When it was introduced it established new standards in terms of engine development and gave another meaning to the word "cruising", creating a class of its own: power cruisers.
Honda designed the VF750C Magna as the ultimate cruiser by taking the basic concept of a cruiser and mounting a big, sporty engine. The bike ended up being very comfortable, powerful and stylish and it gave birth to an entire new concept of motorcycle, the power cruiser.
In 1982 Honda launched a 750cc power cruiser called V45 Magna. It was the beginning of a beautiful story as the Company continued to improve and mass produce the model, with some major or minor changes, for more than twenty years. The first model was available in Candy Maroon or Candy Imperial Blue for gas tank and side covers and it had chromed headlight, instruments, and fenders. The 748cc DOHC 16-valve liquid-cooled 90 degree V4 linked to a 6-speed transmission with hydraulic clutch and shaft drive could lift the speedometers needle up to 150mph around the 10,000rpm red line and the front disc brake with curved grooves offered great braking power. Compression numbers are high, and the stroke is short.
1983 is the year when Honda overshadowed the performance, reliability and refinement with the more powerful 1098cc V65 Magna. Speed was the goal but Honda’s DOHC setup was prone to premature wear of the cams. The V45 was also available that same year with the same characteristics and maroon or black color options.
The next year, Honda had to respond to the imposed tariff rates for foreign-build motorcycles by reducing the engine size for the 750s, and the Magna became the VF700C in the USA. Except black, the bike could be bought Candy Andromeda Red painted. The VF700C kept being produced until the end of 1986, beginning of 1987 when the second generation of VF700C and VF750C was introduced. For the two years (1987, 1988) the 2G Magna was produced, it was dubbed the Super Magna. In 1987, the 700cc motor developed 80bhp @9500rpm, with torque being 46 ft-lbs @7500rpm. In 1988, the Magna grew back to its original size of 748cc. 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 VF750, this 750 Magna engine uses a 369-degree crankshaft and chain-driven double-overhead camshafts, quite different from Honda’s last V-four sport bike engine, the VFR750 Interceptor, which had gear-driven overhead cams and a 180-degree c
rankshaft. The premature cam wear that plagued the earlier models was reduced with the line-bored super cams together with changed oil ducts.
The 1987 V45 Magna was either Candy Wave Blue or Candy Bourgogne Red painted and 1988 brought black paint instead of blue. The air cleaner war wrinkle black with a “V45” emblem, and the “Magna” tank decal was silver. The exhaust system was now an upsweep 4-into-4 set of pipes, truly unique for cruisers but not very practical as they didn’t permit the attachment of saddlebags. The rear wheel was a solid aluminum disc and the chin fairing was unfinished black plastic for the 1987, with matched color in 1988. This generation was also the first to have the lower seat height of a mere 27. 8 inches (706mm), more than four inches (102mm) lower than its predecessor.
The third generation of VF750C Magna was presented in 1993 and with the early release 1994 model, Honda sough to capture the market for powerful cruisers so it lifted the engine from the VFR750 and positioned it on the Magna’s chassis. The looks of the engine were improved by adding chrome and some extra cooling fins together with the 4-into-4 exhaust but there were also some internal adjustments in order to use the VFR motor on the Magna such as: different crankshaft, smaller carbs, a 5-speed transmission and chain driven cams. The changes resulted into a mid-range pulling engine and a very broad band of power. It developed 78.2bhp @ 9000rpm, with torque of 48.2 ft-lbf @7250rpm. The seat was kept very low, at 28 inches, with the passenger seat being detachable. The bike received an all-new frame which was completed by a 41mm fork, dual shocks and a single disc on the front.
This last generation (until now) of Magna kept its original design and engine characteristics, through the years changing only paint schemes, the most distinctively being the “scalloped” design in the late 90’s.
In 2004 the VF750C Magna stop being produce but fans around the world still wait for a 4th generation of this model as they did between the 2nd and 3rd generation. Lets hope that Honda will soon come up with a new, improved Magna although they didn’t announce nothing yet.
1995 Honda VF750C Magna vs Yamaha V-max
The 1983 V65 Magna was competing with the new released Yamaha V-max powerful motorcycle and later with Suzuki’s response to Magna, the Madura. This model offered also a smaller engine displacement of 700cc, but while the Magna displaced 1100cc, the big Madura, as well as the V-max, displaced 1200cc. While Honda and Yamaha kept producing their bikes, Suzuki gave up building Maduras, so we can name the V-max the main competitor for Magna.
Today Honda Magna fights to stay on the surface in a class dominated by Yamaha V-max and Harley-Davidson XL1200S Sporster, although it has more in common with Kawasaki Eliminator because of its sporty engine mounted on a cruiser’s chassis.
1983 Honda VF1100C Magna vs Suzuki Madura 1200
Magna has a very nice and clean cruiser look with cool paint schemes and a lot of chrome. If you take a first look at it and you don’t know what it is, you might even confuse it with a V2 (that’s kind of the definition of cruisers) so you will have a preconceived opinion on this bike. The 4-into-4 chromed exhaust kind of suggests you something related to speed, noise and all the other characteristics of a bad wolf but how bad can it be? As bad as it can be, my friend! You simply won’t find anything on the market that looks and goes as Honda’s VF750C Magna.
There is a saying: “You can’t have it all!” but this great technical achievement known as Honda VF750C Magna contradicts that saying with all its revs. Most motorcyclists love cruisers but they often need more horsepower, a bit more punch and better handling. Honda anticipated the aspect years ago and it came with the idea of a smaller and more efficient sport engine mounted on a cruiser’s chassis and so this great machine was born. Forget about cubic inches and start thinking at the engine’s efficiency and at the way it breathes. Cause it breathes! Each of the liquid-cooled, 748cc V4 engine’s cylinders breathes through its own 34mm carb and four valves operated by overhead cams. This allows the engine to rev up to 9700rpm, which is very impressive for a cruiser. All the power gained with rpm combined with the Magna’s modest 538-pound wet weight results into a machine capable of outrunning not only big twins, but Honda’s big six, the Valkyrie.
Honda provided this great cruiser with a rigid double-cradle steel frame which positions the engine low for superb handling and low, 710mm seat height. Also, a large-diameter, 41mm cartridge front fork gives excellent control and a plush ride. The wheels (five spoke cast aluminum) are fitted with wide, low-profile tubeless tires.
Comfort comes from two different directions at this cruiser: the comfort provided by the chrome-plated dual rear shocks with five-position-adjustable spring preload together with the seat, and the comfort of knowing that you are eventually going to stop provided by the large-diameter disc front brake with twin piston-caliper and the rear drum brake.
When I approached this motorcycle, I new that I wasn’t going to encounter the ordinary cruising experience and I certainly didn’t. The bike is absolutely fabulous and I am not exaggerating. Around town it rewards those willing to stir the five-speed gearbox, which is nicely staged and shifts positively. However, even those who hate changing gears will appreciate the smooth gearbox when they are scooting ahead of traffic. I especially like it because, being a cruiser, it gives the impression that it’s going to slow you down and it does the exact opposite so you won’t be able to follow it for more than 13 seconds until it will become “that small dot” in front of you. But to become a small dot you need to make some fast launches and this requires plenty of rpm and a trained clutch hand. Fortunately, the Magna clutch is able to tolerate extended slipping off the line and its chain final drive does its purpose.
The element that makes this bike so great is the engine and although the 90 degree V4 has some narrow ranges it is smooth at normal speeds and even at high rpm. The thing is that it can get to really high rpm and that is when you start thinking at what are you riding and if you should let it breathe for a while but your second thought will be (mine sure was): “let’s see if it can do more!” and it can.
The riding position is being improved by the slightly low, forward handlebars and the wide saddle. Suspensions also proved very efficient, making the bike a real friend of long journeys.
You can feel that middleweight stature in the Magna’s handling, however. The steering is light and precise and it has a better response than what is found on V-twins.
I’ve also ridden the V-max and although it is much powerful than the Magna, the engine is tuned for pure acceleration and you always find yourself pushing it to the max or pulling the brakes strongly and I don’t call that cruising.
The thing with Honda VF750C Magna is that it offered so much for so less, becoming very popular as a great, powerful and cheap cruising machine. Let’s hope the good things don’t come to an end and that Honda will decide to revive the Magna in a 4th generation. Until that happens you can become the proud owner of what I like to call “The ultimate cruising machine” for approximately $7000.
I believe that by reading this article you have drawn your own conclusions and if you are still not convinced, I invite you to check this bike’s specs with a single thing on your mind: is it a cruiser?