Saturday, June 15, 2019

The New (for 1983) Honda V45 Engine

More than power makes the V45 engine better than other street engines.

The objective: a new street bike engine with improved performance.

The technology: the V45 engine. A liquid-cooled, 90-degree V-4 displacing 45 cubic inches (748 cc). The first V-4 engine in a modern production street bike. Designed by Honda R&D and built for the V45 Magna™ and V45 Sabre™.

The bottom line to the V45 is easy to understand: the best power characteristics in the 750 class. But more than power distinguishes the V45 engine from its competition. Because the V45 engine is a breakthrough in motorcycle engine design as well as in performance.

The vee configuration makes the V45 extraordinarily narrow-just 16.3 inches from sidecover to sidecover. So it can be mounted low in the Magna and Sabre for more responsive handling and still provide outstanding cornering clearance. It also permits a low seat height as well.

The 90-degree angle between the V45's cylinders gives the V45 perfect primary balance, minimizing engine vibration. Link-type rubber engine mounts eliminate secondary vibrations for even smoother running, but without sacrificing frame rigidity.

The four-cylinder layout makes the V45 engine more powerful than a V-twin because it can pump a larger amount of fuel-air mixture through the engine in a given amount of time. Furthermore, the four-valve cylinder head with a narrow included valve angle improves combustion efficiency and permits high rpm operation for even more power.

Thermostatically controlled liquid-cooling narrows the range of the V45's operating temperatures. And uniform engine temperatures contribute to outstanding long-term reliability. Even so, the liquid-cooled V45 is lighter than a comparable air-cooled four-cylinder engine.

A unique powertrain design enables the transverse rotation of The V-4's crankshaft to be efficiently converted to the longitudinal rotation of the shaft drive system. The rotation of the crankshaft is simply reversed compared to a conventional engine. So no extra power robbing crossover shaft is required in the gearbox. The transmission is further simplified by locating the driveshaft's shock absorber inside the swing arm.

There are many things that make the V45 engine the strongest in its class. A 90-degree vee configuration for smooth running, a low center of gravity and outstanding cornering clearance. A four-cylinder layout with a four-valve cylinder head for increased power. Transistorized ignition, automatic cam-chain tensioners and screw-type valve adjusters for easy maintenance. A hydraulically actuated clutch and simplified powertrain to transmit the engine's power to the rear wheel efficiently yet the new V45 is more than just a powerful engine.

It's a better engine, too.

(text and image taken from here ... reformatted).

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Picking up the '88 Honda VF750C V45 Super Magna

Here are pics from the road trip to pick up my '88 Honda V45 Super Magna.  I took my truck and single axle trailer because I didn't want to take the chance that Murphy would ride with me on an attempt to get the Super Magna back to Columbia.  This was a "learned from hard experience" reaction when I buy new toys that are used (let alone over three decades old).

One thing I did notice was that the hydraulic clutch had started to give out in that it started to basically not work like it was supposed to ... like it needed to ... so it was some effort to get the bike up on the trailer.  The clutch reservoir "eye" looked dry so I stopped at Autozone along the way home and bought some DOT brake fluid thinking that I could do a quick fix for the clutch.


I used my Smith and Wesson multi-tool to remove the reservoir cover only to find the clutch reservoir almost empty.  Even when I filled the reservoir back up with fluid, the clutch would only barely operate so I resigned myself to the fact that there was probably (a lot of) air in the lines and that was just something else that my trusty Honda dealer would have to take care of. 

After getting the Super Magna back to Columbia, I left the bike on the trailer to take it to my Honda dealer on Tuesday (closed on Mondays).  After dropping it off, I looked forward to having the bike back once the dealer had gone through the bike from front to back, changed all the fluids, the plugs, tuned the bike up and done anything else that was needed on the bike.

I'm at the age now where I'm willing to pay someone else to do work for me on my toys if it means I get to spend more time with my family.  The money I put out to get the dealer to get the bike ready for me to ride is far less than the value of the time that I'd have missed working on the bike and not taking that time to be with my family.

My partner in adventure, my 15yo daughter Amanda Catherine, doing the driving chores because she wanted to drive the truck/trailer rig up there and back with me to get the '88 Super Magna.

Daddy / daughter time.  My time with my daughters is limited and precious ... I don't waste it when it's given to me. 

Yeah, she's mine.  She likes driving too much not to be mine.Enjoying being chauffeured around by my daughter.  It's times like this, when we're alone together on one of my adventures, that we really get to talk and bond.  I live for those moments.

The '88 Super Magna, cleaned up, with the rear Hondaline sissybar and passenger seat installed by Steve per my request.  It just makes the bike look better ... kind of like a rear spoiler, IMHO.

About to load the Super Magna on the trailer and secure it for the 90 plus mile return trip to its new home in Columbia, MS.
All loaded up and ready to go.

The setting sun on the way home.  It's been a day ... a good day.

Saturday, October 20, 2018

The original ad for the '88 Honda Super Magna

Here's the original ad I found on Facebook Marketplace for the '88 Honda Super Magna back in October 2018 when I went looking for cruisers for sale near me.  I was still not sure what kind of cruiser that I wanted, but it had to have the option to become a chopper and it had to look gooooooood!  I had narrowed my search down to Hondas and Suzukis (Shadows, Magnas and Intruders) when I came across an unmolested, all original, adult owned 1988 Honda Super Magna.  The fact that not only was it located within 100 miles of where I lived, but it was basically for sale on the route that I took to work about once a month when I had to run to Jackson to my HQ.

Talk about serendipity! 


But then that's just the way that my luck has been all of my life.

Reading through the ad I was drawn to this bike in more ways than one.  If this bike was what I thought it was (and hoped it was), then I'd just found my new horse ... a rare horse, one of about 3500 ever built in 1988 (and far fewer still on the road today ... far fewer).

Seller's Description


1988 Honda Super Magna VF750C - Super Magna

For sale, my all original and unmodified black 1988 Honda Super Magna - 24,583+ miles

If you know these bikes, you know how special these bikes are.  I've had this one since 2001 and put about 10K miles on it until 2009.  Then it sat in storage (in a garage and storage unit, but never in direct weather) until 3 weeks ago.  I put over $1000 into it get it serviced and back on the road.  Fuel system, carbs, tank, filters, fluids, tuneup, etc.  It's back on the road and I'd forgotten just how fun this bike is.  But my purpose was to pass it along to someone else, so I'm selling it.  It's not perfect and could use some shine time to really get the chrome to sparkle again, but it's in amazing shape for a 30-year-old bike -- even for a 10-year-old bike.

Included with the bike are all of my accessories as a bundle.  All are in decent to good shape, but if you don't already have these, this is a turnkey "ride off into the sunset" package and will save you hundreds:

- National Cycle windscreen

- Original Hondaline backrest and luggage rack
- KBC Wolf helmet
- Joe Rocket two-tier tank bag
- Generic 2-pc rain suit
- Joe Rocket cycle backpack
- Joe Rocket gloves

Very serious inquiries only.  I will be happy to answer questions and show by appointment.


This bike was, true to Steve's word, adult owned, well maintained, unmolested and perfect (as far as a 31-year-old bike could be perfect).  It was probably one of the cleanest examples of a 1988 Honda Super Magna that I'd ever run across and I knew that it was going to be the basis for my power chopper project.  Now, before you start honking at me and writing nasty emails about cutting up a classic like an '88 Honda Super Magna, realize this; I am not going to chop this bike up to make a chopper.  This is the 21st century ... there are companies and kits out there which allow you to convert most popular bikes into choppers without cutting and welding the frame.  All you do is change out the front steering head and forks, reusing the stock wheel, brakes, etc.  Anytime you want to go back from being a chopper, you just put the stock parts back on.

Here is a pic from the test ride ...

My old Joe Rocket jacket, Joe Rocket gloves and HJC "Smoke" helmet.  It was a little difficult going from a sportbike with triple disc brakes to a cruiser with a single front disc and a single rear drum but ... man!  It had been 24 long years since I'd slung my legs over the saddle of a V4 powered Honda and I had forgotten the distinct siren call of that family of motors.  

The truth is that a Honda V4 sounds like no other motor.


You can have your retarded "potato-potato-potato" sound of that Milwaukee-built irrigation pump that the rednecks and poser bikers laughing refer to as an "engine" but the truth is that a Honda V4 is about as close to perfection in a motorcycle engine as you dare to get ... from the track to the street ... and unlike anything built in America, the Honda V4 sings.

The V4 sings ... whereas the Harley V-twin simply has an asthma attack mixed with a spastic bout of flatulence once it (finally) manages to cough to life.  The Honda V4 is totally different; over the feral pulse of the 4 into 4 upturned exhaust (itself a work of art) is the eerie siren wail of the V4 ... double overhead cams playing sixteen valves like a maestro's fingers work the piano, all turned by a 360-degree crankshaft and liquid cooled.  The wail of the Honda V4 is an ethereal, soul-stirring song that calls to you ... it starts low and builds with speed.  Grab the throttle and twist and the siren's wail rises in intensity to a crescendo and then fades away like a whisper.  The V4's song is like a drug ... after riding all day you go to bed wanting to hear the song again and you wake up in the morning wanting to hear the song again.  

Not since I'd lost my '93 Honda VFR750F with its gear-driven overhead cams had I heard an engine song so sweet and the test ride on the '88 Honda Super Magna left me knowing that I'd been away from the Honda V4 for far too long.

Thursday, September 27, 2018

A new toy and a new beginning ...

It's been almost 5 years since I was cut out of the twisted wreck that had been my 1989 Dodge Daytona Shelby and I've had some physical limitations ever since.  How I survived that wreck I can only give thanks to God but survive I did ... in a somewhat lesser form.  My right shoulder still gives me problems sometimes and while I didn't give up riding motorcycles once my physical therapy was done, riding something as Spartan and hardcore in nature as my 2004 Honda CBR600RR caused me a large amount of discomfort, mostly in my right shoulder, after prolonged riding.  The end result was that over the last five years I've ridden my motorcycle fewer and fewer times until eventually my CBR basically became a garage queen, gathering dust, connected to a trickle charger and doing little more than sharing space next to my 1986 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am.

Sometime at the end of summer 2018, I started to really want to ride motorcycles again.  I put a good effort towards riding my CBR600RR but the joy just wasn't there anymore.  I realized that it wasn't the joy of motorcycling that I was missing, it was the joy of riding my CBR600RR specifically so I started to think about selling it and finding something else.

Long story short, I went through a bunch of motorcycle choices, did a bunch of research, and knew that if I wanted to get back to enjoying riding and motorcycling that I was going to have to go back to my cruiser roots.  Doing so, I realized that I would probably have to give up a lot of the hardcore performance that I'd come to be comfortable and casual with when owning some of the best designed, most powerful, most capable high-performance motorcycles ever built by man.

While I had grown up owning and riding cruisers (and wishing I could afford a sportbike), it wasn't until I was 22 that I bought my first sportbike, a 1984 Honda VF500F Interceptor, from my best friend Cody (who had owned the VF500F since it was new).  I loved that red, white and blue half-liter Interceptor and probably will own another '84 VF500F again in the next few years just for nostalgia ... and because the '84 VF500F is one of the most beautiful bikes ever designed, IMHO.

In the summer of 1993, for my 24th birthday, I traded the '84 Interceptor (with 88k miles) in on a brand new '93 Honda VFR750F.  I kept that bike for a little over a year, sharing the saddle with my girlfriend/fiance, Cindy, before a drunk driver took us off of the bike and destroyed the VFR in a late-night traffic accident in the fall of '94.

I took October 1994 to June of 1995 off from owning and riding but for my 26th birthday, right before I got married, I bought a brand new 1995 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6R in Kawasaki racing green livery.  The then brand new for 1995 ZX-6R Ninja was the fastest, best handling sportbike that I'd ever owned and ridden.

I kept the Ninja until August of 1998 when the Ninja was destroyed by a doe jumping out from the side of the road near Red Bluff and taking me off of the bike at 70mph.  

After that accident, I took a six-year sabbatical from riding and in June of 2004, for my 35th birthday present to myself, I walked into my local Honda dealer in Hattiesburg and rode out on a brand new 2004 Honda CBR600RR which I kept for the next 14 years.  The CBR600RR was my daily rider for many years, racking up 75 plus miles of interstate Monday through Friday and carving two-lane country back roads on weekends.

Then I got a company vehicle and my work started paying for tires, oil and gas.  The CBR600RR went into the garage and was ridden less and less.  Then in 2014, I got cut out of what was left of my '89 Dodge Daytona Shelby and I spent the next five years riding even less and less.

And all of that history brings us up to about August of 2018.

I put the '04 CBR up for sale then started looking for something else and that's when I decided to find something that would allow me to build something that I'd always wanted to build ... a chopper!

I remember going to a big car show in Birmingham, AL in the early '70's, I think it was the 1973 Autorama but I can't be sure.  I couldn't have been three or four years old ... and I saw this bad-ass chopper, all black and chrome, with black lights all around it and a giant Grim Reaper with scythe standing next to it.  That motorcycle blew my little mind and I told myself that one day I'd have a chopper like that.  Years later, I saw this kit of a Grim Reaper chopper and I swear that was the bike that I saw when I was a little kid but I can't find any information on if this kit was ever based on a real custom bike or it was just a kit.  My memories, now at 50 years old, of something I saw when I was three or four, are, rightly so, a bit on the fuzzy side.  Nevertheless, when I set about to start sketching out my chopper I kept going back to this one model kit because this one model kit sparked the memory of that bike that I'd said I'd own one day.

When I thought of building a chopper, another image came to mind ... the bike of the biker hero in Lucasarts' PC game "Full Throttle".  When I saw that bike in Full Throttle, it always reminded me of something else ... those exhaust pipes reminded me of the 1987 to 1988 Honda Super Magna!

Yeah, so there's where I was.  I had a childhood memory of a bike that might or might not have been real (at least based on the kit being based on a real bike) and a memory of building something like the hero's bike in an animated PC video game.

My life is anything if not strange and wonderful.  I can still remember standing there looking at that bad-ass chopper at that auto show, the fog machine blowing white smoke around the chopper and the life-size Grim Reaper with glowing red eyes staring there at me.

Childhood memory seared.

Well, forty-six years, more or less, flashed by in the blink of an eye and suddenly I had both the money and time to build on a childhood fantasy and dream; a bad-ass chopper of my very own.  At almost 50 years old, I no longer had the desire to throw my legs over a 165mph crotch rocket ... just like I no longer cared that there were some four door econoboxes out there that had more horsepower than my '86 Trans Am.  There comes a time when you don't care about being the fastest ... you just care about being the only-est, if that makes sense.

There is a substitute for being the fastest ... you can still be the baddest even if you're not the fastest ... as long as you drive or ride something really, really cool and as long as no one else has what you have.

Life is too short to drive mediocre cars or ride mediocre motorcycles.

I don't like to drive cars or ride motorcycles that everyone else has ... that's boring.  I like the rare stuff.  I like to drive and ride stuff that makes people turn their heads, stuff that draws a crowd when I park it and invites people to start conversations about my toys.  I don't want to see what I'm driving or riding ten times over, coming and going, where ever I'm headed.  The problem with cars and motorcycles today is that they are all too cookie cutter plain.  If someone zips by in a new Camaro or Mustang or Challenger or thunders by on a Harley, I can promise you that I'll see that exact car, color and options, or that exact bike, within a short time after I see the one that just passed.

I knew that I had to have something different ... so I went looking for my own unicorn.  Way back in 1990, when I first started at the University of Southern Mississippi (USM), I got a part-time job in the IT department at the university library.  Parked outside the library on many days, was this beautiful 1988 Honda VF750C Super Magna.  I loved the stance of that bike, the four into four exhaust pipes ... that bike just looked so right!  It wasn't boring like a Harley Davidson and while it wasn't a sportbike it did have a sportbike engine.

I've been a fan of Honda's family of V4 engines since I was a teenager.  The Honda Magnas and Sabres and Interceptors were the stuff of teenage dreams when I was growing up, along with IROC-Zs, Trans Ams, Mustang GTs, Monte Carlo SS's, Buick Grand Nationals, Toyota Supras, Mazda RX-7s, and all the other sports cars of the 1980's.


Just the thought of the technology that Honda perfected in that family of engines still blows my mind ... and the fact that a 31-year-old 45 cubic inch Honda V4 can keep up with, if not blow away, anything that Harley Davidson can field today in 2019 including the now discontinued VRSC V-Rod ... and the Honda does it with over 55 cubic inches less.

So, I decided to find a Honda Magna.  When I'd bought my '93 VFR750F, Honda had just released their third generation Magna, itself powered by a slightly detuned VFR750F V4 engine.  Finding a '93 to '02 Magna wasn't hard because nothing much changed during those years except the paint colors.  I tracked several third gen Magnas down and almost bought one in Tennessee but something told me to hold out ... to hold out for a 1988 Super Magna ... and that's what I did.

I didn't have to wait long, even though the 1987 to 1988 Honda Super Magna is probably one of the rarest Magnas ever built.  Finding one is good condition, let alone great condition, is a real grail quest but then my life is full of odd and strange and wonderful experiences, incidents and coincidences.

This proved no different.

Three days after I looked through the Facebook Marketplace and set an alert for a 1988 Super Magna my search results pinged me that not only was a 1988 Super Magna available nearby but it was the color that I wanted ... black.  When I checked to see where the Super Magna was for sale at, I was surprised that the owner lived just outside of Jackson.  In fact, I routinely passed by the owner's house a few times each month when traveling to and from Jackson for my state job.

A few emails, a trip up to Jackson to test ride the '88 Super Magna, a cash deposit and a trip back with a trailer one week later and I was the somewhat surprised but very happy owner of a beautiful 1988 Honda Super Magna.  The bike that I'd been looking for, the ultra low production bike of my dreams had literally landed in my lap.

748cc liquid cooled V4 with double overhead cams and sixteen valves.  Four Khein carburetors, four into four upswept exhaust, mag front wheel, solid disc rear wheel, six-speed transmission, and shaft drive.

Oh, the sound of that three quarter liter V4!  Not since my '93 VFR750F had I heard an exhaust note of a motorcycle that sounded so orchestrated, so ... powerful.

The first thing that I did when I got the '88 Super Magna home was to take it to my Honda dealer in Hattiesburg and leave it with them.  I didn't have the time to go through the bike and check everything ... but I had the money to let someone else do it for me so that's what I did.

A week later and a few hundred dollars lighter in the wallet the '88 Super Magna was back in my garage ... tuned, all fluids replaced, fresh plugs, fresh brake pads all around, everything checked and inspected and it was running like brand new.

About that time, a week and a half worth of rain set in so I didn't get to ride my new toy very much but I sat down and started sketching out ideas, new graphics, a list of modifications that I wanted to accomplish ... and that was when I got serious about turning the '88 Super Magna into something that I'd always wanted to build ... a power chopper.

A power chopper ... not some neutered, air-cooled V-twin irrigation pump powered Harley that was all show and no go, but a serious power cruiser turned power chopper ... a V4 power chopper that had all the power of a V4 Magna but all the style of those long nosed motorcycles that I fell in love with as a child of the 1970's.

So here we are ... building a power chopper.  Yeah, we're going to be going a little slower than I'm used to ... but I'm also going to be turning a hell of a lot more heads when I ride by on a stretched out V4 Magna.  The best part of it all?

I don't know of anyone else who has a choppered out Magna, let alone a Super Magna.

Being the only one of your kind isn't just exclusive ... in a world where everyone tries to copy everyone else being original is downright enviable.

The New (for 1983) Honda V45 Engine