Top Speed Buying Guide to the 2019 Honda Lineup
2019 Honda Motorcycles Explainedby Allyn Hinton, on
The Honda Motor Company, Ltd is a major producer of powered equipment, motorcycles, outboard motors, automobiles, and aircraft. As one of the “Big Four” in the motorcycle market, Honda faces stiff domestic competition, but since 1959 has maintained its position as the “largest in the world” in both the motorcycle and equipment sectors. Its REPSOL racing team is competitive in both the MotoGP and WSBK circuits, and Honda’s dirt bikes are a common sight in Motocross/Supercross events.
Takeo Fujisawa and Soichiro Honda founded the Honda Giken Kogyo back in 1946, and the factory was incorporated toward the end of ’48. Much like Piaggio with its Vespa line, Honda’s initial thrust was to supply affordable transportation for war-scarred Japan, and it started to produce motorized bicycles powered by surplus Tohatsu engines. By 1949, Honda was building its first motorcycle proper using in-house frames and engines. A legend was born.
Honda’s motorcycles made their way across the Pacific to the U.S. market in 1960, and by the end of ’63 had sold 90,000 units, securing its position as the largest motorcycle manufacturer in the world. That distinction extends to its small-displacement utility engine division as well, and as of 2008 were producing a whopping 14 million internal combustion engines per year. Honda remains competitive into the new millennium in both sport and dirtbike production, and has long posed a threat to the American-style tourbike market with its venerable Gold Wing line.
DCT: Abbreviation for Honda’s Dual Clutch Transmission that uses a clutch pack on each of two countershafts within the transmission to deliver automatic and/or push-button shifts. Vastly superior to the scooter-style continuously-variable transmission (CVT), and it delivers smooth yet decisive shifts throughout the range.
HSTC: Honda Selectable Torque Control feature that bundles variable power curves, torque control, wheelie control and engine braking control together for quick and easy bike-personality changes.
Torque Control: Honda’s proprietary traction control that monitors rear-wheel slip and delivers a wide range of levels of intervention.
HESD: Honda Electronic Steering Damper: Automatically adjusts the stiffness of the damper according to speed so it’s stiff at speed but still limber in slow-speed maneuvers.
Gyro-Assisted ABS: Lean-sensitive ABS that calculates the available traction in turns and adjusts the level of intervention accordingly.
Honda Motorcycle Models
Honda’s Gold Wing is widely regarded as one of the best-handling standard tourbikes in the world. Power comes from an 1,833 cc, horizontally-opposed, six-cylinder engine which puts it at the top of the displacement range, but since the weight is concentrated low in the frame, ’Wingers handle and corner like a much lighter machine than it actually is. Honda offers it in the full-dresser “Tour” model and a bagger version that comes sans top case. Luxury comfort items come standard, and the factory offers it with a choice between a manual transmission and the automatic DCT gearbox.
|Gold Wing||$23,800||1,833 cc|
|Gold Wing Tour||$27,000||1,833 cc|
Honda’s globetrotting Africa Twin family carries the marque into the adventure market with a pair of models. Both have a street-friendly setup, but the long suspension travel, engine guards, and belly pan work well off-road, especially if you opt for proper dirt tires rather than the stock stealth knobbies. The model draws part of its name from the 998 cc, liquid-cooled, parallel-twin powerplant that delivers the goods, and the “Africa” element is a reference to the grueling Dakar Rally that runs from Paris, France all the way to the Republic of Senegal on the West coast of Africa. The line follows the typical adv-bike layout with a tall fuel-tank hump, deep rider saddle and generous ground clearance.
|Africa Twin (CRF1000L)||$13,599||998 cc|
|Africa Twin Adventure Sports (CRF1000L2)||$15,099||998 cc|
Honda’s cruiser line generally borrows from the American-style machines for their aesthetics in a bid to compete in the U.S. market. As a result, they are typically low-slung with a relaxed rider triangle that allows for an upright torso, frequently with forward foot controls that put the rider in a comfortable windsock position.
The Fury runs a 1,312 cc V-twin and the mid-size Shadow models have 745 cc V-twins. The recently redesigned Rebel range offers a choice between a 471 cc parallel-twin and a 286 cc thumper. Both the original Rebels and the Shadow line have a fervent following that elevate these models to an almost cult-like status.
|Rebel 300||$4,499||286 cc|
|Rebel 500||$6,199||471 cc|
|Shadow Aero||$7,699||745 cc|
|Shadow Phantom||$7,899||745 cc|
Honda’s standard-sportbike family is the natural progression of evolution from the old-school Universal Japanese Motorcycles (UJM) of yesteryear. Most are more-or-less modern naked sportbikes with a slightly relaxed rider’s triangle that lets you push off a bit to assume an upright riding position to take some of the stress off the wrists, shoulders, and neck. They make a good compromise for commuters who want a sporty ride without being forced into a less-than-comfortable full-on sport posture. Displacement in the standard family ranges from 125 cc all the way up to 998 cc.
|Super Cub C125||$3,599||125 cc|
The supersports bring MotoGP and WSBK style to the streets with nearly-full body panels and an aggressive riding posture. At the bottom of the range is the 599 cc CBR600RR – a proper mid-size supersport – but the 998 cc CBR1000RR is more properly labeled a full-on superbike due to its engine size. The HSTC feature brings some safety to the table to help the everyriders keep it dirty-side down, but for the true pegdraggers out there, the CBR1000RR SP is the Red Rider’s weapon of choice for affordable track work.
|CBR1000RR SP||$19,999||998 cc|
The “Sport” sector is a mixed bag of naked and paneled bikes that trend toward the more aggressive end of the spectrum. Some run with short-rise bars that are a balance between the high-rise standard bars and the clip-on supersports, but the CBR650R pushes the envelope right up to the bottom of the supersport range. With plenty of room to tuck in and throw around some body English, the sports spice up Honda’s commute-friendly spectrum with versatility and fun.
Honda Neo-Sport Café
The Neo-Sport Café range is a new and exciting bracket for Honda fans. As its name suggests, it borrows design high points from the old-school café racers while retaining a fresh modern sportbike finish to make them some of the most unique offerings out of the current lineup. Short bars and high footpegs speak to their sporty nature, and they all come set up with a tasteful tail section that features a stylish p-pad and fold-up passenger footpegs so you can share the fun with a friend.
Honda puts all its pocket bikes under the miniMOTO banner with a variety of styles from which to choose. The most modern model is the fun little Grom that borrows its look from the naked sportbikes and is designed to fill the needs of the entry-level riders without breaking the bank.
If you fancy the same performance in a classic package, then the Monkey might be for you. Based on the pit-bikes of old, the Monkey packs a 125 cc thumper in a sixties-ish package that has no current peer.
Last, but not least, is the Super Cub C125; the most prolific motor vehicle in the world in continuous production since 1958. As of 2017, it surpassed the 100-million unit mark. Honda refurbished the model for the 2019 model year with a new, 124.9 cc powerplant and ABS along with a four-speed semi-automatic transmission.
|Super Cub C125||$3,599||125 cc|
Honda Dual Sport
Honda’s Dual-Sport models combine off-road capabilities with street-legal equipment to cover all the bases, albeit with a definite bias for dirt and trail. These bikes are essentially enduro bikes version 2.0. They bring the same sort of flexibility to the table with long-stroke suspension and ample ground clearance along with stealth knobbies that perform best on soft surfaces. Dirt-bike looks with headlight, taillight and blinkers, the dual-sport range runs with a 249 cc in its bottom-tier Rally-style bike up to the 644 cc XR650L.
|CRF250L Rally||$5,949||249 cc|
Honda puts out a range of scooters to cover the remaining two-wheeled bracket. At the bottom of the range is the Metropolitan that carries itself with a very Vespa-like panache to represent the classic Italian look. The PCX150 falls into the business-class machines with minimal step-throughs and a Euro-style finish. The Ruckus falls in between, defying convention with a pipe frame and minimal sheet metal to resemble a minibike more than anything else. All three rely on the scooter-typical swing-mount drive system fusing engine and transmission together as a stressed unit that replaces the swingarm proper.
Honda Africa Twin (CRF1000L)
See our review of the Honda Africa Twin.
Honda Africa Twin Adventure Sports (CRF1000L2)
See our review of the Honda Africa Twin Adventure Sports.
See our review of the Honda CB300R.
See our review of the Honda CB500F.
See our review of the Honda CB500X.
See our review of the Honda CB650R.
See our review of the Honda CB1000R.
See our review of the Honda CBR300R.
See our review of the Honda CBR500R.
See our review of the Honda CBR600RR.
See our review of the Honda CBR650R.
See our review of the Honda CBR1000RR.
Honda CBR1000RR SP
See our review of the Honda CBR1000RR SP.
See our review of the Honda CRF450R.
Honda CRF250L / CRF250L Rally
See our review of the Honda CRF250L / CRF250L Rally.
Honda Fury / Stateline
See our review of the Honda Fury / Stateline.
Honda Gold Wing / Gold Wing Tour
See our review of the Honda Gold Wing / Gold Wing Tour.
See our review of the Honda Grom.
See our review of the Honda Metropolitan.
See our review of the Honda Monkey.
See our review of the Honda PCX150.
Honda Rebel 300 / Rebel 500
See our review of the Honda Rebel 300 / Rebel 500.
See our review of the Honda Ruckus.
Honda Shadow Aero / Shadow Phantom
See our review of the Honda Shadow Aero / Shadow Phantom.
Honda Super Cub C125
See our review of the Honda Super Cub C125.
See our review of the Honda XR650L.
Read more Honda news.