Honda Fury vs. Yamaha Raider: Perfection Meets Grotesquerie
Although much of the news coming from Honda's motorcycle operations in the past couple of years has been a bit of a snoozer, as the company seems to have been happy just rehashing last year's bikes and calling them "all new", it seems that the Spirit of Soichiro still lives at Honda: as is witnessed by the 2010 Honda Fury.
The only possible way to describe this chopper-styled bike is "Honda Pulls A Saxon / Big Dog / etc." Prior to the Fury, to get this kind of righteous styling right off the dealership floor you'd have to write a check to a relatively small "cottage industry" manufacturer which not only used an off the shelf engine (usually S&S or RevTech) but also couldn't begin to compare to the R&D and engineering finesse of the world's largest motorcycle manufacturer.
The "spot on" styling of Honda's first foray into "real choppers" begs comparison with last year's premiere of Yamaha's interpretation of the same theme: the Raider.
In some of my other Hubs, I've questioned whether Yamaha has completely lost its marbles lately when it comes to styling. Have they turned over their entire styling department to some 13 year old buzzed on Ritalin and meth? Some of the designs that have come out of Yamaha in the past few years boggle the imagination and defy the vocabulary: hideous, repugnant, disgusting, grotesque, vile... all those words just don't seem anywhere near strong enough to describe aberrations such as the VMX17, Stratoliner, MT-01, and other "ematogenic mutants."
When it comes to "righteous choppers" it seems that the Honda Fury teaches the Yamaha Raider how to "git errr done" with every angle and curve. The overall look of the Fury is everything that the Raider should have been but sadly isn't. The Fury is not only a single harmonious piece from front to rear, but it has precious few features that are "out of sync," while the Raider has only its Road / Wild Star engine to compliment it, and the rest of the bike belongs in the junkyard.
The Fury is not perfect, although it may come pretty close. There are a few elements that don't work on the bike and compromise the overall superlative flow. The headlight has to be thrown away before the bike ever leaves the dealership's parking lot. Picture this bike with a traditional Sportster / Super Glide round headlight with that gorgeous upper "eyebrow" and you'll see just how nicely that styling element balances out the frail-y triangulation on the frame neck (which really should have been plated solid as it looks like it might crack in half if you hit a large pothole). The jewel-like instrument cluster would be better featured in the center of some buckhorn handlebars (although I have to admit that is a very personal preference). I've always had a problem with Honda's Rune-style deep lower front fenders and the fact that they wrap far too much around the front tire, eliminating that "light, ethereal quality" of a chopper's traditional skinny front. The air cleaner cover seems to slice off the cylinders' inner fins and would look much better if it were styled to match the round, riveted look of the two covers on the crankcase on that side. I'm not crazy about the conjoined mufflers, but I understand that meeting noise and emission standards can be difficult with standard small, separate slash cuts.
Another styling problem only presents itself in versions where the frame is body colored, and that is that "sideways M" which forms the rear cradle of the frame and is particularly evident on the shaft drive side strongly detracts from the flow of the engine's chrome and metal macho-ness onto the rear wheel. As for the rear tire, herein lies the Honda Fury's biggest lunchbag letdown. It's way way waaaaaay too skinny. Although it's only one size smaller than Yamaha Raider's 210, the style just simply begs for a 240 or even much larger rear tire! Imagine what that Fury would look like with a monster 300 mounted on the rear wheel! Yes, I know that it was an engineering decision made due to the virtual impossibility of adequately mounting the shaft drive system that far out of the case, but we can dream, can't we?
After you factor in those relatively minor styling blemishes, the Honda Fury still simply eats the lunch of the Yamaha Raider in every imaginable aesthetic parameter. Only when you place them side by side you can absolutely determine that the Raider is a conglomeration of spare parts that were left over from a 1979 Bulgarian aftermarket chopper catalog. This is motorcycle styling that even the Soviets would have recoiled from. As I have stated before, the Yammy's engine still shows some elements of its beautiful Road / Wild Star roots, but the rest of the bike is a direct trip to the Vomitorium. I could easily write an entire book about every single aspect of the Raider and how it has taken ugliness to a whole new level, but I'll spare you the excess verbiage. Let's just state the obvious: This bike is the two wheeled equivalent of Rosie O'Donnell's butt with some extra cellulite thrown in from Roseanne Barr.
The Honda Fury would be absolutely and completely perfect not only if it incorporated the changes I suggested, but if it were available in an engine based on the late and much lamented VLX 600. Although I can certainly applaud Honda for forging its first real chopper from the relatively restrained 1.3 litre VTX series rather than getting in a "massive member" contest with the outlandishly overdisplacemented nearly 2 litre Raider (why a motorcycle needs an engine bigger than a compact car is beyond me), the company could demonstrate its commitment to the new sensibilities of this greener and conserving age by allowing a far preferable choice to riders who don't need nor want tire-shredding power and semi-guzzler gas mileage.
A 600 Fury would not only be the perfect blend of convenience, economy, greenery, and restrained performance combined with killer chopper styling, but I absolutely guarantee would be immediately granted a place of honor in my garage.
Even with a few small detraction points, the current Honda Fury not only wins this styling comparison, it trounces the Yamaha Raider in each and every respect. Do you have eyes? Judge for yourself and tell me in the Comments section if you can possibly defend the Yamaha side!
The Honda Fury Rules!
Post-Script: As a year and a half has elapsed since I wrote this Hub, I would like to state that the more I've looked at the Raider...
THE UGLIER IT IS.
The Raider is an abomination. The styling of the Raider sucks more than the entire Mustang Ranch. Stylistically, it is a misbegotten, misguided, butt-ugly POS which appeals only to brain-damaged 13 year old wankers with nude posters of Joan Rivers on their walls. Any socially conscious Raider riders should cover up their bikes with tarps so that they don't violate the eyes of passers-by. The best thing that any Raider rider can do is remove the drivetrain and frame to use as the base for a righteous chopper and recycle the rest of the frightful junk. I'm sure a metal dealer will give you $10 for it.