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Honda’s new VT1300 Cruisers

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2010 Honda Sabre II

2010 Honda Sabre II

Honda is really jumping into the mid-size cruiser market by really ramping up their product line of VTX1300s, introducing three new models. Motorcycle USA’s Bryan Harley has gotten to take them all for a spin, and he’s written up his impressions of them, concluding:

Honda’s 2010 VT1300 Series covers the gamut, from what Big Red hails as its ‘big impact bike’ in the form of the Fury to a boulevard-cruising pro-streeter in the guise of the Sabre. The range includes a big-fendered cruiser with more traditional styling and a bike factory-equipped for the long haul. The styling of the VT1300 Series is a big leap forward for the traditionally conservative Japanese manufacturer. But the bikes maintain Honda’s reputation for performance and reliability. It’s an ambitious venture for the company, but Honda believes that there is enough variation in the VT1300 Series to appeal to almost every area of the cruiser demographic. With almost 83,000 VTX models sold, it’s hard to question their reasoning.

The three new models add to the “factory custom” movement Honda Joined by producing the Fury last year, and these new bikes are built around the same idea: producing a more distinctively-styled bike, with Honda’s reliability, at a price point below $13k.

As far as I can tell, these new models look like Honda met its goals.

2010 Honda Interstate

2010 Honda Interstate

All of the bikes are powered by the same 1312cc liquid-cooled 52-degree V-Twin, with a SOHC and single-pin crankshaft, and three valves per cylinder.  Vibration is kept in check through the use of dual balancers. New for these models, however, the VTX powerplant now uses a Programmed Fuel Injection (PGM-FI) system that features a single 38mm throttle body, with an auto enrichment circuit, doing away with the old CV carburetor.

The three new models break down as follows:

The Sabre is a boulevard cruiser with a nicely raked front end.  In fact, that 33° rake on the front end stretches at the wheelbase to a whopping 70 inches.  The fenders are nicely chopped, and the frame leaves lots of space between the top of the engine and the steering head.  It’s definitely designed as a street custom.

The Stateline, on the other hand, is a much more traditional-looking cruiser, with longer fenders, a larger front tire, and blacked-out engine parts.  it’s still a bit more aggressively styled than the old VTX, but not unpleasantly so.

Finally, there’s the Interstate, which is essentially the Stateline, but with a  more touring-oriented accessory package, including leather covered hard bags that have a hidden latch system and 22 liters capacity, floorboards, a heel-and-toe shifter, big honking brake pedal, and a windshield.  And, even with all that, it still comes in under $13,000, which seems like a nice value for the money.

2010 Honda Stateline

2010 Honda Stateline

So, what could possibly be wrong with any of these bikes?  Well…they’re still a VTX.

Now, look, I understand a lot of people like the VTX.  After all, Honda’s sold 83,000 of them.  But that VTX 1300 engine really is a deal-breaker for me.

The thing about that powerplant is that it’s just gutless at the top end.  When the rev limiter kicks in you’re maybe doing, 85 or 90, and you’ve wrung everything out of her that you’re going to.

Now, maybe in town that’s OK, but the the Interstate, especially, has designs on doing some touring.  And out here in California, when you hit the Interstate, 80 or faster is just the normal rate of traffic flow.  The VTX just won’t offer you anything in terms of passing power at the high end, if you’re already bumping up near the rev limiter just keeping up with the flow.

I understand that not everybody is into the sport-touring, triple-digit sightseeing deal, and that’s fine.  But even my Sportster could top 120 on the highway.  I know.  I did it.  The VTX1300 isn’t a bad engine, it’s just not a very powerful one, even compared to the 1200cc mill on the Sportster.

For just a bit more money, you could spend $12K on a Harley Super Glide, another $2000 or so on the touring accessories, and for one grand more, have a Big Twin that will handle the highway much better than the VTX.

The VTX1300 obviously has its afficionados, but the Interstate seems like a stretch when it comes to touring.

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