Retrospective: Honda PC800 Pacific Coast: 1989-90, 1994-98

1989 Honda PC800 Pacific Coast
1989 Honda PC800 Pacific Coast

What happens when motorcycle designers share a drawing board with automobile types? The answer may be the Honda Pacific Coast.

Rumor had it that after Honda R&D Americas, Inc., was established in 1985 and began dealing with all Honda products, the word came down from above that the engineers and designers should get their heads and drawing pencils together and come up with a motorcycle that would appeal to the fellow who was driving a Honda Civic.

OK, said someone, perhaps the person in charge, the motorcycle guys will deal with the drivetrain and chassis, while the car fellows will look after the bodywork. An interesting notion. The moto-press was mildly impressed, more by Honda’s effort to bring in new riders with a new design than by the bike itself.

Instrument panel and plastic-covered handlebars on the 1989 Honda PC800 Pacific Coast.
Instrument panel and plastic-covered handlebars on the 1989 Honda PC800 Pacific Coast.

Since this was not for the go-fast moto-heads, the engine did not need to be anything radical. So they borrowed the liquid-cooled, 45-degree V-twin engine from the ’88 Shadow VT800. It had an almost square bore (79.5mm) and stroke (80.6mm), and three valves per cylinder, two intake, one exhaust. Intended to be a low-maintenance machine, the chain to each single overhead camshaft had an automatic tensioner, and the valve clearances were hydraulically adjusted. A pair of 36mm carbs fed fuel into the combustion chambers with a modest 9:1 compression ratio.

A V-twin with a 45-degree included angle has a tendency to vibrate, and while the VT version kept the vibes down to an acceptable level with offset crankpins, the R&D folk wanted the PC to be silky smooth. This was done by securing the engine with four rubber mounts, three on the cases, a fourth on the forward cylinder head.

An extra gear was added to the VT’s 4-speed box, the clutch was beefed up a little, and a shaft turned the rear wheel. At 7,000 rpm, a rear-wheel dynamometer showed over 50 horses in the herd, and the PC could turn a quarter-mile in 14 seconds at 90 mph. Better than a Civic!

The drivetrain was put into a new chassis to make it more of a touring machine than a cruiser. The frame itself was a full-cradle design, with a pair of rectangular spars running up each side of the engine from the swingarm to the steering head, allowing the PC more cornering clearance than the VT enjoyed. The front end had a 41mm fork with 5.7 inches of travel, and TRAC, or Torque Reactive Anti-dive Control. The rear shock absorbers had 5.1 inches of travel with truly minimal adjustment, as only the left’s spring preload could be changed; the right was supposedly sprung to be compatible with however the left side was set. Amazingly, it worked. There was a 17-inch wheel in front with a pair of brake discs, a 15 at the rear with a drum, and the wheelbase ran 61.2 inches.

Capacious trunk on the 1989 Honda PC800 Pacific Coast.
Capacious trunk on the 1989 Honda PC800 Pacific Coast.

While this was going on, what were the car guys thinking? Cover it all up. Make it look like a two-wheeled car. Plastic is cheap, molding is easy. And cover it up they did, from the cowling over the front wheel and the shrouded discs to the huge rear end, often referred to as The Trunk. Except it was completely unlike a car’s trunk, which is one big spacious unit. On the PC, you lifted up the tail section and saw two middling-sized compartments separated by the rear fender. This had never been seen before—not by car guys, not by moto-heads.

This trunk could hold quite a bit of luggage, and a hydraulic damper kept the lid open. The waterproofing was excellent with the lid closing down and overlapping the lower part by an inch or two. Access required the passenger to get off, or at least slide forward onto the rider’s saddle, as the pillion seat pivoted with the trunk lid. One oddity was that you couldn’t come out of the store with two bags of groceries and open the trunk with a key, but needed to open the cover over the gas cap and pull a release latch.

The 4.2-gallon tank was under the seat, like on the Gold Wing, to keep the weight of the 630-pound motorcycle down low. There was no petcock with reserve, but a gas gauge did serve to make the rider aware of when it was time to fill up. That gas tank-looking affair between the seat and the handlebars was merely a cover over all the necessary ugliness that goes into an engine. Designers have to spend a lot of time, and OEMs a lot of money, making engines look pretty; it’s cheaper to cover things up. However, the many plastic pieces made access to everything involved with the motor rather complicated. If you wanted to service the battery, you would have to remove seven separate panels; to change the four spark plugs, four panels. The most common activity, oil and filter change, was sensibly set up to require the removal of only one panel.

1989 Honda PC800 Pacific Coast.
1989 Honda PC800 Pacific Coast.

The bodywork had a lot of good ideas, like pop-off mirrors and integrated fairing protectors to prevent damage in a tipover. The fairing design did have a tendency to let wind go up the pant legs of the rider, solved by tucking pants into boots. Seat height was an accommodating 30 inches, and the seat was comfortable. The main distraction suffered by the test riders of 1989 was the windshield’s size, which buffeted both rider and passenger; for 1990 a taller shield was optional.

This was a pricey ride, $7,700 in 1989 dollars compared to the Kawasaki 1000cc Concours that was a thousand dollars less. Initial sales were reasonably good, with over 7,000 units sold that first year–the great majority in the U.S. In 1990, we suffered a minor recession and sales were down by half.

American Honda took a hard look at the market and decided to pull the Pacific Coast off the 1991 list of new models, though “non-currents” continued to be for sale. It did stay on in Europe and Japan, though sales there were small. After three straight years of absence, it reappeared in U.S. dealers for the 1994 model year, as the recession receded. But sales were dismal, averaging less than a thousand units a year for the next five years. In ’97, the price dropped and minor changes were made, with the front wheel cowling giving way to a conventional fender with a slightly sportier look. In 1998, the last year, the Concours came in at $8,000, but the PC still cost $8,700 and fewer than 600 were sold.

Sharp eyes will note the Made by Tupperware decals on the fairing of our sample machine. PC lovers do have a sense of humor.

1989 Honda PC800 Pacific Coast front tire
1989 Honda PC800 Pacific Coast front tire
1989 Honda PC800 Pacific Coast rear tire
1989 Honda PC800 Pacific Coast rear tire


  1. Very true article…i have a 89 exactly like the one featured…truly a dream machine…a love to ride…only wish my right knee would work better so i could ride it more…cult on PC.

  2. My brother had one in Houston and riding it was a dream. I could not believe how much the “trunk” could hold. His problem was he was terrified of the traffic in Houston and sold it when I wasn’t looking. Plenty of engine for a decent touring machine, great rain protection, ironclad engine and very reasonable handling…much better than the scooters that were available.

  3. I have had 2 goldwings one a 2002 and one 2006. I sold them because in Buffalo the riding season is very short and didnt have time to ride when it was nice. I moved to Florida and started looking for a bike. I didnt have the funds to buy a newer goldwing that i wanted but ran across a 1989 PC800. I bought the bike and have enjoyed it very much. I will be back on a goldwing someday but the PC800 will stay in my collection

    • I am a former Goldwing owner, as well as other large bikes. Had to sell the Goldwing because of long term unemployment. BUT, I am working again, and my wife just got an inheritance unexpectedly! I’m getting the 89 Pacific Coast and the vanity plate reads: VALIUM .

  4. I had a ’98 GL 1500 which I shouldn’t have sold and discovered a ’98 PC and it truly is a blast to run around town and on highway runs. Completely different than my 2000 Valkyrie yet just as much of a grin from ear to ear! Nice to see the Valk coming back…never understood why they ‘pulled’ it in the first place! Next stop…GL1800. Bam Bam Victoria BC Canuckland.

  5. Last year, after an accident in 2012 that wrecked my immaculate 2001 ST1100, I a was off the road for about seven months….
    A left knee injury on top of a previous accident, when a van driver violated my right of way, meant that an ST was looking a bit too heavy to handle safely…
    So I found an ’89 US import PC800… with only 29,000 odd miles on the clock….
    Okay so it isn’t the fastest bike on the road but it is great for commuting and riding on some great roads here in Scotland…
    I bought it down south and took it straight on a weekend away with a riders club I am a member of….. checked the oil and tyres, rode it around all weekend, then rode home to Scotland, over 500 miles coming home…
    The bike performed well, although the first item to change had to be the awful Metzeler tyres for some later ones… they were totally wrong for the bike and lacked any grip…. the new ME880MBS is better.
    The only problem I have had in the 6500 miles since buying it has been the forks, after changing the seals the left fork is leaking again….
    I’m not concerned, I’ll strip it again but may have to have the stanchion replated or replaced…
    Considering this bike is 25 years old this year I don’t think that’s too bad….
    so long as you don’t mind taking lots of plastic off to do some of the work….. like taking the forks off!
    I could just imagine riding the PCH on this machine with a CHiPs style helmet and some mirrored lens sunglasses….. nice one Honda.

  6. For about the last 10 years I had been considering a larger style scooter to ride just for fun on nice days. It was purely accidental that I stumbled across Honda’s PC 800 on the web. It was love at first sight! A big plus was the high cost of the new models I was looking at (Silver Wing and Bergman). The vast majority of the ones I looked at were far away and needed to shipped at a cost of $500+ and a crap-shoot as to how they would fair the trip and how I would deal with hidden issues not disclosed. I finally found one a year ago last December, 200 miles to the south of me, with 35K for a modest $1850. I took my F150 and fetched it on a day-long trip to southern Oregon. It looked nice, a white ’89, but I soon discovered that it was rode hard and put away wet far too many times. The local Honda dealer said it was a heck of a buy and well worth restoring. The oil was tar, and brake and clutch fluids dark tea and all 3 nearly missing. It was a CA. bike and suffered the typical sun-melted dash and gage surround. All have been replaced and new OEM paint is going on. “Patsy” will be ready to dazzle folks this spring of ’14. KL

    • It will handle just the same 2 up , my wife & I are not the ( smallest ) of folk & mine handles just great when we go touring ….

    • I am in the market for an 89 Honda Pacific Coast! Where are you? How many miles? Pictures?
      Phil Norris 208-412-2653

  7. yes still foresale it has very low miles 3943 kl or 2345 us miles I trade for it and trusted the guy because he was a police officer did not hear it run it might have a bad stater???? and has no seat I want $500.00 please leave a phone number we will talk. I live in salida co. about 160 mile south of denver

  8. Living courtney, Vancouver Island.
    Looking for PC to buy.
    Hoping to find one on Van Island, but will travel to mainland if required.
    Send pictures please.

  9. I have a 1996 PC800. It was in excellent condition until yesterday. My wife backed into it, knocked it over and demolished the left mirror assembly. The part is no longer available from Honda. Does anyone have a source?

  10. It seems that in today’s market the body design of the PC 800 would be a good sell, but instead of making it as it was (retro), why not make it into a touring scooter. Many older riders today are moving toward the mega scooter market and the PC body design looks good. A few modifications to the design forward of the seat might be accomplished. The 800cc engine might have to be reduced to a 750cc with a CVT transmission, and the foot pegs would be more comfortable if they were floorboards. The storage area in the rear could remain the same with the same rear end opening. Hey, I don’t know, but we may have a winner. I’d buy one. I;m a 62 year old geezer who’s looking to buy a scooter anyway.
    If they had only put a 750cc engine in the Helix…….. Sorry, I was getting carried away.

  11. A scooter is a scooter a bike is a bike. I have just sold a Burgman 650 I just couldcouldn’tt on with it. I will be returning to a real bike next.

  12. I have a hard time understanding why some folks think a maxi-scooter like the Suzuki Burgman 650, or the Kymco My-Road 700i are not real motorcycles. Okay, so you can’t put straight pipes on one and make it roar so loud you have to wear ear plugs to ride it. What fun is that? Besides loud pipes don’t do much except make some folks mad and scares others into almost running into the bike with the loud pipes. Having owned a Burgman 650, I know that I can go anywhere a larger bike can go, and if I attach a uni-go trailer to it I can probably haul as much, if not more, than the big touring bikes. But everybody has their own likes and dislikes. While the big bikes makes it appear that you are keeping up with a certain group or crowd, I tend to be different, and as long as I am happy and you are too, I’ll see you on the road.

    • I hop on my 77 yr old Dad’s Burgman 650 every time he stops over on it… It’s a hoot to ride! I’ll probably end up buying one to commute on because my Valkyrie Interstate is quite the gas hog. 32-35 mpg vs the Burgman’s 50+.

  13. I have the best of both worlds. I have a 2001 Goldwing and a 1996 Pacific Coast. I love both bikes but really enjoy the PC. Lot’s of riders think that the PC is a scooter but it is far better.
    Now that I am 74 I think that I will keep the PC until I can’t hold a two wheeler up. The wing my have to be sold but I will take the PC to my grave.
    Truly a great little bike.

  14. Hello im fixing to buy two 95s with around 30k on them both have been sitting for about a year need advice anybody that can help or know alot about these. Bikes call me plz at 830 515 3976 tks i have alot of questions

  15. I couldn’t agree with Ben Zeppa more about the PC… a truly great ride and it even has room for groceries! You can actually fill the ‘trunk’ with ice and beer and be the envy of many at the campsite! My PC is a US ’98 out of Seattle keeping company with 3 GL1000’s and a couple of BSA Victors. Having a blast here in Victoria BC! Cheers and keep the rubber side done y’all!

  16. I’m very interested in the PC with a strong preference for a 1990 model with very low miles that hasn’t been dropped or crashed. It must have been garaged at all times because UV rays destroy plastic rather quickly. I live in San Diego but almost anywhere within about 500 miles would be fine. But here’s the rub: it must be driveable NOW — not after “minor” repairs or tune-ups. If it weren’t for the fact that remaining tread depth on OEM tires is a very strong indicator of mileage, I couldn’t care less about their condition. Tires have an Expiration Date beyond which they are unsafe especially on motorcycles which means that I’d definitely be replacing any tires older than about 7 years, much newer than 1990 OEM tires. I know fussy, fussy! But with hundreds of thousands of motorcycle miles under my belt since 1964, having given away several project bikes in the last year alone, I don’t have the energy, patience — or perhaps a long enough remaining lifespan — to take on yet another project bike.

  17. Bought a new PC 800 in 1994 and kept it 13 years. Super bike! Use to ride the Virginia mountain areas about 3 times a month. Was not unusual for me to put 5-800 miles a day on it.Handled the mountain back roads almost as good as a sport bike, but handled the highways like a touring bike. On trips to St Louis and Tulsa(4 days,2500 miles), it ran like a champ! Would cruise the interstates at 80-85 mph all day.Would pull mountains with wife and I with no problem. Stopped for gas one time in mountains and a truck driver ran over to look at it. Said he had been thinking about getting one, but didn’t know if 800 cc would pull him and his wife.Told him I passed him(wife on back) going up the mountain. He said,”yea,and I was going 70 mph!” Road tests claimed 14 seconds in 1/4 mile times.Not many high performance cars could do much better in 94! Complete Corbin seat and backrest for wife made a big difference in the bike. Also had some Gold Wing chrome rails mounted on top of trunk beside rear seat to strap things on.60 mph in the rain,you did not get wet if you kept moving! Sang TA sells a rubber molding that clips on the windshield edge. It moves the wind 2 inches higher.Made a big difference for passenger. Lot of riders chuckled when they saw mine, but didn’t chuckled so much when they tried to keep up with me! Super Bike! Does everything well! Wish they still made it!

  18. The Front fender on my 1996 is bad, will a 1997 or 1998 fender bolt right up without any modification ?
    The 97 bike has the same front mudguard as the 1996, the 1998 was only fitted with the sports mudguard, and with out the disk covers , the 1998 fender was like the cbr600, hope it helps.

  19. I’m looking for a PC 800 in Northern Florida for a commuting ride. Need to downgrade from a 1995 GL 1500 in near perfect shape 35K miles all maintenance & upgrades done.

    • I have a 1991 PC800 Red Honda Pacific CoastI’m wanting to sell. 63,000 miles. New water pump 2,000 miles,new front wheel bearings 5,000 miles, new battery.
      Paint is a little faded.
      CLASSIC and ANTIQUE. BIKE LOOKING FOR NEW HOME/TLC. Used for commuting for years(45-50 mpg hwy)
      I live outside Jacksonville, Fl.
      $1500. OBO Must pick-up or make delivery arrangements.

  20. I have a 1995 PC800 for sale.
    It’s in good shape I live in central Ohio.
    It has 55,717 miles on it. Runs great.
    New front tire, oil and filter and completely gone through.
    Paint is a little faded but looks good. Would make you a great bike.
    Contact me.
    Eddie 740 606 5297

  21. I have a cherry red 1990 Honda Pacific Coast for sale.
    800cc liquid cooled 5 speed / 15,696 original miles / clear blue Texas title / garage kept / parked 5 years ago – gas drained – battery disconnected / some spare body parts & original seats / CB installed / Hawk helmet included – size XXL
    Stephanie-832-660-4181- TEXT FIRST FOR FASTER RESPONSE

  22. I have a nice 1989 PC 800 with less than 3600 miles located in southern Colorado that I would sell for $2600.00. New battery this year and only very minor imperfections. The bike runs great and has no motor issues and looks near new and has always been garage kept.

  23. i have a 89 pc i just picked up that needs a cdi box other than that the bikes neer new cond im trying to get the part ordered so i can ride it to southern oregon around 350 mile trip but if someone in the portland area is interested in it id let it go for $890 as is right now but after its running $1890 obo like i said its in great shape has lived in garage its whole life and have got all service records for it very well maintained

  24. Hi , I am new here. Bought 1997 Honda Pacific coast 800 . It is with texas sidecar company for the side car installation . My sidecar is escort model .
    Do any body have this type of sidecar installed on their bikes ?.
    Please tell me will it be a difficult to drive it .

  25. I lived in Norway for the last 32 years. I owned 2 PC-800’S. TOTALLY reliable. My longest trip was from Oslo, Norway to the Ukraine. Both my bikes were lettered “Paul’s Plastic Fantastic”. I moved back to the States, bought a “Pan European” (ST-1100) and am replacing it with a…. 1998 Magma Red, PC-800. I’ve been in 38 countries, love to ride, 12 motorcycles, and if you like to tour in comfort, avoid a lot of rain, get 50+ mpg, have room to carry thing, and want a great ride for less than $4000, go Pacific Coast. Also a movie star in Back to the Future and one Bourne Identity film

  26. Looking for a PC800 in July / August 2022.
    Found a 1997 , but no history or service record , owner “bought it from his neighbor”.
    36,000 miles, needs windscreen and major servicing : lots of brake fade!!
    Anybody out there have one for sale in Los Angeles area?

  27. I have two, one’s a ’90 that came from Denver, about 55,000 miles, the other a ’96, that came from Tucson area, with about 43,000 miles. I’ll sell either one. Both are in good to very good condition. Only need one. Both will take you from coast to coast. Have completed many IBA rides, including 48/10.

    I’ve owned these two for about 10 years. I have rebuilt 13 PC800s, four from a bare frame, and put them back on the road. I know a lot about one of the best motorcycles ever built, and can identify most parts individually.

    Plastic repair is done whenever a panel is removed if it needs work. I understand the nature of the PC’s plastic and use the best means and methods for repairing them.

    I can deliver within reason from 55426 if you need help with that.

    Contact me at and we can discuss pictures, videos and anything about either of these two PC800’s.


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