Honda is one of the select motorcycle manufacturing companies that revolutionized the global motorcycle landscape. The company is renowned for producing reliable bikes that withstand the test of time, taking you where you desire, and helping you recoup your investment through retained resale value. Honda has crafted motorcycles for a diverse range of riders, establishing its presence in various motorcycling domains, including off-road adventure, highway touring, straight-line power cruising, high-speed racing, and everyday commuting. While each Honda boasts distinctive features and iconic aesthetics, some bikes have achieved legendary status due to their outstanding performance.
These motorcycles enabled Honda to reshape the perception of and engagement with motorcycles in America. Initially, motorcycle owners were branded as outlaws and hippies, and seen as societal disruptors. Honda revolutionized this outlook through a persuasive advertising strategy, effectively showcasing that individuals from all walks of life can ride motorcycles without being stereotyped as troublemakers.
Having established a broad market and expanded its potential customer base, the company ensured inclusivity across various demographics for Honda riders. In the United States, Honda entered the motorcycle market with accessible entry-level motorcycles that were common in Asian countries but considered a novelty in America. Over the span of five decades, this Japanese brand has evolved into formidable competition for American motorcycle marques, such as Harley Davidson, Indian, Zero, and Buell.
Over time, Honda has introduced multiple lineups of cruisers, touring bikes, dirt bikes, adventure motorcycles, scooters, street bikes, sports bikes, minimotos, and motocross bikes. All these motorcycle categories share two common traits: quality build and minimal maintenance requirements. Nonetheless, some motorcycles have garnered greater attention than others. This article brings you a compilation of the ten finest Honda motorcycles of all time, recognized as landmark two-wheelers in the motorcycle industry.
- Table of Contents
1. Honda Gold Wing GL 1000
Photo Credit: @motorcyclespecs
Honda Gold Wing was first introduced at the Cologne Motorcycle Show in 1974 and was launched in the market in 1975. These bikes were called the first generation Honda Gold Wings featuring a 990 cc water-cooled flat-four engine. The flat-four layout was the stand-out feature of the Gold Wing as it contributed to better stability by reducing the center of gravity considerably. The transmission system helped keep the engine compact. Moreover, the shaft drive contributed to the bike’s longevity and reliability. GoldWing was the most unusual touring motorcycle as it lacked fairings, saddlebags, lacked mounts for aftermarket luggage, and lacked a windshield. In short, the bike was a bulky naked bike. The only good thing was that the bike was customizable. The second generation of Honda Gold Wing was released as a 1980 model. To match the growing competition, Honda announced a fully-dressed GoldWing with a larger engine displacement. In 1984, Honda again announced a revised version of the Gold Wing known as the third generation. The engine of the third generation of Gold Wing was virtually maintenance free and the claim alone attracted many sales. In 1985, Honda launched a fuel-injected model of Gold Wing equipped with a cruise an control, advanced audio system, and a limited edition gold paint job. But the upgrade lasted o.nly a year as the company went back to carbureted engines due to high costs of PGM-FI The fourth generation received a 1500 cc engine in 1988. Finally, in 2001, Honda Gold Wing underwent major mechanical upgrades, including a 1832 cc engine, fuel injection system, speakers, GPS, and other travel friendly accessories. Fifth generation Honda Gold Wing received minor updates. And the sixth generation bikes launched in 2018 are considered to be one of the finest touring motorcycles on the market today. The 2023 Gold Wing features a 1833 cc engine with the PGM-FI fuel injection system, shaft drive, and seven speed automatic dual clutch transmission system (DCT). With a 5.5 gallon fuel capacity and a 42 mpg average mileage this bike is considered the king of touring motorcycles. The fact that HondaGold Wing is relevant in motorcycle touring even after four decades of production makes it a legendary motorcycle.
2. Honda Africa Twin
Photo Credit: @hondabigwing
The first generation of Honda Africa Twin graced the showrooms in 1988, and has continued to be a leading bike in the adventure touring segment. Africa Twin is even more popular today due to the rider's growing inclination towards off-road riding. The bike can handle long stretches of asphalt and can get off on the gravel and muddy paths with the flick of the rider’s hands. Equipped with a large fuel tank, windshield, six-speed manual transmission, and 1084 cc liquid-cooled engine, the bike can overcome all types of terrain. Unlike other adventure motorcycles, the Africa Twin is highly reliable with the least number of breakdowns reported. Hence offering you the peace of mind needed in a remote off-the-grid location.
3. Honda Rebel 500
Photo Credit: @honda
Honda Rebel was launched in 2017 and is considered one of the best cruiser motorcycles ever made by Honda. The bike is powered by a 477 cc liquid-cooled DOHC engine. It offers better performance than Rebel 250 and is lighter in weight than Rebel 1100 striking the perfect balance between power and stability. Honda manufactured Rebel 500 to provide riders an option who were looking for a middleweight cruiser that could handle urban settings and also handle short highway trips. The Rebel 500 is also an ABS variant featuring the anti-lock braking system as a standard feature. The bike has all the qualities a rider looks for in a cruiser motorcycle. From natural seating position to customizability, reliability, and classic cruiser looks, Rebel 500 has it all, becoming Honda’s best of all time motorcycles.
4. Honda CBR 1000 RR-RR FireBlade
Photo Credit: @honda
Honda started the CBR lineup back in 1987. The first bike of this lineup was a fast-moving sporty two-wheeler, CBR 600. Over the years, Honda perfected this lineup and in 19923 launched the Fireblade, a 900 cc sports bike that could be ridden on streets. The latest version has a racetrack-based design, graphics, and power. It features a 999 cc engine formulated on inspired by the engines for MotoGP racing bikes. The 215 hp horsepower coupled with cutting-edge technology and advanced suspension system makes Honda CBR 1100 FireBlade a winner in its class.
5. Honda Shadow
Photo Credit: @motorcyclenews
Honda Shadow is criminally underrated, but motorcycle enthusiasts who enjoy riding a classic cruiser would agree that the Shadow lineup is one of Honda’s best productions. Its greatest strength lies in its authentic cruiser styling, low seat height, a lower center of gravity, and a torquey 750 cc engine. The bike is great for the riders looking to upgrade from 250-500 cc motorcycles or want to step into highway cruising, canyon carving, or backcountry riding. These motorcycles are easily customizable and require low maintenance. Plus, Honda has introduced the 2023 model, allowing you to purchase a brand new bike under $10,000.
6. Honda NR-750
Photo Credit: @visordown
The NR-750 is considered one of the best motorcycles ever made by Honda due to its groundbreaking engine technology. This motorcycle features an oval piston V4 engine designed to produce greater power outputs. The engine’s complex design ensured greater combustion efficiency, improved mileage, and greater engine life. The eight valve cylinder head was the standout feature of this bike’s engine and was a testament to Honda’s commitment to delivering technological excellence. Through its V4 engine, Honda managed to bounce back and compete in the motorcycle market in the 1980s.
7. Honda CBR1100XX Super Blackbird
Photo Credit: @motorcyclespecs
Honda CBR1100XX’s impressive speed and fastest accelration rate earned it the title of Super Blackbird. Launched in1996, the CBR1100XX Super Blackbird boasted a top speed of over 180 mph and was considered the fastest bike available on the market with only a few other bikes coming close to its lightning speed. Just like other CBBr models, the Super Blackbird was powered by an inline four cylinder engine technology that delivered smooth, uninterrupted power throughout the ride. Sophisticated suspension system, electronic fuel injection, and ram air intake were some of its winning points in addition to its revolutionary engine. Super Blackbird is considered the symbol of the superbike era in the late 1900s and early 2000s and in the near future, it will become a sought after vintage sport bike due to its retained popularity, high demand, and limited production.
8. Honda CB750
Photo Credit: @shannons
Honda CB750 was a popular superbike in the 1960s and today it has acquired vintage status. At the time of its launch, the CB750 was one of the first motorcycles in the market that was powered by an inline four cylinder motor that could generate greater power outputs compared to its contemporaries. Soon other motorcycle brands started following Honda’s engineering concept. Hence, CB750 marked the beginning of revolutionized motorcycle technology.
The comfortable ergonomic configuration of the bike made it a huge success and paved the way for the creation of other street-legal comfortable sports bikes, including Fireblade.
9. Honda VF750F V45 Interceptor
Photo Credit: @cyclenews
The Honda V45 Interceptor is popular as the bike that puts Honda back on top. In the 1960s Honda motorcycles were dominating the race tracks and streets. The sports bikes were the best sellers of the decade and won many racing world championships. But as competition grew in the 1980s, Honda’s dominance began to fade. During this time, Honda’s competitors were manufacturing innovative motorcycles with double overhead inline four cylinder engines while Honda’s best motorcycle the CB750 still featured the same old single overhead cam that it first received 11 years ago. Yamaha’s Virago further intensified the competition and Honda was quickly losing ground. To regain market leadership, Honda gathered a team to create V-twin engines that could compete with Yamaha’s Virago in 1982 and 1983. Soon the V-Twin project was stopped in favor of V4 engine technology as they wanted to introduce something innovative instead of copying Yamaha’s V-Twin concept. Honda decided to demonstrate the V4 engines in the AMA Superbike series in 1983. In this year, the series set a new displacement limit of 750 cc, earlier it was 1000 cc. In addition, only production motorcycles could enter the 1983 AMA superbikes series. Eventually, the V45 Interceptor project started for the AMA superbike series. The bike’s engine was derived from FWS1000 and V45 Sabre. Honda mined its creativity and innovative engineering to create a racing bike that also performed well on the showroom floors. In 1983, the VF750F V45 Interceptor featured a 748 cc four cylinder water-cooled engine with DOHC layout chain driven camshafts and four valves per cylinder. The V45 Interceptor could produce 86 hp of horsepower at 10,000 rpm and 46.3 lb-ft torque at 7,500 rpm. Other features included four 32 mm carburetors, short wheelbase, a slipper clutch, five speed transmission, chain drive, and a double cradle frame. Two floating discs were installed as front and rear brakes, each having two pistons, calipers, and a half fairing. The V45 Interceptor was named motorcycle of the year in 1983 by Cycle Guide and Motorcyclist Magazine, accepting the V45 Interceptor as the fastest and most powerful bike in the superbike class. The bike proved to be a sell-out success. The cutting edge technology of the bike allowed Honda to reclaim its dominance on the race track. In the 1983 opening event of AMA superbike series, the V445 Interceptor secured a place in top three spots. In 1984 and 1985, Fred Markel achieved the AMA series title on the V45 Interceptor. The bike is known for its advanced suspension, immense power, strong braking, robust frame, and stylish chin fairing. Today this iconic bike is available under $4000 on the secondhand market.
10. Honda Grom
Photo Credit: @team-motorsports.com
Launched in 2014, Honda Grom is considered an iconic motorcycle not only for its performance but also for its small friendly size, affordability, and accessibility. Until the introduction of Honda Grom, the American motorcycle landscape was dominated by heavy motorcycles featuring large frames, tall seat heights and torquey V-Twin engines. The Grom on the other hand is a 125 cc motorcycle, lightweight compact frame, low power outputs, fun factor, and sport bike aesthetics pulled riders in who were looking for a beginner-friendly bike that looks great, handles well, and makes for an enjoyable ride. The motorcycle’s became popular ]as it created a unique niche in America, addressing the needs of motorcycle enthusiasts who wanted an affordable mode of transport that they could rely on for everyday commutes. The fact that Grom lived up to Honda’s reliability and low-maintenance traits made it even more popular among riders who could not afford pricey replacements and repair work. The 166.5 mpg mileage further augments the bike’s affordability. Though a great bike for urban dwellers, Honda Grom is not a vehicle for highway rides as it can hit a maximum of 40-59 mph.
Despite its small stature, the Honda Grom has garnered huge sales and success. Resultantly, Honda has continued the production of its lineup. The 2023 model of Honda Grom features a 125 cc air-cooled engine with an SOHC configuration, electronic ignition, programmed fuel injection system (PGM-FI), and a five-speed transmission. The brake setup includes front and rear disc brakes with dual and single piston respectively. The 30-inch high seat adds a sporty feel to the bike.
Moreover, the newer models are also popular for their customization potential. Riders add luggage bags, sissy bars, auxiliary lights, and other aftermarket Honda parts including sissy bars, handlebars, seats, and saddlebags to enhance the look of the bike. Since riders are happy with this bike, Honda has confirmed the production of 2024 models of Honda Grom as well.
11. Last Words
With almost five decades in production, Honda has demonstrated its prowess in motorcycle engineering and technology. The bikes mentioned in the list above are a testament of Honda’s uncanny ability to craft high-performing two-wheelers. Riders all over the world expect Honda to continue its legacy of manufacturing quality motorcycles that empower their dreams. Some of the motorcycles mentioned above are still available in the secondhand market for you to buy. If you just want to test the bike, search for them on online motorcycle-sharing platforms and experience their outstanding performance firsthand.