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Honda Collection Hall Tour

Thursday, December 31, 2009
The Honda Collection Hall features two towers connected by a central lobby and walkways on the upper floors. The South Towers are focused on the Motorcycle history while the North towers housing the automotive side of Honda.
The Honda Collection Hall was opened to the public on March 21, 1998 as part of the 50-year anniversary of Honda.
I remember it like it was yesterday. I found an ad in the cycle trader for a crashed CBR900RR for cheap or trade. This would be my first chance to own a true superbike, the baddest of the bad boys at the time. I managed to trade my crusty 750 and some cash for a cosmetically damaged CBR that I got running right there and rode it home. It was my first Honda streetbike and my sole means of transportation for almost a decade. Many of you probably have a similar tale or maybe you’re simply a racing fan but no matter who you are or what you ride, the name Honda is synonymous with motorcycles and likely played a role in your riding career in some way, shape or form. Twenty years later, the 900RR is one of the key motorcycles I was drawn to while visiting the Honda Collection Hall.

Situated within the hallowed grounds of Twin Ring Motegi, the Honda Collection Hall houses the culmination of over 50 years worth of dreams from the company’s founder, Soichiro Honda. The Honda Collection Hall showcases its rich racing history and development of consumer products
American Nicky Hayden rode the number 69 Repsol Honda RC211V to his first and only MotoGP championship to date in 2006.
This is the Repsol Honda RC211V V5 race bike that our own Nicky Hayden rode to his World Championship in 2006.
across a spectrum that includes automobiles, motorcycles and everything in between. Visiting this special museum was one of the highlights of our tour of Japan during the press introduction for the 2010 Honda VFR1200F. Though we were there to ride the newest motorcycle from Honda, it was the look back in time that made an incredible mission an extraordinary experience.

Highlights of the Collection Hall displays ranged from the first Honda motorcycles to compete at the Isle of Man TT and the Grand Prix racing scene, all the way to the early 12-cylinder Formula One race cars that helped put the company in the automotive lime-light. Of course, our eyes could barely be pried-off of an array of championship-winning motorcycles piloted by the likes of Mike Hailwood, Luigi Taveri , Jim Redman, Fred Merkel, Fast Freddie Spencer, Mick Doohan, Valentino Rossi and the Kentucky Kid, Nicky Hayden. Although we are inclined to focus on the late-model race bikes the collection of historic motorcycles, both racing and consumer alike, is equally impressive.
Almost every exhibit in the Honda Collection Hall is in running order. Could you imagine that janitor being tempted to fire up one of Doohans NSR500 race bikes and spinning a few laps around Motegi under the lights - then getting the display back before anyone knows it was missing
The Honda CB750 really was one of the original sport motorcycles. The disc front brake and large-displacement Inline Four Cylinder engine were the heart of its appeal.

Wandering through the displays of the Honda Collection Hall is sure to evoke memories of days gone by for any rider. These visions can vary from the first time you swung a leg over a Monkey bike on to that sunny day in Florida, to watching from the stands of Daytona as Dick Mann took the first-ever win for Honda at the fabled high-banks.

Over in the car display there’s the Honda-powered McLaren Formula One championship-winning machines from the legendary RA301 driven to victory in the 1968 Mexican GP by John Surtess all the way to the dominant Honda-powered F1 machines driven by the likes of Ayrton Senna.

During our visit there was particular interest in the prominent role of the V4 engine throughout the history of Honda. Starting with the motorcycles like the V4-powered RS850R race bike Joey Dunlop rode to TTF1 glory in the early ‘80s to the dawn of the RC-30 era in World Superbike heading into the 90s and ending with the dominant RC45 machine that riders like John Kocinski, Miguel Duhamel and Ben Bostrom all claimed superbike titles with. Then you
Honda believed in  and was racing  the oval-piston technology as early as 1979. This NR500 OX was piloted by Takazumi Katayama during the 1979 British GP.
The first oval-piston V4 Honda was the NR500 Grand Prix racer. While other manufacturers chose to build 2-stroke 500s, Honda tried to do something different. Unfortunately, things didn’t go as planned and the endeavor gave way to 2-Stroke V4 engines in the following years – but the stage was set. Honda believed in the V4 four-stroke and would go on to make it their trademark engine in the decades that followed.
have to consider the dominance of the Honda V4 2-stroke racers in Grand prix that made legends of riders like Wayne Gardner, Mick Doohan and Valentino Rossi, just to name a few.

While the V4 was proving its mettle with a successful run on the track it also proved to be an excellent engine for the street as well. These race bikes spawned the original V4 powered Magna and Sabre street bikes before ultimately leading to the VF500, VFR750F and VFR750R series motorcycles that established the Honda V4 as a popular engine configuration for any motorcycle. And while the V4 may be the engine most often associated with Honda, it was the Inline-Four that helped the company establish itself as a leader in the motorcycle industry.

Shining examples of the CB450 Dream, CB750 and Honda Cub can easily be overlooked with pure bred specimens like the Doohan-Gardner era NR500 machines in the background, but make no mistake those old-school bikes played a part in bringing motorcycles into the mainstream. When the collection Hall was opened in March of 1998 it was commemorating the 50th Anniversary of Honda. Over a decade has gone by sine that time and even more
This example of the 1997 Honda NSR500 was ridden to the 1997 World Championship by Mick Doohan. It was a dominant year for the Big Red machine as the top five motorcycles in the championship standings were all Hondas.
Almost every exhibit in the Honda Collection Hall is in running order. Could you imagine that janitor being tempted to fire up one of Doohan’s NSR500 race bikes and spinning a few laps around Motegi under the lights – then getting the display back before anyone knows it was missing?
examples of Honda history have been added into the mix. We can only recommend that any world travelers heading to the Land of the Rising Sun make it a point to visit the Honda Collection Hall. It is a time capsule that has something for everyone. You can even watch the restoration process or watch demonstration rides of the museum pieces that are held through out the season. Every machine is in running order and that my friend is what we would expect from Honda.

Throughout this article are some select images, but the photo gallery has photos and detailed captions about many more motorcycles on display in the Honda Collection Hall so we urge you to take a look at the gallery, watch the nifty video and see if any of those old school Hondas bring back a memory or two. They sure had that effect on us. I sure wish I still had my trusty 900RR to take for a nostalgic spin right about now.
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Ricardo -Bikes  July 9, 2010 10:29 AM
Your bikes have been used in my family for a few years. They are very reliable. I am going to buy my son one .
EAB -Oddball Hondas  January 7, 2010 06:28 AM
Every Honda I have owned has been an oddball of sorts and historically relevant in it's own way. 79 Hondamatic 400: Two speed auto, motor oil torque converter, was outrun by a Helix 250cc scooter...and the scooter has two people aboard. I believe my all terrain bicycle is more comfortable, and might accelerate faster to 25MPH. 79 CX500 Deluxe (not the custom, which was more of a cruiser). The father of the Pacific Coast and the Grandfather of the NT700 Deauville. Bike had every Vetter touring option available including a Stereo and the removable leg lowers. Liquid cooled, 9800RPM redline even though it's four valves per cyl were actuated by PUSHRODS!!. Shaft drive. Bike ate stators like sandwiches but outside of that ran great. Would cruise all day at 75MPH and get 55MPG. Deceptively comfortable tourer. Without the badge, the bike looked more like a 750 or bigger yet was only 500cc's. 99 Honda Helix: Basically the grandfather of every super scooter on the market. Intake and exhaust limit the top speed to 70MPH give or take a few, but the machine will run 65MPH all day with two aboard and return 65-70MPG. Bulletproof as all get out. Comfortable, and only complaint was the engine tone was that of a lawn mower. Best commuter I ever owned, and that includes the current 600cc Hornet I own now.
Hutch -WKinNJ & Gallery Captions  January 6, 2010 03:53 PM
WKinNJ pointed out in his comment below that I had a misplaced caption on the Dream image in the gallery - nice spot and thanks for the heads up (I fixed it). However, the comment about the VFR is not correct. It is in fact a '86-87 era model in the gallery. The '93-era VFR you mistook it for is easily distinguished because it features a single-sided swingarm, plus the slightly more modern looking bodywork.

Everyone: Just pretend Mike didn't post anything. Did you like the pics? The video? Tell us some stories about the Honda's you've owned in the past or a race you saw that stuck with you over the years. Focus on the good stuff baby. The good stuff...
EAB -Forgot the money shot  January 6, 2010 08:07 AM
From Harley History:..........After the company's top management toured Honda's Marysville plant in 1981, Vaughn Beals (Harley executive at the time) noted in Fortune, "We were being wiped out by the Japanese because they were better managers. It wasn't robotics, or culture, or morning calisthenics and company songs--it was professional managers who understood their business and paid attention to detail.".....One more thing, if the head gasket on your new Harley doesn't leak, you can thank Honda as they were one of the first to develop the oil tight air cooled motorcycle engine. It sure as hell wasn't Harley.
EAB -Milwaukee Mike  January 6, 2010 08:01 AM
The idea of ENGINEERING significance might be lost on you, Mike, but perhaps you ought to take a good luck at your Harley. Disc brake? Yeah, that was HONDA's idea, first debut on the CB750. The carbs that ran for years on the Evos? Keihin CV's, as was designed with Honda many years ago. Port fuel injection like the new twinkees run first debuted on cars, and what was one of the first production cars to have MPFI? Honda. How about the four valve head that you see on the VRSC? It was used in racing for many years but what was the first motorcycle to have this type of valvetrain in production? Honda, 1972 on the XL250. Many of the features that you now find on the Electra Glide Ultra debuted on the Gold Wing many years ago. In fact, it was the Gold Wing implementing factory hard bags and fairing that started the whole factory touring rig market, not Harley. Truth be told, it was actually Craig Vetter that started it all, but the bags were hanging off of a Japanese UJM or Gold Wing, not a Harley. The modern day Harley Davidson Cruiser got it's lead from the guys in back yards modifying or "chopping" existing OEM designs, and prior to the factories taking the lead, these choppers were quite commonly Japanese motorcycles as the Harleys of the time had extremely questionable reliability. Yes, back in the 70's seeing a chopped CB750 was pretty common, I would say more so than a chopped Harley. I take it you don't ride a Shovel, there, do ya Mikey? There's a reason the Japanese put the British on the trailer and had Harley on the ropes. Harley is a good company, and if one is into the factory custom or cruiser deal, they are a great bike to have, but please, my good man, no revisionist history, ok?
WKinNJ -Honda Collection Hall Tour  January 5, 2010 02:49 PM
The "Honda Collection Hall Tour" article has a few errors - a picture of a white 1993 VFR and a caption saying the bike was manufactured in 1998, a picture of a 250 and a caption stating that Honda 450s could run with the 650s.
designeraccd -Honda Collection......  January 3, 2010 09:03 AM
The engineering and design signifigance shown by these bikes is astounding. To go from improved copies of mid 50s German 250 twins to world dominance in the space of a few decades certainly makes a positive statement about Mr. Honda's vision and drive.

OTOH slavishly drooling over Milwaukees finest, well...to each his own. I've had 81 bikes over the last 45 years, including 5 Hardleez, and the vast majority of all those bikes (even the H-Ds) had their good points. To make rediculous comments like those about Japanese motorcycles certainly does make a statement about one's uh.."intellect"........DFO
Me too -Harleys and Haters  January 2, 2010 11:07 PM
Hey Mike, you dont have to go to the museum in Milwaukee to see HD's history. Just go to the local HD dealer and see the new 2010s. Nothing has changed in the last 100 years. Why is it there is always some Harley guy who has to comment about Foreign bikes?
I appreciate all motorcycles. But I sure dont understand the A-holes that think they are someone special just because they ride a Harley. If you dont like something, who cares. Your opinion isnt going to change anything. And your comments touting how stupid Jap bikes are just makes you and your Harley cronies look even more stupid to others.
If you dont have anything good to say...

Frank -Ignorance  January 2, 2010 10:45 PM
Why ,milwakee mike, are you so ignorant?
rcd389 -to milwaukee mike  January 2, 2010 10:44 PM
Listen I've had 30 motorcycles over the years, 4 of them Harley's, a BMW, a Ducati and the rest were japanese and enjoyed all of them. Honda has had a huge racing legacy, not just in the US but around the world.
milwaukee mike - your the typical Harley guy. Your the guy that looks down on me when I ride up on my XR1200. That's cool. I kinda feel sorry for ya...
milwaukee mike -WHY?  January 2, 2010 04:50 PM
Why would you pay good money to see a some japanese wrecks?
The honda collection is a bit over fifty years in the making,....well if you want to see real museum pieces, why not see the HD collection in Milwaukee.
At least the Harleys have historic significance.
HD is more than 100 years old, so why look at metric wrecks?
antwan addison -question  January 1, 2010 07:10 AM
do you sell kids super bikes