MOTORCYCLE – Honda Reveals Early-Release 2006 Models

Honda's annual dealer meeting is scheduled for September yet, like its fellow Japan-based OEMs, the company showed a selection of products already scheduled to return to its line-up for 2006.
A cruiser received an enhanced chrome treatment, a motocross bike was re-tooled, and an enduro shed some weight. Missing from the '06 early-release line-up were sport bikes, tourers, sport tourers and standard models. Expect more news on those units towards the end of the summer.
Honda's 2006 Shadow VLX Deluxe ($5,699) obtains the most updates of the early-release cruiser models. It receives chrome finish on cylinder-head covers, right and left engine covers, and the left-rear engine cover, plus new Light Silver Metallic and Candy Dark Red colors.
Also returning for '06 are the 250cc Rebel (MSRP $3,099) with a new Pearl White color; the 750cc Shadow Aero ($6,599) with new Candy Dark Red, Black/Candy Orange and Dark Brown/Black colors; the 750cc Shadow Sabre ($8,599-$8,899) now available in a New Titanium/Flame color; the 1099cc Shadow Spirit ($8,599) now in Bright Blue Metallic; and the Shadow Spirit 750 ($6,399-$6,599) with new Candy Orange, Titanium Flame and Candy Dark Red Flame color options.
Like the majority of Honda's other cruisers the VTX series also benefits simply from color options. New VTX1300R ($9,599-$9,699) and S ($9,599-$9,699) colors include Bright Blue Metallic, Metallic Silver and Candy Black Cherry. VTX1300C ($9,599-$9,699) colors include Candy Black Cherry, Dark Grey Metallic and Candy Orange in addition to classic Black.
Honda's as-of-yet-released 2006 off-road motorcycle line includes major updates to the CRF450R motocross bike and tweaks to the CRF250X enduro.
The 2006 CRF450R ($6,899) gets engine cases have been changed to tilt the engine forward and lower the crankshaft 5mm for improved turning and maneuverability.
Honda says the bike's radiators also are mounted 5mm lower for lower center of gravity and improved weight feel, a newly designed water pump impeller increases water pump seal life, a new intake valve seat material improves valve durability, and a new carburetor needle offers better engine response.
Also new: a front fork outer tube offering lighter weight, new exhaust system placement to improve mass centralization, a lighter and stronger front hub, and updated front and rear suspension valves for improved bump absorption.
Other Honda motocross bikes already scheduled to appear in '06 include the CR250R ($6,199)
CR250R ($6,399); CR125R ($5,449); CR85RB ($3,199); and CR85R ($3,099).
Honda says the CRF250X ($6,399) shed 1.1 lbs. via a new lightweight rear hub from the CRF250R, a new lighter swingarm, a new lighter rear shock body, plus lightweight front fork guards and cable brackets from the CRF450X. Also new to the 250X: front axle placement similar to the CRF250R for improved fork action and turning, a new intake valve seat material to improve valve durability, and Honda Race Team-inspired graphics.
Other 2006 model year off-road bikes revealed this month by Honda include the CRF50F ($1,299); the four-stroke CRF70F ($1,599); the CRF80F ($2,019); what Honda calls “the best-selling off-road bike of all time,” the CRF100F ($2,319); CRF230F ($3,599); the CRF450X ($7,199); and the aluminum-framed XR650R ($6,299), the latter of which can be fitted with an optional HRC Power-Up Kit for closed-course use.

- Guido Ebert

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