Honda Magna Motorcycle – Motorcycle Cruiser Magazine

19 Apr 2015 | Author: | Comments Off on Honda Magna Motorcycle – Motorcycle Cruiser Magazine
Honda V-Twin Magna

Sport Cruisers Comparison – Seven Sport-Cruiser Motorcycles

With rear brakes eliminated as a significant factor in hard stops, the deciding factor during strong braking is the front brakes. The Harley and Victory front brake levers are most suitable for large hands. The Harley and Magna need firmer-than-average pulls, but for different reasons. The Magna’s single-disc front brake is a bit under-powered and slightly spongy, though it didn’t fade under the intense use of our downhill run.

The Harley brakes simply like a firm pull, but they have plenty of power when you provide the input. Overall the top-rated brakes for power and control were the Victory’s, which can give hard, controlled stops for most riders with just two fingers on the lever and are backed up by those grippy tires. The Triumph and Guzzi brakes were close.

Of course, the BMW also offers anti-lock braking, which can be priceless when you encounter coolant, sand or water spread across the road right when you need to brake hard. Just remember that the anti-lock won’t save you if you over-brake while leaned over. The brake system’s warning lights occasionally remained flashing after we started up and rode away, but turning off the ignition and reinitializing the system always remedied that.

Cruising for Sport

Choosing one of these bikes means assessing your requirements and deciding how much weight to put on sport and how much on cruiser. None of the seven bikes tested perfectly captured the sport-cruiser ideal in our minds, but there are some that come respectably close.

There are two bikes that only graze the sport-cruiser target. Though it performs well in most situations, the Triumph Thunderbird Sport has to stretch to reach the sport-cruiser role. There is not much cruiser in this machine, which is more of a retro Brit standard than a cruiser.

Viewed in that capacity, there is little to complain about — and nothing to compare it to. As a cruiser, its styling and attitude come up short, and it’s not at its best trolling the strip on a Saturday night. The ‘Bird is much happier banking through the mountains on a Sunday morning.

As much as we like the new BMW R1200CE Euro, it doesn’t really qualify as a sport-cruiser either. We were misled by its sporting touches, such as the handlebar and flyscreen, applied to this version of BMW’s cruiser. Functionally, it’s still a straight cruiser and represents the boundary on that side of the scale.

Its suspension and power-control problems drop it well off the pace the other bikes set on twisty roads. But with those components adjusted, it could make a great sporting cruiser. In its current form the Euro serves better at a more casual pace–one that allows bystanders to appreciate its pretty detailing.

As a mainstream cruiser, we think it is an improvement on the standard 1200C, and we’d pay the extra money to have one. The power train eccentricities, most of which weren’t present on other 1200Cs we have ridden, would be a liability in any role.

That leaves five bikes to compete for the sport-cruiser title.

Moto Guzzi’s Jackal makes it obvious that while the Italians understand sporting motorcycles, they still don’t get the American concept of cruisers. The bike’s looks are plain or worse, and it does little to instill pride of ownership. Nonetheless, the Jackal is fun to ride on a winding road, and the differences between it and the California make a machine that is much superior to ride.

The controls are easier to manage, the position is better, and it retains the traditional Guzzi assets. Affordably priced, the Jackal makes good power, and its design is proven.

We continue to be fans of the Valkyrie. We have called upon it to perform as Honda’s flagship cruiser (August ’98), as a musclebike (August ’99), and as a tourer (Summer ’96), and the bike has always acquitted itself with honor. Though its sheer mass overwhelms the rider in slow corners, the Valkryie can hold its own in the faster stuff.

Honda V-Twin Magna

It wouldn’t be our first choice if mountain roads were the primary mission, but we wouldn’t be disappointed, either. When you factor in all of the Valkryie’s considerable other strengths, it’s easy to see why we picked it as the best of the Flagship Cruisers. We are glad to find that the power of the original bike has shown up again.

Victory gave the sport-cruiser notion a name, and the components of its V92SC live up to the concept. Top-shelf brakes, suspension, and tires show the firm’s commitment to the idea, although the bike’s sporting side is limited by cornering clearance. The noisy transmission and somewhat awkward ergonomics also intrude, though we think you can fix the latter pretty easily.

Its style most adheres to what most of us think a sport-cruiser should look like, and we enjoy the fact that it is still unique. Its suggested price is the stiffest of any bike here, although you are likely to pay more for the Harley.

Harley’s FXDX and Honda’s Magna (the oldest bike here) both deliver cruiser style and twisty-road competence. The Harley does so with the traditional look and sound of its 1450cc V-twin, which makes good power from low rpm. The engine is backed up with a solid chassis equipped with good suspension and strong brakes.

Our major complaint — the uncomfortable saddle — is easily addressed, though its high price and the possibilities of a dealer mark-up and a long wait might diminish our enthusiasm if we were going to buy one.

The Magna offers stellar performance, more than making up for its 50-percent displacement deficiency with two more cylinders and a lot more rpm. There is nothing special about its chassis components — in fact, the tires are mediocre by the standards of this group — but the pieces were developed and fine-tuned so thoroughly that the suspension works like a more expensive arrangement.

We would replace the tires and look for more effective brake pads, which would hardly make a dent in the additional $6000 the FXDX would cost. It would not even eat up the majority of the extra $800 we’d pay for the Jackal, the second most affordable bike here.

In the end, these seven machines span a broad scale on the sport-cruising spectrum. Almost any rider looking for a cruiser instilled with some degree of sporting spirit should find something to his liking in this group. He’ll probably also wish for some things that none of the bikes offer.

We had a huge amount of fun with these motorcycles, even though the sport-cruiser concept has tremendous potential that remains untapped. We believe it’s possible to create a bike that is both as much cruiser and as much sporter as the best on either extreme in this group. But don’t wait for such a bike to arrive; you’ll miss a lot of fun on one of these in the meantime.

Honda V-Twin Magna
Honda V-Twin Magna
Honda V-Twin Magna
Honda V-Twin Magna


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