Honda VF 1100C Magna V65
builds a motorcycle mean enough for those guys who are tough enough to dip your
heart out with a wooden spoon.
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 machine. 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 twisty.
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
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 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.
Source Cydle 1983