Honda vs Harley-Davidson: Which Brand Is Better?

Honda vs Harley-Davidson: Which Brand is Better? 1

Riding a motorcycle can be exhilarating and gives you more freedom to explore than an automobile. However, choosing the motorcycle brand to buy from can be challenging, and you must familiarize yourself with the possibilities. 

Honda and Harley-Davidson are two companies in the motorbike space that many individuals purchase for different reasons. Learning more about them can help you decide which one of these brands is right for you.

Honda Motorcycle History

Honda vs Harley-Davidson: Which Brand is Better? 2

The Honda Motorcycle was invented early in the 1900s by a Japanese man, Soichiro Honda. As a child, he spent time helping his father, who owned a bicycle repair business. After turning 15, he worked for an auto repair business and soon started his own auto repair company. It was there that he developed the idea to build a motorcycle. 

At first, Honda needed help with quality control and lost a contract with a company for piston rings. He learned how essential quality control was for his company. Visiting factories around Japan and attending engineering school made him aware of the importance of quality control.

In 1949, Honda built the first all-Honda motorcycle, the Super Cub. He also made bigger bikes and sent all of them to the United States. 

Once these bikes arrived, consumers started flocking to the Super Cub model due to its small size and maneuverability. Today, it is still a top seller at more than 100 million. Eventually, Honda created bigger bikes, and they started catching on as consumers bought them too.

Harley-Davidson Motorcycle History

Honda vs Harley-Davidson: Which Brand is Better? 3

Harley-Davidson Motorcycles also got their start in the early 1900s. 

William S. Harley created plans for a small engine that could be placed in a bike frame. His friend, Arthur Davidson, joined Harley in this endeavor and built a prototype motorcycle in 1903. William Davidson, Arthur’s eldest brother, joined the group to complete the second prototype in 1904, which placed fourth in a local motorcycle race.

During the first year of building, Harley Davidson completed 50 motorcycles. They expanded and built 150 more in 1907. 

Through those first years, Harley-Davidson continued to grow and market its bikes. They were soon selling to the United States Postal Service and police departments and supplying bikes to the United States military.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Each Brand Over the Other

One factor to consider is fuel efficiency when comparing Harley-Davidson versus Honda. Refueling costs for Harleys can be high. 

In contrast, Honda has regularly implemented innovations that focus on fuel efficiency. If you ride one of these motorcycles, you will refuel less often.

Honda is also a leader in keeping up with new developments and innovations. They do their best to incorporate cutting-edge technologies into their latest series of motorcycles.

If you’re looking for a motorcycle with high-quality construction, Harley-Davidson has an advantage over Honda. They are also more unique in style and originality. If you’ve ever heard a Harley-Davidson running, you’ll recognize the sound of the powerful engine.

However, Harley-Davidson motorcycles’ unique style and originality come with a higher price tag. 

If you want to see how well Harley-Davidson cruises and sounds, you may want to check out the movie Easy Rider on Prime Video. Released in 1969, it stars Jack Nicholson, Dennis Hopper, and Peter Fonda and features a 1951 Harley-Davidson Panhead.

Best Models From Each Brand So Far

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With years of production under the belts of both companies, Honda and Harley-Davidson have built some great bikes. 

Here are five of the top models for Honda:

  1. Honda Super Cub: This model is cheap, simple, and convenient, making it a reliable option for consumers.
  2. Honda RC213V-S: The May 2016 exotic model is one of the most expensive at $184,000. Honda intends this bike for racing.
  3. Honda Gold Wing: Unique in design, this model provides a middle ground between a motorcycle and a car.
  4. Honda CBR600F Hurricane: Produced from 1987 to 1990, this model was excellent at maneuvering, reliability, and mileage.
  5. Honda CRF1000L Africa Twin: Equipped with a 1084 cc twin-cylinder engine, it’s probably the best Honda Powersport vehicle.

Harley-Davidson motorcycles are recognized as some of the most iconic bikes created. Here are five of their top models:

  1. Harley-Davidson VRSC: Produced in 2001, it became the company’s first mass-produced power bike at 125 hp.
  2. Harley-Davidson EL: Built in 1936, it was the first bike to sport the classic Knucklehead V-twin engine.
  3. Harley-Davidson VRSCSE2: This V-Rod bike was popular with several customers who desired several color variations.
  4. Harley-Davidson Fat Boy: In 1990, Harley-Davidson changed the game with the look of this new bike.
  5. Harley-Davidson Model 11F: The 11F was one of the most advanced bikes in 1915, with a clutch and transmission.

Differences Between the Two Brands

When you examine Honda and Harley-Davidson motorcycles, you can see they have different market strategies and bikes. At a company level, Honda sells motorcycles, ATVs, and cars. Harley-Davidson is strictly a seller of motorcycles and motorcycle apparel.


There’s a clear difference when examining how each company builds its motorcycles. 

Harley is much slower at implementing changes in their designs. Honda has a tech-savvy approach that incorporates the latest technology to help improve performance. Honda is happy with following the current trend, while Harley avoids this practice.

Fuel Efficiency

As noted previously, fuel efficiency is different as well. Harley Davidson motorcycles can consume more gas, requiring you to visit the gas pump frequently.


Honda motorcycles are also better for racing than Harley-Davidson motorcycles. 

Harley-Davidson may be the best choice if you’re looking for a bike to go cruising on, as they have several models you can try. 

In contrast, if you’d like to ride on rough terrain, Honda is the better choice as they have several models designed specifically for this factor. Honda also has many models for other motorcycle categories. These can range from Super Sport and Mini-Moto to Trail and Standard.

Which Motorcycle Brand Is Right For You?

Honda and Harley-Davidson motorcycles offer very different riding experiences. Harley produces a slow-revving motor with an incredible amount of low-end torque. Most of their models follow this formula. 

If your main goal is to cruise, Harley offers plenty of options in this category. Honda is the opposite and provides several different motorcycle styles. While they have cruisers, you’ll also find several other motorcycle categories with this brand.

Identifying your goals and how you want to ride is advisable before choosing a motorcycle. Doing so will help ensure you have a great time and find a bike meeting your requirements and budget. However, you can’t go wrong with either of the two brands.

About Alex

Hi Friends! Welcome to Motorcycle Exploits. I'm Alex! If you ever had any personal hindrances or doubts about your abilities to ride a motorcycle, then you are in the right place, Mate! My desire is to help you overcome any fears and other personal struggles you have so that you, too, can celebrate your EXPLOITS!