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Saturday, February 2, 2013

My 1983 Honda V65 Magna
After selling my 1971 Honda 750 back in Milwaukee in the mid 70’s, I went for quite a few years without owning a motorcycle. In 1981, I moved north to Crivitz, Wi and a few years later started getting the urge for another bike. 

I sold my old 750 to the brother of a friend of mine in Milwaukee and knew that he still had it. I was aware that he had been injured seriously in an industrial accident and was no longer able to ride.
My first thought was to contact him and see if he was interested in selling it back to me and he was. When I owned it, I had the engine bored out to 811 cc and installed a hot cam in it. It was a good bike with a lot of power (it would run 12 second quarter miles) and thought I’d have fun restoring it. But after making a trip down to Milwaukee and seeing it, I quickly changed my mind. The bike had been sitting outdoors for a couple years and was in very bad shape. The carburetors had been removed and they were just laying there on the engine, the intakes to the combustion chambers wide open. The tires and seat upholstery were just completely rotted out. So I said “thanks, but no thanks”, left it and returned home.
This was about 1985 and I started looking in the paper for a used bike, coming across an ad for a ‘83 V65 Magna. I knew it was a big bike with an 1100 cc motor in it, but not much else. I really had not been paying much attention to the newer motorcycles that had been coming out in those recent years. This bike happened to be in Milwaukee, so I made the 300 mile round trip back down there the following weekend to look at it. It was black, good looking and appeared to be in very good condition. The guy wanted $2200 for it so I made the deal, rode it back to Crivitz while my wife drove the car back. It was a very cold, windy day in March with the temperature barely above 40 degrees, so it was a very "chilly" 150 mile Wisconsin ride!

After getting it home, licensed and registered, I had to wait to get some decent riding weather. While taking it for a test ride before buying, I knew it was a fast bike but didn't know how fast! The long ride home was cold and miserable and I really didn't open it up. Waiting for decent weather, I started reading a few road tests and discovered what a powerful machine I had just purchased. Once the weather cleared, getting that thing out on the street and cranking it up, I couldn't believe how fast the bike was. It had well over 100 horsepower, with a ten thousand RPM redline on the tach! It could run the quarter mile in ten seconds and quickly found that you better have a firm grip on the handlebars when you opened up the throttle! The acceleration was just phenomenal and something I will never forget! I remember some of the yells, comments (and a few screams!) while giving people rides! It would be getting close to 90 MPH in third gear, with three more gears available! I sure had fun with it, keeping it about two years before buying a new ‘87 Goldwing Interstate. The Goldwing turned out to be a mistake, as I really missed the performance and handling of the Magna after I sold it. The Goldwing was just too big and heavy, although it did have a good ride.

Here’s a review from a magazine back in the day with a link at the bottom:
“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 surprisingly 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.

Here's the links to my related motorcycle posts:
My 1971 Honda 750 (811 cc)
Harley-Davidsons - We Graduated!


  1. I fully understand your feeling. I fixed an 83 Magna for my brother in law which was sitting in a garage for 17 years. When I finally got her going I was so hooked that I bought one for myself for 500$ as a winter project. I have a HD Softail as well but I like the classic bike look of the Magna.

    1. Thanks for the comment, they were great bikes!