On face value the Honda didn’t get off to the best start. It’s the only bike with twin rear shocks and a drum brake on the rear, and it’s near the top of our price range at £2699. The rear brake pedal assembly appears to have been taken from a Honda C90, and it’s hard to decide if the all-analogue clocks are cool because they’re retro, or just old fashioned. I couldn’t help but smile as I wound the mechanical trip back to zero.
The switchgear is actually modern, and not dissimilar to Honda’s larger models, apeing the VFR800’S annoying trait of having the horn button above the indicator switch. There’s an illuminated gear position indicator and on-board the styling isn’t bad. There’s also a centrestand, as there is on the Lexmoto.
Styling-wise the Honda scores well, and despite the twin shocks and drum brake, it has an air of quality. With all the logos and badges removed, we all agreed we’d still pick the Honda out as the highest quality bike on test.
The four-stroke Honda is the only fuel-injected bike on test, absolving us of any need to play around with a choke lever when cold. The fuelling is nearfaultless, and even low down there’s enough torque to make good progress. In town you don’t have to dance up and down the smooth gearbox, and it’ll happily pull away in second gear.
Away from the city commute it’s no quicker than the rest; 55mph is about it sat bolt upright, while you might see 60mph if conditions are perfect. With a favourable tailwind, tucked in tight, I nearly saw 70mph.
The ride is comfortable, the suspension isn’t bad, and despite the odd-sized wheels the handling isn’t bad, either. You don’t get thrown out of the seat over road imperfections, and cobbles won’t rattle your fillings. The turning circle is tight, it’s light and – despite their ancient design – the brakes are more than up to the job, although there’s no ABS. It’s a doddle to ride; no wonder riding schools up and down the land use them.
On the down side the Honda is physically small – the smallest of the bunch, in fact – and the standard Chinese tyres aren’t great, especially in the wet. But as Justin said after he stepped off the Honda: “I’d happily courier around London on one all day – and it does 100mpg.”
‘The ride is comfortable, the turning circle tight and the brakes ample’
Something charming about analogue clocks