To rank Honda motorcycles in terms of reliability is like ranking the Toy Story movies: all of them are good, but some are better than others. Honda has solidified itself as a gold standard for reliability for both cars and motorcycles. After all, the Japanese brand has been building bikes since 1955. So if you’re looking for an indestructible motorbike, these Honda models will outlast the rest.
The standards for ranking Honda’s best and most reliable motorcycles come from Consumer Reports. The number one cause of motorcycle malfunctions is the electrical system, which accounts for nearly a quarter of all motorcycle repairs. Consumer Reports also highlighted the importance of engine durability, which will be considered even though many Honda engines are virtually unkillable. Accessory failures, and engine durability, have both been taken into account to create this list.
Honda’s 5 most reliable motorcycles:
- 1958 – present Honda Super Cub C125
- 1985 – 2016 Honda Rebel 250
- 1969 – 2003 Honda CB750
- 1990 – 2002 Honda ST1100
- 1981 – 1982 Honda GL500
1. The Honda Super Cub is word’s best-selling motorcycle for a reason
It makes sense to start this list with the Honda Super Cub, the most produced motorcycle in history. But in truth, the bike’s success was secured from the start. Released in 1958, post-war Japan was trying to rebuild, and the nation needed a vehicle that could handle little to no road infrastructure. On top of that, it needed to be cheap to buy and easy to maintain. The Honda Super Cub delivered on both fronts.
The recipe for the Honda Super Cub hasn’t changed much over the years. It’s still incredibly cheap, with the newest Honda Super Cub C125 starting at under $4,000. The biggest change is the engine, a 125cc rather than the original 50cc, and a digitized display tucked inside the speedometer.
2. The Honda Rebel 250 has introduced many people to motorcycles
If you’ve ever taken a motorcycle training course, chances are you’ve ridden or been near a Honda Rebel 250. It’s an extended cruiser-styled bike with a bulletproof 243cc engine. Albeit, you can have a larger Honda Rebel 500 with a 497cc engine, or a Rebel 1100 with a 1084cc engine. But the bigger the engine, the more expensive it will be to maintain.
But you don’t need much more power than what the Honda Rebel 250 is packing. The bike is easily able to handle 60 and 70 mph highway speeds. In comparison to the Honda Super Cub, with a top speed of 60 mph, the Honda Rebel 250’s 79 mph top speed makes it a bike better suited for regular use.
3. The Honda CB750 reinvented the world of motorcycling
This classic Honda motorcycle introduced the world to a “Universal Japanese motorbike.” And while I’m not the first to say it, the Honda CB750 truly changed the game. It was the first bike to come with an electronic starter and disc brakes as standard. It featured a four-cylinder racing engine, which gave the motorcycle a reliable cruising speed of 100 mph. And it started at $1,295 back in 1969 ($9,759 in today’s money, but cheaper than any other sport-bike of its caliber back then).
While the Honda CB750 was discontinued back in 2003, it can still be had from many model years. Or if you’re looking for a newer motorcycle, the Honda CB1100 does the original bike justice in both design and reliability.
4. The Honda ST1100 has an odd, but unkillable engine layout
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Of the bikes on this list, the Honda ST1100 has the strangest engine layout. It features four cylinders, like the Honda CB750. But rather than arranging them inline, Honda created a “V4” engine, with two pistons on either side. Funnily enough, this engine is remarkably reliable and can keep running for over 100k miles. For perspective, used motorcycles are considered high-mileage at around 50,000.
Like the Honda Rebel, the ST1100 sport touring bike is excellent for long trips. With a 7.3-gallon fuel tank, the bike can go upwards of 300 miles every fillup. Though, if you’re in the market for one of these, pick one up from 1996 to 2002. The 28-amp alternator was known to fail, causing electrical problems, but the 1996 40-amp alternator fixed those bugs.
5. The Honda GL500 is the more reliable version of the CX500
While the regular Honda CX500 motorcycle released in 1978 is a reliable bike, the GL500 released in 1981 featured upgrades that increased the bike’s overall durability. Both share the same engine, a tried and tested 497cc flat-twin engine. And while you could splurge with the 647cc engine on the GL650, or completely upgrade to the popular Honda Goldwing, the GL500 blends simplicity with solid technology.
While the bike has been discontinued, the Honda GL500 and CX500 are two reliable motorcycles despite their old age. And of all the bikes on this list, these used motorbikes might be the cheapest, ranging from $1,000 to $5,000 for models in decent condition. The GL500 pictured above sold on Bring a Trailer for a modest $1,800 back in 2019.
In truth, you can’t go wrong with Honda’s motorcycles, whether they’re modern or classic. But if you want a bike that may never break, these five are the most reliable Honda motorcycles available.