Honda Valkyrie 2014 | Cruiser motorcycle first test


2014 Honda Valkyrie

Honda Valkyrie 2014 | First Ride Cruiser Motorcycle Review

The Honda Valkyrie is back for 2014, but it’s no longer the classic-styled cruiser and bagger it was in the 1990s and early 2000s. Instead, it returns as a motor cruiser. – still on the Honda Gold Wing platform – which is sort of a cross between the 2003 Valkyrie Rune and the new CTX1300.

The iconic 1,832cc flat-six engine is there, of course, as is the double-spar aluminum frame and single-sided swingarm. Rather than going classic with styling, the 2014 Honda Valkyrie has what Honda describes as “progressive” styling. You can call it “contemporary” or “futuristic” if you prefer.

While the Gold Wing takes care of all the long-distance tours and the F6B is there to satisfy touring and weekend bagger enthusiasts, the new Valkyrie is sheer bravado. There is no windshield, no linked brakes (ABS is optional), the bars are wider, the footrests (wide footrests) a little further forward, and the wheels more tall (19 at the front, 17 at the rear) to give it a little more presence and clearance when cornering. Oh, and one more thing: the Valkyrie weighs about 150 pounds less than the Gold Wing (depending on wing configuration) and 90 pounds less than the relatively stripped-down F6B.

Imposing to look at, the Valkyrie is welcoming to the edit. Wide bars are handy, although you’ll be looking for the ankles a bit first, especially if you’re used to riding the Gold Wing. Compared to the Gold Wing, the Valkyrie is extremely spacious and many will consider the open ergonomics to be more comfortable than the tourer. The saddle is firm, as desired on a sports bike, but wide and offering good support. The Valkyrie is a cruiser, but it emphasizes power and handling.

Push the start button and the flat-six comes to life like an automobile. It immediately settles into quiet idle and waits for you to engage it in the first of five gears. As with any flavor of the Gold Wing, the drivetrain is flawless. If you miss a change on this bike, it’s your fault.

The acceleration on the Valkyrie is impressive, but not surprising. The throttle has an extraordinarily long stroke, which is part of the reason the engine accelerates so smoothly. If there is a hiccup, flat or spike in the delivery, it didn’t show up in that first race. Replacing the throttle with a fast-spinning unit might (or not) reveal one, and it would certainly add excitement to the proceedings.

Handling has always been a strong point for the Gold Wing, so it’s no surprise that the Valkyrie is excellent handling, especially for one that weighs 752 pounds when the six-gallon fuel tank is full. The low center of gravity that comes with the flat-six engine is the reason, as we all know.

While you have to be respectful of the masses that hurtle down the road, the Valkyrie does not hesitate to change direction. Just a little bar entry is all it takes; The English body is less critical than it would be on a sports bike, due to the weight of the Valkyrie.

Tilting in a bend is slow but steady. The 19-inch Dunlop Sportmax front is 130mm wide and has a conservative profile, although more aggressive than the F6B or Gold Wing. You’re envisioning almost 30 degrees of recline and a wheelbase of over 67 inches, so nothing’s going to happen suddenly. Once in the turn, you can change lines if you want, and it doesn’t take too much muscle – an impressive feat.

In switchbacks, the Valkyrie willingly changes direction and feels great doing so. The weight is low and sticks the Dunlops to the ground. Cornering clearance is generous, so only those who are comfortable pushing a bike over 750 pounds will ever touch the feelers on the ankles on the tarmac.

The 45mm forks and the linkage rear shock don’t wallow, which is a good thing since they aren’t adjustable except for knowing how to change the shock preload. For most solo riders, the showroom setting will be perfect. If you’re going to be riding a two-person ride, you might want to consider a little extra preload.

Braking is rudimentary on the standard Valkyrie. No ABS or linked brakes. If you’re not riding in low traction conditions, you won’t need the ABS version, which is a standard mechanical design, rather than the sophisticated ABS of the CBR1000RR. Under braking, the 316mm rear disc performs well, thanks to the 180mm semi-fat Dunlop rear. The Valkyrie doesn’t have anti-dive forks on the Gold Wing, so aggressive use of the front brake will cause weight to shift onto the front wheel – no stops, however!

It shouldn’t shock you that the straight-line stability is superb. It takes a lot to upset this chassis. The plastic covers in front of your knees (the one on the right protects the side radiator) cut most of the wind in your legs, although they also help remove heat from the engine, so the bike is comfortable in temperatures of 90 degrees. The wind passes through the torso and head of the rider, but it is well managed and not turbulent.

Above all, the new Honda Valkyrie is a fun motorcycle to ride. You’ve got the swagger that comes with a big bike under you, and it has the power and handling to back it up. A good rider will surprise more than a squid on sports bikes in the canyons. The fact that the 2014 Honda Valkyrie is easy to drive, inspires confidence and is incredibly comfortable is just the icing on the cake.

Photograph by Kevin wing

Driving style
Helmet: LS2 CR1 Carbon 1.1
Eyeglasses : Serengeti Outlet Shiny Silver
Jacket: AGV Sport Breeze Perforated Leather
Gloves: AGV Sport Chaos
Trousers: Strongman Icon 2
Boots: Joe Rocket Men Big Bang 2.0

Specifications: 2014 Honda Valkyrie
Engine Type: 1832cc liquid-cooled horizontally opposed 6-cylinder
Bore and stroke: 74 mm x 71 mm
Compression ratio: 9.8: 1
Valve system: SOHC; two valves per cylinder
Induction: PGM-FI
Ignition: Computer-controlled digital with 3D mapping
Transmission: five speed
Final drive: shaft
Suspension
Front: 45mm cartridge fork; 4.8 inch travel
Rear: Pro-Arm single-sided swingarm with Pro-Link rear monoshock with hydraulic spring preload; 4.1 inch travel
Brakes
Front: Dual 310mm front discs
Rear: Single 316mm rear disc
Tires: Dunlop Sportmax
Front: 130 / 60R-19
Rear: 180 / 55R-17
Wheelbase: 67.2 inches
Rake: 29.9 °
Trial: 114 mm (4.5 inches)
Seat height: 28.8 inches
Fuel capacity: 6.1 gallons
Colors: black, metallic dark red, metallic blue
Curb weight *: 750 pounds
2014 Honda Valkyrie MSRP: $ 17,999 (ABS: $ 18,999)


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