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
41mm Air assisted forks. 150mm travel
Twin shock adjustable for spring preload rebound and
2x 270mm disc 2 piston calipers
Single 282mm disc 2-piston caliper
246 kg / 545 lb
10.75 sec / 126 km/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
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 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.
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 specs.
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
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
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
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
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
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 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.
last photo 2.jpg (26625 bytes)
A It up tank provides access to
the air filter. Working conditions are cramped. The paper filter requires
changing only every 8000 miles.
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
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.