Rumour: Honda working on supercharged motorcycles

So you want to buy that super-cool Honda CX650 Turbo? Did the owner actually properly maintain the turbo? Is the cam chain slapping around inside the back of the crankcase? Find out what to look for and what questions to ask before you show up at the sale.


Motorcyclist magazine is reporting Honda is the latest manufacturer to move towards supercharged motorcycle engines.

Last fall, we saw a couple projects from Suzuki and Kawasaki that suggested those manufacturers might have turbocharged or supercharged motorcycles in their near future. Now, Motorcylist says they’ve seen patents that indicate Honda is working on the same idea; supposedly, the EU is going to require CO2 emissions data from motorcycle manufacturers soon, and superchargers are a way to keep those numbers low. Or at least, that’s the idea.

This likely sounds pretty exciting to some readers, but savvy folks remember we’ve seen this sort of thing before; in the 1980s, there were several turbocharged bikes from the Japanese manufacturer, with Honda’s own turbo’d CX500 and CX650 likely the best of the breed. You can read about those bikes here.



    • It depends. If we get bulky, heavy bikes that are still detuned and neutered, as most emissions crap tends to end up doing, then I’ll stick to my pumper-carbed DR650 for throttle wheelies, thank you very much. And as for the nightmare of maintenance … I was told by a grizzled Honda vet whose son collected CX650s, particularly the turbo versions, that the reason they discontinued them was that people didn’t know how to operate them without destroying the turbos by not letting them cool down, or something. Of course, that was 30 years ago, so maybe ECUs and all that can work around some of that user error now.

      I do know that I’ve long fancied a turbo CX650 as a sport tourer.

      • As far as I’m aware, the turbos themselves never gave any issues. Certainly nothing of which I was aware during my time in the industry. Alas, the CXs (all, including non-turbos) all struggled with weak stators, which could strand you. As long as you cared for the stator, a CX would keep you well and truly entertained. Aside from the stators, a CX of any variety is pretty much bulletproof.

        • I had two GLs, a GL500 and a GL650. The stator was bad in both of them, I think. I loved the 650 on the few times it ran for me – it had a surprising amount of torque if you revved it up. I had a friend who had one who put miles of pretty much maintenance-free fun on it. It had the original Hondaline stereo and everything. He bought it for $500 and rode the wheels off it. Mine, on the other hand, were pretty much mechanical nightmares that I unknowingly inherited.

          The 650 I traded for my dad’s KZ440 and I got the better deal by far. The 440 took me everywhere problem-free, albeit more slowly. I foolishly sold it for the GL500, which was worse than the 650. The engine was shot in it, and I scoured junkyards everywhere for a second-hand CX motor. Every single one I looked at had damage from a loose cam chain (their other bugbear).

          I forget what happened to the 500, but the 440 I’d sold to pay for it ended up being turned into the world’s longest motorcycle. That nut over in the UK beat the record eventually, but the bike is still sitting behind a barn in PEI with a ridiculously long front end.

          • That’s a neat build! I loves me some transverse V engines. My only gripe with the bike is that the can is about as straight through and unbaffled as straight can be. I’d prefer something with dB output in the 90 dB range. Just loud enough to be spirited, but unlikely to annoy the neighbours when I fire up at 5 a.m. for a ride.

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