Interceptor 700

Interceptor 700: Curious Political Machine Of All Honda Interceptors

In 1984, there were four models of Honda Interceptors available for sale. The 1000, the 750, the 500... and the 700. This tariff-beating 700cc was Honda motorcycles' way of getting around the newly-enacted Danforth Tariffs which placed a disproportionate tax on all imported motorcycles displacing more than 700 cubic centimeters. Harley-Davidson was the intended beneficiary.

Honda Interceptor 700
Engine Size: 698cc
Motorcycle Style: Sport
Good Beginner Motorcycle? Uh, sorry, not on your life.
Pros: One of the best sporting bikes to ever roll off the assembly lines; power delivery is butter.
Cons: The 700 did lose something in the translation from de-stroking.
Price: $3,598 (New, 1984)

If you were involved in motorcycling in the mid-1980's you no doubt recall the Reagan-era tariffs that exacted a stiff toll on imported motorcycles. Those motorcycles with engines larger than 700cc's had a rather large tax slapped on them as they passed through United States customs, and this extra cost was invariably passed on to consumers, as nature intended. Perhaps this tariff was intended only on motorcycles originating in The Land of The Rising Sun...?

The 1983 Honda Interceptor 750 cost $3,498; due to the tariff, the cost jumped up to $4,396 in 1984. Honda's 1000 Interceptor was a scant few hundred dollars more. Honda motors had to reply. In response, Honda destroked a portion of the 750 Interceptors and turned them into Tariff-Busters. All it really took was shortening the 4 connecting rods 3mm or so, and voila! Same cycle, less engine displacement volume, $800 less. What a crazy world.

Now, when all this was going on, I was but a boy of 15 summers and none too savvy of the world's curious balancing of economic subtleties. I read, month after month, in my Cycle magazine subscription issues that the reason for this tariff was to protect one Harley-Davidson, Incorporated, against the onslaught of cough**superior**cough Japanese motorcycles. It was hoped that the playing field would be leveled and help boost Milwuakee's factories sell more of their two-wheeled cars in the face of this onslaught of more efficient metric motorcycles. Due to this belief, I fostered a loathing of all things Harley and vowed to never have anything to do with them or their loud, big, slow, heavy, greasy-bearded motorcycles. I have since tempered my teenage angst - I would gladly accept a V-Rod anyday. But I digress. We're discussing the Honda Interceptor 700.

The Honda Interceptor 750 was first released in 1983 as the VF750 Interceptor. It was unlike any motorcycle seen up till then. It looked like it took a wrong turn off of the pits and found its way onto the Honda dealership floor. The colors, the compactness, the seating position were so revolutionary. And I thought the Nighthawk S was an alien thing.

The 700 Interceptor, like the other Honda Interceptors, featured a 90-degree vee-four liquid-cooled DOHC 4-valves-per-cylinder engine. Transmission hummed through 5 gears. Keeping all this power in check were twin-piston dual-disc brakes on the front wheel and a single disc brake on the rear wheel. The 700 weighed 543 pounds when its 4.8 gallon tank was full. It ran a quarter-mile from 0 to 108 mph in 12.63 seconds, and it churned 66.8 horsepower at 9,500 rpm. The 750 Interceptor did take a cut in power by reducing its 4 connecting rods 3mm. Eh... what's an Island Country of technologically advanced motorcycles to do to save a buck? The Harley Davidson 883 Sportster's quarter-mile runs weren't timed by the use of a stopwatch so much as a calendar. Speed was not the 883's intention.

The Honda Interceptors were made for one thing - cutting through twisty roads like they were straight. I also think they were clearly Honda's answer to Kawasaki's venerable GPz motorcycles. And man, if the Honda Interceptors didn't take a huge bite out of the GPz thunder. Oh, the GPz's competed. But remember, Kawasaki was working at their own drawing board. If the Honda Interceptors brought Kawasaki to the negotiating table, then Kawasaki Ninjas brought Honda back... Suzuki upped the ante with the release of the GSX 1000R in 1986...and then the next-gen Honda CBR Hurricanes in 1987...

The 80's were a fun time to be a motorcyclist!