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2014 Honda CTX1300 First Ride

Wednesday, March 26, 2014


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2014 Honda CTX1300 First Ride Video
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Is Honda’s new CTX1300 a full-fledged bagger or a touring motorcycle? You be the judge in the 2014 Honda CTX1300 First Ride Video.
Honda targets a different kind of touring motorcyclist with its uniquely styled, V-Four-powered CTX1300 (starting at $15,999). Part cruiser, part touring bike, the CTX appeals to riders seeking an authentic riding experience, with elevated levels of comfort and technology, compared to what other brands offer.

The CTX sports a unique form—one that won’t be recognizable by most. But it’s that way by design, and despite being listed as a touring bike on American Honda’s website, ‘New-Age Cruiser’ might be a more fitting term considering who Big Red is going after. And with a stretched wheelbase, wide and sweptback handlebar, along with a super low seat height—it plays the part well.

Even with a rather hefty fully-fueled curb weight of 724 pounds, in action the CTX is responsive and highly maneuverable for a motorcycle of its size. Direction changes are made swiftly with a light touch of the bar and it’s very easy to get a feel for its neutral handling manners. The suspension generally delivers a smooth ride but things do get a little springy feeling on rough roads. A passenger and a full load of luggage will likely compound this, however, it’s worth mentioning that the rear shocks do allow the rider to dial-in different preload settings (we rode in the lowest and most comfort-oriented setting) to better accommodate heavier loads.

The CTX1300 has an open cockpit that will accommodate shorter and taller riders alike. Although it looks bland we love the function of its instruments and control set-up.

The CTX1300 comes equipped from the factory with removable and lockable hard cases. But  they arent big enough to accommodate a full face motorcycle helmet.
(Top) The CTX1300 has an open cockpit that will accommodate shorter and taller riders alike. Although it looks bland we love the function of its instruments and control set-up. (Center) The CTX1300 is equipped with an excellent braking hardware. The rear brake is linked to the front however front is actuated independently of the rear which is a big plus for trail braking maneuvers. (Bottom) The CTX1300 comes equipped from the factory with removable and lockable hard cases. But, they aren’t big enough to accommodate a full face motorcycle helmet.
Through turns the CTX feels glued to the ground though ground clearance is somewhat limited with the rider’s footpegs reaching pavement at even modest lean. Although the CTX’s rear disc brake is hydraulically linked to the twin front binders the front set-up is actuated independently— a nice touch say if you need to scrub off a few MPH mid-corner. Both brakes also feature anti-lock functionality on the up-spec Deluxe model. In a simulated panic stop the ABS proved to be one of the more seamless-feeling set-ups we’ve tested on any motorcycle (high-performance bikes included) and is a welcome feature. We also appreciated the strong yet not overly sensitive feel of the heavy-duty Nissin front calipers.

The CTX features a wide and generously padded seat and there is plenty of room behind the controls even for a taller rider. The rider’s footpegs are positioned at a more traditional street bike-style angle, which is great for city riding, but it would be nice if Honda offered another pair of forward-mounted footpegs so you could stretch your legs during touring-oriented rides on the freeway.

It is obvious Honda spent considerable time fine-tuning the CTX’s user interface and though the instrumentation looks cheesy and overly automotive-based, you can’t argue with how well it functions. Both analog-style speedo and tachometer gauges are positioned high up so your eyes don’t have to leave the road to check on the bike’s vitals. A multi-functional LCD sits between both gauges and displays the remaining fuel capacity of the 5.1-gallon tank, as well as fuel economy, coolant and air temperature, clock, odometer and trip functions. The display also lists the track/artist name of music (Deluxe model) that can be streamed wireless via Bluetooth or via the included USB-style plug under the right-side pseudo fuel tank flip-up pocket (the actual fuel tank is located underneath the rider’s seat). Other goodies for the Deluxe model include self-canceling turn signals and a wheel-speed enabled traction control system that modulates engine torque (via fuel injection cut) when excess rear wheel spin is detected.

We got a chance to feel how the TC reacts on loose gravel and were pleased with the way it gently interrupts power to restore traction in a smoother fashion than other touring-based systems we’ve tried recently.

Equally as impressive as the CTX’s highly-refined chassis is its water-cooled V-Four engine. There’s plenty of power on tap from idle all the way up through its indicated 7000 rpm redline. It's smooth power too—the kind that you want when passing slower vehicles. In fact, the powerband is so rich in torque that you can pretty much lug the engine in any of its five gears and simply twist the throttle if you want to go faster—it’s that easy.
The CTX1300 handles incredibly for a 700-pound plus motorcycle. Its very easy to get a feel and master without a lot of seat time.The CTX1300s 1261cc water-cooled V-Four engine is an absolute gem. Its smooth  powerful  and has a nice sound too it as well.The CTX1300 handles very neutrally and is easy to get a feel for on the road.
(Left) The CTX1300 handles incredibly for a 700-pound plus motorcycle. It’s very easy to get a feel and master without a lot of seat time. (Center) The CTX1300’s 1261cc water-cooled V-Four engine is an absolute gem. It’s smooth, powerful, and has a nice sound too it as well. (Right) The CTX1300 handles very neutrally and is easy to get a feel for on the road.

The CTX’s clutch features hydraulic actuation which nets a light lever pull and highly progressive feel. And paired with the engine’s potent low-end grunt the CTX is an exceptionally easy motorcycle to launch from a standstill. The gearbox performed well, but it would be nice if it had a more secure engagement similar to what Harley-Davidson or Yamaha/Star motorcycles currently offer. Furthermore, we’d love to see the convenience and thrilling acceleration feel of a Dual-Clutch Transmission as well.

The engine is also devoid of any hint of annoying, hand-numbing vibration. We also love its sound with it offering a much more high-tech mechanical melody than the traditional potato-potato boom synonymous of a V-Twin. Throttle response also proved to be spot-on with it offering a connected feel to the engine yet not being overly sensitive
Cornering clearance is limited by the low-mounted footpegs but the CTX still delivers excellent road holding.
The CTX1300s seat is wide  deep and well padded. Its a very comfortable saddle for all-day riding.
(Top) Cornering clearance is limited by the low-mounted footpegs but the CTX still delivers excellent road holding. (Bottom) The CTX1300’s seat is wide, deep and well padded. It’s a very comfortable saddle for all-day riding.
or difficult to master. Another nice touch is that the engine is tuned to run on lower grade 87-octane fuel. Speaking of fuel, we achieved an average of 37.2 mpg during a moderate paced touring-style ride. This should equate to a range of roughly 189 miles.

All in all there isn’t a whole lot to not like about Honda’s CTX1300. Sure, its suspension gets a little bouncy and there aren’t any highway friendly forward foot rests, beside those two gripes it’s hard to find any fault. Surely with its refined riding experience and almost too smooth engine the CTX won’t appeal to more traditional V-Twin riding enthusiasts. However, if you’re seeking a simple, fun and easy-to-ride touring motorcycle, then Big Red has got you covered.

Honda CTX1300 Highs & Lows
Highs
  • Ridiculously easy-to-ride and master
  • Gobs of smooth vibration-free power everywhere
  • Strong brakes with well-calibrated optional ABS
Lows
  • Transmission could be more precise-feeling
  • Suspension can feel overly springy on rough pavement
  • Missing touring-friendly forward style footpegs

2014 Honda CTX1300 Photos
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2014 Honda CTX1300 Specs
The 2014 Honda CTX1300 Deluxe model commands a  1500 upcharge and lists for  17 499.
Engine: Liquid-cooled 1261cc V-Four
Bore and Stroke: 78.0 x 66.0mm
Compression Ratio: 10.0:1
Fuel Delivery: PGM-FI, 36mm Throttle Bodies
Clutch: Wet multi-plate
Transmission: Five-speed
Final Drive: Shaft
Frame: Steel
Front Suspension: 45mm Inverted Fork
Rear Suspension: Twin Rear Shocks with spring preload adjustment
Front Brakes: 310mm discs with four-piston calipers
Rear Brake: 315mm disc with single-piston caliper
Curb Weight: 724
Wheelbase: 64.5 in.
Rake: 28.5 deg. Trail: 4.5 in.
Seat Height: 28.9 in.
Fuel Capacity: 5.1 gal.
MSRP: $15,999 / $17,499 Deluxe
Colors: Metallic Black, Gray Blue Metallic, Candy Red
Warranty: One Year, unlimited-mileage
 
Shoei J-Cruise Helmet
Shoei is an established leader in motorcycle helmet technology. And for the cruiser rider it has released its all-new Shoei J-Cruise Helmet. This open-face helmet features a conventional flip-up style clear shield. Inside a smaller tinted shield can be flipped up or down via a small button on the left-hand side of the helmet. The optical clarity of the sun shield is fantastic and on a comparable with a piece of high dollar eyewear. The helmet comes in seven different colors (Wine Red is pictured) in sizes X-Small through 2X-Large.
 
2014 Honda CTX1300 First Look
 The standard CTX1300 retails for  15 999.

As reported in the Possible Honda CTX1300 Spied Testing article, Honda is anxious to capitalize on its momentum in the motorcycle industry with the release of its fresh CTX1300. MotoUSA paid a visit to American Honda's headquarters for a first-person look at the new ride. A cross between a cruiser and a sport-touring motorcycle, the CTX is engineered to appeal to motorcyclists who want more real-world performance than what the cruiser segment offers...

Find out more in the 2014 Honda CTX1300 First Look article
 
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Comments
motousa_adam   April 2, 2014 05:03 PM
My overall impression of this motorcycle is that it offers excellent performance for a cruiser and pretty good performance as a street bike. Sure it isn't that fast but the engine is smooth with lots of torque at all rpms. If you want something faster I encourage you to seek out a Diavel or a 1000cc sport touring bike...Adam
RaptorFA   April 2, 2014 12:50 PM
Allow me to clarify. I obviously read the story, so I was looking for a real seat-of-the-pants impression of the thing, with emphasis on the power and the suspension. I do agree that this bike handles very well, and I too was scraping hard parts as a result of the confidence you tend to feel after a while!
RaptorFA   April 2, 2014 12:40 PM
Adam, it's good to see your responses! As a guy who rides a lot of different motorcycles, I would like to get your impression of the over-all performance of this bike. Am I being too harsh when I said the power was not great? I mean, it certainly wasn't bad at all! I guess I was expecting a bit more punch. You see that Honda V-4 and yu think "oh yeah baby!" I ride a re-geared and slightly massaged Suzuki Bandit FA, which definitely has grunt! So perhaps my expectations were a bit too high. Thanks!
motousa_adam   April 2, 2014 12:01 PM
@jrhoyt0895 - This V-Four motor employs a conventional mechanical shim under bucket valvetrain set-up. Recommended valve adjustment intervals are at 16,000 miles... Adam
motousa_adam   April 2, 2014 09:45 AM
@Saddlebag - I encourage you to go for a test ride but you'll find out that the throttle calibration is perfect. There is no 'drivetrain lash'... Adam
RaptorFA   April 2, 2014 09:41 AM
I forgot to mention that it's a real shame about the rear suspension because the front is fantastic and the brakes are nearly perfect. SO there is alot to like about this bike but they have some clean-up to do.
RaptorFA   April 2, 2014 09:37 AM
I do not think this engine has Hydro lifters. It is basically the V-4 from the now discontinued ST1300, just re-tuned for more low-end and mid-range torque. I rode one of these last week, because I was truly intrigued by the idea and was looking to buy one. Unfortunately they missed the mark in a couple of key areas that made me back away from it. The engine is pretty sweet, looks great and sounds great. But the power was a little diappointing to me. I just didn't think the roll-on was all that impressive. And I HATE the rev limiter. And there is a little bit of lash from throttle to drive shaft, but it's not bad. I felt it, but it was of little concern. Over-all the bike is very smooth and handles well. The cockpit, though good in function looked a little lame to the eye. The hard bags were OK, but they are a little cheap as well and should be easier to remove (two bolts hold them on). The seat was amazing for the rider, but the pillion might have a rough time on a long trip. Fit and finish was pretty darned good, but the lower body panels looked a bit cheap. The deal breaker for me, though, was the rear suspension. It's rubbish. Certainly not what you would expect for a bike at this price point. So the bike gets a "close but no cigar" final grade, and a no buy. I might re-evaluate if they were to fix the rear suspension issue, but by then I will most likely have another bike in the stable.
jrhoyt0895   April 1, 2014 02:12 PM
Can someone please tell me if this bike has hydraulic lifters? I can't find the answer at honda.com and I can't see paying this much for a bike that needs to have its valves adjusted. I really wish I had bought a Honda Shadow Sabre before it was discontinued. I can't understand why Honda would abandon the hydraulic lifters it had in the Nighthawk 750 and their 1,100 cc v-twin engines.
1085Beemer   April 1, 2014 01:00 PM
I think Adam's comment about the "automotive-like" instrument cluster is a metaphor for the endemic creep of that kind of technology on our motorcycles. Especially for engineering proud companies such as Honda and BMW, who believe that their buyers only want layers of electronics beyond EFI and ABS, two things that are pretty nice to have. The other thing that strikes me is that this also resembles another dictate of the auto industry, the model proliferation based upon "common platform engineering" that the astute rider is going to see through pretty quickly. It is interesting how Honda already did this with the last Valkyrie F6 1500, and now they are going to dumb down the 2002 ST1300 as well, in order to milk what profits they can before replacing that august bike with something even flashier and "unnecessary." Lest you think that I am simply throwing barbs at Honda, my beloved Bavarians are not exactly immune from this either. I guess my take is that bikers often ride to "get away" from work, stress, and technology, and instead marketing is saying we need to transform this into a convenient leisure activity, and that to me takes away from the simply pure joy of riding, though I am not usually one to wish to go back to balancing Bing carburetors and fiddling with hinged oil filters either.
BigSven   March 30, 2014 07:10 PM
"Attention: would all of you Gold Wing owners who want the reliability of a Honda but want to pretend that you've got a Harley please raise your hands? Let's see... 6... 7... 8 of you in the whole country. OK, please form a line over there under the 'F6B' sign. Now, those of you ST1300 owners who want to pretend you've got a Harley, raise your hands. A guy in Des Moines, a guy in Bakersfield, a guy in Toledo, a guy in Manchester... no, he's just getting up to go to the bathroom... three guys in the whole country. Please queue up under the 'CTX1300' sign. Great thanks." -said the Honda marketing department. Where is Honda's good dual purpose bike? Where is their adventure touring bike? Where is their sport touring bike? How about Honda competes in the existing markets before trying to create new markets with sawed-off hardware?
saddlebag   March 29, 2014 06:09 AM
Another online publication noted on/off throttle drive line lash. Adam talked about how perfectly metered everything was. Makes me want my own test ride. They do show a top box accessory on the website. After decades of riding standards and sport touring bikes, I now own a Victory and have come to love the more chair like body position of having my feet slightly in front of me rather than directly under me. That coupled with that sweet engine make it very tempting even if the storage is probably too limited to use as a two up tourer.
hw   March 28, 2014 08:54 AM
I meant 6th gear in previous post . 5th gear is easy to find.
hw   March 28, 2014 07:42 AM
I own a ST1300 and the engine is a gem. It keep looking for the 5th gear which it needs so that will probably be the same on this bike. I looked at the CTX1300 in Daytona an it is a miss on a couple of points. It is priced too high. It is not a touring bike. For that it needs a better rear suspension set up, better and wider pillon seat , cruise control , better quality bags and better protection of them feet against water splashing up when riding in rainy conditions. This bike will go at a discount to make them move. No doubt about it. They can keep the radio , helmet speakers are the way to go.
jon4uu   March 27, 2014 09:16 PM
17,500.? I see brand-new, 2 year old CTX1300's in Honda's future. Maybe I'll pick one up when they start selling at 12,500.
phil   March 27, 2014 02:55 PM
Too much money for this bike, in Canada it is CAN$18999, it should be $12999 then it might sell. Its price competes directly with the six cylinder F6B and Valkyrie - why get a V4 when you can get a boxer 6 for only a couple of thou more?
motousa_adam   March 27, 2014 12:28 PM
@thomboz - We are no longer composing those sort of reports for the time being. I encourage you to visit our friends at Cycle News for the latest racing coverage - they are the pros at that kind of stuff... Adam @spyglass - Yes, an windscreen is available as an $125 accessory. It functions most excellently and provides excellent protection and contributes to a very quiet cockpit. I would definitely purchase one for the CTX1300... Adam @piglet2010 - Yes the engine is a re-tuned with a lower compression ratio and different camshaft timing and fuel programming. @bicillindro - Wow that is a lot of $$ for a motorcycle in Spain. I suggest you visit us here in the States, purchase one and ocean freight it back to your country, perhaps... Adam
bicilindro   March 27, 2014 07:32 AM
The quality of the saddlebags is poor. They seem to be the same as CTX-700. The molding is bad finished and the adjustment of the two parts differs more tan 5 mm. In Spain it is suppose to cost over 24.000 USD, so it will be a complete failure, as de DN-01.
bicilindro   March 27, 2014 04:32 AM
Hello. Here we have this jewel (!) over 24.000 USD ( 17.599 EUR ). So I think I will wait a couple of years to buy a bike without windscreen, footpegs, small saddlebags, no trunk, strange audio system ( bmw controls it from the grip ) and a lot of things that I can get cheaper at other brands. I appreciate the NOT-HD style, but boy, I appreciate more my money.
Piglet2010   March 26, 2014 06:33 PM
Is the engine re-tuned from the ST1300 version?
spyglass   March 26, 2014 05:58 PM
Wonder if a tall windscreen is available?....and a trunk? Don't care much for that "bagger" look. But overall, sounds like a winner, maybe enuf to swap my beloved ol' Concours for one (if I don't go for the new FJR).
MCUSA Bart   March 26, 2014 04:27 PM
thomboz. Thanks for the feedback. We will bring back more MotoGP coverage at upcoming rounds.
thomboz   March 26, 2014 04:02 PM
Thanks Adam, glad you guys read these comments! I just looked at the First Look article. But what happened to all your usual pre MotoGP articles, practice & qualifying? I miss that coverage, or was it somewhere else?
motousa_adam   March 26, 2014 09:40 AM
Thanks for the note - we talked about that in the First Look article (see sidebar) ... Adam
thomboz   March 26, 2014 01:50 AM
What? No comment on this being the ST1300 motor? That's a great motor, and great looking also, good it finally gets a chance to show itself off in this model, as it was mostly covered up in the ST version.