough charisma to wear the Honda Powersports badge with pride? Absolutely. While a commercial flop with a scandalously high price tag the Honda NR750 definitely gets to call itself one of the best Honda motorcycles ever made for one simple reason: it maybe an obscure and seldom seen machine, but it would revolutionize the motorcycle industry completely. It might look a little unwieldy but this carbon fiber behemoth was full of innovation. Essentially it was a V8 motorcycle with half as many cylinders. Honda managed this feat by employing the use or unorthodox oval cylinders, allowing for more valves per cylinder. As you can imagine, this kind of complicated over-engineering cost a lot manufacturer – and Honda only produced around 300 of these for the street, with each costing a frightening $60,000 a go. None came to America. A flop, but a boundary pushing flop that inspired vehicle designers everywhere to break the mold and face the strange – leading to more innovations over the next 20 years.
#14: The Honda NM4
Yep, it’s effectively a maxi scooter – but what a maxi scooter! While dual-clutch transmission is nothing particularly new, Honda have been refining it over the past few years and they’re working hard to bridge the gap and blur the line between moped and motorcycle. The thought of an automatic motorcycle might be sacrilegious to many riders but it opens up an amazing world of possibilities with urban mobility and undeniable practicality at its heart. With cities all over the world becoming congested, there has never been a better time to inspire a new breed of rider to get on two wheels: and this futuristic offering from Honda Powersports looks like it has rolled off of a movie set rather than a production line. Boasting a powerful 670cc fuel injected engine the delivers power right across the spectrum, Anti-Lock Brakes, and integrated saddle bags, the Honda NM4 is one of the most advanced and well-designed motorcycles to emerge from Honda.
#13: The Honda Gold Wing
There’s a good reason why the Honda Gold Wing stands unsurpassed as the master of the big tourer segment. It might be big, it might be heavy, and it might not be every rider’s idea of what a motorcycle should be, but it’s an undeniable feat of engineering. Many a Gold Wing rider has been asked why they don’t just give up the lie and buy a car, or get a more mainstream motorcycle instead, and despite the negative attitude towards the Gold Wing, it’s still here – and better than ever. Powered by a monstrous 1800cc six cylinder engine, there’s absolutely no reason why something of its size should be allowed on the road. But it is. And it work. And that’s what makes the Gold Wing one of Honda Powersports most incredible products. It shouldn’t work – but it does. The new breed of Gold Wings will go down in history as one of the industry’s weirdest, yet most wonderful motorcycles.
#12: The Honda CBR1100XX Super Blackbird
Everyone loves to talk about the CBR1000RR, but there was a time when Honda Powersports went larger and gave us the Blackbird, the biggest CBR to date. Built as a direct rival to the Kawasaki ZX-11, the Blackbird was designed to unhorse the ZX-11 and claim the title as the world’s fastest production motorcycle: a title it won (with a top speed of 180 mph) before being unseated by the Suzuki Hayabusa in 1999. It was fast, it was powerful, it was fun – but there was a lot more to it than simply being fast. It’s one of the few motorcycles out there that was fast and practical. The Honda CBR1100XX Super Blackbird was a motorcycle that could easily take you from A to B in comfort as you commute to work in the start stop traffic of the urban jungle. And then you could throw it around corners and accelerate like a mad man on a track day and not be feeling too out of place. To make things even more exciting, you could take the Blackbird long distance touring with a set of saddle bags and not break your back riding it in the process. Versatile, and a former speed record holder. Now that’s special.
#11: The Honda RC213V-S
To be honest, we really want to write about the RC213V MotoGP prototype racer, but you’re not likely to find one of those at your local Honda Powersports dealership, are you? You might be lucky to find the RC213V-S street legal, race replica version too, to be honest – but with enough effort you will find one on display. Essentially, the RC213V-S comes with all the bells, whistles, prestige, and bragging rights that you’d usually find on official HRC designated models, but all diluted enough to be piloted by the average rider. Now, the problem with the RC213V-S lies in its astronomical price tag that takes “exotic” to a whole new level. At $184,000 you’d expect a more powerful motorcycle. However, Honda encourages the use of HRC approved race parts that can turn the over-priced and under-powered race-replica into a fast and furious race winner instead. Is it the greatest motorcycle Honda have ever made? Not by a long shot – but it is a road legal version of something magnificent, and it proves that Honda has finally decided to take an interest in going fast again. In a roundabout kind of way.
#10: The Honda Ruckus
You don’t have to like scooters to appreciate the Honda Ruckus, because they are exactly what they are: minimalist, small engine’d machines that get you from A to B, with no frills. The Ruckus doesn’t pretend to be a mini-sport bike, it doesn’t wrap itself in race replica livery to pretend that it’s even remotely related to the likes of the CBR1000RR or anything like that, and most importantly it doesn’t make any promises that it can’t keep. And that’s what we really like about this little mover. Of course, the whole package gets obscured in advertising jargon about going your own way or doing your own thing but it doesn’t promise that you’ll win the race, it doesn’t guarantee that you’ll conquer your fears, and you most certainly won’t be getting the girl. But you will be getting around economically riding on top of quite a cool looking rugged scooter powered by a 49cc automatic engine. It’s just an engine in an exposed tubular frame, a floorboard, and enough suspension to get around. In this day and age it’s refreshingly simple: just like Honda used to be when the company was first founded.
#09: The Honda VFR750R RC30
Compared with the RC213V-S the RC30 has already proven itself as a long-term fan favorite. Arguably one of Honda Powersports most attractive looking motorcycles, the 30 year old VFR750R still commands an incredibly high price should you ever have the fortune to stumble upon one for sale. In it’s day, the RC30 commanded a price tag of $15,000 – which was insane for the time. These days people will pay a lot more than that for the chance to own race bike that was ever so slightly condensed for the road. Powered by a 748cc gear-driven-cam V4 engine with a maximum power output of 118 hp at 1,100 rpm, 51 lb-ft of torque at 7,000 rpm, and a top speed of 153 mph the RC30 was quite the machine. As a homologation special, the RC30 was released to satisfy the entry requirements for the all new World Superbike Championships in 1988, and Fred Merkel rode the RC30 into the history books by taking the first title. One of the best Honda motorcycles ever? Definitely.
#08: The Honda Rebel
And we mean the new generation of Rebels. We’ve already talked about the Gold Wing and we know that Honda can do heavyweight cruisers and strong touring motorcycles – but the company also knows a thing or two about lightweight cruisers and versatile street bikes. Honda recently re-invented the Rebel line and treated it with some much needed updates to drag it kicking and screaming into the 21st century and we’re glad that they did. In 300cc and 500cc form, the new breed of Rebel has won Honda Powersports a wide range of accolades, being voted the best lightweight street bike and cruiser of the year by Cycle World and Cruiser Magazine respectively. Honda have managed this feat by delivering a product that isn’t intimidating for new riders whilst maintaining an enjoyable ride experience for veterans at the same time. It’s listed as a small bike, but it isn’t. It’s big and comfortable, and mind-bendingly nimble too. And it undercuts the competition in price significantly. That’s Honda for you.
#07. The Honda CBR900RR
If we’re talking influential and incredible motorcycle from Honda, we would be remiss not to include the legendary Honda CBR900RR Fireblade. 1992 was a hell of a time for sports motorcycles, and Honda Powersports weren’t slacking. While we’re about to wax lyrical about the stunning CBR900RR, let’s not forget that Honda were simultaneously developing and releasing the aforementioned RC30 and NR750 models – three sports bikes on the go at once, which is insane by today’s standards. So we’ve got the original CBR900RR, the first big bike from Honda to wear the RR designation, designed by the legendary Tadao Baba – a bike that wasn’t even meant to exist. Originally, the plan was for an inline four 750 to compliment the V4 RC30. Luckily, Baba made a case championing a larger engine size that would drop all racing pretense and would be solely focused on road riding. In essence, a 1000cc motorcycle with 600cc style handling…we make that comparison all the time now, but the first CBR900RR was the first to deliver.
#06: The Honda VFR750F Interceptor
Before the RC30 came swooping in and stealing everyone’s thunder, there was the humble Honda VFR750F. While it’s not a racing thoroughbred like the RC30, or as speed focused as the later CBR900RR, the VFR750F managed to carve out a niche for itself and survived a good run between the years 1986 and 1997. While we think back on the VFR750F as a general all-rounder that was a competent sports-tourer, there was a time when it was well on the way into evolving into a serious racer, with aluminum frame only a year behind Suzuki’s GSX-R750, a fierce gear-driven-cam engine that eventually powered the RC30, and a smooth acceleration curve and ride experience. Unfortunately, the racing duties were given over to the RC30, but motorcycling isn’t always about racing – and that’s why the VFR750F scores higher than the RC30 on our Honda Powersports list. Unlike the RC30, the VFR750F is a jack of all trades, a versatile tool that can excels at whatever task you put it to. Most importantly, it was comfortable to ride, which very few sports-oriented machines can boast.
5: The Honda CRF450R
While we have fond memories of the outgoing XR series, the replacement CRF gave us a lot more bang for our buck. Launched in the year 2000, the all new CRF series set the standard for dirt bikes for the next decade (at least). The first model out was the Honda CRF450R, a motorcycle sired by great dirt bike models that many consider to be the best dirt bike on the market. Featuring a 449cc liquid cooled single cylinder four stroke engine, the CRF450R has had quite a few updates over the last 18 years with each generation being significantly better than the last – and no matter what model year you look at, you can guarantee that there will be riders out there that insist that it’s one of the best dirt bikes on the market. In fact, the crew over at Cycle World listed the Honda CRF450R as the best motocross motorcycle available for eight consecutive years between 2002 and 2009. It’s one of Honda Powersports finest weapons.
#04: The Honda CB750
There was a time before the word “superbike” even existed. Back then the entire line up of Honda Powersports motorcycles consisted of cute little motorbikes with friendly shapes and un-intimidating characters, resulting in Honda’s most famous and most enduring slogan: “You meet the nicest people on a Honda.” It’s fun to remember those days of little Super Cubs zipping around and Honda’s being focused solely on pleasing 1960s suburban families. While Honda was outwardly displaying its cutesy image, internally it was working on something fantastic. It had already made an impression on the racing scene but it wasn’t until 1969 that Honda moved into a league of its own. While everyone was distracted by the cutesy image, Honda were prepping the 1969 CB750 for the people. 750cc four cylinder bikes were rare outside of the realms of racing but those days were over. Disc brakes came with it, along with countless other racing derived components that would soon set the motorcycle industry spinning off-kilter. The days of the superbike had arrived, marking the CB750 as one of this industry’s most defining models.
#03: The Honda Super Cub
While Honda might have unleashed the CB750 on the world, and it was an exciting time for all things two-wheeled, many people would be forgiven for believing that the humble Honda Cub would soon be phased out and confined to the annals of history. And how wrong they would have been. Despite all the odds, or technological advancements, or the rapid modernization of the planet, the Honda Super Cub is still one of the most popular vehicles in the world. With well over 60 millions produced, and more being made every day, these little semi-automatic scooters have been the driving force of industry for most of the world. Cheap, simple, bulletproof and as reliable as they come, the little Cub cannot be escaped from. From the foothills of the Himalayas to the urban jungle of Tokyo, the Honda C series has a presence. And if for some reason you can’t find a Honda Cub, you will certainly find a cheap copy. While it’s no longer the flagship model of Honda Powersports, it’s easily one of the defining modes of transport of the modern age.
#02: The Honda CBR600F Hurricane
Many still consider the Honda Hurricane to be the ultimate “do-it-all” motorcycle and there’s plenty of good reasons why. The CBR600F first turned up during that glorious golden age for Honda Powersports, being developed alongside the likes of above mentioned VFR750 and the smaller CBR machines, when Honda were drinking from a fountain of pure genius, with everything the firm designed turning into gold. Out of all of their efforts, there was one bike that was a cut above the rest: the CBR600F Hurricane. No matter what year you’re looking at, you’re going to be well taken care of. It comes with great mileage, it’s horrendously reliable, it’s easy to ride – but don’t be fooled by its easy-demeanor because this machine really moves – it’s got the specs on paper, and it has proven itself time and time again on track winning countless titles. Not many motorcycles are this versatile, this reliable, and ultimately this cheap. It was no-nonsense, no-frills super sport machine and one of the top Honda motorcycle models ever made.
#01. The Honda CRF1000L Africa Twin
Honda has a penchant for building versatile motorcycles that can perform remarkably well no matter what you throw at them but there is one that easily outstrips the rest in our opinion. While Honda might build fantastic sports bikes, practical commuters, aggressive off-roaders, and cool cruisers, there’s one model that manages to be nothing but pure joy to ride in any circumstances: the CRF1000L Africa Twin. Powered by a 998cc liquid-cooled 4-stroke Unicam 8-valve parallel twin engine, and boasting long travel suspension, adjustable riding ergonomics, 2-channel ABS with the an all-important rear tire sliding off switch, and a choice of transmissions, there really isn’t anything quite like it on the market. It has the comfort of a modern touring motorcycle but unlike those big cumbersome beasts the Africa Twin is agile and responsive, and you can take this over dirt without any fear. Sure, it’s a little underpowered next to the likes of the BMW R1200GS or KTM 1190, but if I’m going adventure riding I’d feel a lot more comfortable with the Honda between my legs. In our opinion, the Africa Twin in its modern form is the best Honda motorcycle on the market .