Yamaha vs Honda Motorcycles: Which Brand Is Better?

Yamaha and Honda are some of the most popular motorcycle manufacturers in the world. Both companies build top-quality motorcycles, so many wonder which brand is best. If you want to buy a new bike, choosing between Yamaha and Honda can be tough.

Yamaha and Honda are both excellent motorcycle brands. Choosing the right one for you depends on what you look for in a motorcycle. Generally, Yamaha motorcycles have a better design, but Honda bikes tend to offer better performance.

In this article, we will talk about both brands and clarify everything that you need to know before you buy a new motorcycle. But first, we’ll take a look at the history of both Yamaha and Honda, to understand how they came to be so popular in the world of motorcycles.

The History Of Yamaha And Honda

The History Of Yamaha

Yamaha’s first product was a reed organ. It was built by Torakusu Yamaha in 1887, and three years later the company started producing pianos. The famous Yamaha logo actually represents three crossed tuning forks, in homage to their musical roots.

Between 1947 and 1977, Yamaha founded the motorbike corporation Yamaha Motor Company, but they never stopped producing musical instruments. Their first motorcycle, the YA-1, was built in 1955 and was an immediate success. The YA-1 began placing in national races, which influenced the designs of Yamaha products through the company’s existence.

Today, Yamaha is one of the largest and oldest motorcycle manufacturers. Although the company started with racing bikes, it now manufacturers dirt, road, and tour bikes as well. Besides these, Yamaha also manufactures ATVs and snowmobiles.

The History Of Honda

Honda was founded in 1948, as Japan struggled to rebuild after the Second World War. It was founded by Soichiro Honda, a passionate engineer who previously worked as a car mechanic where hetuned racing cars.

A year later, Honda produced its first two-stroke motorcycle. When one of the employees saw it assembled and running, he said that it was like a dream. They adopted the name “Dream” for the bike, which was officially known as the Model D.

However, Mr. Honda didn’t like the noise and smell of two-stroke engines, and two years later, the company released their first four-stroke motorcycle. It was officially known as the Dream E and was powered by a 146cc engine.

In 1959, Honda participated in the Isle of Man TT, and Naomi Taniguchi finished in 6th position with his 125cc Honda motorcycle. Honda won the manufacturer’s trophy, and in the same year, the company opened American Honda Motor Co. in Los Angeles.

Soichiro Honda died in 1991, a year after the famous VHR750R finally arrived in America. Today, Honda is one of the world’s largest motorcycle manufacturers, reaching total production of 400 million units at the end of 2019.

Yamaha vs Honda

Yamaha Motorcycles

Both Yamaha and Honda produce top-quality motorcycles, but Yamaha is less advanced when it comes to engines and technology. However, many motorcycle owners will tell you that Yamaha motorcycles have better design and provide slightly better maneuverability.

Due to their less advanced technology, Yamaha motorcycles are usually more affordable and easier to maintain than Honda bikes. They also provide slightly better performance, so if you are looking for a motorcycle that’s fun to ride, you should consider Yamaha. But there are a few other key features of Yamaha bikes to consider as well.

Traction Control System

Applying too much throttle can send too much power to the rear and make the bike unstable. However, the TCS directly adjusts how much power is sent to the rear wheel and makes the bike safer and easier to ride. It was first implemented in 1997, but now it’s standard equipment on many Yamaha motorcycles.

DiASil Cylinder

The DiASil cylinder was designed by Yamaha and features an all-aluminum design. It’s constructed from one piece and provides very stable engine performance and is very lightweight. Its one-piece design eliminates the need for a cylinder sleeve to reduce wear, which in turn makes the engine more powerful.

Forged Pistons

Yamaha motorcycles usually come with forged pistons, which is a much better choice than pistons made by casting. Since the aluminum isn’t molded, it retains its original strength and promises a longer lifespan. Also, it makes the piston lighter and leads to less wasted energy.

Honda Motorcycles

Honda motorcycles are equipped with better technology than Yamaha, and are excellent from a performance standpoint. However, some riders feel that Honda motorcycles don’t provide such excitement when riding as a Yamaha bike. This is obviously largely down to personal preference.

Honda equips their motorcycles with better engines and technology than Yamaha, which leads to better mileage compared as well as better performance. On the other hand, Honda motorcycles don’t have such aggressive designs that Yamaha motorcycles have, which may be important for some buyers.

First Motorcycle Airbag

When it comes to advanced technology, we should mention that Honda created the first motorcycle airbag after 15 years of research. Those motorcycles have four sensors on the front fork, which detect various changes related to acceleration.

In the case of an accident, the airbag is deployed from a panel in the dash area. It’s V-shaped and tethered, which helps secure the rider’s position. However, not many models come equipped with airbags.

ABS System

Many newer motorcycles are equipped with ABS systems, but when it comes to Honda, it’s standard equipment. Honda motorcycles combine their braking system with ABS, which allows the optimal balance of front and rear braking and helps you ride with confidence even in bad weather.

Yamaha vs Honda – Best Motorcycles

Yamaha YZF-R7

The YZF-R7 is a recent Yamaha motorcycle, introduced in 1999. With a 749cc 4-stroke engine and a beautiful exterior, it was one of the most common choices among racers in the early 2000s. The engine provides 106 horsepower.

This model is still held in high regard by many professional racers. Although the bike is a bit bulky, it’s compensated by its powerful engine and excellent aerodynamics. The YZF-R7 is able to achieve a top speed of 162 mph (262 km/h), which is more than enough for a racing bike.

Yamaha V-Max

The Yamaha V-Max is one of the most popular chopper/cruiser bikes, powered by a big 1200cc engine. The bike weighs 270 kilograms, but due to its powerful engine and aerodynamics, it can achieve a top speed of 143 mph (230 km/h).

The V-Max is a legend among motorcycle lovers and was even dubbed “Bike of the Year” by Cycle Guide when it was first released in 1985. With its 5-speed, multi-plate slipper clutch transmission and fully adjustable suspension, it’s one of the most comfortable motorcycles for long rides.

Yamaha YZF1000 R1

Last but not least for the Yamaha bikes, the YZF1000 R1 is an amazing racing bike with a 998cc engine and a top speed of almost 168 mph (270 km/h). It was originally introduced to unseat its competitor the Honda Fireblade from the top spot, and quickly gained a reputation among racers.

The YZF1000 R1 was lighter and faster, and due to its beautiful design, there is no question that it’s one of the best racing bikes ever made. With a 6-speed transmission and fantastic suspension, the motorcycle is easy to control even at high speeds.

Another great aspect of this bike is the Chip Control Intake which directly affects its performance. At lower RPM, the intake snorkels are set at a 140mm height which allows for stronger torque production. However, when the RPM is higher, the trumpets drop down to allow maximum power. This innovation is one thing that sets this bike apart from the rest.

Yamaha YD2

Introduced in 1952, the YD2 was the first Yamaha motorcycle to be imported to the United States from Japan. With a 250cc engine, the bike was able to achieve a top speed of 70 mph (113 km/h), and quickly gained popularity among many riders.

The bike also featured a twin-cylinder engine and a pressed steel frame. It wasn’t the fastest Yamaha motorcycle but it was the first to have an electric starter. Besides, the bike still looks brilliant even today.

Honda Rebel 500

With fat wheels and a good riding position, the Honda Rebel is an excellent city bike for beginners.It’s narrow, easy to ride, and good for tight spaces. The 2020 version comes with a nice headlight, covered by the front cowl which makes it look better than ever before.

The Honda Rebel comes with a parallel-twin engine and provides 45 horsepower. Riding at 81 mph (130km/h) on a highway feels easy, and being able to achieve 99 mph (160 km/h), it’s more than enough for beginner riders.

However, the rear suspension of Honda Rebel is not ideal. It can be harsh when going over bumps, even at low speeds. It should also be noted that Honda doesn’t sell many custom parts for this bike, so repairs can get costly.

Honda CRF1000L Africa Twin

If you are into adventure bikes, you will have probably heard of the Africa Twin. The 2018 model comes with the same, parallel-twin 998cc engine as previous models, but despite the volume, it’s not the most powerful adventure bike available.

On the other hand, the Africa Twin is one of the most comfortable bikes on the market. It doesn’t come with cruise control, but a comfortable seat and good ergonomics make it an ideal bike for a long ride.

Honda CBR600F Hurricane

The Hurricane is a motorcycle that is good for every kind of ride. It’s reliable, provides good mileage, and offers simple maneuvering. The bike has won multiple awards and titles, and although production stopped in 1990, it’s still one of the best Honda motorcycles today.

The bike comes with a four-stroke, liquid-cooled 600cc engine, and although it’s a bit heavy, it can achieve a top speed of 143 mph (230 km/h). The Hurricane was a revolutionary bike thanks to its aerodynamics and beautiful full-coverage bodywork.

Honda Gold Wing

The Gold Wing is one of the most popular Honda models, and the 2021 version looks absolutely fantastic.The bike is known for its high-volume 1833cc engine, and with a weight of almost 400 kilograms, it’s able to reach a speed of 112 mph (180 km/h).

The new version comes with lots of extra technology, including a reverse gear. The cruise control can be easily adjusted on the move, while the lack of control at low speeds due to the absence of a clutch is solved with a “Walking Mode”. It limits the speed to 1.8km/h at the touch of a button.

The Gold Wing also has a few riding modes that significantly change the suspension and engine characteristics. For example, in Sport mode, the gears are held for longer, while the Economical mode forces the bike to short shift.

Motorcycle Buying Guide

Buying a motorcycle can be challenging, especially if you’ve never owned a bike before. There are several things to consider, and if it’s your first time, you can easily make a mistake. Below, we have prepared a brief buying guide that will help you make the right choice.

Engine Size

You should always choose the engine depending on your riding style and experience. Many bike models come with different engines. For example, you can find a Kawasaki Ninja in a variety of forms, with engines between 250cc and 1400cc.

If you’re an entry-level rider, getting a bike with a smaller (250cc-500cc) engine can be an excellent, low-cost solution. They are usually less expensive to insure compared to more powerful motorcycles and are also easier to handle while riding.

Types Of Motorcycles

Cruiser Motorcycles

With a relaxed riding position, cruiser bikes combine the look of a traditional motorcycle with a custom appearance. They are usually available in single and multi-cylinder designs and come in a variety of engine sizes. They’re ideal for longer rides, more comfortable rides.

Electric Motorcycles

Electric motorcycles are rapidly gaining popularity due to their eco-friendly motors and low maintenance costs. They come with a rechargeable battery and can be charged by a traditional household current. However, note that the battery usually only lasts up to 50 miles, so they’re only great for short, infrequent journeys.

Sport Bikes

Sport bikes are an excellent choice for experienced riders who want speed and quick acceleration. With aggressive bodywork, a powerful engine, and a lightweight frame, high-level sport bikes can achieve top speed up to 186 mph (300km/h).

Touring Motorcycles

Designed for long-distance travel, touring bikes are comfortable enough for two people to spend a full day in the saddle. They can range from basic models with minimum features, to bikes with fairings, windshields, heated handgrips, and cruise control features. These are the optimum bike for long rides.

Dual-Sport Bikes

These motorcycles are usually lightweight and come with aggressive tires to withstand off-road riding. However, they usually have a tall seat height, which might not be the best choice for shorter riders.Dual-sport bikes are also not ideal for long-distance rides on the road.

Buying From A Private Seller

You also need to consider where you’re buying your bike. The first thing that you should check when buying a motorcycle from a private seller is the bike’s blue book value. It will give you a sense of the motorcycle’s approximate value even if you have no experience with motorcycles.

You should also make sure to get a VIN check. It will give you the motorcycle’s history report, which includes information about ownership history and whether it has been in an accident.

When buying a motorcycle from a private seller, you should always check for leaks, rust, or any significant wear on the bike. If you don’t know much about motorcycles, you should always get the help of an experienced rider that will see all the possible flaws on the bike that a beginner might overlook.

Buying From A Dealership

If you want to buy a new or certified pre-owned bike, a motorcycle dealership can be a good option. They are also good if you want to buy a specific model and don’t have time to search through loads of ads or posts.

Another nice thing about dealerships is that they can provide you with low-interest financing,which can give you some flexibility with the purchase. However, this is only a good idea if you can afford to pay the installments, and have good credit.

When buying from a dealership, you will usually get a warranty, which is quite useful if you’re not a mechanic. It will cover the cost of repairs for faulty mechanical parts, but it won’t cover replacing things like tires, brakes, filters, and oils.

Final Thoughts

Choosing between Yamaha and Honda motorcycles can be quite a challenge. Both brands build fantastic motorcycles, and choosing between the two is usually down to personal preference more than anything. If you’re really stuck, talk to any other riders you know to see what they think about specific bikes, and refer to our buying guide so you make the right choice.

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