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For bike lovers nothing announces the presence of a heavy displacement engine like a Harley cruiser. The bike is designed for comfort and easily stands out. Honda has had a long reputation manufacturing bikes and we check out how it compares with the Harley

Cruisers are want you need when you are taking a long trip with the boys. The exhaust noise is loud and intimidating. Not forgetting the multiple customization options available through a Harley, you are assured that this bike means business on the road. If price is not a factor, then you are in the right riding space with a Harley. Honda has established itself across the world as a solid brand when it comes to motorcycle manufacture.

It can be a challenge choosing the right bike from these giant bike manufacturers. They both have a long history that spans decades. However, they offer different bike types. This article, delves into some outstanding characteristics that make them who they are today.

What are the differences between Harley-Davidson vs. Honda?

Model Harley-Davidson Honda
Market Classic cruisers Sportbikes, scooters, street bikes
Gear shifts Easy gear shifts Varies with bike
Body frame Lots of chrome Modest materials
Pricing Expensive Affordable
Engine size Large engines Engine sizes for many categories

Harley-Davidson vs. Honda – How do they differ?


When it comes to performance Harleys tend to have an edge over the Hondas. Harley mainly produces cruisers with large engines, some even have displacements of up to 1,700cc. This makes the Harley a fuel thirsty machine when compared to the Honda. Honda is Japanese company that has been in existence for over a century. It manufactures bikes in almost all categories, you have superbikes, scooters, street bikes. The company has risen to become the largest producer of motorcycles in the world. This means Honda are quite affordable for the normal people. Harley appeal to a specific category of bikers who have the money to purchase a solid brand and join a community of other Harley fans. The high displacement bikes are capable of producing more torque while the horsepower can be a bit sluggish. Harleys are not designed for speed.

Riding position

When it comes to the riding position it will vary with the kind of bike that have. If you have a Honda that is also a superbike then you are going to use the crouching riding position. This helps reduce drag while enabling to hit high speeds. However, such kind of riding positions can be tiring and you need to get used to them. Harleys are low riding cruisers with a low seat riding that helps you relax while riding. Since they are also built with comfort in mind you will notice some leather seats and saddlebags.


Everything about a Harley speaks of class and precision. You will notice that most classical Harley’s will come with peanut shaped fuel tanks and lots of chrome. The rear tires are also very large and you will find some with a passenger seat of a backrest. Honda’s are designed for the common man. To make them more affordable you do not have the kind of luxuries that are found in the Harley. This helps in fuel economy.

Harley-Davidson vs. Honda – A comparison Overview

Harley-Davidson – Overview

Harley-Davidson was founded in 1903 in Mikwaukee, Wisconsin. It is responsible for the production of cruisers. The company has survived turmoil including depression, world I and II plus stiff competition from other new brands like Triumph. What makes the Harley standout its reputation of riding out the storm, the company has been over subsidiary, ownership arrangements and recessions.

Harley has built a solid reputation behind producing high powered air cooled engines with displacements higher than 700cc. The bike maker is also known for customization of their chopper bikes. Harley Davidson has expanded to various locations and know has plants in Manaus, Missouri, Kansas city, India and areas like Bawal. The Harley brand has also extended to merchandise like home ornaments, apparel, toys and accessories.

Harley Davidson Street 750

The Harley is a an affordable street bike for city rides. It comes with a 750cc engine that generates 47HP and a torque of 59Nm. Power is delivered through a 6 speed manual gearbox. The bike is a bit heavy at 233kg but it navigates quite well on city roads.

The Street 750 comes in dark colors and is an excellent option for those who have been dying to joining the Harley ownership club. The bike is all black except for the suspension forks that have a chrome finish. A closer look at the bike will reveal a sweptback handlebar, iconic round headlamps and mid mounted instrumentation.

The engine is superb and large. It is renamed “revolution X” and features a liquid V-twin engine that is common with most Harleys. While transmission is through a six speed gearbox it comes with a belt drive. Belt drives while cheaper and less noisier have a short lifespan. Other additions include a proximity key-fob and Harley patented smart security system.

Harley-Davidson Forty-Eight

It is hard mentioning the Harley without taking a note at the forty-eight. The bike represents Harley classic looks and this helps one announce their presence where bikes are stored. The best part is you have an affordable Harley with a massive engine.

Firstly, the forty-eight features a large displacement engine producing 1,202cc. This enables it to have an average mileage allowance of 20km per liter. You can feel the weight of the bike at 252kg as you press the throttle. The forty-eight double cylinder engine is capable of 60HP and generates a torque of 96Nm. Transmission is through a five speed gearbox. The fuel tank was a disappointment at 8 liters.

The forty-eight is a bike that represents all that is outstanding with Harleys. It has spoked wheels, a peanut shaped tank and chrome on various parts.

Harley-Davidson Fat Boy

The fat boy is the epitome of the Harley brand. The bike comes with a comfortable riding position that helps you engage in long rides. The fat boy not only has an outstanding classic body but it also has a giant Milwaukee eight 107 engine that produces 1,745cc engine. This produces more than 145Nm of torque. All these power is transmitted through a six speed transmission. The fat boy as the name suggests is a heavy machine. It weighs a massive 309 kg, which is 17 kg less than the previous model.

There have been some additions to the fat boy like fatter tires and all LED rectangular headlamps. The exhausts have a sliver finish with some bike components been all black. To support all this weight, you need some good suspension. It comes with front Showa 43mm forks and rear mono-shock. The paint scheme is available in Bonneville salt denim, vivid black, and wicked red denim.

Honda – Overview

Honda is a large Japanese company that focuses on a host of many things. The company is involved in automobiles, power generators, and motorcycles. Since 1959 the bike maker has held the title of been the largest motorcycle manufacturer. By the year 2019 the company had reached more than 400 million in motorcycle sales. Honda allocates a lot of money for research and development and this has contributed a lot to the bikes production of high quality products.

Honda CBR650R

This superbike is great for those desiring an upgrade from entry-level bikes. The CBR650 comes with an inline four engine that has a displacement of 648cc. This enables the Honda to produce a maximum horsepower of 85.9 @rpm of 11,500. The bike weighs a modest 210Kg and is its power is transmitted through a six speed gearbox.

The bike has seen some modifications since it was first introduced. It now spots twin full LED headlamp instead of the singular headlight in the previous model. The body has been revamped to make it more bold and suitable for high speeds. On the dashboard you get a full LED instrument panel that will show you information like the shift indicator and gear position indicator.

The Honda is fast and suitable for someone just getting started on the middle-weight segment. It generates 86 worth of horsepower @rpm of 11,500 and torque of 60.1 Nm @rpm of 8,000. You also get a slipper clutch that comes in handy when changing gears.

The suspension of the CBR650R are great and ideal for city riding. You get the Honda selectable torque control (HSTC), dual channel ABS, and front Showa inverted forks and rear pro-type mono-shock link. You get the bike in two colors – gunpowder black metallic and grand prix red.

Honda X-Blade

The X-blade looks like a superbike with its aggressive design. This is a great commuter bike for someone who is looking for an entry-bike that is also moderately fast. He X-blade comes with an air-cooled 162cc single motor engine that is capable of producing 13.9HP and a torque of 13.9 Nm. Transmission is through a five speed gearbox and you get a 12 liter fuel tank to help you in your travels. You also get a digital instrument console that displays the gear position indicator.

The bike comes with anti-lock braking system as standard. You have for the front 276mm petal discs that is supported by single-channel ABS and at the rear 130mm drum setup. The wheels are attractive and suitable for most city roads. The X-blade rides on 17 inch 5-spoke alloy wheels that come with 130/70-17 tires and 80/100-17 for the front. The bike weighs 140kg and is available in two variants – standard and with ABS. The X-blade competes well with the TVS Apache and Yamaha FZ-S.

Honda CBR1000RR Firebrand

Lastly, we have something extra powerful from Honda – the firebrand. The bike not only looks great to ride on but it comes with a powerful double 999cc engine that is designed to produce 186.3 worth of horsepower @ rpm of 13,000 and at a torque of 114 Nm.

The Firebrand is not an entry-level bike. It can get crazy for beginners who get blown away by the massive horsepower that the bike generates. The bike is meant for those who are seeking an upgrade from the middleweight category to something faster. Braking is courtesy of front and rear discs. You also get anti-lock braking system as standard.

Nothing has been spared in terms of electronics when it comes to the firebrand. It comes with an array of tools to ensure the bike is firmly grounded even at extreme speeds. You get stuff like wheelie control, engine braking, rear lift control, power selection, riding mode select system and a new Honda gyroscopic ABS system. To enable you cruise optimally in city roads you have optional quickshifter, fully adjustable Showa suspension setup, electronic steering damper and a downshift assist. Power to the bike is through an efficient six speed gear box.

If that is not all, the CBR1000RR has a color TFT display for all your bike’s instrument communication. The headlights and taillights are all LED for better lighting at night and to announce its presence when overtaking in daytime. You also can get the firebrand SP that comes with semi-active Ohlins Electronics (S-EC) suspension. The variant also has some high performance four-piston Brembo radial calipers.

Now let’s compare two Harley-Davidson and Honda Bikes

Model Harley 1200 Custom Honda CBR1000RR Firebrand
Displacement 1,202cc 999cc
Maximum Power 67.7 HP @rpm 5,680 186.3 HP @rpm 13,000
Maximum Torque 96 Nm @rpm 4,250 114 Nm @rpm 11,000
Fuel delivery Electronic fuel injection Fuel injection
Cooling system Air cooled Liquid cooled
Front brake size (mm) 292 320
Rear Brake size (mm) 292 220
Kerb weight (kg) 268 195
Wheelbase (mm) 1,530 1,450
Seat height (mm) 725 834


Both Harleys and Honda have been around for over a century. In terms of production Honda is way ahead of Harley based on total number of units sold. In fact, Honda has distinguished itself as the top producer of motorcycles in the world. Harleys are designed for a specific market that is willing to pay the hefty prices for a Harley. Most of the bikes are classical cruisers with high displacement engines.