Honda VF 1100C Magna V65
Honda VF 1100C Magna V65
Liquid cooled, four stroke, 90°V-four cylinder,
DOHC, 4 valve per cylinder.
Bore x Stroke
79.5 x 55.3 mm
4x 36mm Keihin carbs.
Digital transistorized / electric
116 hp @ 7500 rpm (rear tyre100 hp 72.9 kW @ 9500 rpm)
94 Nm @ 7500 rpm
6 Speed / shaft
1st 39/17, 1.71 2nd 34/21.1.62
3rd 31/24,1.29 4th 29/27, 1.07 5th 26/29, 0.90 6th
Double-down tube, full-cradle frame; tube/box-section
steel swing arm
Leading-axle, air-assisted fork with
41 mm forks. 150mm wheel travel
Twin shock adjustable for spring preload rebound and
compression damping, 105mm wheel travel.
2x 270mm disc 2 piston calipers
Single 282mm disc 2-piston caliper
31.6 in / 803mm
246 kg / 545 lb
10.75 sec / 126 mp/h
Honda's 1983 V65 Magna hit the street like a 600-pound chrome sledgehammer.
Americans had built a long-term relationship with horsepower and high style
on four wheels, but a motorcycle with acres of both was news. This
was more than a new model. The V65 made big muscle look cool. Thus the power
cruiser was born. "The best part of the V65," according to Cycle
magazine's March 1983 road test, " is a mid-range punch that would do
justice to Larry Holmes."
The liquid-cooled, 1098cc, 90-degree V-4 engine delivered a staggering flow
of power from 1500 rpm to its 10,000 rpm redline. But how quick was it? On
October 3, 1982, Honda brought drag-strip maestro Jay "Pee-Wee" Gleason and
a standard V65 to Southern California's Orange County International Raceway
to find out. Gleason's 10.92 — second 1/4-mile sprint made the V65 America's
fastest production street machine, inspiring ads with one powerfully simple
headline: Bad News Travels Fast.
For street riders, the good news was Honda engineers made sure the bike was
easy to live with as well as fast. The four-cam, 16-valve V-4 cruised
through a daily commute as happily as it devoured drag strips. Around town,
the V65 was surpassingly agile for its size. A durable, diaphragm-type
hydraulic clutch modulated power to the shaft drive, and one-way sprag
clutch kept downshifts from chirping the rear tire. Anti-dive valving in the
41mm front fork helped stabilize the chassis under braking. An overdrive top
gear in the six-speed transmission kept the V-4 serene at freeway speeds.
Tired of cruising your hometown? Strap on some saddlebags and the Magna was
comfortable enough to cruise to some town three or four states away.
Riders expected such well-mannered versatility from Honda. The V65's
magnetism came from its totally radical fusion of bad boy good looks and
world-class quickness. According to Cycle's March, 1983 test, "Its
horsepower translates directly into an immediate gut-wrenching rush,
unmatched by any other production street machine." To anyone who ever felt
it, that V65 rush boils down to one word. Unforgettable.
Honda builds a motorcycle mean enough for those
guys who are tough enough to dip your heart out with a wooden spoon
Don't be deceived. The 1100 Magna is not just another Special. Writing off the
V65 as simply another boulevard parade float is like calling a 10 inch
switchblade a pocket knife. It's true, but misses the point entirely.
The term "Special" suggests highly styled
motorcycles that go limp wristed when it's time to perform. But the V65 is a
urban streetfighter through and through, a bike that can kick almost anything
flat in a stoplight to stoplight brawl.
What makes this Special so special? In a word, the engine. If you talk
horsepower, the Magna speaks your language. Its horsepower translates directly
into an immediate gut wrenching rush unmatched by any other production'. street
To a man, the cycle staff raved about the engine.
With its wonderfully potent and flexible powerplant, this big four is a strong
and willing worker that hums along happily at 1500 rpm or sings fortissimo at
the 10,000 rpm redline. The best part of the V65 is a mid range punch that would
do justice to Larry Holmes. Whack the throttle open at 5000 rpm in first gear
and the front wheel claws for the sky while the Magna catapults forward. These
antics are interesting enough when you’re mounted on an open class motocrosser
but when a 589 pound motorcycle with a wheelbase of nearly 63 inches takes off
like a carrier based F-14, it gets your full attention.
magna side and instrument view.jpg (29395 bytes) full magna in motion side.jpg
(25449 bytes)Honda built the V65 engine with technology carried over from the
V45, but the big Magna has all new hardware,. it shares no parts with the 750s.
Though the designs are virtually identical, everything has been scaled to 1100cc
The V65 benefits from Honda's extremely compact
Vee engine design; at 17.4 inches, the 1100's engine is barely an inch wider
than the narrow 750 V four. The Magna’s 90 degree Vee angla sets the two front
cylinders low and nearly horizontal, while the rear cylinders stand almost
vertical. This right angle configuration produces perfect primary balance, and a
short stroke limits secondary imbalances.
Finally, to ensure the 1100 Magna's smoothness Honda completely rubber mounted
the engine Within the full cradle frame, following the practice of last year's
750s. End result: a monster engine that's a pussycat to live with.
Except for the size increase, the 1100's top end
appears identical to the V45's. The cylinders are an integral part of the upper
case half, making the entire unit rigid. The liners are cast in freestanding
cylinders--the cylinders and jackets are not connected to any sort of webbing.
v65 engine view.jpg (48128 bytes) The highly oversquare 79.5 by 55.3mm engine
displaces 1098cc. Like the 750s, the 1100 uses a high 10.5:1 compression ratio;
it also incorporates similar anti-detonation features: water cooling to lower
combustion chamber and exhaust valve temperatures, a swirl inducing intake tract
that promotes quick burning of the fuel/air charge, and a carefully shaped
combustion chamber that concentrates most of the charge near the spark plug to
promote rapid flame travel. The 1100's 30mm intake and 26mm exhaust valves sit
in their four valve head at a narrow 38 degree included valve angle the V45's
intake and exhaust valve diameters are 26mm and 23mm respectively.
Each pair of cylinders has a set of dual overhead
camshafts to actuate the valves. The cams spin directly in the cylinder head
material in a plain bearing setup. A single cam lobe acting through a forked
follower equipped with screw type adjusters actuates each valve pair. A silent
type cam chain drives each set of cams, and an automatic chain tensioner
eliminates maintenance chores.
Straight cut gears transfer the power from crank
to clutch, the clutch gear a split, zero backlash type to damp out gear whine.
The clutch itself is hydraulically operated, an enlarged version of, the VT750 V
twin's rather than an upscaled version of the V45's. The, V65's diaphragm clutch
spring and clutch plates are larger in diameter than the VT750's, and the 1100
holds two more plates than the Shadow. The diaphragm spring clutch is more
rugged than one of conventional design fitted in the same space. Considering the
abuse the V65 is likely to absorb during streetfights, the diaphragm spring
setup is indeed a good idea. As an anti-lockup device during downshifting, the
V65's clutch like the V twin's houses a one way sprag clutch.
Vertically staggered transmission input and output shafts reduce overall engine
length; the output shaft lies below and aft of the input shaft. Honda's six
speed gearbox is unusual for an 1100cc bike. Because the V 65's gear box was
designed as a "five speed plus overdrive sixth transmission;" top gear is really
tall; calculated top speed in sixth works out to 173 mph at the 10,000 rpm
redline. At 60 mph the engine loafs along at 3460 rpm. Final drive is via a
maintenance free shaft.
The Magna carries its engine in a full cradle
frame equipped with an air adjustable, anti dive fork. Twin shocks adjustable
for rebound and compression damping as well as spring preload grace the rear.
The 1100's wheelbase, a whopping 62.8 inches long, is less than a half inch
under a Gold Wing's. This figure, combined with the V65's rake and trail of 30.3
degrees and 4.1 inches, suggests the Magna might be cumbersome and slow
steering. Not true. Around town and in 'parking lots the V65 handles just fine.
clutch cutaway.jpg (16450 bytes)clutch basket.jpg (6748 bytes)
The VF1100's 700's clutch is an enlarged version of the VT750 V-twins, complete
with a diaphragm spring, a one way sprag clutch and hydraulic actuation
The VF1100 feels distinctly long and unmistakably big, yet it requires only
average steering effort through the handlebar. The 31.6 inch high seat is not
especially low, but the Honda still feels fairly agile for an 1100. Honda
engineers have done much to keep the weight low in the bike-the basic engine
design, of course, is instrumental. her features such as the small under saddle
gas tank contribute as well. Actually, styling trimmed the main tank's volume,
and the V65's under tank airbox and filter also steal space from he main tank.
The under seat tank and it’s fuel pump were the answer.
Following Special styling, the rider's portion of
the two tiered seat is wide and well padded, although the steep step confines
the pilot's space. While most riders will find it adequate for in town trolling,
passengers get shortchanged; their pegs are too high, and the narrow, firm rear
portion of the seat has the comfort of a bird cage bar.
side by side heads.jpg (11488 bytes)
head and valves cutaway.jpg (10391 bytes)
The 1100 head incorporates many of the 750 V four design concepts: the 38 degree
included valve angle is the same and the combustion chamber is shaped to
concentrate most of the fuel charge near the centrally located spark plug holes
to promote rapid flame travel. Each cam lobe actuates a pair of valves via a
forked follower equipped with screw type adjusters
Once the rider enthrones himself in the saddle, the pullback handlebar and the
forward mounted footpegs define his position. The pegs aren't as radical as the
VT750C Shadow's, and that's good for comfort and control ' Given the V65's
eyeball flattening acceleration, a riding position mimicking a tipped back
rocking chair would be dangerous. The forward mounted pegs are convenient if
you’re paddling the V65 around a parking lot, and while the bar has two way
adjustability, it has, too much pullback to please our staff.
Although the riding position may be a strong selling point on the showroom floor
and a viable stance for stoplight to stoplight warfare, the bike's ergonomics
offer the rider very little support, at freeway speeds.
Arm, back and stomach muscles must position him
against the windstream. This sort of onboard isometrics is no sweat for short
hops. After 30 minutes though especially if you're riding at supra legal speeds
you'll feel as though you’ve been working overtime at your Nautilus club.
Although long legged riders can use the passenger pegs for, a brief change in
position, the reach back leaves their legs nearly folded double in the process.
Shorter riders can't reach the rear pegs at all. For them, a radical forward
crouch proves most effective, though it places their torsos at an awkWard angle
and their faces mere inches from the handlebar. Short of changing the
bar/seat/peg relationships, the best remedy is to ride in half hour spurts.
In a somewhat surprising move, Honda equipped the VF1100 with suspension
components biased for sport riding.
The up and down torque reaction of shaft driven
bikes forces manufacturers to make trade offs when selecting rear suspension
components. Typically, light spring and damping rates provide a soft, cushy ride
at the expense of backroad handling, while a taut, well damped rear suspension
makes fast riding easier and steadier at the expense of slow cruising comfort.
Adjustable shock damping and air adjustable springing usually provide an
effective, albeit expensive, compromise that gives a rider latitude in setting
his bike up for specific tasks.
The Magna's rear shocks have state of the art
adjustability: two way adjustable compression damping and four way adjustable
rebound damping. The springing is not air adjustable, and Honda engineers
selected spring rates that are decidedly stiff. Our heavier (185 pound) testers
found the rear end firm, but acceptably soft for freeway cruising when the
springs were set at minimum preload. Lighter testers found the ride stiff and
harsh, and the riding position tends to exacerbate this assessment. The
reclining riding position centers most of the rider's weight back toward the
tailbone, and every bump and seam in the road transfers a sharp jolt directly to
the rider's spine.
magna foil view.jpg (19989 bytes)
Honda's FOIL ant theft System uses an integrated
cable alarm setup, if the cable is cut, the alarm sounds. Cable fits neatly in
the tail compartment.
For backroad riding, Honda's choice of sporting shocks pays off handsomely. Set
up stiffly, the VF's suspension damps well over all types of road surfaces, from
fast sweepers to slow, knotty corners; however, the air adjustable fork flexes
perceptibly when winding through unusually bumpy sweepers. The Magna's triple
disc brakes offer excellent feel and stopping power, and the anti dive valving
effectively preserves ground clearance during simultaneous braking and turning.
The 1100 offers a good amount of ground clearance, and the stiff rear end does a
good job of controlling the shaft drive's up and down motions. The stylishly
wide tires put a big patch of rubber on the road.
On twisting roads as well as around town, the
1100 requires only a moderate amount of steering effort. Nice. However, when
you're busting along hard on curvy roads, the Magna feels disconcertingly vague
through the handlebar. Several factors may contribute to this feeling. First,
the V65's seat and controls push the rider's weight more rearward than on a
sporting bike. On a sport bike a frisky riding pilot naturally moves himself
even more forward than normal, applies weight to the bars, and rides with the
balls of his feet on the pegs. It's an active riding position. In fast going the
Magna's more passive position does little for rider confidence. Our staffers
didn't like the bar - we felt as if we were steering the V65 with a tiller.
Second, the V65's percentage of weight distribution (dry and unladen) is 45
front/55 rear (the CB1100 F's is 49 front/51 rear), and it's reasonable to
assume that the V65 rider would bias that distribution even more toward the rear
- though what makes the front tire stick in corners is more complex than where
the weight is.
Third, the V65 engine punches so hard out of
corners that the front end naturally will feel light under acceleration. And
there's nothing like horsepower to quicken up the steering of any bike. In more
practical terms, you'll have to go riding with your friends and their full
sporting 1100s only once to decide you won't clean up on them when the roads get
The Magna's brute torque and mile wide power
spread make the bike a joy to ride. With a little deft clutch work, the VF will
idle away from a dead stop, even carrying two riders, without so much as a blip
of the throttle. That's low end torque! Still, the engine revs readily up to
redline, and it's all too easy to send the tach needle deep into the red zone
because the bike runs so smoothly. When you cruise the 1100 in freeway traffic,
everybody else seems to be poking along, clogging the road at a snail's pace.
But a quick glance at the instruments explains the situation; thanks to the tall
gearing, strong engine and smooth ride you're cruising at 80 mph or more. Riders
must make a conscious effort to observe the legal limit. Passing in top gear is
effortless, but if you want to swoop by cars with authority, dropping down to
fifth or even fourth delivers passes in an eye blink or two.
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A It up tank provides access to the air filter.
Working conditions are cramped. The paper filter requires changing only every
We paid for our right handed excesses with mediocre mileage results. Steady
cruising netted figures in the Iow 40 mpg range, but our average fuel
consumption rate worked out to an un-spectacular 36.1 mpg. The low fuel warning
indicator, which lights up when only 0.8 gallon remains in the 4.5 gallon tank,
usually winked on after about 135 miles, giving the rider about 30 miles to find
a gas station; the Magna has no reserve capacity.
Our Magna started easily on chilly mornings, and
the handlebar mounted choke lever is conveniently located for left hand
adjustment. The Honda runs happily after minimal warm up and carburets well, hot
or cold, under all engine conditions.
The hydraulic clutch actuating setup eliminates
any need for lever adjustment, and gives good clutch engagement and feel. Clutch
pull is moderately stiff, considerably stiffer than the VT750's.
The six speed gearbox is a wonderful luxury though not really necessary, thanks
to the broad powerband and smooth engine. The 700 rpm drop in engine speed
between fifth and sixth gears at 60 mph is welcome for straight line cruising.
The gearbox proved a reluctant shifter, especially when the engine was cold;
slow, deliberate shifting is the best way to combat this quirk.
This king size Magna exhibits some bothersome
driveline snatch. Gearplay in the drive train, combined with the CV carb's
tendency to snap the carb slides open and closed, accentuates the Magna's low
speed jerk and lurch routine. Long stints of stop and go traffic become irksome,
and in congested, slow moving traffic, riders can skirt the problem by shifting
to a higher gear and idling along slowly.
The Magna has a number of attractive standard
features. They include an LCD gear position indicator, microprocessor controlled
self cancelling turn signals, and FOIL, Honda's built in security cable/alarm
system. Last year, FOIL was the exclusive feature of the V45 Sabre. We think the
V65's engine and its streetfighter styling make the King Kong Magna
motorcycling's prime candidate for Midnight (and sometimes Daylight) Liberation
Forces. Honda's fiber optic security cable is pretty innovative and probably
offers as much protection as one can reasonably expect.
For sheer visceral attraction, nothing beats the 1100 engine. By far, it's the
V65's best feature, and motorcyclists who buy the V65 on looks will quickly find
themselves enchanted by the 1100's performance.
The 65's power is irresistible. The 1100 Vee
would make an ideal starting point for a full fledged, pavement ripping sport
bike; and while the VF750F Interceptor is a gorgeous piece, the 750 can't have
1100 punch. You have to wonder how many ways Honda can find to use the V65. A
VF1100F is an obvious possibility, and the 1100's broad powerband, six speed
gearbox, driveshaft and excellent vibration control also make the V65 a
wonderful platform on which to build a full dresser. But for now, Honda has
taken its premier performance engine to the streets to create a stoplight to
stoplight blockbuster extraordinaire.