Your 10 best-rated Hondas

We don't know if the nicest people are seen on Hondas, but we do know what the nicest Hondas are...

THIS month, we've compiled the ten best Honda motorcycles, as rated by Visordown's Honda owners who have submitted their review to our reviews database.

Our Bike Reviews Database, which contains a whopping 2,700 owners' reviews and scores, is an invaluable source of insight. Getting a broad consensus out of numerous people who've owned and lived with a particular bike means a verdict you can be confident about.

Given the sheer popularity of Hondas, our base criterion for consideration this time is that a bike has at least 10 owner reviews on our database. We then average out owners' detailed ratings on the Engine, Brakes, Handling, Comfort and Build to arrive at a final score. The higher the score, the more highly rated the bike. 

Of course, with the top ten being limited to, well, ten, many well-known and loved models missed out - most narrowly the 2002-2005 VFR800 (overall reader score 4.17), the 2006-2009 CBF1000 (4.27) and the Varadero XLV1000 (4.28).

So which are your best-rated Hondas? Scroll down to find out!

10. CBR900RR Fireblade

Reader score: 4.30

The Fireblade is one of the most influential and successful sportsbikes, let alone Hondas. Over the last 20 years, Honda’s laser-guided missile has been top dog or at least strong contender in most litrebike group tests, and a steady sales success. Though the twin-round-headlight original designed by Tadeo Baba has become an icon and a cult bike, this month’s top-ten list opens with the second-generation ‘Blade.

Still adhering to the lightweight-and-powerful philosophy, the 1996 CBR900RR sported new bodywork around a 918cc engine, as well as a stainless steel exhaust and higher bars, and later also gained a new swingarm, clutch and windscreen. A 16-inch front tyre helped make it extremely quick-steering, or flighty, depending on your point of view. Well-built and widely sold, it’s still a good used buy, though by the time of its replacement it had fallen well behind the likes of the R1.

What do Visordown owners think? With 122-128 bhp, the Blade’s still plenty powerful enough; the handling is light and precise; it’s roomy and comfortable for a sportsbike, and, being from the analog era, easy to work on if you're mechanically inclined. Besides, it's easy on fuel, cheap to insure, and used prices are also laughably low.

However it’s deemed bulky by modern standards (though that works out well for taller riders), the brakes can be found wanting and that 16-inch front wheel restricts choice if you need new rubber. Oh and those 90s colour schemes can jar the modern eye.

Read CBR900RR owner reviews or add your own

9. CBR1100XX Super Blackbird

Reader score: 4.37

The CBR1100XX Super Blackbird is a speed monster – capable of 178 mph, it was at its launch in 1996 the fastest bike in the world, a crown it held for two years – but one that’s ever so typically Honda: smooth, refined, civilized – almost gentle.

With its clean flowing lines, the Double-X looks remarkably fresh even today, and its 1,137cc inline-four makes a silky 133-137bhp and 78-80 lb-ft of torque. High quality and reliability added to decent fuel economy and comfort have given the ‘Bird a rock-solid reputation as a sports-tourer par excellence. Ever since its production run ceased in 2007, there has been a vocal legion of ‘bring-it-back’ proponents, and clean used bikes are much sought after.

Visordown owners love its all-day touring comfort for both rider and pillion, its stable ride even with luggage, 200-mile tank range and staggeringly effortless turn of speed from the turbine-like engine. The build quality and paint finish gets universal rave reviews. On the whole, the XX earns compliments by the bagful. 

On the downside, it’s a big, bulky and heavy bike, which can be felt at low speed or when manoeuvring around on foot. Ground clearance under hard riding is not the best, and electrical problems are mentioned. The Combined Braking System (CBS) has as many opponents as admirers, and some owners feel the styling is now a bit long in the tooth. Many people simply bemoan the fact that it is no longer available.

Read CBR1100XX owner reviews or add your own

8. VFR750 (1990-1997) (RC36)

Reader score: 4.39

The RC36, the final two generations of VFR750 prior to it becoming an 800, is the oldest bike in this top ten, with a 1990 birthday - older than Justin Bieber and looks and sounds a damn sight better.  

The RC36 has all the plus points of the venerable Veefers - over-engineered and built to last, cross-country comfort, and a torquey V4 motor. With its gear-driven cams, single-sided swingarm and wider 17-inch wheels, it left the 80s firmly behind. 

Visordown users have plenty of good things to say about this bike. The 100 bhp V4 delivers a tidal wave of midrange, blasting up to 150 mph and burbling nicely while at it. It's ultra reliable over long distances and high mileages, and the comfort and ride quality are made for long hours in the saddle. Even the VFR's looks earn praise, with the well-proportioned lines not seeming too dated. 

For a bike with two-decade-old tech, you can't really come in with sky-high expectations, but that doesn't stop anyone... So the RC36 is heavy by modern standards, has less effective brakes, and lacks gizmos. Sheer age takes its toll, and the era's less-then-perfect electricals and material finishes rear their balding heads. It also tends to gulp petrol when pushed. But the fact that owners are hustling a 20-year-old sports-tourer through backroad twisties says it all really.

Read VFR750 RC36 owner reviews or add your own.

7. VFR800 VTEC (2005 - present)

Reader score: 4.41

The VFR800 VTEC, with variable valve timing, is highly regarded as a sports tourer - but it wasn't always so. 

The early models (2001 on) suffered a hiccup as the engine transitioned from two-valve to four-valve operation. Taking their time, Honda released their new-and-improved model in 2005, and judging by its appearance in this top ten, finally got it right. 

The trickery is electronic, with the ECU altering ignition timing and fuelling based on a range of parameters including throttle and gear position. This improvement removed the last remaining objection from the naysayers, and the VFR's reputation is now as bulletproof as the engine. 

Owners love its classy style, the incessant drive from its deceptively quick and durable 107 bhp V4, 220-mile tank range, saddle comfort, bright headlights and practical touches such as centre stand and grab rail. Handling is neutral even with a full complement of luggage, and with linked ABS brakes, stopping is a sure affair. 

On the downside, the cam chains are less reliable than the gear driven cams of old, as proven by a factory recall. Though build quality is on the whole very good, some owners have reported pitting and corrosion. Servicing seems to be very expensive and the screen isn't the most effective. 

Read VFR800 VTEC owner reviews or add your own.

6.CBR600F (2001-2008)

Reader score: 4.42

Despite its cutting-edge origins as the Hurricane, the CBR600F grew to be Honda's concession to the real world rider - a comfortable and practical yet sporty bike, not the race-rep, razor-sharp scalpels-on-wheels that motoring journalists and teenaged boys love.

No surprise that loads of people have owned and loved the CBR-F, and told us about it on Visordown. The 2001-2007 bike (CBR600F4i - the final generation, before its resurrection in 2011) bags sixth place in this list: a middlingly-good position for a similar kind of bike.

The F4i is the first of the injected CBR-Fs, and continued broadly unchanged until the end of its run, with the new CBR600RR race-rep chosen to carry Honda's sporting torch from 2003 onwards. With a healthy 109 bhp from the smooth inline-four, it's no laggard. Well-built and invariably owned by the kind of people who don't thrash their bikes, used CBR-Fs are still sought after. 

Visordown owners say that the F has so many virtues, it's hard to decide what it does best. You could say the flip side is that it's a jack-of-all-trades and master of none.

The build quality is said to be top-notch, the riding position and wide seat makes commuting and longer rides a cinch. Enough power for most needs is enhanced by a forgiving delivery, and the handling can take on backroads and even track days.

The few reported downsides are a bit less oomph in the midrange, fuel economy being on the lower side, and not the best brakes in the world. The non-stainless downpipes can suffer over time, and some people have also highlighted cam chain tensioner issues. 

Read CBR600F owner reviews or add your own.

=4. CB1000R (2008-present)

Reader score: 4.50

A hot naked Honda? Words rarely combined together. Also, words eaten as the CB1000R rolls into view in joint-fourth place...

The CB1000R was launched in 2008 with a winning formula: swoopy little dabs of bodywork adorning the previous year's Fireblade engine, detuned-ahem-retuned for midrange, as well as suspension, brakes and other bits derived from Big Red's flagship sportsbike. And all at a reasonable price. 

Its 130 bhp and 100 lb-ft dollop of torque is delivered with typically fuss-free refinement (some say blandness) designed to appeal to the greatest number of riders.

On Visordown, users think it's a brilliant allrounder: easy to ride (one even likened it to a 125 in that regard!), plenty of power and tons of torque, composed handling, excellent build quality (though some say not as good as Hondas of yore) and very stylish to boot, with the swish clocks and single-sided swingarm impressing many. 

Some people find the suspension soft and urge a stiffer setting, others suggest changing the stock exhaust. Pillions get a bit of a raw deal, the back wheel is said to throw up a fair bit of spray, and there have been a couple of parts recalls. The absence of a particular stand-out strength is touted as a possible negative, as is a perceived lack of soul - a sure sign of a good bike! 

Read CB1000R owner reviews or add your own.

=4. CBR1000RR Fireblade (2006-2007) 

Reader score: 4.50

When Honda introduced the stonking, almost-all-new CBR1000RR in 2004, it was MotoGP manna falling from the heavens. 170 bhp, 176kg, 175 mph… and that trick electronic steering damper (ESD). But, that model didn't quite have enough owner reviews to make our cut-off, and it's the successor model, the 2006-2007, which represents the 1000cc Blades here, at joint-No.-4. 

It's a nips-and-tucks improvement on the 2004-05 - engine and ECU revisions for better midrange, larger brakes, chassis and suspension tweaks - but it's those very improvements that made it such a fine machine to own and live with, both on road and track. The extra oomph suddenly gave it back the character that 'Blades seemed to have forgotten - but in true Honda fashion, it's always pleasingly unintimidating, even when the front wheel's coming up. 

The seamless power and eyeball-deforming top end gets much applause from Visordown users, as does the forgiving nature of the bike (was it Spidey's uncle who said that with great power comes, er, great forgiveness?). Handling is agile and controlled, brake feel is terrific and ESD is a boon on rutted roads. Resale values are strong too.

Downsides? Besides one tall owner who found it very uncomfortable, only minor gripes: one feels the paint finish can be better, some think it sounds dull with a stock can. A couple of owners say it makes you think you're better than you actually are (but is that a bad thing?). Many simply could not pick negatives. An excellent overall package.

Read CBR1000RR owner reviews or add your own.

the top three

3. CBR929RR Fireblade (2000-2001) 

Reader score: 4.54

Breaking into the top three is yet another 'Blade, this time the 929cc model from the turn of the century. Stung after the 'Blade's fall from grace in a post-R1 world, Honda faced off to the competition in the new millennium with the CBR929RR. 

Nine kg lighter yet more powerful (150bhp), the new Blade was a step forward, with lots of useable power, quick steering and huge braking. Nevertheless, it felt 'tamed' compared to the competition as well as to its predecessors - though it did bring to the party a whole host of new features including fuel injection, USD forks, 17-inch wheels and immobiliser key.

The buying public was still enamoured by the class-defining R1 and the Gixxer Thou, and the 929 didn't sell in the numbers Honda wanted. On its own, though, it is still a fine real-world machine, and proof lies in the third spot it has bagged in this list. 

According to the Visordown box populi, it's a fast, smooth, comfortable and trouble-free superbike - numerous people judge it to the best bike they have ever owned. There's more than enough power for virtually any road rider, handling is light and focused, and the compliant suspension and non-extreme riding position make this Blade comfortable for longer journeys. The generous underseat storage gets thumbs-up too. 

The 929 doesn't really have much to fault. Some owners complain of snatchy fuelling at low speed and recommend a Power Commander to sort it out. A steering damper is another recommended fitment. The service intervals (4k) seem too short to some.

Read CBR929RR owner reviews or add your own.

2. CBR954RR Fireblade (2002-2003) 

Reader score: 4.56

The all-conquering Fireblade continues its dominance of this list, with the fourth model to feature in this list being the 954cc model introduced in 2002. This was Honda (and Tadeo Baba) turning up the wick to take back the litrebike crown from its rivals, after the 929 failed to do so. 

Slimmer, sharper and smaller than previous models, the 954 started looking sexy again. And mechanically, it wasn't just a bigger engine (with the injection ironed out), there was also better suspension and brakes, and a revised chassis, wheels and exhaust - pretty much a new bike, then. The last of the '900' series Blades, the 954 a sought-after used buy, as the successor 1000s are bit of a different species. 

Owners have pushed it right up to No.2 here, so what do they think about it? 'It's just so right' is a common sentiment. The love begins at standstill, with the 954's lines winning hearts even before the key is turned. On the move, with predictable yet stunning power pushing just 170kg, telepathic steering, two-finger brakes and thoughtful ergonomics, it makes its owners very happy indeed, for years on end. 

A few owners still don't like the low-speed fuelling and feel the need for a steering damper, but on the whole the 954 is a really hard bike to find fault with. There have been a few parts recalls too, and the paint finish is not Honda-esque enough for some. But on the whole, the 954 Blade is a superb bike that does everything you ask it to. 

Read CBR954RR owner reviews or add your own. 

1. CB500

Reader score: 4.63

And the winner is… the CB500. Like your favourite childhood toy or teenage song or comfort food, the CB500 is a memory that never spoils. It's not the flashiest or coolest bike out there - but Visordown users have voted it to the top spot for the simple reason that it does so many things right.

The durability of its 500cc, 54 bhp parallel-twin is legendary - it was apparently designed to last for at least 190,000 miles, and it lived up to its billing in the hands of riding schools and couriers all over the land. 

Rapid if not fast, comfortable if not plush, sufficiently if not generously equipped, stable if not sharp-handling, the CB500 had a glorious nine-year run, even being raced in the eponymous Cup that BSB rider James Ellison cut his teeth on, before emissions norms killed it off in 2003. 

Visordown users are all praise for the CB's known attributes - bombproof, cheap to run, easy to maintain - but also term it fun to ride, noting the kick above 7-8K revs, and say it can keep up with faster machines in the right hands. "Does everything I need it to, brilliantly" is the common refrain - that and "can't fault it". Its unglamorous looks even work in its favour, as thieves cast their beady eyes at the shiny sportsbike next to it.

The only gripes seem to be a seat that can get uncomfortable after 2-3 hours of riding (um, take a break, will you…), and downpipes and fork seals that are not hewn from the block of Neverfailium that the rest of the machine seems to be. 

Fittingly, the best-rated Honda is a bike that embodies the virtues of the brand itself. Solid, sensible and reliable, the CB500 is the quintessential basic motorcycle.

Read CB500 owner reviews or add your own.

Join the conversation!

Let us know what you think, just sign up for a free account, leave a comment and get involved!
Register Now


Loading Comments...