The Honda Magna 750 was a heavy-hitting cruiser that originally came in swinging back in 1982. The first production run was until 1988 before it was discontinued.
Honda revived the Magna 750 again in 1994 using an all new engine; the last Magna was released in 2003 and that was the end of the era.
During its run the Honda Magna 750 carved out a lasting impact in the middleweight cruiser sector, known for being more of a power cruiser before that term really existed and an all round great motorcycle.
Let’s get into the ins and outs of the Magna 750.
Honda Magna 750 Review
Back in the early 1980’s Honda was developing new engines and new motorcycle design concepts. In order to crack into the Harley dominated US market they knew they needed a really good cruiser that had more to offer than being a Harley style copycat.
The key to success would be the engine design which would ring true for both their new middleweight and heavyweight bikes.
It was decided the best approach would be to use their new V4 engine, a four-cylinder, shared crankshaft, V style configuration that was initially built as a 750cc (designated V45) but soon after was expanded for a 1,098cc (V65) to run concurrent with the 750.
The engine was a direct descendant of racing machines like the NR750 and NS750. With such faith invested in the new motor, the Magna shares the engine with the honda Sabre and the later famous Interceptor.
“There is, they say, no substitute for cubic inches. That is, except for efficiency. Let an engine breathe, spin it hard and make it efficient, and who needs all those bulky cubic inches?” Motorcycle Cruiser
Fundamentally Honda had produced a performance cruiser in the middleweight sector, the raw acceleration was appreciated by riders the world over, and was known for being able to wipe the smug smile of big twin Harley riders sitting on a huge lump of a V twin.
It wasn’t just giving Harley competition though with quick passes, the Magna 750 was quite capable of giving it a go against the Honda Valkyrie which was a big six cylinder.
On the open road the Magna roars into life with power kicking in higher up the RPM’s it is known for its high horsepower and masses of torque. Therefore, it makes for a great highway bike in terms of performance (comfort is another matter).
Equally around town the 6 speed gearbox is easy to navigate with an affirming click into each gear and the motor requires little downshifting in order to keep moving forward.
Although, it is better to stay above 1,500rpm for the quick acceleration that the Magna is known for. To be quick off the mark you need a heavy hand on the throttle, a quick clutch hand and plenty of control, imagine a typical cowboy gun draw.
The speed limiter has 150mph on it but it is suggested that the Magna’s top speed is around 120mph. Overall the motor is smooth as anything at regular speeds. However, when laying down hard highway models you get a buzzing that isn’t particularly detrimental to the longevity of your ride, it is more like an annoying bee buzzing around.
First models received shaft final drive but for the second generation this was changed to chain drive, which made for better power efficiency but sacrificed ease of maintenance.
Now let’s talk chassis, comfort and handling.
Despite being a cruiser the Magna 750 has a riding position and chassis design more akin to a standard motorcycle, the low seat height being the exception.
Taller riders will be better off fitting forward pegs and different bars for more comfort on longer rides. However shorter riders may actually struggle to flat foot despite the seat height as it is a wide motorcycle, it is light enough to manage though pretty easily.
The passenger seat is more of a pad and the bike isn’t going to be comfortable as standard for two up riding, the rider is actually better off thanks to a soft seat.
Steering is light, the bike is easy to throw around and manipulate at will, but the sporty nature of the engine is well harnessed in the frame that gives an all round stable feeling.
The suspension is spot on and was leaps ahead of other cruisers of the time as were the brakes. The front wheel offers adequate feedback whereas on the back any bumps under the rear wheel are soaked up by the suspension.
Clean lines, lashings of chrome, nice paint work, sweeping exhausts, all make for a good looking bike, one that is perfectly acceptable as a bonafide cruiser. The only let down in the design really is the fake cooling fins and airboxes that cheapen things a little.
It was unfortunate timing with the original Magna as motorcycle sales were in a bit of a downturn and the V4 engine configuration despite being smoother, more efficient and arguably more powerful meant that sales weren’t as good as they needed to be.
Although this can’t really be a reflection of the Magna overall as Honda deemed it fit to bring the bike back and give it another run.
Press at the time and now all agree the Magna is a pretty good all round muscle cruiser and with Honda’s famed reliability.
Engine and Transmission
Engine – Four-stroke, 90 degree V4, Direct Overhead Cams,
Capacity – 748cc
Bore x Stroke – 70 x 48.6mm
Compression Ratio – 10.5:1
Cooling System – Liquid
Starting – Electric
Induction – 4 x Keihin 32mm carbs
Transmission – 6 speed
Final Drive – Shaft drive
Clutch – Wet, multi-plate
Max Power – 79 horsepower at 9,500rpm
Max Torque – 66Nm at 7,500rpm
Chassis and Dimensions
Front Suspension – 39mm air-assisted forks
Rear Suspension – Dual shocks
Front Brakes – 2 x 275mm discs
Rear Brakes – Drum
Rake – 30 degree
Trail – 104mm/4.1″
Wheelbase – 1,539mm/60.6″
Seat Height – 757mm/29.8″
Dry Weight – 228g/502.7lbs
Fuel Capacity – 13 Liters
1982-1984 – VF750C and VF700C
The original Magna model. For 1984 Honda introduced the smaller VF700C to combat US import tariffs on bikes in the 750cc class, this was largely to appease American manufacturers. The engine was reduced by shortening the stroke.
However, the model remained largely the same in all other ways.
1985-1986 – VF700C
Sub-tank was switched out and built into the main tank
Wider rear unit and fender to accommodate wider rear tire
Cosmetic changes to the trim were made and a lower seat fitted, it was also the year the first passenger seat to come as standard
New valve covers which made valve rocker adjustments significantly easier
1987-1988 – The year of the Super Magna
The VF750C returned back to its original capacity and it was the first year that the Magna and Interceptor actually had different engine configurations – a 360 degree crank vs a 180 degree crank.
There were some other smaller cosmetic differences and the rear wheel was a solid aluminium disc.
1994-2003 – VF750C
The all new Magna was released using the VF750 engine and it was now chain-driven and mated to a 5 speed transmission.
Buying an original Magna
A quick search will show you that you can pick up reasonable bikes in the US for under $2,000. Prices in the UK vary a bit more between £2,000-£4,000.
So regardless of your location you won’t struggle to pick a Magna up. The great news is these motorcycles look even better now than they did when they were released. They will stand out more too due to modern cruisers stepping away from traditional designs.
Restoring a Honda Magna
The Magna is a great bike for a restoration project, although the engine configuration is not the easiest to work on if you are a novice, so be prepared to do your research.
Parts are easy to come by and affordable as are the donor bikes.
I wouldn’t endeavor on a Magna project to turn a profit though, it should be undertaken as a passion project only.
The Magna 750 was impressive when it was released and ahead of its time and today it remains a solid Honda cruiser pairing traditional styling with performance that can match most modern bikes in the same class.