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Preview: 2014 Honda CTX1300 Everyday motorcycle wears many hats

Published May 11, 2014

The Toronto Star for Wheels.ca

SAN DIEGO, CALIF.—Few motorcycles I’ve ridden have stirred as much debate as did the 2014 Honda CTX1300 during its press launch.

Heated discussions arose as to whether it is a cruiser, a touring bike, a sport tourer or something else entirely.

It has a low seat height, mid-mounted footpegs and a long wheelbase, all of which are cruise attributes.

However, its 1,261-cc, 90-degree V-four engine, and unique wheel sizes (18-inch front, 17-inch rear) hint at its ST1300 sport-touring pedigree.

And it also has integrated saddlebags, a Gold Wing-inspired fairing and a sound system, all of which are clearly touring bike items.

Contributing to the CTX1300’s ambiguity is its styling. It has a long and low profile from the side, it looks sporty from the front, and is completely inconspicuous from the rear. The look seems to work, though, since bystanders took notice — some even giving it a thumbs-up.

Although two versions of the CTX1300 will available in the U.S., a standard model and the Deluxe, we will only get the latter in Canada, which comes equipped with traction control, linked ABS, self-cancelling turn signals, heated grips and a centre stand for $18,999.

A detuned version of the ST1300 engine powers the CTX, with claimed output down to 83 hp (European specs) from 124, while peak torque is down to 78 lb.-ft. from 92.

That’s a significant decrease, but the drop in power doesn’t feel as drastic as the numbers would suggest, as power now peaks 2,000 r.p.m. sooner than on the ST1300. Like the ST, the CTX has five speeds and shaft final drive.

The engine is almost electric smooth, and very little vibration makes its way to the rider. Despite the reduced output there’s ample pulling power, especially in the lower rev range.

The powerband is broad and prairie-flat, and there’s still plenty of top-gear passing power available at highway speeds. Although it’s unnecessary to spin the engine into the upper rev range, its V-four drone sure sounds sweet when you do.

Honda claims 5.8 L/100 km using the European standard, allowing the CTX a theoretical range of more than 325 km from its 19.5-litre fuel tank.

The fairing borrows styling cues like the sweptback headlights, side vents and shorty windscreen from the Honda F6B, which itself was inspired by the Gold Wing.

The CTX also features LED headlights as standard equipment, a first for Honda. Inside the fairing, you’ll find a sound system that features Bluetooth connectivity and a USB port hidden inside one of the two small compartments.

Honda says rider comfort was among the top priorities when designing the bike and it’s difficult to dispute that claim. Mid-mounted footpegs and a swept-back handlebar lace you in a very relaxed, upright position that reduces strain on your lower back, unlike the foot-forward riding position of a typical cruiser.

The seat is wide and its raised bolster is far enough behind to allow you to move around and stretch your legs. The seat provides touring-bike, all-day comfort, proving itself quite worthy after a day of riding.

The shorty windscreen does little to provide touring-bike wind protection, although a taller accessory windscreen is available, and it works quite well.

The CTX has relatively light and neutral steering, although its long wheelbase and fat rear tire (200/50R17) are hindrances in tight turning transitions, where it takes some effort to straighten up the bike before leaning it back down again.

The suspension isn’t sophisticated in specs, but it is sophisticated in feel and control and is remarkably compliant. Some additional rebound damping would be needed in the rear for a very aggressive pace, but I don’t think a CTX buyer would be interested in chasing sport bikes anyway.

An occasional bump-induced jolt rattles your fingertips, caused by the rigid mounting of the handlebar, which is long and resonates when you hit sharp bumps.

The saddlebags each boast a 35-litre capacity but they cannot be easily removed. We were told the CTX looks quite stylish without them, so a quick-detach mechanism would have been a welcome addition.

Honda claims to have created a new category with the introduction of the CTX1300, although I think fitting it into any single category is too narrow a view to describe this bike.

The truth is it wears many hats, and it can commute or carve winding roads as easily as it can tour the country (with the addition of the taller screen).

Honda seems to have reintroduced the everyday motorcycle.

2014 Honda CTX1300

Price: $18,999
Engine: 1,261 cc, 90-degree V4
Power/Torque: 83 hp/78 lb.-ft.
Transmission: Five-speed
Fuel Economy (L/100 km): 5.8
Competition: Kawasaki Vaquero, Yamaha FJR1300
What’s Best: Engine character, rider comfort.
What’s Worst: No cruise control, rigid mounting of handlebar.
What’s Interesting: The CTX1300 is one of only two motorcycles currently available with an LED headlight as standard equipment.

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