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The Honda Motorcycle Buyer’s Guide

custom Honda motorcycle and a rider

Choosing the Honda brand is easy – it’s the biggest motorcycles company in the world, it has decades of excellent motorcycle production under its belt, and it makes some of the most dependable and recognizable motorcycles ever ridden. The hard part is choosing which Honda motorcycle to buy – there are so many! Fortunately, this guide will help you choose.

What types of Honda motorcycles are there?

Honda really does manufacture every type of motorcycle there is. As a truly global corporation, they have a presence in nearly every market. Not all models are available everywhere, so Southeast Asia may have Hondas in the showroom that will be unfamiliar to European riders. With that being said, let’s go over some of the key types they have become famous for.

  • Honda sport bikes: This is the class of motorcycle that catapulted Honda to international significance. Some of its most historically significant and recognizable models are sport bikes that made huge advances in motorcycle engineering.
  • Honda street bikes: Like the rest of the Japanese big 4, Honda makes excellent street/naked motorcycles that are popular around the world.
  • Honda cruisers: Honda cruisers are beautiful and reliable machines that will keep up with the best of them and turn heads. As is the case with other manufacturers, the cruiser lineup has thinned out in recent years, but both their classics and their new models are still worth a look.
  • Honda touring bikes: The Honda Goldwing is perhaps one of the most dominant and popular touring bikes ever made – and it’s not even the only one Honda makes.
  • Honda off-road bikes: Honda makes everything from performance offroad race machines to iconic adventure bikes that have been ridden around the world.

Our 9 Best Picks

Owing to Honda’s legendary reliability, buyers today have a wide array of both used and new models to choose from. In many cases, models with decade-long histories and legendary status are still in production today. This, combined with the broad honda motorcycle lineup, means our top list will contain some of their most popular models, but not specific years.

Here are some of the best Honda bike models in no particular order:

1. Goldwing

The Honda Goldwing is one of the most standout motorcycles in its class. This heavy touring bike is renowned for its smoothly delivered power, legendary reliability, and imposing size.

The Goldwing is still made today, so a new one is bound to be an outstanding investment. However, models from the 80s and 90s can still be found on the used market in good working condition.

HONDA GL1800 Gold Wing

2. Africa Twin

The Africa Twin actually has two distinct model designations coexisting under that title. The XRV650, XRV 750, CRF1000, and CRF1100 are collectively known as the Africa Twin, and they share a strong lineage of cross-country performance. The newest and most powerful additions to the family – the CRF1000 and CRF1100 – have yet to earn their stripes, but the older XRV models are considered by many to be practically bulletproof.

HONDA CRF1100L AFRICA TWIN

3. CRF

These bikes share a designation with their big brother, the CRF1100, but the similarities just about end there. The smaller Honda CRF bikes – up to 450 – are lighter dedicated off-road dirtbikes and motocross bikes that have been proven in some of the toughest races in the field. Whether new or used, these bikes are usually high in demand because they represent an excellent performance and reliability to price ratio.

HONDA CRF300L

4. CB

The CB line is one of Honda’s most venerable and storied lines, going back practically to the company’s inception and featuring some of its most important historical models. There is nothing old about the modern models, however. This line of models sticks to a naked/street silhouettes across a number of different-capacity engines. All of them, however, are sporty, reliable, and loved by their fans.

HONDA CB1000R

5. CBR

The CBR line of sport and superbikes is where Honda has made some of its most cutting-edge contributions to the motorcycle industry. Many of these models can be bought race-ready new, while some of the most beloved older models like the Fireblade and the Super Blackbird are considered not just bikes, but investments.

HONDA CBR1000RR-R FIREBLADE

6. Rebel

Cruisers can be intimidating for some riders, especially when starting out. The Rebel, however – one of the most popular bikes in Honda’s cruiser lineup – has been a favorite among riders who know they want a cruiser but aren’t prepared for the power most cruisers pack. The Rebel, or CMX, has spent most of its history as the CMX250, but the modern model comes in CMX500 and CMX1100 varieties, checking all the boxes for new and experienced riders alike.

HONDA REBEL

7. Super Cub

For all of the iconic larger bikes that many in the West know Honda for, it is the humbly excellent Super Cub that might be Honda’s most commercially dominant bike. Forget Honda – the Super Cub is the world’s best-selling motorcycle. Its reliability and utility are enjoyed widely throughout Asia. But it’s not the only excellent small Honda bike.

HONDA Super Cub

8. Grom

This undersized and underpowered sports bike is an oddball in Honda’s lineup, but its fans have nothing but good things to say about it. Despite a lower displacement, this bike’s sporty power delivery has made it a favorite among younger riders who just want to have a fun joyride around town.

HONDA MSX125 GROM

9. Shadow

If the Rebel is an everyman’s cruiser, the Shadow comes with the sort of classic American cruiser styling that might cause Harley Davidson fans to take a second look. This bike, now popular around the world, was a big part of Honda’s growth in America as it sought to give American cruiser riders something to ride. Today, they also offer the Fury, a powerful chopper-styled bike, as well.

HONDA SHADOW

How Much Is a Honda Motorcycle?

Because of Honda’s wide range of motorcycles, their prices also vary significantly. At the low end, we have scooters like the Metropolitan and the Ruckus with MSRPs under $3,000 USD. Their most expensive motorcycles are going to be the fully loaded Goldwing Tour and the Fireblade, both with MSRPs over $28,000 USD.

On the other hand, used Honda motorcycles are also in high demand due to their proven reliability. Here, however, there are too many variables to determine the price. The year, model, condition/mileage, customization, and location can all impact the final price, so we suggest researching local marketplaces before making your choice.

What Are Honda Motorcycle Dealerships?

If you’re going for a new Honda motorcycle, be sure to visit a dealership for a test-ride or at least to talk to someone who can help choose the right bike for you. Their position as a global leader means there are Honda motorcycle dealers all over the world, and you can use their Honda motorcycle dealership finder to find the one closest to you.

Buying a Used Honda Motorcycle

Buying a used motorcycle will always involve a bit more research. Some general tips include:

  • Research your chosen model: When a bike has been around for a while, there’s bound to be a wealth of information online that you can use to your advantage. Like wines, bikes can have good or bad years that make them more or less desirable due to tweaks made by the manufacturer.
  • Evaluate the condition: Learn to judge the signs of damage, wear, and good or bad maintenance. Rust, scrapes, leaking fluid streaks, and other sights, sounds and smells can tell you lots of things about a bike’s condition. Look up a video of what your potential bike should sound like in proper working condition so you know whether the one you’re trying to buy sounds OK.
  • Monitor your local markets: Spend some time watching local or regional online marketplaces to get an idea for what kind of price should be fair for the bike you want. Another thing many riders overlook is part availability and pricing. This is rarely a problem for Honda bikes owing to their popularity, but you may have problems finding parts for old or rare models.

That being said, used Honda bikes tend to be quite excellent. Honda’s approach towards many of its models has been reliability through over-engineering, so depending on the model you’re looking at, you might be fine daily-riding a 30-year-old bike.

Buying a Custom Honda Motorcycle

Because of their excellent engineering, new Honda motorcycles are great ideas as custom project platforms. There are a few models that stand out among customizers:

Honda Rebel: The Rebel’s simple structure makes it a good cruiser platform for customization, and the latest 500 and 1100 models embrace this by offering customization options direct from Honda.

– Honda CB: Naked bikes are always good customization platforms and the Honda CB is no different. The CB series – especially the older models – are especially popular among cafe racer fans.

As is the case with any brand, used custom motorcycles are a mixed bag. Buyer beware! Judging the value and condition of a stock used bike is already tricky, so it’s even harder with customized bikes. Even if they look good aesthetically, those shiny fairings might be hiding serious technical or even structural problems.

nardo grey honda motorcycle

Tips For Safety While Riding Your Honda

Every bike brand and models is different, but there’s one thing that’s the same no matter which Honda motorcycle you choose, and that’s the importance of safety. The number one tool to stay safe on the road is a knowledgeable safety-first mindset, but you can’t account for everything, which is where motorcycle safety gear comes in.

nardo grey custom honda motorcycle and a rider man
  • Motorcycle helmets: Motorcycle helmets are easily the most crucial piece of gear for a safe and comfortable ride. If you’re at all skeptical, consider all these OTHER things helmets protect you from (besides impacts in the event of an accident):
    – The sun;
    – The rain;
    – The wind;
    – Bugs;
    – Sand, gravel, and other road debris.
    There’s really no reason not to wear a motorcycle.
  • Motorcycle boots: Your feet are the closest part of your body to the pavement, and they’re likely to hit the ground first if you lose your balance. You don’t want something that’ll fly off your feet in an impact and you want something that can resist the abrasion and impact of an accident. You need proper motorcycle boots.
  • Motorcycle gloves: Something many riders don’t realize is that if they go flying off their bike, their hands are very likely to be the first part of their body to hit the ground as they break their fall. This is why proper motorcycle gloves are so important. In rough weather, they also provide more than just comfort – cold or slippery hands can interfere with your ability to control your bike.
  • Motorcycle jackets: A proper motorcycle jacket is key to staying safe. Not only does your torso have a ton of surface area for sliding along the road during a high-speed accident, it also contains most of your vital organs. Modern riders have options, and don’t have to choose hot and heavy leather gear to stay safe.
  • Motorcycle jeans: On many bikes, the rider’s legs are quite exposed to the elements when they ride, making motorcycle jeans an excellent choice. They go beyond comfort, of course, as their anti-abrasive properties and armor pads are designed to protect your legs in the event of an accident.
motorcycle riding jeans and gloves

FAQ

Q: Why did Honda stop making cruisers?

A: Honda never stopped making cruisers, but their range has narrowed in certain markets. This probably has less to do with Honda specifically and more to do with current market trends, which reflect lagging interest in cruisers for new riders. While Honda still offers models like the Rebel and the Shadow, more cruiser-centric motorcycle brands are struggling to survive.

Q: Where are Honda motorbikes made?

A: Honda has a major manufacturing plant in Kumamoto, Japan, but not all of its motorcycles are made there. In fact, they have manufacturing sites in Asia, Europe and America where certain parts are made or bikes are assembled. The manufacturing location will depend on the model and year, so do your research.

Q: What is Honda’s best-selling motorcycle?

A: Not only is the Honda Super Cub Honda’s best-selling motorcycle, it is also the best-selling motorcycle of all time. In 2017, the Honda Super Cub passed the 100-million-unit milestone and there are no clear signs that it has slowed.

custom Honda motorcycle
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