Honda919_HelmetHair2I 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.

The mods
Honda_919_motorcycle_tourinNot 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?
Honda919_at_track_knutstorpI’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.

Riding it
Honda_919_touringThe 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.

Rating after 3 years: First impression rating 5/5 helmets
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685 Responses to “How it’s like having a Honda 919 / Hornet 900”

  1. arctic_moose  August 6th

    Wow sumer is half over here but what a sumer it has been. I picked up a nail in my rear tire forcing me to replace it. So I changed them both I put the same type back on the Dunlop roadsmart sportmax. I had over 10k kms on them I could of finished the season if it wasn’t for the nail. I love my 919. How has everyone else been?

  2. wulfgang  August 24th

    Hello Mr Nomad,
    Sorry for the lateness of my response been the silly season workwise the last few months and still trying to tidy up the legal and financial ramifications of my second marriage. Should’ve known better at my age,’She’ was an impulse purchase A Russian U-Boat commanders daughter in High heels & a thong. Looked like a Bond villain’s Mistress. Turned out to be Russian gangster’s/entrepreneur floosie, unfortunately he’d been retired by ‘Chechnian Bandits’ on the Moscow ringroad and she was looking for a safer place to live a passport and divorce settlement. Ah well! Next time I’ll be sensible and by a Ducati instead.
    Thanks for your compliments on the filmclip, there should’ve been another rider on a another hornet in front of me but it pissed with rain for the entire 10 days I was down there, total bloody washout. Ended up filming this as the beginning of my journey up to Bilbao to catch the ferry home. With regard to the quality, YouTube’s reproduction is not a patch on what I get watching it directly from the memory card. When I find a site that doesn’t compress the files I’ll upload it and let you know. The battery life issue is one that I’ve solved with a 12v acc.socket and spare batteries for this and the stills camera.
    Driving on the other side of the road? You know I think I worried about it more before I did it and it’s definitely easier on a bike than in a car. The places that catch you out are the quiet roads after stopping for food or petrol etc. You pull out automatically onto what you consider to be your side of the road. You don’t do it for long and you don’t do it again. The brain’s a wonderful thing it adjusts itself everso quickly. Roundabouts or Traffic circles take a little while to get confident with before you can opt for the route of least deviation and to hell with the natives method prefered by an ex-London M/C courier.
    Now finally to the pipes and the throaty sound. Was going to say that this is a trade secret coupled to an exotic exhaust system crafted from Mithril and Unobtanium by moonlighting members of an F1 team. The truth is standard pipes a remote condenser mike, a balled pair of socks (put the mike inside), a lot of duct/gaffer tape and put it as close to exhaust outlet as you can without dangling it in the wind. Also think the panniers and other luggage helped create a quiet wind noise free area around the back of the bike.
    Am about to replace the silencers and catalyst as they’re becoming quite corroded. Will let you know how I get on as expecting large parcel to arrive in the post fairly shortly (No jokes about mail order brides please)
    Cheers Wulfie

  3. NUCYM  October 14th

    Well, it’s been a busy summer. I have ridden some but, not enough; I am planning to take a lot of vacation in the 4th quarter to make up. It will have to be local though because I spent a ton on new tires for three trucks and one SUV. I met my older sister in Arkansas and gave her my 2003 Buel Blast, she’s 55 and suddenly decided she wanted to ride. She took the MSF course and I think she will be OK. I put new tires on it and went over it thouroghly. She says it’s what she wants. I just noticed, are there no women 919 fanatics?

  4. Arctic_Moose  November 15th

    summer has ended and now autumn is almost gone. oh I love Canada but I do envy the year round riders.
    I have a slight problem with my bike I’ve lost my tail lights and my park lights for my rear signals. but I still have flashers brake light and license plate light any advice. I have checked all the fuses they are all good even the main bike fuse. I did have a tail light out so I removed the rear cowl. after which I turned the lights on and voila no tail lights. I did check for a loose connections but didn’t find any.
    On a different note dam this site has been awfully quiet 🙁

  5. Mark  December 23rd

    It is without absolute sadness that I let you guys know that Greynomad passed away about a week ago. He mentioned several times that he had a ‘friend with a hornet’ and that friend was me. He was an amazing individual that I had the pleasure of knowing for only a few years.

    He never shared much about himself on this blog, but I will tell you now that he was a man of many talents and interests and had a brilliant mind. His Honda Hornet 900 was displayed at his funeral yesterday where over 200 guests celebrated and remembered his amazing life.

    It chokes me up to write this, because I doubt I will ever meet such a generous and giving gentlemen. And he was tragically taken from us far too soon due to exposure to asbestos many years ago.

    I hope that you all have a safe Christmas and New Year, and that you appreciate the time you have with loved ones, because you never know when that time will end.

  6. Mark  December 25th

    It it WITH absolute sadness….

  7. Jorge  January 4th

    Happy New Year for 2013. Having completed a stirring ride around Northland, I did my usual look around with a view to change the Hornet for something different, for the heck of it. Ducati? Triumph? The result is the same this year. I can’t bear to part with it. Bike magazine UK now rates the bike as a Superb second hand buy. It’s interesting the way things change.

  8. Larry  January 6th

    Happy Holidays, all from Michigan, USA where my 06 919 awaits better weather

  9. Larry  January 6th

    put a comma between all and from

  10. Larry  January 6th

    take the comma out after holidays. Sorry, too much holiday cheer!

  11. Jesper Bram  January 29th

    Sorry to hear that, Mark. May he rest in peace.

  12. Larry  February 9th

    I just read the note from Mark about Greynomad. I’ve been reading his comments for a number of years and it was easy to tell that he was a fascinating fellow. My heart goes out to his friends and family. He will be missed.

  13. lewisham_phil  February 10th

    I’ve just spent a few evenings reading through and enjoying this blog; although it has gone rather quiet, and all but ceased to be, it is still a source of some very useful information, and inspiration, for a new 900 Hornet owner. It was quite a shock, and very saddening to read of the death of Greynomad; he was particularly entertaining, and actually older than me. I hope I am still able to ride when I’m in my seventies.
    I’ve been riding for thirty years, but don’t change bikes very often. So getting the Hornet is quite an event. At the moment for commuting around London, the 900 looks like a good bet (currently on a ZZR600; I thought the 600 Hornet might be a bit gutless)). I just need some nice cans (for alerting pedestrians, officer), crash bungs, and tax.
    I have to confess, I have gone out on to the drive just to admire my new purchase. It is a fine motorbike. And it’s black!
    So to Jesper, Jorge, Wulfgang, cbrider, Custard and others, and of course Greynomad, thanks for the insights and entertainment. Take care.

  14. lewisham_phil  February 11th

    Nice video Wulfgang, but for the life of me I can’t spot the goats. Unless you’re talking about an old goat in the Galloper at 24:20!
    What a great ride. We used to head down to the Alps every year to do the Passes; I prefer the consistent sweeping bends of your Rhonda road though, but not the wet/dry surface.

  15. Jorge  February 14th

    For some reason my computer doesn’t flag updates the way it used to. So I missed the passing away of Greynomad, a senior and much respected contributor. I had hoped that I would meet the erudite man on one of my trips to Melbourne but it wasn’t to be. A serious loss. Sincere condolances to Greynomad’s family.

  16. Arctic_Moose  April 8th

    R.I.P Greynomad

  17. Arctic_Moose  May 20th

    has anyone had their valves set at the 26000 km mark and if so how wore were they and how long did the service take?

  18. Weeds  May 23rd

    Just went and got my valves checked at 38,ooo miles. Thought I waited to long but guess not. They’re all still within specs. Took Honda one day and they gave me a list of the sixteen readings. 135 clams well spent for piece of mind. Oil and filter change every 3,000 and a new set of Power Pures every 7,000.
    I miss my 72 commando combat but I don’t see ever getting rid of the 919 unless it’s for a newer one. 32,000 miles would probably be a safe bet unless you hear something in there your not comfortable with.
    Cheers from Northern Illinois.

  19. Arctic_Moose  June 9th

    wow a $135 they are trying to rape me here then as they want $80 an hour and they tell me it’s a 4-6 hr job. The bike still sounds fine but I’d like to make sure.

  20. 129CBRider  June 14th

    The 919 is made to last. That’s why they de-tuned it down from 125 hp so you wouldn’t have to do anything but replace the chain/sprocket/tires/brakes/oil.
    Stuff you can do yourself is what Mr. Honda put second on his list of must-haves right after dependability and performance.

    It’s the Honda Factory Creed!

  21. Arctic_Moose  July 8th

    love it 129CBRider. I must ask what does the 129 represent?

  22. 129CBRider  July 18th

    Actic, the 129 is the highway designation for The Dragon up in Western North Carolina. I have a cabin just over the Cherohala Skyway in Tellico Plains, TN and make a 250 mile loop quite often on the 919 which takes in The Dragon in the middle of the ride.

  23. 129CBRider  July 18th

    My favorite weekend up there is to ride my John Deere ten speed down to the Town Square Restaurant in Tellico Plains, strike up a conversation with some sport bike riders there who are heading up the Cherohala Skyway to get to The Dragon. I then rush home 3 blocks, get my leathers on, jump on the 919 and see how far up the 56 mile Cherohala it takes me to catch them. Then when they stop at one of the scenic overlooks and I take off my helmet it always gets great laughs because I’m in my mid 60’s and they usually have asked me about the John Deere bicycle at the restaurant so they know who I am. Best one tho was catching 3 sportbike guys from Germany on my ’96 MZ 660 single, lol. They were like, “That’s an MZ??!!”

  24. Jorge  August 6th

    Hey guys. Just because I don’t contribute it oesn’t mean that I don’t read what you have to say. I have looked at the new fuel miser Hondas. I’m still happy with my 900/919. I’m hooked on feedback. It’s 17 degrees cantigrade here. We ride right through winter down under. Has everybody sold their Hornet/919s?

  25. Weeds  September 7th

    Guess I need some help?
    I live in Il. and commute on the 919 just about every day for 7 mo. rain or shine. 03 stock with e41’s and opt. e34 top case. 2 mo. a yr. in Cal north of L.A. canyon riding and camping. Try the Ventura pack in the passenger space and you could just about live on the road. Sold on Michilin Power Pures for all weather rain or shine.
    After 20 yr’s not riding I adopted this bike immediately after riding it for two test drives in a row. Couldn’t believe how agile and the hp to weight. But in the fourth yr. of riding it, I still, at 6′ 2″, feel like I’m on top of the bike and not in it. It just doesn’t feel the way the 72 commando combat did. like the bike and I were as one.
    I’ve looked at the 2010 Honda VFR 1200 but I want lighter, not heavyer. What the he@* choices do I have to get that old combat feeling back again. At 290 lbs. the commando didn’t care if it was drifting gravel road curves or at 110 on the highway. I’ve run the 919 down plenty of gravel roads and It’s not at home there. Trust me, it’s not at home there. With full leathers and 6 shots of Old Crow it’s still not at home there.
    I want this hp. and sport agility but less pucker effect when I cross some limestone crumbled onto the road in a canyon road curve.
    Sorry I rambled on. Is anyone out there still.

  26. Nucym  September 29th

    It’s been a great summer to ride. I just found out the Dragon is only 130 miles from Chattanooga, TN. I would like to ride the Dragon before the summer’s out. My 2007 919 is ready for the trip. New Lithium battery from Batteries Plus is amazingly light and cost as much as they wanted for a new battery at the dealer. I added two Tourmaster side bags to the round Tourmaster dufffle that goes accross the passenger seat. The bags made the bike much more usefull and will help on the trip. I also have a cheap nylon throttle lock I use alot. I will take some pictures of the bike and post them here soon. Sorry to hear about Graynomad, I enoyed his posts. Good riding to all.

  27. Nucym  September 29th

    Weeds, thanks for the post about the valves being OK at 38,000. I lean toward the if it’s not broken don’t fix it and my bike is running great. I also believe in preventive maintenance but there’s been no signs off valve misadjustment. Does anyone else have any data points on when to check valve adjustment on the 919?

  28. Arctic_Moose  October 23rd

    7th season of riding my 919 almost coming to and end. For anyone who is wondering about the 919 it has lots of power to be fun, but if your looking for crazy ass power this is not the bike for you. That being said it is more than enough bike for me and I still love it. Arctic_Moose

  29. Weeds  October 31st

    I’m sure I saw a post in her about a Kawasaki steering stabilizer fitted to the 919. I ride one handed quite a bit and the bigger bumps at road speed tend to make things interesting. Hoping it will also reduce some of the dive in on curves. Does anyone remember seeing that post? It was quite detailed and specific about which stabilizer and the fitment.
    Any ideas would be appreciated. Weeds

  30. Arctic_Moose  November 2nd

    i have seen one fitted to a 919 but I am afraid I don’t know who made it.

  31. Arctic_Moose  March 12th

    It”s a new year an I can’t wait to fire up the nine one nine. A few more weeks and this snow will be just a bad memory. So I need my valves adjusted according to the manufacture. I hate the thought of opening her up and having someone tinker with it.
    On a happier thought I love my bike.


  32. jorge  November 24th

    Every now and then I wonder what kind of bikes these worthy riders have bought.

  33. Arctic_Moose  March 21st

    Wow a full year has come and gone since my previous posts. I guess this site has died. It has been a record setting winter here on the east cost of Canada. I’m hoping 2015’s summer is long and hot.

  34. Arctic_Moose  January 29th

    2015 and my 919 performed flawless as usual. I changed her brake pads all the way around, EBC pads an a new rear skin.
    Miss all of your posts and comments. Come on summer 2016.

  35. Wulfgang  February 2nd

    Greetings from the sceptic islands, well they’re not the that bad but the weather’s wet and shitty and it’s dark most of the time. Bike’s in the garage with a cover over it, waiting for the seat to come back with a new cover and some gel pads installed. This old arse is looking forward to a kinder riding experience. Am about to fit a new radiator as the wonderful silica infused road salt the local authority use to stop ice forming on the highway eats aluminium with a voracity similar to flesh eating piranhas. This’ll be no.4 however I’m quite pleased to say that ebay introduced me to some very nice chinese people who sent me two radiators for £36 each plus carriage not the £500 Mr Honda required. At least It’s an easy job unlike replacing the throttle cables what a bitch that was. Luckily I have three hands a ten inch surgical clamp and a headtorch. Maybe I should take up a gynaecology or proctology as a hobby following that particular procedure. Anyway enough of my moaning the Hornet now with 70,000 miles on it is still purring like a kitten or, snarling like a tiger. When, I take the baffles out of the Mivv X-cone tailpipes I fitted a couple of years ago. Have to be a little thoughtful about the feelings of others when I do this as they are very loud. The sound they make as you accelerate through the gears at the top of the rev limit is pure petrolhead euphoria though and consequently highly addictive. As you can tell this gives rise to an internal conflict for the socially responsible adult and the mostly suppressed devil within. Talking of devils. Met a riding buddy of mine in the local supermarket carpark the other day. He’s a pensioner and full of fun bought himself a dirtbike back in the
    spring. Now apparently the parish magazine is full of letters about anti social youths riding m-cycles on local footpaths. It’s hardly lock up your daughters time just a tiny bit of rebellion that brings a smile to the lips and puts a sparkle in the eye. Lastly have not posted for a long time and was remiss in failing to express my sadness at the passing of Mr Greynomad. Self lubricating with a very seemly Merlot what a treet that post was. Let’s hope we can train a new generation to carry the torch of motorcycling idiocy and fun into the future.

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