Find of the Month: 2004 Honda Rune

Welcome back to the Find of the Month, where we share some of the cool bikes we find for sale on This month, we’re checking out a 2004 Honda Rune in Mono, Ontario. 

A lot of motorcyclists like to make fun of Honda’s more, er, “unique” models, and the Rune certainly fits in that mold. What was Big Red thinking when it built this oddball take on the Gold Wing platform back in the early 2000s?

Honda likely built the Rune as a response to Harley-Davidson’s factory custom CVO lineup. Remember, the early 2000s was a weird time, when guys like Jesse James and Indian Larry made a lot of money building hideous choppers on television. Everyone wanted a custom bike, even if it meant you had to buy it from the factory. Honda was simply capitalizing on this boom of bad taste. The Gold Wing made sense for a starting point, because it was Honda’s biggest engine at the time, and already had a large customer base. All Honda had to do was take the existing Valkyrie variant of the Wing, add on some bizarro bodywork and a funky exhaust, and presto, instant custom!

There were some minor changes to the powerplant when it was adapted from the Gold Wing. The Rune got a different cam, and six 28 mm carburetors, one for each cylinder. This was supposed to result in brisker power delivery at low rpm, but less power at the top end.

Not that you’d want to rip and tear along on the Rune at super-high speed, as there was no windscreen for comfort, and its length and low-slung stance meant you’d scrape in corners that you would sail through aboard a Gold Wing. Despite its lack of touring-friendly bodywork, though, the Rune actually weighed more than the standard Gold Wing—go figger.

The original Honda Rune advert, that ran in magazines across North America. Big Red went to a lot of trouble to publicize a machine that only had a few thousand bikes built.

All in all, though, contemporary reports reckoned the Rune was very enjoyable to ride, and far ahead of other custom cruisers of its time. Who cares if it looks like something Batman might ride?

The trailing-link front suspension was a definite departure from the norm for Honda, and overall, the machine looked more like a concept bike than a production model. Even today, when this neo-retro style is becoming the wave of the future, the Honda Rune would be considered a wild-looking machine.

Despite the odd looks and restricted performance, the Rune was intended to be a flagship bike for Honda when it debuted in 2003. Seamless gas tank (the first for Honda), some LED lighting, alloy wheels—all the bits were high-end, and when it came out, the bike was noted for its build quality (for CMG’s take, see Andrew Boss’s review of the machine here ). This wasn’t a bodge job rushed out the back door of the factory to take advantage of a sales trend.

The machine sold in the $35,000 range when it came to Canada, and very, very few were imported. Honda allegedly lost $75,000 US on each Rune it sold, so it would make sense to keep sales down …

And that might be why you’d be interested in this machine for sale in Ontario. There were very few Runes built (I’ve seen reports of 3,000 bikes in total). They saw extremely limited production for only a few years, and they were built in the US for the North American market (the Rune was one of the models built in the Marysville, Ohio plant). The Rune is a rare sight on Canadian roads, but you could literally ride around Europe for a lifetime and never, ever see one.

That $19,900 price tag on this specific machine in autoTRADER is a lot of money for a 14-year-old motorcycle, especially one with 43,000 km on it (price is firm no trades). However, if worse came to worst, chances are you’d easily find a collector somewhere who wanted the machine, as long as you didn’t beat it up too badly. The seller says this machine has a few custom upgrades as well, to enhance its usability (windshield, passenger footpegs, two Corbin seats to go with the solo seat). If you actually wanted to ride it, it’d be more comfortable. And, it must be somewhat reasonable on the street, for the previous owner to put that much mileage on it.

And, according to the ad, it’s sold “certified ready to go.” All that’s standing between you and a career as a Batman impersonator is $19,900. How can you say no?


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