… Erik Johnson’s 1999 Honda Magna (4th or 5th generation, depending on whether you count the V30 and V45 as different generations). Why am I featuring this bike in this post today? Well, because he paid me $300 to do so*, and because I really, really enjoy these bikes. Back in 2004 (to early 2005,?) I had a 1995 Magna in that beautiful yellow, and to date it remains one of the bikes that look back upon, wistfully and longingly. I put maybe 10,000 miles on mine.
That generation of Magna was powered by the about-to-be-replaced VFR750 engine. The bike developed between 75 and 85 horsepower, and between 46 and 51 foot pounds of torque. Numbers vary as I suppose there were minor tuning variations between the years, and Honda has always been notoriously protective of engine performance specifications. Perhaps some values are measured at the wheel and some at the crank. Who knows… at any rate, the bike got down the road just fine. I won’t say I won any races with mine, but it gave me quite a thrill riding it.
Erik’s bike looks like a very, very clean and well-kept example of what I consider one of the more understated and under appreciated machines on the road. While I typically prefer a solid-color paint scheme on most bikes, I like what Honda did with the graphics on the Magna… I guess it’s meant to be a stylized flame or speed-induced striations. In any case, I like it.
The bike is pretty basic in appointments… drum rear brake, single disc front brake, very simple instrument cluster and a modicum of rider and pillion room. It’s a fairly small frame bike, and at a little over 525 pounds wet and ready to ride, it’s on the lighter side for something considered a cruiser. In typical cruiser fashion, the rider’s legs are out front, but nothing I’d consider extreme. Not quite as far back as the Sportster’s mid control configuration, but nothing stretched out like a Soft Tail or V-Rod, either. Call it “relaxed forward controls”, if you have to call it something.
I remember the handle bars being in a pretty neutral position, and honestly the only comfort and ergonomic modifications I made to mine were to install a very small shield and replace the stock seat. I had plans to take it on a solo cross-country trip… those plans never materialized during those years, but I felt the bike was fine for the job. I installed a set of Willie & Max synthetic leather saddle bags on a custom made aluminum rack I made, and had plans to install a Givi trunk on it… In fact, I still have the Givi E45 top case I bought shortly before selling the Magna.
The VFR’s engine was dressed with a bit of chrome, including chrome airbox covers, and the rest of the bike is decorated with enough functional chrome to stand out as nice looking without being gaudy. Erik keeps his looking much better than many I’ve seen; my wheels were never that clean.
I’m having some pretty serious knee issues these days, and keeping them tucked on the sportier bikes for any more than a half hour or so is all but impossible. I’m currently riding a VStrom by Suzuki, but if and when I decide to move to something that’s more ergonomically friendly for my busted old bones, the Magna is on the short list.
This generation of bike was built from 1993 (though marketed as an early ’94) up through 2003 and remained unchanged, mechanically, through its life. The Magna was available in a variety of paint and graphic combinations throughout its run, including yellow, black, blue, red, purple
*No, Erik didn’t really pay me $300 to feature his bike, but if he does, I’ll be sure to let you know.