A Sensuous Delight

2004 Honda Rune Joins the Family

Sure, the Newport Car Museum is about the art of the car, but there’s room in the main lobby for a sculpture, and certainly the 2004 Honda Rune is as relevant as any car in the Museum’s private collection in terms of making visitors swoon. So there it will shine, with its shocking engineering and design elements as well as styling that blends elements of classic retro lines with new-age futuristic technology.

Easily the wildest production motorcycle to come along in decades, the Rune was based on the innovative Zodia motorcycle that Honda revealed at the Tokyo Motor Show back in 1995. Some of the Zodia’s astonishing never-before-seen features, such as the trailing-link front suspension and single-side swingarm, are now seen in the Rune. With a wheelbase that stretches a mighty 68.9 inches, the Honda Rune is an exotic combination of muscle and style.

Before Honda introduced the Rune in 2003 (as a 2004 model), the Rune’s development team released four concept models based on the Honda Valkyrie and displayed them at motorcycle shows throughout the U.S. The second model was the overwhelming crowd favorite, and in a most unusual move, Honda produced the motorcycle virtually unchanged from the concept bike. It was designed by American designers and built in the Honda plant in Marysville, Ohio, principally for the American market. This was also quite unusual for Honda.

The Rune is a cruiser based on the same engine and frame found in the fifth generation Honda Gold Wing. Eleven new technologies had to be created or adapted to produce the Rune, e.g., using the ancient process of the ‘lost-wax‘ casting technique for making the exhaust. Simply put, after every exhaust was made, the mold was broken. Design was everything. In virtually every case of design vs. engineering, design won; the engineers had to meet the design goal while still meeting strict performance specifications.

It is estimated that each Rune cost Honda approximately $100,000 to build. Each bike then sold for $25,000. As a limited-run motorcycle, the Honda Rune clearly wasn’t about turning a huge profit. It was a concept bike brought to life…a rolling sculpture as tractable and easy to ride as any Honda product. It was a motorcycle built by Honda just because it could.


  • Engine – Water cooled 1832cc Flat 6
  • Transmission – 5 speed
  • Horsepower – 90.6 @ 5250 rpm, 110.9 ft-lbs of torque @ 2500 rpm
  • Curb weight – 888 lbs
  • 0-60 time –3.5 seconds
  • 1/4 mile time – 12.4 seconds @ 107.23 mph
  • Top speed – 135 mph
  • Number built – 1,200 (estimated – Honda never released production figures)
  • MSRP price – $25,000.00