Review: 2014 Honda CTX 1300 - GT-Cruiser of the 3rd Kind
Posted at 06:00:00 PM
File under Product Review Honda
Author: Damien Bertrand
Location: Paris, France
Since this is a translation directly from French, some of the colloquialism may seem a bit strange at times, for which I apologize. It's not easy to translate. Any mistakes below are mine, and mine alone.
GT-Cruiser of the 3rd Kind
The winged manufacturer is single-minded and does not stop revisiting the bagger style with a contemporary version. After the F6B and the upcoming F6C within the Goldwing family, Honda launched its new range with the CTX 700 and 700 N. Based on the frame of the twin cylinder engine of the NC, they differ greatly with the last representative, named CTX 1300.
This new range upsets the type theory, taking parts of the DN01 genetics but with a more consensual and pragmatic approach. The ancestor, which appeared too early, or was considered too extreme, did not convince. Eldest daughter of this relationship, the newness of the day combines style innovations and proven solutions, like the V4 heart from the Pan-Europeean ST.
So welcome to the world of GT-Cruising or CTX 1300, a real variation for the cruiser of the famous Japanese roadster. Its appearance, elegant but staggered relies on mechanical and proven technology. Completely breaking with the two categories' codes she is trying to unite, the hybrid probably raises the groundwork for the new type. Her name is itself a summary of the concept: Comfort, Technology and eXperience. An almost 200 km trip along the Cote d'Azur roads will allow us to decipher the subtleties.
Pioneering custom-roadster, the CTX 1300 dresses unpublished lines, mainly driven by a desire for energy. The package also evokes inspiration drawn from the Streamline, its clean lines are an obvious feature. Long (2380 mm, wheelbase 1645 mm), low (130 mm only), nervous looks showing some sportsmanship. In fact, it retains the air of a family who does not make mistakes. Its wide fork crown with tapered opticals evokes a bit of a bloated CBR 1000 RR. Like all other lights, the front lights integrate LEDs. Extending this stylish face shaped like horns, the imposing mirrors integrate turn signals.
Ribbed air outlet vents hit the classic emblem of the manufacturer and framed side scoops, wide and long sides draw out to the fake fuel tank. This vast volume, modern and elegant, supports the switches & dials arranged in an arc and the audio and the motorcycle's electronics. At its base is the hatch concealing the fuel reservoir's screw cap. In its continuation, the imposing single saddle mimics that of the best cruisers and covers the 19.5 liters gas tank. The oversized rider's saddle is decorated with a backrest, which extends to form a welcoming pillion seat. On either side, two grab handles are assigned to it, which can also receive the attachments of an optional luggage rack. Rear lights and indicators, narrow and long, conclude the stern which also receive the side panniers. Not very deep, but each containing 35 liters, the panniers can not accommodate an integral helmet. More regrettable, they are unfortunately irremovable without tools, bolted to the rear shell and on a lower bracket attached to the majestic side plates. The latter, large aluminum castings, are adorned with protecting skids avoiding chafing of your boots. In front of the cylinders, we also note the presence of crash protection forming small fins.
This whole is based on a steel frame with double cradle. Dedicated to the CTX 1300, it supports the V4 engine borrowed from the Pan-European ST. In its new role, it has been slightly modified. More visible, its presentation is tidy. The casings are given a matte black finish and some hose connections are more discreet. Lower, manifolds' parallel tubes encircle symmetrically the volumes of the Japanese boiler, flowing into two long chrome mufflers. The left element also discreetly passes the support leg of the center stand. The 1261 cc 4-cylinder 90 ° V engine block, DOHC, 16-valve, liquid-cooled, also evolves internally. Shorter rods (1 mm), softened camshafts profile and intake / exhaust system modified to optimize low and midrange speeds. Furthermore, a double balancer should keep to the presence of vibrations to a minimum.
No throttle-by-wire. Activated by cable, the butterflies are 34 mm (36 mm for ST 1300). A control valve regulates the air during engine idling. Obtained 2000 rpm earlier, the maximum values of power, 83 hp at 6000 rpm and a torque of 10.6 daNm at 4500 rpm, are in decline (126 horsepower and 12.5 da.Nm for Pan-Euro). Finally, the 5-speed gearbox displays lengthened gear ratios but the transmission is still by a cardan shaft.
Both combined preload adjustable shock absorbers manages the aluminum swingarm. The steering element receives an inverted Kayaba 43mm fork, 120mm sliding and devoid of adjustment. For weight and economy reasons, only the right tube contains the braking hydraulic valves. More qualitative, the aluminum duplicated five branch rims reinforce the bagger profile, lower in the rear. The latter, 17 inches, are equipped with 200 mm rubber, and in the front, 18 inches with a 130 mm envelope. Dunlop D423 or Bridgestone G853 (Front) and G 852 (Rear) are available as original equipment. The TCS traction control as standard monitors their behavior, acting as a torque limiter. If the rotation speed of the front and rear wheels is too different, the system reduces the injected fuel volume.
The stop their rotation, the Japanese hybrid has the Honda CBS-ABS (combined) braking, linking the front calipers to the opposite brakes. With three pistons, these clamps tighten 310 mm discs on the front fork and 316 mm on the other side. Pressing the lever activates the two pistons of the left caliper and all those on the right. The foot pedal uses all rear pistons and front left piston caliper. The unit is controlled by magnetic electrovalves.
Fairing properly fitted, meticulous finishing, innovative design, the CTX 1300 imposes right away a certain presence. It's time to take ownership by climbing onboard.
In The Saddle
Or rather go down on its back. With 735 mm, the saddle also meets the standards of low riding. Thick foam, thick and soft lining, the upholstery invites travel. Its armchair comfort is linked to a suitable position. Flexed at 90 °, the legs rest naturally on the sleeved footrests. The knees are protected from the heat of the high engine by rubber pads.
The ease is the same for the upper body. Spreading moderately the arms, the deep V-bar handle is attached away from the rider on the upper triple clamp via high jumpers. Fully sheathed, the fork well is dominated by an automobile inspired instrument console. At the extremities, two 50 W speakers frame the cockpit. The come a pair of analog meters, speedometer and tachometer, followed by a central digital display. This one show permanently a clock, engine temperature and fuel gauge. The other functions parade by means of controls place on the "forward deck". This vast area almost horizontal to the fake fuel tank, up at the knees of the rider supports in fact, many buttons, and emphasizing two storage pockets. By pushing "Select" up, the display shows speed, average fuel consumption and travel time. Pushing downwards shows the outside temperature, odometer and two trip partials. Other sliders manage settings of the above functions, activation / deletion of TCS and audio. No on board radio, but the possibility of connecting via a suitable USB device (thumb, phone, MP3 player ...) in one of the two storage pockets (on the right). Quite shallow, you will not bring your mega-smartphone in one of these storage spaces, which are without lock. Fortunately, Bluetooth is available, effectively connecting devices. The excellent readability of the dashboard, removed from the rider, facilitates fast reading without losing sight the road.
Another subtle but innovative technology, the indicators enjoy an automatic extinction. They react according to the riding, and not to the steering switch, to the signals emitted by the ABS sensors. Indeed, the system is based on the speed differential of the wheels, which is activated during the use of the indicators. If this follows a change of direction at a crossroads, then deceleration before a corner and then accelerating, it turns the indicators off. When changing lanes, the system will not perceive the speed change. The indicators are turned off after 120 m at less than 50 kph, or after 7 seconds if the speed is higher. Interesting ... but cruise control would have been surely a more useful equipment on this motorcycle. It's not even an optional equipment. Note that, as with all Honda models henceforth, the direction indicators see some of their LED lit up continuously, making the vehicle even more visible.
More conventional, heated grips, very thin, are supplied as standard, adjustable in five positions via a dedicated button on the left combination switch. A 12 V plug can power a GPS.
Finally, moving the Honda alongside the machine with the engine switched off will take some caution. Its low height places the mass very low. In contrast, putting it on the center stand is done effortlessly.
In the City
Awakening the modern hybrid reminds that sometimes "it was better before." The sound of the CTX 1300 is velvet, the growl barely stained with some quivering, a sort of mechanical Etienne Daho (ed: French singer - link ). We would have liked a bit more character coming out of its exhausts. However, the simple design of the machine could hardly be paired with a guttural sound. A question of good taste, or at least logical. Good for the audiophile who also benefits the most of the good quality speakers.
In fact, everything is smooth on this GT-Cruiser. Controls, transmission and a gearbox with long gears set the tone early in evolution. CTX is pure Honda, consensual to the extreme. It goes as far as the remarkable balance, almost impossible for a 338 kg motorcycle. A hint of movement seems to ask it to levitate. Its center of gravity located very low, is just a visual evidence for those looking at the V4 whose main volume is at the axis of the wheels ...
Therefore, mass and space becomes more relative. Especially since the dual-twin does not lack any passion, taking the crew luxuriously through urban centers. Also very flexible, fourth or fifth gears allows it to evolve in urban areas within 50 kph and 1500 rpm.
Of course the Honda's dimensions do not make it a model of easy maneuvering. But it's good turning radius allows it to make a U-turn easily. However, this superb vessel prefers to move on to a more open horizon.
On the Motorways
Buzzing modestly, the CTX 1300 hold the regulatory 130 kph rapidly at 4000 rpm. At this speed, the V4 resumes correctly in fifth overdrive but prefers a lesser gear to express itself more freely. Do not seek vibrations, they are nonexistent.
The top of the (very) short windshield does not exceed half of the chest height, the protection from air flow is not the best but still acceptable. A longer but optional windshield makes things much better. The same goes for the onboard audio. Audible for up to 100 kph, the music then mixes with the wind noise. We also regret the lack of controls on the handlebars, causing you to drop a hand to strum the curved keyboard adorning the front deck. Without being difficult, the operation requires lowering the eyes.
Capable (theoretically) of a top speed of 195 kph, the Honda demonstrates an excellent stability at barely lower speeds on quality road surfaces, showing the qualities of its chassis, the comfort is imperial despite suspension components which are rather common.
Revealing good motorway skills, the CTX still asserts a design oriented for more dynamic contemplation. Clearly it's time to leave the tariffed roads, more or less swiftly, the secondary roads.
On the Country Lanes
Devoted to road fun, designed to dawdling with style and originality, the CTX 1300 is revealed throughout the winding county lanes. At whatever speed, the hybrid Honda unveils a little bit its roadster-cruiser side. If not just by the limits of its ground clearance, allowing however for a good speed in the curves before "screeching". A good piloting avoids, most of the time, touching the asphalt.
Flying over the asphalt, the rolling object with a strong identity is a charming bike. Effectively boosting the machine, the V4 treats the crew to softness and a quiet but very real strength. You can not reproach it for a lack of performance. Even its meek character perfectly suits the philosophy of the CTX. Depending on your mood, or needs, you evolve on 4th or last gear. Indeed, overtaking will be more effective by falling back one or even two gears. And past 5000 rpm, the imposing boiler makes a very nice velvety sound heard. And if at the first curve an optimistic strand is revealed, the rear brake will effectively smooth the path. The implementation of the combined braking often makes unnecessary using the front lever. However, the latter provides a great deceleration force, without locking the steering.
Changing from one to another angle with a surprising ease, the GT-Cruiser is not hindered by its large propulsion. The fit between the front and rear axles makes the CTX 1300 intuitive and accurate. The large lever arm of the superlative handlebar seems to annihilate the inertia of such a machine. This novelty, 15 kg less, is even more obvious and easy to take the curves than the F6B that is accompanying us. On board, we rediscover the serenity of riding generated by an unusual mechanical comfort. However, the suspensions sometimes put limits on this charming observation. Quite effective on small irregularities in the asphalt, fork and shock receive more violently the dry compressions. Fortunately, the saddle quality moderates the limited hydraulics.
Another less successful point, the TCS (traction control), activates itself brutally and then suddenly, once back to a smooth surface, jerks unnecessary injections. The implementation of the electronics needs to be refined, sometimes it even forgets to trigger.
Once again, the Hamamatsu company has proven its mastery on this point. Obvious, easy, the CTX is a monument of stability. At very low speeds or at the most sustained speeds, nothing disturbs its balance. The tire mounted optimize the qualities its chassis, irrespective of the riding style. The softness of the transmission is also not the least of its lesser qualities.
Powerful, the front calipers also offer a reassuring progression. The linked Honda brakes does not need to prove its qualities. The rear brake, by itself, offers a remarkable job. The simultaneous action of the braking equipment provides generously sized deceleration to stop more than three hundredweight of the CTX 1300.
Oversized, the seats assist, if any, the rare limits of comfort of the shocks. The suspension remains convincing for wise adapted handling of the GT-Cruiser. Its adjustment demands the removal the panniers bolted to the frame.
The pillion benefits from a wide area and a position comparable to the rider. An optional sissy bar would have been a compelling accessory. Otherwise, a top case, less chic, will do the same act.
Honda ensures a normalized consumption by 5.8 liters. Playing a bit (too much) with the CTX 1300, the onboard computer shows between 6.5 and 7.2 liters per 100 kilometers. A responsible use should approach the manufacturer's data, allowing stages of 300 km. A notable performance with the views of the engine and the weight of the Honda.
With the CTX 1300 Honda plays the innovation, revisiting in its own way the Cruiser segment for the foreseeable future. Difficult, however, to see it as a new generation of motorcycles at this time. Avant-garde, elegant, yet the hybrid wants to break well established motorcycle codes. Sleek and modern lowered GT or custom-roadster, the winged Japanese leaves no one indifferent. As far as aesthetics, its effectiveness and evidence seduce, ensuring an outstanding riding machine. Unprecedented in a custom architecture, its V4 participates actively in the charm of this model of sweetness. Deviated, the CTX wants to unite opposites. We could blame the lack of engine character, yet her plastic dynamics suggested otherwise. I'm talking about mechanical expression and not raw performance, the latter being entirely convincing. Efficiency is real and the comfort among the best.
Its starting price of €17,699 is to compare with the costs of the Pan-European ST: €15.990. Proven engine since 2002, known electronics, the CTX 1300 seems to pay dearly for its originality, but we have seen no shortage of assets to justify, in part, that sum. More advanced suspensions, however, seem due to this sum.
Difficult to find competitors other than more conventional customs. Technology, powerful and seductive, the Moto Guzzi California 1400 Touring ABS LE may, however, be a challenger in a more passionate kind. The €19.350 it claims are its excessiveness. Across the Atlantic, a Harley Davidson Road King Classic will relieve you of €22.990. However, GT side, the reference R 1200 RT is displayed only €500 more than our CTX or €18.200 ...
Daring the novelty card, Honda offers an unexpected and attractive parenthesis. Well equipped, comfortable, rewarding and innovative this cruiser of the 3rd type is expected by the manufacturer to sell between 300 to 400 units in France. Ready to change your type?
|Strong Points||Weak Points|
- Innovative style
- Ease of handling
- Smooth transmission
- Engine availability
- Agility and precision of the chassis
- High price
- No cruise control; not even optional
- Fixed and limited size panniers
- Chaotic TCS Implementation
- To timid sound
Via: Le Repaire des Motards