Magna Frequently Asked Questions
The 94 and up Honda Magna stock tire sizes are:
Recommended maximum cold tire pressure:
FYI, Metzler brand tires are usually recommended over the stock Dunlops.
VIN - Vehicle Identification Number
Have you ever wondered how to read your VIN? Wonder no more...the VIN is broken down as follows:
1987-1988 Super Magna
1 = Country of Origin (1 = USA, 2 = Japan)
H = Manufacturer (H = Honda)
F = Vehicle Type (F/2 = Motorcycle)
RCxxx = Model (RC210/RC211 = VF700C, RC280 = VF750C)
x = Check Digit (Computed with other numbers in the VIN)
H = Year (H = 1987, J=1988)
A = Assembly Plant (A = Marysville Ohio, M = Hamamatsu Japan)
xxxxxx = Sequence Number
Measure your head with a cloth tape measure 1 inch above your eyebrows.
Hint: If you don't have a cloth tape measure, use a piece of string to measure your head then measure the string against a yard stick.
Helmet Sizing Chart
19 5/8 - 20 1/8
20 1/4 - 20 7/8
21 - 21 5/8
21 3/4 - 22 3/8
22 1/2 - 23 1/8
23 1/4 - 24
24 1/8 - 24 7/8
25 - 25 5/8
6 - 6 3/8
6 1/2 - 6 5/8
6 3/4 - 6 7/8
7 - 7 1/8
7 1/4 - 7 3/8
7 1/2 - 7 5/8
7 3/4 - 7 7/8
8 - 8 1/8
50 - 51|
52 - 53
54 - 55
56 - 57
58 - 59
60 - 61
62 - 63
64 - 65
Helmet Size Cross Reference Chart
TAKE THE MSF COURSE
The first thing you will want to do before buying a bike is to take the
Motorcycle Safety Foundation course. The course is multi-session (over 1-4 days)
and involves both classroom and riding. Even if you have ridden before or have
already started riding now you should take the basic class. Experienced
professionals teach you how to ride, turn, break, accident avoidance, etc.
ie.generally how not to get crunched. You DON'T need a dmv permit/license to
take the class, and motorcycles and helmets will be provided. Call
1-800-447-4700 (national) or 1-800-cc-rider (CA) to find out where to take it.
Cost is $50-150 depending on age and location, whatever the price, it is well
worth it. If you ignore all the advice here, don't ignore this one, your health
insurance company may later thank you! Next year you can take the advanced
BUYING A HELMET
Get one, get one immediately, and get a full face one, they offer more
protection than half face helmets. Order it early or you will either have to sit
waiting a few days after you get your bike or risk helmet-less rides. You can
get one immediately from a dealer but you will pay $50-$80 more than if you get
it mail order. Order the best one you can afford, here isn't the place to skimp
and order a $50 one (unless of course you have the infamous $50 head).The Shoei
RF-200 is a good helmet at a reasonable price (about $140 mail order). Phone
numbers for mail orders are included at the end.
The fit of the helmet is important, it should be tight enough that the pads
firmly touch your cheeks. It should be tight enough that you can't grab it and
roll it off or rotate it from side to side very much. But, it should be loose
enough that it doesn't pinch or bind your cheeks or forehead, this will cause
fatigue. Sizes vary by brand, A large in one brand will be like a medium in
another brand. You must try on the exact brand/model in a new (not used) version
before buying. Go to a dealer or cycle shop and try on several, then order
mail-order. (and buy something small from the dealer for his/her trouble). If it
comes in the mail and doesn't fit right, return it!
Some people claim that helmets restrict your vision, it's not true. Others
claim it reduces your hearing, it actually helps you hear over the engine. As
for the claim they cause neck injuries, I can't offer any evidence on that but I
will take my chances. Wear one for a month and decide for yourself. The first
week it will feel wierd (especially a full face) but it will quickly become as
comfy and familiar as your old fuzzy blanket.
If you want to be fully safe you should be covered from head to toe every
time you ride. Buy all the equipment you can and wear it, even on hot days or
for just a jog to the store. Again, get the best your budget allows. Good
clothing will protect you from the nasty cuts and abrasions (and glass!) that
happen even in a low speed slide. Many people with older used bikes spend about
as much on equipment/helmet etc. as on our bikes, devote a generous portion of
your cycling budget to clothing. Here's what you need:
If you plan to carry
passengers you are responsible for providing a similar set of gear for them if
they don't have their own. Whenever you replace your original equipment and
clothing consider keeping the old stuff around (if it is still serviceable) and
building a passenger set. Don't let improperly attired people pressure you into
giving them a ride! (they will try). You will probably want to wait at least 6
months before carrying passengers anyway.
- JACKET: Get a high quality leather jacket suitable for
motorcycling, not a thin "fashion" leather jacket. These begin at about $300.
Make the fit tight enough that it won't ride up and expose your skin in a
slide and loose enough that you can put sweaters under when it's cold. Leather
isn't the warmest garment, its more for protection than cold. See that it
closes firmly at the neck and wrists or you will get quite cold. Leather made
for racing is the best but it is expensive. Shop at a motorcycle store or good
quality leather factory, boutiques and department stores generally don't have
suitable jackets. [with Pooder's correction:] As an alternative to
leather, Aerostich makes high quality riding wear made of a cordura/Goretex
laminate. The Goretex is there to make it nearly waterproof while still
allowing your body fumes to escape. Because it's one more layer, the Goretex
may also provide some additional abrasion resistance, but its main reason for
being there is waterproofing.
- PANTS: Ideally you should have leather or Aerostich pants on all
the time. This can however be expensive as well as impractical to walk around
in or carry around all day. But, a famous study found that Levi's only last
for about 4 feet in a slide before they give way and expose your bare skin to
the pavement (no cite). There isn't an easy solution to the
protection/inconvenience trade off here. Aerostich makes pants that zip
together with their jackets (~$300) or a one piece step in riding suit (~$600)
Leather suits come in two zip together pieces (jacket/pants). Again, no
- FOOTGEAR: Good quality leather riding boots are the best protection
for your feet in a crash. (high boots, no heels!) If you must wear sneakers at
least make them high tops that cover the ankle and lace them firmly. Most
kinds of sneakers or regular shoes tend to come off in a crash. Sandals, dress
shoes or open shoes are out of the question, even if you don't crash they make
it hard to control the bike and land your feet correctly when stopping.
- GLOVES: They give you better throttle control and protect you in a
crash. At first, they feel wierd and make it feel as if it is harder to use
the controls but you get used to them quickly. Get leather (whatelse?) Check
saddlery stores if you can't get a good fit at a cycleshop.
- EYE PROTECTION: If you don't have a full face helmet then wear
goggles, without them the wind in your eyes is too intense to see properly,
sunglasses won't do it because the wind just blows under them. With a helmet
and shield you will still need to carry sunglasses. Without a roof the sun for
you will be much more glaring than in a car. You can also get a tinted
face-shield, but only for daytime riding. Get one pair just for the bike and
bend the paddles (earpieces) of the glasses so that they are straight, they
will fit under the helmet much easier. [Andy Beals adds: Or, buy a pair of
[real] aviator-style military surplus sunglasses - straight earpieces designed
to slip on when you're wearing a helmet. Probably available at your local
surplus store and definitely via mail-order from Kaufman's Surplus. Not
cheepie sunglasses, real Ray-Bans].
INSURANCE: Same Advice,
get it now
Most car companies don't cover bikes so you will need separate insurance.
Some car companies only cover smaller bikes. Cycle insurance is first of all
based on the size of the bike, then record, age and other factors. A 25 year old
with a GS450 can pay less than $100 a year, an 18 year old with a ZX-750 (ie. a
ninja) can pay up to $1000 per year. Cycle mags often advertise companies that
cover cyclists, you can also get it through dealers, most have an association
with one or another company.
In an accident with a car, you and your passenger will probably (I know all
accidents are different!) incur the greatest medical bills while the car will
incur the greatest property damage. The bike will probably be in worse shape
than the car, but unless you have a fancy new bike the car will probably cost a
lot more so $$$damages will be higher for the car than the bike. Think about
this when deciding what coverage to get.
TOOLS & MANUAL
Start assembling a tool kit to keep in the house and a smaller one to carry
on the bike, don't worry, even with a brand new bike you will soon need it. If
you are not willing to do any repair work you should either find a rich uncle or
reconsider and buy a Volvo. Bikes aren't like cars, you can't just slap some new
oil in them once a year and run them into the ground. They operate on an
intricate system of cables, chains, mirrors and trick doors that all need fairly
constant adjustments. A new bike will probably save you a lot of early complex
repairs but you will still have to adjust clutch cables, brake cables, chains,
etc. All of these require more frequent and more precise adjustments than a car.
Unlike for cars, there is not a bike shop on every corner and parts are much
harder to get. Even if you have mucho bucks and are willing to let a mechanic do
everything it just isn't always possible. Luckily bike repair is easier (I
think) and mor enjoyable than doing a car.
Order a Clymer repair manual as soon as you get your bike, also consider the
factory service manuals if they are available. Clymer should run you $15. If you
want to go all out you can even keep frequently used spare parts around, it's a
pain not to ride for a month when Kawasaki takes that long to deliver a stupid
$10 part, but that's going beyond beginner advice so back to the story.
The basics for your tool kit will include:
These are what I would call the very basics,
I'm sure others would argue with me so go ahead and accumulate whatever you wish
to your little hearts desire. Consider how badly it would ruin your day not to
ride because you are waiting for a part on order or how much/far you are willing
to push home if you break down without tools and plan accordingly.
- A set of spare spark plugs
- A spark plug socket and socket wrench
- Impact driver and hammer for removing hard to turn screws on the engine
covers (oil filter cover, point cover, timing cover,)
- An adjustable wrench
- Spare cotter pins for the axles and pliers to remove them
- Spare chain master link and clip
- Tire pressure gauge
Remember, this document errs on the conservative side, hopefully you will
have a smooth cycling experience and will never have to push home. Proper care
and feeding of your motorcycle will make this even less likely.
- Buy same chain lube right away. You have to put it on your chain every 600
miles and those miles will accumulate quickly.
- You can accesorize until your bank account is busted, I won't advise you
on that. One (I think) necessity is a bungy net for carrying those objects one
inevitably picks up in the course of a day. You can get fancy and more
expensive options (tank bags etc.) later
- When your bike won't start, check first that the three most obvious things
are in the operating position (kill switch, sidestand, fuel petcock) before
running for the manual. Yes, we have ALL at one time or another sat scratching
our head trying to start the bike and then found one of these in the off
- You can keep your bike shiny new and prevent rusting by covering it at
night and giving it an occasional polishing (as well as cleaning) with a
scotchbright nylon pad and a little Mother's aluminum polish or Turtle Wax
Chrome Polish. Besides appearance, it helps with maintenance, rusted parts can
be a bitch to remove.
- The fork lock on the ignition can be easily broken, if you value your ride
consider a kryptonite lock or other protection.
- If you ever plan to not ride for 2-3 months (vacation,snow) you must
properly prepare you bike for storage in advance or else you will have some
nasty stuff to deal with upon your return (ie. an inoperable bike) I won't go
into all the details of removing batteries, draining tanks, etc here, just be
aware that you need to find out the procedure before winter/vacation. A
battery charger is a good investment if you will need it to do this, it will
pay for itself quick.
- Always be courteous and wave to other cyclists on the road, even if they
ride brands you hate. Oh yeah- and as Honda says on their gas tanks "preserve
How To Trailer Your Bike
The first thing is to ensure the trailer used has a secure perch for hooks.
As the dialog continues, the exact location(s) of such perches will become
clear, there are more than one acceptable position for these, but generally one
set near the front, and one set on the rear. For the front and the rear, one on
each side of the outboard of the trailer.
Commonly used trailers are garden trailers or flat bed trailers with wooden
beds. Loading the bike on a trailer is also a concern. Some trailers, such as
garden trailers usually have a rear gate that doubles as a loading ramp. Some
trailers can be tilted, others lift the bike from a flat position. If a ramp is
needed, a 2 x 8 will work because the trailers usually are not very high.
Caution should be used if the bed of a pick up truck is going to be used. In
that case, there should be at least two, preferably three persons working
together to get the bike up that high. There are metal ramps that can be used,
but the length of the ramp has to be tempered by the height of the truck. For
example, a standard small truck such as an S-10 or Explorer can use a 6 foot
ramp, but an F150 or CK1500 may require a seven or eight foot ramp.
Now for the bike. Depending on model, a Shadow (VT1100) with fuel and oil is
going to weigh in at 600 to 700 lbs. A trailer should have a GVWR (the weight of
the trailer plus the weight of the pay load) of at least 1,000 lbs. for a
Shadow. That is a trailer that weighs in at 250 lbs., the tongue weight would be
100 to 150 lbs. This is a class I trailer (less than 1500 lbs. GVWR).
A Shadow has a wheel base of 65 inches to 66.5". However, the overall length
will be from 91" to 96" depending on the accessories and model. That is eight
feet. If a truck bed is used, a six foot bed will cause the bike's rear tire to
rest on the tail gate with the tail gate laying down. A Shadow will fit into an
eight foot bed with the gate up, a Valk will not, for example.
The Straps, what you will need:
There are varying methods and ways to tie down a bike. Each person must
secure the bike to his or her satisfaction but a minimum is necessary. There are
two weights used to select a strap: 1) the working strength, and 2) the tensile
or breaking rating. What is being presented here is a method that has been used
with success on a Shadow to haul over long distances, it is not the only
solution. This method uses five straps, only four of which are actually working
to hold the bike. The straps are web types, the most common and affordable, any
K-Mart or WalMart will have them in the automotive section.
The bike weighs in at 700 lbs. Once the bike is secure on a platform, it will
be subject to the forces of turns on the road, stops, and starts. All movements
of the tow vehicle and the trailer will put stress in various directions on the
bike, but primarily on the straps used to hold it down. No matter what the
method, though, everyone will begin with two straps on the handle bars. I have
seen bikes successfully hauled with only two straps on the handle bars,
although, I would not do it, in a pinch, it will work.
I also use handle bar straps that wrap around the bars, vice tying the straps
directly on the handle bars. If you use these, they can be gotten from most
motorcycle shops, follow the directions and avoid binding cables, either
electrical, mechanical or hydraulic. The straps have a loop on both ends, feed
one end through the loop on the other end and around the handlebar at the elbow.
The angle of the strap will make it settle at this point (stock bars, non stock
bars may have different curves, care should be taken when attaching the straps
to the bar to avoid cables).
The main tie down straps should be a minimum of 600 lbs. breaking strength,
and 300 lbs. working strength. Ratchet tightening systems are preferable but
friction clamps will work. Periodic checks of friction clamps will reveal,
however, that the clamps will slip with age. These straps should be about six
feet long. If a fifth strap is to be used as a safety strap, like I use, it
should be 1500 lbs. breaking strength, that will give about a 900 lbs. working
strength. This strap, if used, should only have a ratchet clamp. Straps will all
have heavy hooks on the ends, but sure to select ones with a rubber or vinyl
coating on the metal, ensure that the hook tip folds back to a parallel position
with the shank that is attached to strap. Less than this will allow the strap to
work off the hook in heavy turns.
Tying the bike down:
Attach the straps up front first. If doing this alone, attempt to sit on the
bike while tightening the straps. This can be done, but is easier with someone
else sitting on the bike. The front straps should be tightened to compress the
front forks no more than half the travel of the shocks, a little less is OK, but
about half way is the max. Full compression will damage the shocks. The idea is
to have the springs in the shocks provide a tension force on the straps but
still allow travel to compensate for turns and bouncing. Once the front straps
are on, the bike will be stable, raise the kick stand and ensure the bike is in
If the trailer does not have a channel for the front wheel, blocking the
wheel with some 4x4s may be a consideration. I for one always block the front
wheel to prevent left to right movement of the tire contact point. If the
trailer does not have a rigid front wall for the front tire to rest against,
something such as a 4x4 block should be secured to the trailer. Make sure that
the block is attached so that the straps will angle forward slightly from the
bike to trailer attachment point. Failure to ensure this will allow the bike to
move backward. Attaching horizontally can be done but the rear attachment become
more important if a front angle cannot be achieved. This block is to keep the
front of the bike moving during deceleration of the tow vehicle. Secure any
loose ends of the straps. Since the travel of the bike in curves will cause
slack to occur in one strap while pulling the opposite side quite tight, bungee
cords may be used to take up the slack. This is not totally necessary, but if
one is anal enough, it can be done.
Using the remaining two short straps, I attach the hook to a wheel spoke, run
the strap up to the hub and through the wheel, then out to the trailer securing
point (do this only on cast alloy wheels, not wire spokes). Do one in
each direction. This set of straps are intended to stabilize the bike left right
and prevent the rear wheel from hopping around from road bumps. They also tend
to serve as a back up to the front strap by providing some upward stability to
the bike. The important thing here is to get the rear wheel secure to the
trailer, so if another set of attachment points feels more comfortable and holds
the wheel, that would be satisfactory. I also recommend that if you are hauling,
the rear shocks be set to 5, lower settings allow more bounce. An alternative if
the bike is in a channel, is to use one strap to tie the wheel to the channel.
If a channel is not available and the wheel is resting on a flat surface, take
the two short straps and attach over the seat and down the opposite side to the
shock mounting point, securing the straps tightly. I do not prefer this method
since the risk of damage to the seat is very real. Another point is to run the
straps around the lower swing arm on both sides. Again, there is risk of damage
to the exhaust so be very careful. The angle on the rear straps will depend on
where they can be attached to the trailer body.
The longer safety strap that should be about 12 to 15 feet long is attached
to the same two securing position as the front straps and is then run through
the frame at the rear swing arm joint and tightened. This strap will hold the
bike if either of the front straps breaks or loosens long enough for you to stop
and fix the problem.
Once the bike is secured and you are moving, STOP within 20 miles of travel
and check the straps. While traveling, STOP and check the straps every 100 miles
or so. One more point about hauling in a truck: The bike is unwieldy in a truck
bed and will alter your braking and handling. You should slow down on curves,
especially tight ones. You also should check braking when you begin to get the
feel of the distance needed to stop and for God's sake, stay away from the
vehicles in front of you.