Everything You Need to Know About Honda Motorcycles

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All About Honda Motorcycles

Honda CBR250R
The $3,999 Honda CBR250R challenges the Kawasaki Ninja 250R in the hotly contested beginner bike arena. Photo © Honda

Honda Motorcycles: A Brief History

Of the Japan's "Big Four" manufacturers (which includes Kawasaki, Yamaha, and Suzuki), Honda produces the most bikes per year. At last count (in 2009), Honda sold over 15 million bikes, making them the world's most prolific motorcycle manufacturer by a long shot. But the origins of Honda motorcycles were rather humble.

A year before Honda Motor Co., Ltd. was established in 1948, company founder Soichiro Honda's first creation was a small two-stroke engine that attached to a bicycle. The Cub scooter, which was introduced in 1958, proved immensely popular and is now the best-selling motorized two-wheeler of all time, having sold over 60 million units in the half-century since its introduction.

Other milestones in Honda's timeline include the trend-setting Dream CB750 Four (1969), the iconic GL-series Gold Wing tourer (1974), and the six-cylinder CBX1000-series (1978), not to mention the currently produced CBR-series sportbikes and the VTX cruiser family. Other highlights include everything from youth-oriented dirtbikes, dual purposes, and scooters to touring bikes, cruisers, sportbikes—and everything in between; the Japanese manufacturer once known for their "You meet the nicest people on a Honda" slogan has come a long way since they built their first bicycle engine in the late 1940s.

2011 Honda Motorcycles Buyer's Guide

Honda has introduced three new-for-2011 motorcycles so far: the CB1000R, a sharply angled naked bike, the CBR250R, a long overdue answer to Kawasaki's best-selling beginner bike, the Ninja 250R, and the Shadow RS, a classically-styled roadster with a sweet retro-style red, white, and blue color scheme. See the rest of the lineup here.

Honda Motorcycles: Cruisers and Choppers

Honda's cruiser and chopper lineup is based primarily on two liquid-cooled v-twin powerplants: the 745cc Shadow line, and the 1,312cc VTX line. Though larger (VTX1800) and smaller (Rebel) models have been produced, the 2011 lineup only features 745cc and 1,312cc engines.

  • 2010 Honda Interstate, Sabre, Stateline Review
    What happens when Honda reinterprets the Fury chopper into three different types of cruisers? Read this review to find out.

  • 2010 Honda Fury Review
    Honda shocked the motorcycle world when they built their first-ever factory custom chopper; read all about the Fury in this review.

  • 2008 Honda VTX1800F Review
    This 1,795cc cruiser produces massive torque, but hasn't been offered since 2008—maybe this big-bore bruiser is too extreme for these lean times?

Honda Motorcycles: Sportbikes

Honda ostensibly broke into the sportbike market when their inline-4 cylinder Dream CB750 Four was introduced in 1969. The bike's revolutionary combination of affordability, reliability, and performance paved the way for Honda's modern sportbike offerings.

  • 2011 Honda CBR250R Review
    The all-new Honda CBR250R packs a single-cylinder 249cc engine; see how it takes on the beginner bike competition in this review.

  • 2011 Honda CBR250R Photo Gallery
    The CBR250R bears more than a passing resemblance to the brawnier VFR1200F; see what we mean in this photo gallery.

  • 2011 Honda CBR250R Tech Dive
    The seemingly simple CBR250R actually boasts a slew of technological advances; read about its 27 patents in this in-depth tech dive.

  • 2008 Honda CBR1000RR Review
    The Honda CBR1000RR got a complete redesign for 2008; read about how it performed at Laguna Seca raceway in this review.

  • 2009 Honda CBR1000RR ABS and CBR600RR ABS Photo Galleries
    Honda's flagship literbike and its mid-sized sibling gained ABS for 2009; see pictures of both here.

Honda Motorcycles: Sport Tourers

Honda's entry into the sportbike market paved the way for another evolution of the genre: the sport tourer. Combining long distance comfort with performance, these bikes strike a balance between all-out performers like the CBR-series and cushy tourers like the Gold Wing.

  • 2010 Honda VFR1200F Photo Gallery
    Take a closer look at Honda's slickly styled VFR1200F.

  • 2007 Honda VFR Interceptor Review
    Honda's VFR Interceptor pre-dates the current-gen VFR1200F; read all about it here.

Honda Motorcycles: Concepts

Concept motorcycles offer a glimpse into possible future products, not to mention nostalgic nods to the past. Here are highlights of key Honda concept bikes.

Honda Scooters

The Honda Cub has been in production for more than 50 years, and virtually every modern Honda scooter can be considered a descendant of the original Cub's durable design.

Honda Motorcycles: Supermotos

Unlike European manufacturers like KTM and Aprilia, Honda wasn't the first motorcycle manufacturer to jump on the supermoto bandwagon, and their current supermoto offering is the diminutive CRF230M.

Honda Motorcycles: Dual Purposes

Look in the dictionary under "dual purpose motorcycles," and you'd likely find a picture of their Transalp, which has enjoyed a strong heyday but is currently not available in the U.S.

Honda Motorcycle Long Term Updates

Honda loaned us a Honda Gold Wing for a year, and we share our adventures with the GL-series tourer in our long term updates.