Honda Magna

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Honda Magna
Honda Magna close-up.jpg
Manufacturer Honda
Class Cruiser
Engine DOHC 4-valve 90° V-4
Related Honda Sabre V4, Honda Interceptor

The Honda Magna was a cruiser motorcycle made from 1982 to 1988 and 1994 to 2003 and powered by Honda's V4 engine taken from the VF/VFR. The engine technology and layout was a descendant of Honda's racing V4 machines, such as the NS750 and NR750. The introduction of this engine on the Magna and the Sabre in 1982, was a milestone in the evolution of motorcycles that would culminate in 1983 with the introduction of the Interceptor V4.[1] The V45's performance is comparable to that of Valkyries and Honda's 1800 cc V-twin cruisers. However, its mix of performance, reliability, and refinement was overshadowed by the more powerful 1,098 cc "V65" Magna in 1983.

While Honda's release of their V4 technology in the Magna (and other bikes like the Sabre and Interceptor) was certainly a bold move, it was somewhat overshadowed by at least two problems. One was the decline of motorcycle sales after the boom in the 1970s. While Honda quality was a given and the number of features provided in these bikes was great, they were still relatively expensive bikes at the time. An expensive, complex bike was difficult to sell in a down market. The second was the manufacturing and engineering problems encountered after the release in 1982.

Though criticized for its long-distance comfort and lauded mainly for its raw acceleration,[2][3] the Magna was the bike of choice for a Canadian grandmother who toured the world solo by motorcycle, without benefit of the support crew that usually accompanies riders in adventures depicted in such films as Long Way Round.[4][5][6]

The Honda Magna of years 1982–1988 incorporated a number of unique features into a cruiser market dominated by V-twin engines. The V4 engine configuration provided a balance between torque for good acceleration and high horsepower. The 90-degree layout produced less primary vibration, and the four cylinders provided a much smoother delivery of power than a V-twin. Good engine balance, plus short stroke and large piston diameter allowed for a high redline and potential top speed.

Besides the engine configuration, the bike had water cooling, a six-speed transmission for good economy at highway speed, and common on other middleweight bikes for Honda in the early 1980s, shaft drive. While the shaft drive is very convenient with virtually no maintenance required (and no oil getting slung around), it also robbed some power from where it was more evidently lacking on in town or lower speed riding. Features like twin horns, hydraulic clutch, and an engine temperature gauge add nice touches to the bike. A coil sprung, oil bath, air preload front fork with anti-dive valving was an improvement, although the Magna did not benefit from the linkage based single shock that was on the Sabre and Interceptor.

The V-65 Magna and other large-displacement Hondas were assembled in the Marysville Motorcycle Plant in Ohio.[3] In 2008, Honda announced plans to close the plant, their oldest in North America, in 2009, which had been still making Gold Wings and VTX cruisers.[7]

1982–1984 VF750C V45 Magna, 1984-1987 VF700C Magna[edit]

1982–1984 V45
Also called VF750C V45
Successor 1984 VF700C Magna
Engine 748 cc, bore x stroke 70 x 48.6 mm, 10.5 to 1 compression
Transmission 6-speed, straight-cut Gears, Multi-plate wet clutch, shaft drive.
Suspension Front: Telescopic anti-dive Travel: 5.5in, Rear: Swing Arm, Travel: 3.9in
Brakes Front: Dual 10.8in disc, Rear: 6.25in Drum
Tires Front: 110/90-18 Rear: 130/90-16
Rake, trail 30° / 4.1 in
Wheelbase 60.6 in
Dimensions W: 29 in
Seat height 30 in
Fuel capacity 3.7 US gallons, including 1 gallon reserve.
Oil capacity 3.1 U.S. quarts; 2.9 litres

The first generation 1982 V45 Magna has a round chrome headlight and fenders. The headight is a sealed beam type. The front disc brakes have straight grooves, dual piston calipers, and TRAC anti-dive. The speedometer reads 80 mph. The redline is 10,000 rpm. The engine is a 748 cc DOHC 16-valve liquid-cooled 90-degree V-4 linked to a six-speed transmission with a hydraulically actuated wet-plate clutch and shaft drive. The compression is 10.5:1

The 1983 V45 Magna is the same as the 1982 model with some differences. Early in the model year, the headlight was changed to a non-sealed beam unit with replaceable halogen bulb. The fuel tank and side covers are black. The front disc brake grooves are curved. The speedometer reads to 150 mph (240 km/h). (1983 starting SN JH2RC071*DM100011)

The US government imposed tariff rate hikes for foreign-built motorcycles over 700 cc in order to combat their rise in sales in North America, and to aid the domestic motorcycle manufacturers, namely Harley-Davidson. So for 1984 Honda responded by reducing the engine size for the VF750s to 698 cc, and the Magna became the VF700C in the USA. The headlight changed from round chrome to a rectangular chrome housing. The seats were changed to a wider 2 piece design in an attempt to improve rider comfort. The rear shocks also changed to eliminate the extra fluid reservoir. The wheels were different as well. Honda only made the VF700 for the late part of 1984, 1985, 1986, and 1987, then back to the VF750 after that. The first part of 1984, the Magnas were VF750.

Models from 1982 to 1984 were unique in their use of a larger primary fuel tank and smaller sub-tank. The sub-tank is located almost in the position of a side cover, well below the level of the carburetor banks and has a low-fuel sensor incorporated into the body. Owing to the low seat height (much lower than in a standard street bike) and cruiser styling of the bike, the main tank is relatively small. Because the bottom end of the sub-tank is so low, all bikes in this family have a fuel pump to get the fuel up into the carburetors. In practice, the fuel pump adds more complexity to a carbureted bike which otherwise doesn't need pressure fed fuel.

Beginning in 1985 models, the sub-tank was dropped in favor of a slightly larger and wider main tank. Again because the reserve level of the tank was below the carburetor, the requisite fuel pump and series of fuel lines was kept.

1983–1986 V65 (VF1100C)[edit]

1983–1986 V65
Also called VF1100C
Engine 1,098 cc (67.0 cu in)[3]
Power 116 bhp (87 kW) (claimed)[3][8]
Torque 70 lb⋅ft (95 N⋅m) @ 7,500 rpm (claimed)[8][9]
Transmission 6-speed, shaft drive[3]
Tires Front M110/90-18 tubeless Rear M140/90-16 tubeless[9]
Wheelbase 62.8 in (1,600 mm)[3]
Dimensions L: 89.8 in (2,280 mm)[9]
W: 31.9 in (810 mm)[9]
H: 47.6 in (1,210 mm)[9]
Weight 540 lb (240 kg)[9] (dry)
590 lb (270 kg)[3] (wet)

The large displacement 1,098 cc (67.0 cu in) V65 Magna attracted attention as Honda's entry in the 1/4 mile wars between manufacturers at the time, causing Suzuki to respond with the 1200 Madura (which had a 1/4 mile time of 11.66 s at 115.7 mph), and going up against such competition as the Suzuki GS1150E (10.47 s at 128 mph).[10] The V65 lay somewhere between these two in performance, posting a quarter mile time of 11.29 s at 119.2 mph (191.8 km/h).[3]

The 1983 V65 Magna was tested at a top speed of 224 km/h (139 mph).[11] In a 1983 Popular Mechanics achieved a top speed of 225.49 km/h (140.11 mph), ranking it third of four motorcycles tested, less than 3.2 km/h (2 mph) slower than the Kawasaki GPZ1100 and Suzuki GS1100s.[12]

In spite of this, the V65 Magna appeared from 1986 to 1989 in the Guinness Book of World Records as the fastest production motorcycle with a "design speed" of 278 to 283 km/h (173 to 176 mph).[13][14] During this period the production motorcycle with the fastest tested speed was the 151–158 miles per hour (243–254 km/h) Kawasaki GPZ900R.[15][16][17]

1984–1985 V30 (VF500C)[edit]

1984–1986 V30 - PC08
Honda VF500C 84.jpg
1984 Honda Magna V30
Manufacturer Honda
Also called VF500C
Predecessor V45
Class cruiser
Bore / stroke 60 mm × 44 mm (2.4 in × 1.7 in)
Compression ratio 11.0:1
Transmission Six-speed transmission, wet clutch, automatic cam-chain tensioners, self-adjusting hydraulic clutch
Suspension Front: leading axle, air adjustable fork, 37 mm tubes, 6.3 in. travel. Rear: dual shock absorbers, 4.3 in travel
Brakes Front hydraulic, single disc, twin piston caliper
Tires Front 100/90-18 Rear 130/90-16
Rake, trail 35.1° / 4.4 in.
Wheelbase 58.4 in
Seat height 29.9 in.
Fuel capacity 3.7 gallons / 14 liters
Oil capacity 2.6 qt / 2.46 liters

The Honda VF500 is one of Honda's second generation V4 motorcycle engines produced in a series of motorcycles designated with VF and VFR initials. For 1984-1986, Honda produced the 498 cc, V4 DOHC VF500 for the VF500C Magna V30 (1984/85) and its sister bike, the VF500F (1984–86). This engine is an evolution of Honda's original domestic market 400 cc engine, originally deemed too small and underpowered for certain markets - notably the United States and Europe. Focusing on adding power and versatility to its motorcycle offerings, Honda bored the original 400 cc motor and improved its power and performance. The engine is almost entirely identical to the version in the Interceptor VF500F sport bike, and while Honda sold the VF500C Magna in the United States, it advertised it as the "most powerful midsize custom in the world".[better source needed][18]

This standard motorcycle was introduced as a balanced bike that was just as enjoyable yet easier to ride in town than its larger Magna siblings, with good power and a broad torque band. Thanks to its V4 design, power in the 500 engine is not peaky and ample torque can be found throughout the rev band, and the six-speed transmission ratio was unique to this bike versus the ratio on the VF500F.[better source needed][19] The engine produced between 64-68 horsepower, and combined with its low weight and low center of gravity, the bike was lauded by critics as an easy to ride and entertaining motorcycle.[better source needed][19]

The Magna had no shaft drive like its larger siblings, but a traditional chain drive.[better source needed][19]


  • Standing-start quarter mile - 12.9 sec at 103 mph
  • 0-60 in 3.9 seconds
  • 60-0 in 120.6 feet

Changes by year

  • The "HONDA" fuel tank logo was straight in 1984, and curved up in 1985

Facts from Cycle Magazine, July 1984[better source needed][19]

1987–1988 Super Magna (1987 VF700C Magna and 1988 VF750C V45 Magna)[edit]

VF700C Magna, VF750C V45 Magna
1987 Honda Super Magna, Canadian-export model
Manufacturer Honda
Also called Super Magna
Production Less than 20,000
Predecessor 1986 VF700C Magna
Successor 1994 VF750C Magna
Class Cruiser
Engine 699cc 1987 / 748cc 1988
Transmission 6-speed, shaft drive
Suspension 39 mm non adjustable fork, dual coil over shocks
Brakes Single disc front, drum rear
Tires Front: 100/90-19 tubeless, Rear: 150/80-15 tubeless
Wheelbase 1660 mm / 65.35 inches
Dimensions L: 2385 mm / 94 inches
W: 810 mm / 32 inches
H: 1155 mm / 45.5 inches
Seat height 27.8 in (706 mm)
Fuel capacity 13 L / 3.43 US gallons

Various mechanical and cosmetic changes were introduced over the years, but the basic core of the Magna remained the same. The second generation Magna of '87-'88 was dubbed the Super Magna by aficionados of the bike, though it was not an official Honda name. In 1987, the 700 cc engine produced 80 bhp (60 kW) @ 9,500 rpm, with torque being 46 ft·lbf (62 N·m) @ 7,500 rpm. In 1988, the Magna grew back to its original size of 748 cc.

In countries other than the US, the Magna continued as a 750. The Magna V-four has endured through the first and second generations of the VF and VFR Interceptors - both come and gone by 1988. Like the original 750 Sabre and VF 750, this 750 Magna engine uses a 360-degree crankshaft and chain-driven double-overhead camshafts. Thus, the VF750C unit is technologically quite different from Honda’s last V-four sport bike engine, the VFR750 Interceptor, which had gear-driven overhead cams and a 180-degree crankshaft.

The Super's cams are also line-bored (a feature first seen in the Euro 1985 VF1000F & F-II, and 85/86 VF1000R, 1986 VF500F, 1986 VF700C Magna), which greatly reduced the premature cam wear that plagued the earlier models, together with changed oil ducts.

The 1987 V45 Magna was available in either Candy Wave Blue or Candy Bourgogne Red (1988 dropped Blue in favor of Black). For 1987, the fake airbox covers were wrinkle black with a "Magna" emblem. The fake airbox emblem changes to "V45" for the 1988 model.

The 1987 Super Magna had a silver, grey & black Honda "wing" tank decal, while the 1988 model had a silver "MAGNA" tank decal.

The exhaust system was now an upswept 4-into-4 set of pipes, truly unique in the cruiser world. Although the exhaust pipes were a beautiful sight, they were not friendly to the use of saddlebags as they were too high. The rear wheel was a solid aluminum disc. The chin fairing was unfinished black plastic for the 87, and color-matched for the 88. The second generation was also the first to have the lower seat height of a mere 27.8 inches (706 mm), more than 4 inches (102 mm) lower than its predecessor. A total of 16,000 units were built for the 1987 model year, while only 3500 were built for 1988. (1987 starting SN JH2RC280*JA100001)

1994–2003 V45 (VF750C)[edit]

1994–2003 VF750C
1999 Honda Magna with aftermarket saddle and exhaust.
Manufacturer Honda
Also called VF750C
Engine 748.8 cc (45.69 cu in) liquid-cooled 90° V-4,
Compression ratio 10.8:1
Top speed 120 mph (190 km/h)[20]
Power 76.3 bhp (56.9 kW) (rear wheel)[20]
Torque 46.5 ft⋅lb (63.0 N⋅m) (at rear wheel)[20]
Transmission 5-speed, O-ring chain
Suspension Front: 41 mm cartridge fork; 150 mm travel, Rear: Dual shocks with 5-way spring preload adjustability; 3.9 inches (100 mm) travel
Brakes Front: 2-piston caliper, 12.4 in (315 mm) disc. Rear: Single-leading-shoe drum
Tires Tubeless, Front: 120/80-17, Rear: 150/80-15
Rake, trail 32°, 5.2 in (130 mm)
Wheelbase 65.0 in (1,650 mm)
Seat height 28.0 in (710 mm)
Weight 550 lb (250 kg)[20] (wet)
Fuel capacity 3.6 US gal (14 l; 3.0 imp gal)
Oil capacity 3.3 US qt (3,100 ml)

The Magna 750 was launched in 1993 as an early release 1994 model. Honda sought to capture the market for powerful cruisers by lifting the engine from the VFR750 and slotting it in a cruiser chassis. The engine itself was beautified by the addition of chrome and some extra fins, and by the chromed 4 into 4 exhaust. The seat was kept very low, at 28 inches, with the passenger seat being detachable. The all new frame was complemented by 41 mm forks, dual shocks, and a single disc on the front. A drum brake was used on the rear. A few internal changes were made to the VFR engine for use in the Magna, including a different crankshaft, a 5-speed transmission and chain driven cams. Smaller carbs were also utilized. The changes resulted in a stronger mid-range pull, and a very broad band of power.

The design of the 3rd generation Magna remained relatively unchanged over its lifetime. The tank decal was changed in 1995, and a miniature fairing was available on 1995 and 1996 Deluxe models.

2004 saw the demise of the Magna, along with other Honda stablemates such as the V-Twin Shadow ACE and Shadow Spirit, as well as the 6-cylinder Valkyrie.

1994–2003 V25 (VT250C)[edit]

1994–2003 VT250C
1995 Honda Magna with aftermarket exhaust
Manufacturer Honda
Also called VF250
Engine 250 cc liquid-cooled 90° V-2, Bore x Stroke: 60.0 x 44.1 mm (2.36 x 1.74 inches), 11.0:1 compression
Transmission 5-speed, Final Drive: O-ring-sealed chain, Multiple wet plate coil spring clutch
Suspension Front: Telescopic type, Rear: Swing arm type
Brakes Front: Hydraulic disc, Rear: Mechanical leading / trailing shoe
Tires Tubeless, Front: 120/80–17 61S, Rear: 150/80–15M/C 70S
Wheelbase 1,620 mm
Dimensions L: 2,315 mm
W: 845 mm
H: 1,055 mm
Seat height 28.0 Inches (711 mm)
Fuel capacity 11 Litres (2.91 US Gallons)
Oil capacity 2.1 Litres (After Oil & Filter Change)


  1. ^ Holmstrom (2000)
  2. ^ Bartels (1997)
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h Mayershon (1985)
  4. ^ Lawrence (2006)
  5. ^ Canwest (2009)
  6. ^ Lawrence, Leah (18 July 2006). "Motorcycling grandmother travels the world". The Vancouver Sun. Archived from the original on 9 May 2012. Retrieved 6 October 2013.  External link in |website= (help)
  7. ^ Hannah (2008)
  8. ^ a b "Honda V65 Magna", Cycle World, pp. 48–55, April 1983 
  9. ^ a b c d e f Scott, Ed (1984). Honda : V45 & V65, service, repair, performance (1st ed.). Arleta, Calif.: Clymer Publications. ISBN 0-89287-384-1. 
  10. ^ Ford (1985)
  11. ^ "Honda V64 Magna; From the Folks Who Brought Us VHD, TRAC, FOIL, and CVCC Comes TBBYES (The Baddest Bike You've Ever Seen)", Cycle World, Newport Beach, California: Hachette Filipacchi Media U.S., vol. 22 no. 4, pp. 49–55, April 1983, ISSN 0011-4286 
  12. ^ Hill, Ray (December 1983), "We Test The World's Fastest Superbikes", Popular Mechanics, pp. 91–, retrieved July 4, 2015 
  13. ^ Russel, Alan; McWhirter, Norris D. (1986), The Guinness book of records, Guinness Superlatives, ISBN 978-0-85112-439-1 
  14. ^ McFarlan, Donald; Boehm, David A. (1988), The Guinness book of records, 1989, Guinness Superlatives, ISBN 978-0-8069-0276-0 
  15. ^ Brown, Roland (2006), The Ultimate History of Fast Motorcycles, Bath, UK: Parragon, pp. 214–215, ISBN 1-4054-7303-7 
  16. ^ Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, Field Museum of Natural History, Museo Guggenheim Bilbao (2001), Krens, Thomas, ed., The Art of the Motorcycle, Guggenheim Museum, ISBN 978-0-8109-6912-4 
  17. ^ Walker, Mick (2006), Motorcycle: Evolution, Design, Passion, JHU Press, pp. 172, 174–5, ISBN 978-0-8018-8530-3 
  18. ^ "Honda VF500 Magna print ad". Retrieved 2008-01-08. 
  19. ^ a b c d "Honda VF500 Magna and Interceptor". Retrieved 2008-01-08. 
  20. ^ a b c d "Performance Index Winter '12/'13 Edition" (PDF), Motorcycle Consumer News, BowTie, January 2013 


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