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2004 Honda VTX 1300C

Friday, September 26, 2003
2004 Honda VTX1300C - Wallpaper
2004 Honda VTX1300C
The daily dose of spam in my in-box tells me that in this day and age, bigger-is-better. In 2002 Honda took advantage of that theory when it introduced the biggest production cruiser the world had ever seen, the VTX1800. That bike was has since become infamous as the progenitor of the ever-popular power cruiser class.

But the big VTX is really, really big. So big, in fact, that it came up a bit short in the handling department when compared head-to-head with opposition such as the Yamaha Road Star Warrior and Kawasaki Mean Streak. The sheer mass of the bike may have been intimidating to some, but sales figures reveal that it is attractive to others. With nearly 30,000 VTX1800s having been sold in the U.S. between 2002 and 2004, it's safe to say they are as desirable as they are massive.

On the highway and at the drag strip a VTX1800 is tough to beat, but that's not good enough for Honda. It seems their objective continues to be the total domination of every possible segment of the motorcycle universe. Rather than completely change a proven design in order to address the few complaints levied against its flagship cruiser, Honda created a scaled-down version in the image of its highly successful forefather. Ladies and gentlemen, behold the VTX1300.

With the smaller VTX, Honda has created a bike that provides answers to the questions the VTX1800 left unanswered. For starters, the 1300 is nearly 2 inches shorter and a significant 60 lbs. lighter than the 1800. This reduction is both size and weight has an immediate improvement in the handling characteristics versus the bigger bike. From the moment the 1300 is lifted off its kickstand the difference is noticeable. The bike doesn't feel a lot lighter but it definitely feels smaller, and once the machine is moving it feels less intimidating as well. It may not break any speed records but it does offer a comfortable ride and excellent manners on the street.

Oh, and did we mention it looks real good? Style is a key selling point for the VTX. The flowing lines of the 1300 are easy on the eyes and grab the attention of passers by wherever it goes. Architectural highlights start at the front, with a short, tire-hugging front fender, a 19-inch 3-spoke cast aluminum wheel and the Vince Lombardi Trophy-esque headlight bucket.

Style continues to ooze on past the wide drag bars onto the 4.8 gallon gas tank with its sleek integrated instrument panel down to the firm sculpted seat. A speedometer, digital trip meter and idiot-light combination nestles-neatly in the chrome teardrop-shaped housing. The locking gas cap located at the rear of the housing requires removal of the key from the left-side ignition in order to replenish the fuel supply. Expect to get between 37-40 mpg with a cruising range in the neighborhood of 170 miles. The dark-faced speedo with white numbering is easy to read in the daytime, and when darkness falls the red backlit panel looks cool and makes it easy to keep track of your speed. Everything is wrapped up on the back with a bobbed rear fender before coming to the end at the 15-inch cast aluminum wheel covered in 170/80-15 rubber.

The VTX1300 will turn heads anywhere it goes.
Staggered dual pipes, flowing lines and a generous application of pearl orange paint are just a few of the items that give the VTX1300 some real charisma.
There's plenty of chrome and deep luxurious paint to keep the most hardcore buff-and-shine aficionados busy. Aside from the pearl orange version of our test bike, the VTX is also available in candy red, metallic silver or the always fashionable black. A close look at the spiffy gleaming components, however, reveals that the right side engine case cover, faux valve covers and gauge housing, are all actually plastic. Keep in mind that the bike retails for only nine grand so cost cutting is to be expected. No matter the reason, the plastic did nothing to help keep the bike in favor with a few of the more fickle test riders.

Sitting in the sunlight, gleaming like a good cruiser should, the 1300 beckons a rider to climb aboard and take it for a spin. From parking lots to the canyons, the 1300 provides beginners and experienced riders an excellent riding experience. Slow-speed navigation is not too bad thanks to the low 27-inch seat height and wide handlebars. However, it is a big bike when it comes right down to it, so don't expect it to handle like a Ruckus. On the road the wide bars make changing directions a breeze while the 41mm fork and a pair of preload-adjustable dual shocks do a wonderful job of absorbing road imperfections. It feels just as stable from the moment you initiate a turn and on through the exit as it does trudging ahead in a straight line. Of course, bigger bumps and broken pavement will send a jolt through your spine and cause some unsettling in the chassis, but that's to be expected with a paltry 3.6 inches of travel available from rear suspension.

On the highway the 1300 offers one of the most comfortable cruiser riding position we've sampled. The drag bars provide an easy reach from the saddle for the under six-foot crowd. That's why it came as a surprise when one of our taller riders complained that they were not wide enough. Once the roads turn twisty however, the riding position seemed perfect for the majority. The curved saddle spreads support fairly evenly across the derriere but it does not fit every possible size cheeks. Everyone raved about the confidence they had in the rock-stable handling. Ground clearance is of particular concern though. The heels of everyone's boots have the VTX grind on them after a month of back-road cruising. The pegs touch first once you learn how to position your feet in such a way as to keep them clear of the asphalt.

Many comparisons were made with the Kawasaki Mean Streak since we have logged quite a bit of time on our long-term project bike. This is good news for the VTX since the VN1500 Meanie is probably the best handling cruiser available. We feel confident to anoint the VTX1300 a definitive runner-up. Cruisers are a special breed of bike. They do not instill that need for cornering speed the way a sportbike does and they are not supposed to. Cruising in contrast, is supposed to be relaxing and easy on the senses. Enjoying the environment you're riding in though and actually seeing the sights is a pleasant reprieve.

"Loved it," reports MCUSA test rider Rizzo Wallace. "This thing is a blast to cruise around on. I never really thought I would enjoy riding a cruiser around; maybe I am just getting old. It was nice to be able to sit back and take things in without having to worry about how fast you could take the corner or how fast it would go."

We used the Hansens Motorcycles Dyno Jet 2500 Dyno to uncover the truth about the VTX.
We used the Hansens Motorcycles Dyno Jet 2500 Dyno to uncover the truth about the VTX.
Despite what you may believe, the VTX1300 is not all show and no go. The 1300's motor is a purpose-built powerplant that deviates from the traditional Honda-smooth feeling found on their pre-VTX cruisers. There's plenty of user-friendly power making its way through the shaft drive and on to the rear tire. Enough vibes emanate from the liquid-cooled, SOHC, 3-valve, 52-degree V-Twin to keep you aware that it is a large-displacement Twin between your legs. They may have tamed this beast but they managed to not make it too bland for their own good. The finned cylinders could fool you into thinking this is an air-cooled model if not for the slim radiator tucked between the front frame rails.

The 1312cc motor is plenty capable of propelling the bike at a spirited pace too. Quarter mile times are in the mid-13s at 90-plus miles per hour, which is just about as fast as a $30,000 BMW M3 for those of you taking notes. Bore and stroke measurements of 89.5mm x 104.3mm are reduced from the 101mm x 112mm specs of the mighty 1795cc mill of the VTX1800. With these long stroke numbers, it makes sense that peak torque is made between 2000-3000 rpm. The 72 lb.-ft. of torque helps conceal the fact there is only 56 horsepower on tap. A single-crankpin crankshaft and dual counterbalancers help keep the vibration quelled without detracting from the V-Twin rumble that is so important to the success of the cruiser genre.

Despite the industry trend to go with emission reducing fuel injection, the 1300 operates without it, instead receiving petrol via a single 38mm CV carburetor which makes use of the manual choke necessary for cold starts. A staggered set of dual pipes expel the spent fuel with a extra-muffled exhaust note that may be politically correct but it really detracts from the Big Twin experience potential buyers might be looking for. A set of slip-ons will quickly cure this complaint.

Shifting from first to second or vice-versa reveals a decidedly non-Honda clunk from the 5-speed transmission, but the remaining three gears slip into place easily. The clutch is cable operated unit rather than hydraulic, but it's still pretty effortless to engage. The knurled rear brake pedal looks trick and provides an easy target when it comes time to use, although it gets in the way of the exact location your right foot needs to rest on long rides. Since the throw is not adjustable there's nothing that can be done about it short of cutting it back with a hack saw. Simply cocking your foot outward provides the necessary clearance.

When it comes to slowing the big battle cruiser down it's the job of a lone twin-piston caliper gripping a huge single 336mm disc on the bow and a 296mm disc with a twin-piston caliper on the stern. That single rotor up front actually offers plenty of stopping power. Unlike the 1800 the 1300 does not come equipped with Honda's Linked Braking System (LBS) or dual rotors. The front feels a tad-bit spongy at the farthest reaches of the lever but it never faded during spirited rides. There is enough initial bite to cause the non-adjustable forks to dive quite a bit, which can cause your passenger to bonk the back of your helmet, so be careful if you're brave enough to wear open face lids.

The gleaming V-Twin puts out an impressive 72 ft. lbs. of torque.
If you think that the little 1300 motor won't have the gumption to get your juices flowing then grab a handful of throttle and enjoy the big torque on tap from this good looking V-Twin.
Passenger accommodations received rave reviews. The seat to footpeg relationship was comfortable for our sample of pillion pilots that included a pair of five-foot-tall significant-others. "I'm really not used to riding on the back of a bike but it was pretty relaxing," reported Mrs. Rizzo. "The seat was a little too narrow but other than that it was pretty comfortable. I'm not much of a cruiser fan but I like the looks and feel of this bike. Overall it's a nice ride - I'd love to take it out again." And they did. It took an act of Congress to pry the VTX out from under the Rizzo family and into the van for return to Honda at the end of the test.

As we mentioned earlier, the exhaust note is very vanilla. Since there is an increasing selection of aftermarket exhaust systems, we decided to install a set of Roadhouse's latest slip-ons. To further customize our ride, we ordered up the factory headlight cowling and lower fairing just to see how much effort it takes to put a personal touch on one of these beauties. Keep an eye out for that article next month. If you can't wait to see what it looks like you can put together the VTX of your dreams on Honda's website. With all the color options, OEM replacement fenders, bodywork, wheels, mirrors, seats backrests and more, the options are limitless.

Honda has come up with yet another winner with the VTX1300. It may not break any records or set the performance standard by which all new cruisers must aim to beat. But it does exactly what it's supposed to do. It provides a cost-effective and scaled down alternative to the big, bad 1800. It's not only easy to ride, but the $3000 lower price tag makes it easier to slip into a yearly budget. You did good boys, real good.
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The Bottom Line
Years Riding:

Skill Level:

For My Money...
The VTX1300 is a great bike. Honda seems to realize they may have overdone it with the 1800, a bike that's too heavy, with a wheelbase that's too long; basically just too much. The 1300 is a more reasonable bike with a lighter price tag. However, the reduction in MSRP reduces the actual quality of hardware, or in this case the plastic ware. There is more plastic slapped on that thing than a Fisher Price electric motorcycle. While 9K is a pretty decent price, I'd rather plop down 7k for a Yamaha V-Star and spend the extra two grand customizing my own way. Honda did a good job with the nuts and bolts, but the styling down with plastic leaves too much to be desired. Sorry, Honda, I usually pimp your stuff but I'm out on this one.
2004 Honda VTX 1300C Highs & Lows
  • Fashioned in the image of the VTX1800.
  • V-Twin Vibes.
  • Rock solid and stable.
  • Too much chromed plastic.
  • Needs more ground clearance.
  • A little more power wouldn’t hurt either.
The Bottom Line
Years Riding:

Skill Level:

For My Money...
I have never been a cruiser fan but I really enjoyed riding this bike. The VTX makes you want to slow down and enjoy the ride and the view. Visually Honda did a great job on the styling, the headlight, wheels and the overall smooth lines come together very well. I was a little bit disappointed by all of the plastic parts. They did do a good job of making them look like metal but hey they're still plastic. Performance-wise, the VTX handled very well. The engine is a little lacking on power, but with a few minor modifications it would be just right.

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TheZman -The VTX1300 truly gets better with age...  November 22, 2010 09:07 AM
I bought mine brand new and she's just getting better everyday. Very, very reliable and definitely attention getter... it's like Cyndy Crawford (especially during her younger days) walking down the aisle. She is truly a keeper.
Allan O'Neal -Honda VTX 1300 gets better with age...  August 1, 2010 08:37 AM
I bought my 2004 Honda VTX for $3,500 two years ago. She came with 14,000 miles on her and preequipped with windshield, saddlebags, sissybar, Vance Hines pipes with rejet carb, and long-set highway pegs for my legs to stretch out while on longer cruises. In one and a half years I've put over 7,000 miles on my bike and loved it. Once one gets used to the well known cold motor glitches (choke her to warm up, but after pushing choke in, motor hesitation happens at acceleration time) by just revving the motor of few times and giving her just a little more throttle at take off than when warm and you'll be fine. When this baike is warm it runs oh so well. The V&H pipes make her sound like there's more bike there than what actually is and all drivers know I'm next to them (only deaf lane changers will get me). My bike feels like it's fianlly broken in - lane changing and cornering is easier, acceleration is quicker through all gears, suspension isn't as tight, and slipping her into 1st gear or neutral takes one tap rather than 2-3. Yes, my '04 Honda 1300 VTX has certainly gotten better with age. I was thinking about buying a newer bike, but like a longtime girlfriend who knows what I like, why give her up for a newer model when this one is just now hitting her stride?
mark kruijssen -problems  July 25, 2010 02:20 PM
i have a problem with the bike,when the motor is cold,the choke has been to long op of it,motor is not conferbel.When the motor is warm,afther 15 minutes the motor is perfect.What is the problem.
Bill -2007, VTX1300R  February 22, 2010 10:18 AM
Like Eric it had been 20 years since I had ridden. Owned lots of bikes back then among them a Harley Electraglide, a Honda Goldwing and several bikes in the 1000cc range. I considered that at age 65 I needed a bike I could still handle. Heck "I ain't as good as I once was"! This bike is perfect, easy to handle, not too large and not too small. Looks good, rides good and really sounds good. I like it better than anything I have ever owned.
John Roberts -VTX 1300 Retro Spoked 2007  January 6, 2010 03:35 PM
Hi I'm John and I just bought a new 2007 VTX 1300. I bought it December 27th 2009. Anyway I used to ride a Yamaha v-star 650 Classic. I absolutely loved the bike but it just wasn't quite fast enough on the freeway. So I sold it and bought a 1997 Kawasaki Vulcan 1500 four speed. It was beautiful and extremely fast on the freeway but too tall for me and top heavy and clumsy feeling around town and I could never seem to find the right gear for the situation since there were only four to choose from. So I bought a VTX 1300. Turns out it is the perfect compromise. It is low to the ground and although not light it feels light and nimble in comparison to the vulcan and yet it is much faster than the v star. I finally found what for me is the perfect bike. It is powerful and handles great and looks awesome. However if you are big and tall and tour all the time you might like the Vulcan 15oo or 1600 better. I want something good on both the highway and around town. The vtx is the perfect compromise. Try it you'll like it.
david summitt -mustang seats  December 25, 2009 08:44 AM
i just recieved mustang seats for my 07 vtx 1300. it seems to tilt me back more than the original. i am only 5"7, so i struggle have to lean forward than most. what can i do to make this a more comfortable ride? ps-- other than that it's a great looking and riding bike.
Eric Kent -VTX 1300 C December 15, 2009  December 15, 2009 08:08 AM
I bought my bike after not having ridden for 20 years. I knew I didn't want to get a 750 because I would get bored really quick with that but after 20 years off of bikes I really didn't know where to start. I looked at the Vulcan 2000 and the VTX 1800 but finally settled on the vtx 1300. The Vulcan and the 1800 were to big for me at that time and to be honest I was a little scared of them too. The VTX 1300 felt like going home at first I was a little rough and jerky but the bike was very forgiving and after about a month of just putting around town every day I felt quite comfortable and started riding on the freeways again. Well my point is that had I bought one of the BIG MONSTER bikes the Vulcan or the 1800 I may not have been able to get back to being comfortable riding again or may have dropped it or who knows but the 1300 was perfect it forgave my jerkyness and now I am back riding smoothly again it has plenty of power and I don't think I will be bored with it any time soon. I mean how much power do you need the 1300 can break every speed law in the country in less than 7 seconds I think that's good enough for me. Sincerely Eric Kent PS But I don't think it would be a good bike for someone who is just learning to ride it's a little heavy for a true beginner.
Tom Shamblin -Honda VTX 1300c  September 23, 2009 08:20 PM
My name is Tom Shamblin, I live in Clarksville Arkansas and ive had my VTX1300c about 2 months and I love it. My wife and I have put about 2000 miles on it with no problems whatsoever. We have alot of nice curvy mountain roads to enjoy and ride with a great group of freinds. Im sort of tall at 6ft 3inches and the bike fits like a glove. The only thing I plan to change is my pipes as my bike seems to be the quietest of our group.
Mike Carlson -vtx 1300s  August 8, 2009 07:10 AM
I am 46 years old and just learned to ride. I started riding last year and this is my first bike...ever. I love it. I bought a 2004 VTX 1300S for under $5000 and it had less then 2000 miles on it. Now it has over 10000. I love the way it handles and for a beginner I would say that is very important. :) I was looking at Shadows but when I saw this bike I had to have it and I think my 8000 miles in just one full year of riding proves that.
broncobilly -Wheelie Machine!!  August 2, 2009 04:17 PM
I love this bike....tracks so nice and straight and handles excellent, especially on the freeway in turns and on ramps. This bike has great balance engineering, I can wheelie it for a long time.
Joe "Wizzard" Van Houten -My 2007 VTX 1300c  July 21, 2009 04:53 PM
Hello, I just purchased a VTX 1300c...after owning Harley Davidson's all my life. My physical condition,(bad knee, and hip) demanded that I quit riding or make a change! I tried several models before the VTX. When I decided on the VTX, I sort of came back to life myself. The bike is about 250lbs lighter,with a very low saddle making it quite easy to stand upright push backward or forward. I have had zero problems with this unit. My 2007 Honda VTX 1300c, had 7000,miles on it and came with the perfect array of custom goodies,IE. Memphis Shade "Fats" Windscreen",Cobra Floorboards, Front Engine Guard,with HWY Pegs,Vance and Hines Shotgun Pipes, and the Honda Line Sissy Bar. The Bike has a set of throw over Saddle Man Saddle bags which I Bolted on to the Sissy Bar side rails.
I set out to test the new beast and my ability to handle it through a wide variety of East Texas Countryside. The Bike handled extremely well no matter what the pathway presented. After finding all of it's limitations I started pushing the VTX into performing at it's peak levels.
I found that I had to lay into 40mph curves in upwards of 70 to 75 mph before I could begin scraping floorboards. The VTX never hesitated throughout the entire power-band. It just wants more. The bike, at first seemed a little heavy turning, but once you learn the feel of the that response you can correct that by slowing up just a slight bit more than normal when beginning to lay into a curve and then over powering through and out of the curve. No matter what you ask the VTX 1300c Delivers! The brakes are more than adequate. Positioning of the rear brake pedal is a somewhat off, but after getting use to it I found it to be quite easy to power brake or simply feather into.The VTX wheels have a really "Fast Style" custom look to them that I have seen many of my friends spend Thousands of Dollars for Wheels on their Harley's, to capture, what Honda has done straight from the Factory! The Dash and instrumentation need only a glance to realize...Opps...Speeding Again! I can't keep this bike at a Legal Limit...BUT...Who wants that anyway? Overall, I am a very Conservative Rider...However...When I want more My VTX 1300c serves it up...No Matter How Much More I Ask For ! I have put about 1,200 miles on this bike in under one month. Many more Happy miles to come!
My VTX Love Affair
Brian Channell -vtx 1300r  June 16, 2009 04:51 PM
Hi my name is Brian. i live in marysville ohio and currently own a 2005 vtx 1300 r and love it. my father bought the bike new in late 06. Since then he maybe put 1000 miles on the bike and i have put over 2000 on it. Total of 3000. After nagging him enough he finally sold it to me for a jaw dropping 3 grand. ANyone who knows how much they are knows it was a steal. Ive had it for over a month now and have put another 1000 miles on it now haveing 4000 miles it still has had no problems whatsoever and as far as performance is bone stock. HOwever i do plan on putting a set of cobra speedster shorts on it and jetting the machine on its next service. I cant say enough how much fun it is to own such an awsome and comfortable machine. The only thing i would like to have is a little better fuel mileage but who wouldnt now days. Anyway just thought i would add my input on what a thrill it is to have such a bike and i would recomend it to anyone out there looking for a big twin. sincerely Brian Channell