Less than a decade ago, the motorcycle market was experiencing unbridled success. Manufacturers were updating their sportbikes every two years, and the cruiser market was blazing hot with riders who sought personal freedom via riffs on the V-Twin archetype. Motorcycles sold at unprecedented levels, especially to a baby boomer demographic that was absolutely flush with cash, credit, and/or home equity.
Then the Great Recession of 2008 struck a debilitating blow, causing most riders to consolidate their finances and put their dreams of a new bike on hold. Meanwhile, motorcycle manufacturers seemed unsure how to react to the uncertainty. There were three basic strategies:
1. Drastically cut-back on new models, hide their head in the sand and wait, hopefully, for the market to recover. This tact, with some exceptions, was followed by most of the Japanese Big Four.
2. Introduce new models that appealed to the upper end of the moto market, targeting traditional buyers who still retained disposable income that could be spent on luxury items like a motorcycle. Most European manufacturers took this path and achieved market-share growth.
3. Re-prioritize model development to target new riders and value-minded customers who will be critical to reinvigorating the motorcycle market.
Honda chose the latter option, bringing a diverse collection of motorcycles to market, all of which appeal to riders focused on value. Many of these recent models are also targeted at the millennial demographic, to whom big-inch cruisers and expensive sportbikes are far too intimidating and too pricey to consider as as a first bike.
Honda’s lineup now includes 10 streetbikes priced below $8,000, and all of them are easy enough to ride for almost anyone, even newbies. All but one have been introduced since the start of the Great Recession, and two of them are even available with high-tech dual-clutch automatic transmissions that remove the clutch lever from a newbie’s intimidation equation. Most also offer class-leading fuel economy.
To recognize Honda’s efforts at making motorcycles more accessible to a broader market, we’ve put together this list of the 10 street-legal Honda motorcycles we believe offer remarkable value for the money. Turn the pages to find quick-takes on Motorcycle.com’s reviews of each bike, including specifications and our real-world fuel-economy test results. There’s more to a value-for-money equation than just price alone, but we’re listing them here in order of their MSRPs anyway.