The Honda Pacific Coast 800 is not a motorcycle I think about very often. In fact, I hadn’t thought about it at all until Tom Roderick nominated it as one of his choices for Top 10 Disappointing Motorcycles. Then, once a search result popped up after typing Pacific Coast into the MO search bar, I had a feeling the subject of this week’s Church feature was presenting itself. After reading the first impression below of the Honda Pacific Coast from the 1998 MO staff, I knew we had a winner. If you’re curious about the “Station wagon of motorcycles” then you owe it to yourself to check out the story below.


First Impression: Pacific Coast 800

Born To Be Mild

By MO Staff Mar. 05, 1998
Photos by Billy Bartels

Honda’s Pacific Coast 800 is the station wagon of motorcycles, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it’s just not fashionable at this time. Our adrenaline-junkie, Mountain Dew head-rush culture has replaced sensible and practical with fast and aggressive as objects of desire.

Just as bigger, more powerful sport utility vehicles have replaced the family wagon as the family and cargo hauler-of-choice, faster, more powerful mounts like Honda’s ST1100 as well as new aggressive race-bred sport tourers like Ducati’s ST2 and Honda’s new VFR Interceptor have sent bikes like the Concours and the Venture into virtual retirement. Although fast and sporty doesn’t always mean success in America (note the surprising demise of Kawasaki’s GPZ 1100 and Yamaha’s GTS 1000), all around
practicality isn’t what most Americans look for in motorcycles.

pc800-4

The Pacific Coast might be the world’s most sensible motorcycle, falling on Honda’s evolutionary chain between the Helix and the ST1100. Comfortable ergonomics. Excellent weather protection. Real-world, almost automobile-like power delivery. A huge, visible car-like rear tail-light. And, of course, the trunk. The trunk rules. It can comfortably carry four plastic bags full of groceries, along with a small bag of dog food. It can fit two full-sized helmets and two medium-sized gym bags. It’s watertight. We rode the PC 800 thru two pre-El Nino Southern California monsoons without any water leaking into the trunk. And unlike side bags, stuff doesn’t want to fall out when you open it.

pc800-2The PC 800 might be too sensible. When the PC debuted, it was considered a radical bike — the world’s first motorcycle completely hermetically sealed within an envelope of plastic. In fact, the PC 800 seems ashamed of its motorcycle lineage. What this bike really wants to be is a car, all the way down to the automobile-like instrument panel and the textured PVC that covers the handlebars. Shhhhh: Listen closely and you can hear it whisper “I wish I were an Accord. I wish I were an Accord.”

It didn’t sell well at first, but over the years it has developed a following. The aesthetics are perhaps the most controversial element in this otherwise friendly, though Milquetoast bike. Our own unscientific survey revealed that people who don’t like motorcycles like the looks of this bike. My mom, for instance. Your mom probably, too.

pc800-3A yuppie wanna-be stockbroker friend, who’s wife wouldn’t invite us to a cotillion of aging, preppy, former sorority-girls if we showed up on bikes, absolutely loved the Pacific Coast. They both did.

“This is the nicest bike you’ve ever had,” said Wifey. “But you still can’t come to the cotillion.”

Hard core bikers had a different take.

“It’s looks like a port-o-pottie on wheels,” sniffed one staffer.

“It looks like a scooter on steroids,” said another. “And this cotillion sucks. Lets go over to the garbage dump and break things.” Cool.

The PC 800 is comfortable and the weather and wind protection are very good. But it’s a porky bike, weighing in at 640 pounds wet. Still, it handles well in slow corners with a good turning radius and at straightaway speeds the soft suspension soaks up the bumps; faster corners feel mushy.

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The rear suspension offers four-way spring preload, but the 41mm front fork is non-adjustable. We did find it to be relatively flickable, but because of its long wheelbase it preferred to stand up. Like a Weeble, it wobbled but it didn’t fall down.

pc800-9The brakes, two twin-piston front discs and a drum at the rear, are very average. Fade was non-existent, but then there isn’t an overabundance of stopping power, so there’s not much there to fade. The front rotors are designed in such a way so that most disc locks will not fit. The engine is a 45-degree V-Twin, and except for displacement it’s essentially the same engine as found on the Shadow ACE and the ACE 750. As with Gold Wings, the PC 800 comes with hydraulic valve adjusters for easy maintenance. The engine is not particularly strong, and it has a very narrow powerband — from approximately 4500 to 6500 rpms.

While the engine feels as though it wants to explore the upper limits of the rpm range, the rev limiter kicks in at just after 7000. With a lack of both high end and low range power, shifts are frequent, up and down. Top speed as indicated was close to 105 mph. We wanted to put it on the dyno, but we couldn’t figure out how to get to the plugs without disassembling the bodywork.

pc800-7The Pacific Coast 800 fills a market niche currently unoccupied in the U.S. — the sensible urban commuter. It may be an option for an older entry level rider or the occasional weekend tourer unable or unwilling to fork over $12,000 USD for an ST1100. Hard-core bikers, like everyone else on MO’s staff, will still sniff and make jokes, and the PC 800 certainly ain’t a sex magnet, you’re just not going to look bad-assed and cool on a Pacific Coast.

But when this reviewer was given the choice of riding cross town to the gym on a hot new sportbike or the PC 800, he always chose the Pacific Coast. It’s comfortable, has good weather protection and it has a trunk. If you’re looking for a real-world commuter and you expect to be hauling more than can fit in a tank bag, then give the PC 800 a thought.

pc800-11

Specifications:

Manufacturer:  Honda
Model: 1998 Pacific Coast 800
Price:  $8699 USD
Engine: liquid cooled 45 degree V-twin
Bore x stroke: 79.5mm x 80.6mm
Displacement: 800cc
Carburetion:  Two 46mm diaphragm-type CV
Transmission: Five speed, shaft drive
Wheelbase:  61.2 inches (1554.5mm)
Seat height: 30.1 inches (764.5mm)
Fuel capacity:  4.2 gallons (15.9L)
Claimed dry weight: 584.2 lbs (218.0kg)
Measured wet weight: 640.0 lbs (238.8kg)

  • Ronald Vennell

    I had an ’89. I still ride regularly with several friends that have them. They are a great all around motorcycle. Commuting, Sport Touring, Touring, Cruising, mild gravel roads it’ll do them all. Durable too, one of the guys I ride with has 225K miles plus on his. To my eye it still looks like a fresh design. I’d like to see a modern version brought back using same basic design with a few upgrades like fuel injection, a modern “infotainment” package and LED lighting.

    • DickRuble
      • Ronald Vennell

        That’s just wrong…

    • SteveSweetz

      I mean, a modern maxi-scooter isn’t all that different, you’d just have to give up shifting (maybe even a plus depending on your perspective).

      A BMW C650GT would probably even outperform it.

  • Alexander Pityuk

    So, back in ’98 238 kilos were “porky”. Huh. How about modern VFR800 weighting the same? And apart from PC, it’s not a van…

    • DickRuble

      Their conversion lb to kg is somewhat …artistic. 640lbs is 290kg. and 238kg is 529lbs. Which is right? Maybe they meant 283kg? Some sites give the wet weight at 270kg (613lbs).

  • Born to Ride

    Think of the junk you could put in that trunk…

  • JMDonald

    Nothing like beta male wussy hipster design cues. All the utility in the world cannot make a big porky slow motorcycle appealing unless it looks like or is Harley Davidson.

  • http://www.motou.info Gabe Ets-Hokin

    Dullest bike in all of human history aside (but unbreakable and a pinnacle of convenience), this story highlights the fun and readable writing style of Early MO. I think this story was written by Ashley, the founder, and she really is a gifted writer. A notable thing about Early MO: staffers didn’t use bylines, so we aren’t supposed to know who wrote what. An interesting and fun way to do things.

  • Ted Sturgeon

    I like PC800 and I like the design of NM4 Vultus. Owner of a 2015 NC750D Integra S actually. What’s wrong with me? 😀

  • ljhughes8

    I ride my 98 almost every day. Great room to go shopping . Also better for lane splitting than my goldwing. I bought mine in 2015 with 18k Miles.