A profile of Honda motorcycles

More bikers ride Honda motorcycles than any other make in the world, simply because the company manufactures more bikes than any other. With machines ranging from the 60 million selling Cub 50cc moped to the world conquering Fireblade superbike, Honda has a reputation for building motorcycles with rock-solid reliability and class-leading performance.

The company was founded by Japanese engineer, Sōichirō Honda, in 1948 and since then has grown into a massive multinational with revenues of $120 billion in 2009. In the early days, Honda was primarily interested in working on cars, but his plans were sidelined by gas shortages in the second world war, which gave him the idea of attaching a small engine onto his bicycle in order to create a more efficient vehicle.

Honda’s first mass-produced vehicle was the Cub moped, which would go onto become the longest running and most successful motorcycle in history – propelling the company to the enviable position of world’s biggest motorcycle manufacturer by 1964. It would not be long before Honda led the way for the rest of the Japanese motorcycle industry to utterly demolish the long established industry leaders in Britain and America.

Right from the very beginning, Honda used motorsport as a means to achieve commercial success. In 1959 the company entered 5 motorcycles in the Isle of Mann TT race, using this as an opportunity to refine the design of the bikes and to raise the company’s international profile. Honda did not win a TT race until 1961, but this marked the beginning of decades of dominance in motorcycle sport for the company.

Some notable Honda motorcycles include the following models:

GoldWing – one of the most recognisable touring motorcycles on the market, the GoldWing was introduced in 1975 and is still in production, recently becoming the world’s first motorcycle to feature a built in airbag. The GoldWing is available with a variety of engine sizes ranging from 1,000cc to 1,800cc.

Fireblade – in 1992 Honda introduced a new generation of light but powerful supersports motorcycles. Not wanting consumers to focus on the engine size, which was smaller than 1000cc competitors, Honda marketed the new bike as the Fireblade, rather than the CBR-900. The Fireblade was arguably the machine which defined what we think of as modern sports motorcycles.

A Honda motorcycle that changed everything - the 1992 Fireblade
A Honda motorcycle that changed everything - the 1992 Fireblade

CBR600 – a consistently reliable high-performance mid-range sports bike which has been in production since 1987. Throughout numerous updates and redesigns, the CBR600 has remained a firm favourite with riders across the world, serving as a reliable workhorse whilst being sporty enough to provide high-powered thrills.

Choosing the Best Motorcycle GPS Navigation System

Navigation on a motorcycle can be difficult because it’s difficult for the rider to read a map whilst on the move, so handlebar-mounted GPS satellite navigation systems can be very useful. GPS systems for motorcycles need to be more rugged than those for cars, since they are exposed to the elements, and the controls have to be easy to operate for somebody wearing gloves.

Motorcyclists also need anti-glare screens, since they don’t have a roof to shield their navigation system from bright sunshine. Another point to consider is that, unlike cars, motorcycles do not have a power socket to connect a GPS unit to, so battery life is an important issue – although some satnav units are supplied with adapters that can be wired into the bike’s electrics.

Both of the leading manufacturers offer GPS navigation systems designed especially for the needs of motorcycle and scooter riders:

Garmin Zumo 550

Garmin Zumo motorcycle gps system
Garmin Zumo motorcycle gps system

The Zumo 550 offers all of the features you would expect from any GPS navigation system, along with some handy extras designed with motorcyclists in mind. The touch screen and controls are easy to use with your gloves on, and can be operated with your left hand, which means you can keep your right hand covering the front brake at all times.

The 3.5 inch screen can be read in bright sunlight and is UV resistant to prevent it from fading over time. The unit also keeps track of your distance travelled between refuels, and can warn you when the bike is running low on gas. It weighs 10.6 ounces and is reasonably compact, so it’s easy enough to carry around when you get off the bike.

The GPS unit features a speaker to provide voice directions, and also has built-in Bluetooth, allowing you to use it with a headset and your mobile phone, making it possible to answer calls while you’re on the move.

For the style-conscious, Garmin supplies caps in a variety of colors to match your motorcycle’s paint scheme. A universal mounting bracket is supplied, so you should be able to attach the device to any motorcycle, and a car-mount is also supplied.

Price: $650 (approx)

Click here to learn more about the Garmin Zumo 550 at Amazon.

TomTom Rider 2

TomTom Rider 2 motorcycle navigation
TomTom Rider 2 motorcycle navigation

In addition to a 3.5 inch anti-glare screen, this motorcycle GPS navigation system also features a sun visor built into the casing, to make it even easier to read in bright sunlight. The Rider 2 comes supplied with a Bluetooth headset, allowing motorcycle riders to listen to the spoken navigation instructions even when they’re wearing a crash helmet.

The device is waterproof and designed to be easily operated whilst wearing gloves. A universal motorcycle mounting kit is supplied, but a car mount is only available as an optional extra.

The TomTom Share feature allows you to modify the maps with your own points of interest and to share with your friends, so you can share information about your favourite roads with other riders. Another handy optional extra feature will let you know where to find the cheapest fuel near to your current location.

Price: $449

Click here to learn more about the TomTom Rider 2 at Amazon.

Garmin Zumo 665

Garmin Zumo 665 motorcycle GPS navigation unit
Garmin Zumo 665 motorcycle GPS navigation unit

If you want the very latest in motorcycle GPS navigation units, the Garmin Zumo 665 is for you. The Zumo 665’s unique features include advanced 3D navigation, a large 4.3 inch screen, and a built in MP3 player allowing you to listen to music or e-books through the supplied Bluetooth headset.  Alternatively, you can connect a headset through the standard headphone jack.

The device also offers a lane-assist feature, guiding you into the most appropriate lane as you approach a junction, and also provides you with a lifelike image of the approaching junction so that you can be better prepared for it.

Optional extras include an XM antenna, which will enable you to receive traffic and weather updates as well as XM Radio® with 170 ad-free music channels. The Zumo 665 features a built in MicroSD slot and allows you to share ride data with your friends – you can even review your rides on Google Earth when you get home.

Price: $999

Click here to learn more about the Gamin Zumo 665 at Amazon.