Honda's Pacific Coast: Because We Can

Honda has unlocked the world of powered two-wheelers, unlike any other manufacturer. Soichiro Honda's vision was to create an acceptance for motorcycles and scooters as family transport and not just the preserve of enthusiasts. In answer to critics who wondered why Honda sought to diversify the market was a broad, corporate response - "because we can".

honda pc800

One such example of this diversification philosophy was the PC800 or Pacific Coast. A machine conceived and designed by Honda in California primarily for the American market and sold between 1989 and 1998, the styling of the PC800 was soft and organic with no sight of the engine and little sight of the wheels for the first iteration at least.

Focussed squarely on middle-class professionals with little interest in the complexity and technology of traditional motorcycles, the “trunk” or storage space of the Pacific Coast ran the full width of the rear of the machine and – as Honda were keen to point out – could carry "four plastic bags full of groceries, along with a small bag of dog food." (presumably the cat would go hungry!).

The all-encompassing bodywork hid a three-valves per cylinder 45° V-twin liquid-cooled engine displacing 800cc with twin front disc brakes concealed behind a huge front fender and shaft drive mated to a drum rear brake. In terms of servicing a total of four access panels had to be removed to check the spark plugs and no less than seven to service the battery but this would be a dealer task given the customer profile.

Honda deserve credit for sticking to the Pacific Coast idea across not one but two production runs but the PC800 failed to hit the consumer target and sold poorly achieving average sales of circa 1400 per year which is the same figure that other Honda products sell per week!

As a flag waving exercise, it has to be applauded and it was not the first – or last – machine to be aimed at non bikers. Now considered interesting and collectable, a PC800 makes a good weekend tourer with its ample luggage space and great weather protection.

issued: Monday, April 15, 2024
updated: Monday, April 15, 2024

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