Trying to bring car owners into the motorcycle world has led to some interesting products. For example, the Polaris Slingshot, the 3-wheeler from Indian’s owner. And there’s the Morgan 3-Wheeler, which has an actual S&S bike engine. But some brands attempted to tackle the task from a different angle. Rather than build a bike-like car, why not build a car-like bike? Such was the inspiration behind the Honda PC800 Pacific Coast.
The 1989 Honda PC800 Pacific Coast was designed to lure car drivers onto motorcycles
Honda is well-positioned for trying to bridge car and bike owners, The Drive explains. The Japanese company builds both, and many of its earliest cars, like the N600, borrowed motorcycle tech. And it has a history of attracting non-bikers to its products, as evidenced by the ‘you meet the nicest people on a Honda’ Super Cub ads.
So, in the 1980s its car and motorcycle divisions got together to work on a bike, RideApart reports. Supposedly, the automotive employees worked on the body, and the motorcycle employees on the bike’s chassis and engine, Rider reports. And in 1989, Honda launched the PC800 Pacific Coast.
Because the Honda PC800 Pacific Coast is supposed to be unobtrusive, almost all of its motorcycle-like visual features are covered up, Bennetts explains. Plastic panels cover the powertrain, the frame, the brakes, and even the handlebar. And the switchgear and gauges are closer in design to what you see in cars, Jalopnik reports.
However, the car-like design approach gives the Honda PC800 Pacific Coast some interesting benefits and features. For one, it has rubber engine mounts and a very low-maintenance shaft-drive. And speaking of maintenance, the PC800 has hydraulic valves, automatic cam chain tensioners, and a hydraulic clutch, further decreasing service requirements, RightFootDown reports. Even today hydraulic valves are a motorcycle rarity. Plus, the carburetors have a remote idle adjuster.
But the Honda PC800 Pacific Coast’s biggest party piece is its trunk. No, not saddlebags, not a parcel shelf, an actual trunk, Motorcycle.com explains. It’s built into the rear of the bike and is both spacious and watertight. There’s even a drain hole built-in if you put ice inside to keep something cool.
The Honda PC800 “doesn’t ride…it drives,” says FortNine
While the Honda PC800 Pacific Coast’s engine is impressively smooth, it’s not particularly powerful. It’s a liquid-cooled 800cc V-twin rated at 57 hp linked to a 5-speed transmission, Bike-urious reports. And the PC800 is a bit on the heavy side, thanks in part to the bodywork, with a 640-lb curb weight.
However, while the Honda PC800 isn’t a sporty bike, it is a comfortable touring bike. That bodywork makes for excellent wind and weather protection. The suspension delivers a “cushy ride,” FortNine reports, and it comes with a clever feature. During braking, the front caliper pivots and closes a valve in the fork. This prevents the oil from flowing, stiffening the fork and preventing brake dive.
Combine that with the long wheelbase and overall design, and it’s more accurate to say the PC800 is a bike that drives, not rides, FortNine reports. Only because it’s a motorcycle, it takes up less space and burns less fuel than a car. Though that protective bodywork does make battery and engine access difficult.
It’s an affordable classic touring bike
While the Honda PC800 Pacific Coast is an intriguing concept, it wasn’t a particularly successful one. Initial sales were actually fairly good, despite the bike’s $7700 asking price (the modern equivalent of $16,160), Rider reports. However, a recession put a damper on things, leading Honda to discontinue the PC800 in the US after 1990. The bike returned in 1994, but even with a styling update, sales remained poor until Honda dropped it in 1998.
But despite its relative rarity, the Honda PC800 Pacific Coast is a fairly affordable classic motorcycle. As of this writing, the priciest example on Cycle Trader is listed at $6k, but only because it has a sidecar. Less-modified examples cost $2000-$4000. And even a pristine late-model PC800 costs less than $5000, Hagerty reports.
Follow more updates from MotorBiscuit on our Facebook page.