The 1980s were a decade that brought great advances in motorcycle technology. Indeed, many new designs were under development, with manufacturers pushing their machines into new performance categories. Honda’s exposure to the American market was significant during this decade, with the manufacturer producing a large number of legendary motorcycles.
Without a doubt, there were some weird concepts from the Japanese automaker as well as some epic machines that set the standard for others in the industry to follow.
Among the best-selling “Goldwings”, “Magnas” and “Africa Twins” of the 1980s, there were other excellent motorcycles, produced by Honda, which did not quite receive the recognition they deserved. Indeed, these underrated motorcycles were imitated by another manufacturer or remain masterpieces forgotten in time. Now, however, these machines have become popular classics among enthusiasts around the world.
So here is an entirely subjective list of fantastic ’80s Honda’s that should have been more acclaimed.
Honda Hawk NT650
Let’s start first with the Honda Hawk NT650, which was a stunning looking motorcycle with a racing heritage. Honda led the pack with the design, considered one of the first ânakedâ motorcycles.
Additionally, the Hawk NT650 had a one-sided swingarm and a modern angular look. Naked V-Twins have become incredibly popular over the years, but in 1988 when the NT650 was introduced, the bike didn’t quite receive the appreciation it deserved, especially in the United States. Indeed, this may be due to the relatively high price. Over the years, however, enthusiasts have recognized the qualities of the Hawk and made it a classic.
The lightweight bike weighed 412 lbs and produced 55 hp, giving it a top speed of 110 mph. It could cover a 0-100 km / h sprint in 3.9 seconds. Overall, the Hawk’s V-Twin engine has proven to be reliable and efficient. Today there is still a great package at an affordable price.
Honda GB500 TT
The Honda GB500 TT (Tourist Trophy) became available in the US market in 1989, although it was released earlier in Japan in 1985. The design of the solo cafe racer was reminiscent of the TT racers of the 1950s with inspiration taken from the Isle of Man Tourist Trophy race.
Interestingly, the GB500 TT model did not sell well in some export markets, mainly due to the relatively high price tag at the time. Nevertheless, the motorcycle has become a real icon due to its unique styling and mechanical configuration. This authentically classic yet decidedly modern beauty has finally lived up to the expectations and promises made when it was launched. In addition, the GB500 TT has become highly desirable among racing enthusiasts.
The 498cc air-cooled single-cylinder engine was mated to a five-speed transmission and produced 33bhp at 6,500rpm. The time of 0-60 was a very respectable 5.1 seconds. This thrilling motorcycle with a cool retro look has gradually acquired cult status.
The CB1100R (the suffix R indicates the racing version) deserves to be considered Honda’s first âspecial homologationâ racing car. Produced between 1981 and 1983, the CB1100R was a homologated machine for the road. It was sold in limited numbers, but not in the United States. In addition, its success was recognized in Australia with several victories, triggering the development of other approved racing bikes to enter the market.
Additionally, the 1062cc air-cooled four-stroke engine was capable of 142 mph with 115 hp and 72 lb-ft of torque, despite weighing 518 lb. Without a doubt, this track-oriented machine was a serious performer at the time.
Honda Nighthawk CB650SC
Another Honda model that has been overlooked is the Night Hawk CB650 SC. The bike was produced from 1982 to 1985 and was acclaimed for its looks and efficiency. However, it failed to capture the hearts of American buyers despite its success in other global markets. The cruiser was, in some ways, similar to its predecessor, although the mechanics received a much needed update in 1983.
The engine was a 656cc air-cooled DOHC inline-four mated to a six-speed transmission, producing 72 hp at 10,000 rpm. Weighing 451 pounds, the Hawk’s claimed top speed was 122 mph.
Honda XL600V Transalp
The Transalp first appeared in the United States in 1989 and was received with mixed reactions. Its 583cc V-Twin four-stroke engine produced 55 hp and was good for 110 mph. It has proven to be a good all-rounder, bridging the gap between off-road and sport bikes.
Without a doubt, the XL600V Transalp has become widely accepted by owners as a capable all-rounder offering a fascinating combination of sport bike looks and adventure bike characteristics.
This prototype of a Japanese tuning group also featured in Gran Turismo
About the Author