I bought the Honda from new back in August 2003 and so far I’ve done more than 28.000 km (17.500 miles) on the motorcycle. It’s a very versatile machine good for both touring two-up full packed, fun with the lads on the back roads, and the occasional track-day. Not to mention reliable; never had any trouble with it. I trust that motorcycle more than I do the sun rising at dawn.
Not many people have the same motorcycle for a few years without throwing in some mods. First thing I added was an original Honda flyscreen, which removes most of the wind pressure from your torso. A slightly wider and lower set of Renthal handlebars was added next, for a more forward leaned riding position. Last year I added slip-on Akrapovic exhausts and a Power Commander, which made it feel like a totally different motorcycle. The acceleration is now a smooth curve all the way to the top, where it had sought of a kick around 6000 revs before. The setup doesn’t give you a mentionable horsepower increase, for that you’d need a full exhaust system. These are just end cans, but the power commander gives better performance throughout the rev range and the sound of the cans is bloody nice.
Sport or touring?
I’ve considered replacing it with another motorcycle several times, but I always end up keeping it. Haven’t seen a bike yet that can do what the 919 can; I’d like a 600ccm race bike, but that will be awful for touring vacations, and a touring bike would be damn boring on a track-day. I think the 919 (hornet 900) is as close as you get to something in the middle. I’ve met a few other 919’s packed for touring, and I attended a track-day once where an instructor rode a Honda 919, so I guess I’m not the only one believing the motorcycle does those two things well.
The engine is and old CBR 900 Fireblade engine from before it became a CBR 1000, so only the meanest of race bikes will give you the rear wheel and, if that’s your game, you’ll have no problem pulling wheelies from traffic lights. The Honda 919 (Hornet 900) has a fantastic riding position; I have never had problems with sore buns, even after 12 hours of riding in one day. The wind pressure have given me sore shoulders and upper arms at times, but only after doing long hauls on the freeway (800+ km / 500 miles) after riding everyday for a few weeks. Not so much that it becomes unpleasant, but it would be unfair not to mention it. It’s a freaking great motorcycle that’s what it is, and when it has just been cleaned (did that yesterday) it looks absolutely bitchin’. If I could afford it though, and had the room for it, I would get two motorcycles instead; a 1000cc touring bike of some sort, and a 600cc sports bike. As with most thing that do several things well, it does none of them excellent. But then again asking a motorcycle to be a tough tourer and a nimble race bike at the same time might be pushing it.