Honda VT1300 Interstate, Stateline & Sabre | First Ride

Road rage

By Brian Catterson, Photography by Kevin Wing

Unlike its three stablemates, the Interstate is actually quite comfortable. Where the others' forward highway pegs cause your inner thighs to cramp at speed, the Interstate's floorboards allow a natural seating position. Like most bikes with floorboards it has a heel/toe shifter, plus a big, rubber-covered brake pedal that's almost automotive-looking-and nowhere near as pretty as the faux-billet piece on the other three VTs. The Interstate's one-piece seat (shared with the Stateline) looks similar to the Fury's, but is actually wider, with more of a lean-back angle. It might wear thin after a long day's ride, but it was fine for the 125 miles we did at the intro. While we weren't able to verify fuel mileage, Honda claims 47 mpg, which given the 4.4-gallon gas tank should allow 200 miles between fill-ups on the highway.

The only shortcoming in the Interstate's comfort quotient is its bar-mounted windshield, which buffeted my helmet so badly that my faceshield rattled. Granted at 6-foot-1 I'm on the tall side, but I tried slouching in the saddle and the buffeting didn't diminish until I was approximating someone about 5-foot-6. Perhaps the shorter accessory Boulevard screen would work better?

Performance-wise, the Interstate functions as expected. While Honda makes no power claims, the VT1300 engine is said to be unchanged save for its black finish, and the Fury we tested last year made 56 horsepower and 72 lb.-ft. of torque at the rear wheel. Couple that with a claimed wet weight of 712 pounds, and you're not going anywhere in a hurry. That's just as well, because the single front disc brake, barely adequate on the other three VTs, feels pretty weak on the Interstate. And it would feel weaker yet if the bike were fully laden with a passenger and luggage. Needless to say on a cruiser with such a pronounced rearward weight bias, the rear brake does more than its fair share of the work. Thankfully it is quite strong, with good feel.

The non-adjustable suspension is also merely adequate, offering a plush ride most of the time but bottoming over square-edged bumps, sending a painful jolt straight up the rider's spine. The fork feels odd because of its extreme rake, seemingly moving as much fore/aft as up/down.

In the end, the Interstate is a qualified success. It retains the Fury's chopper roots while improving upon its function, but does so at a price point that compromises its ride. Hopefully the Gen X/Yers and budget-conscious older buyers at whom this bike is aimed won't care about that, and these three new VT1300s will follow in the Fury's footsteps.

By Brian Catterson
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