2014 Honda CTX1300 | First Ride

The In-Between Bagger

By Brian Hatano, Photography by Kevin Wing

The value-priced CTX700 was last year's unlikeliest addition to Honda's touring lineup. It fell into place as a progressively styled, low-slung bike with loads of new-rider appeal. Barely a year later, Honda has released the CTX1300, which is aimed at current CTX700 owners and other riders that are ready to throw a leg over a full-sized, full-featured, decidedly unconventional bagger.

The CTX1300 is offered in standard trim as well as a Deluxe edition equipped with ABS, traction control, an audio system, auto-cancelling turn signals, and blacked-out paint. The visual resemblance to the CTX700 is strong, with a similar stretched-out fairing and low, pullback bars. Honda doesn't need a crystal ball to know that traditional bagger buyers are not looking to expand their options with futuristic styling. And for the ones seeking a metric alternative to American V-twin baggers, Honda already has that segment covered with the 1300 Custom and Interstate models. According to Honda, the CTX1300 is aimed at step-up cruiser riders, "boomers and aging gen-Xers," and even a handful of mellowing sportbike riders ready to focus on cruising through canyons rather than carving them.

Bigger bikes need more power, so the CTX1300 gets a re-tuned version of the 1,261cc V-4 found in Honda's ST1300 sport-touring rig. New cam profiles, valves, valve timing, and smaller throttle bodies (34mm, or 2mm smaller than the ST) promote low-end torque and a smooth curve upward through the mid range. A compression ratio drop to 10.0:1 (the ST1300 is 10.8:1) allows you to put 87-octane regular unleaded fuel in the CTX's 5.1-gallon under-seat tank.

Fully fueled, Honda says the CTX1300 weighs in at 724 pounds; not a light bike, but par for the class, and a low center of gravity makes the bike feel lighter still. At 5'9" with a 30-inch inseam, the 29.1-inch seat height is low enough for me to get both feet on the ground and maneuver the bike without straining on my toes.

The CTX1300 proves itself to be a well-balanced and non-intimidating machine from the first release of the hydraulic clutch lever (sorry, no DTC automatic option). Even with such a generous wheelbase, low-speed parking lot maneuvers and even U-turns are accomplished with controllable ease and confidence. The pulled-back bars offer plenty of steering sweep, and keep you in a relatively upright riding position. Foot controls are located far enough back that your legs can actually support your torso, and the seat is soft and well contoured. It's a nice place to log miles.

With its amicable handling and smooth power delivery, the big CTX is good fun on a twisty road. On the open highway, the CTX1300 is as aerodynamic as its horizontal lines suggest. With the standard shorty windscreen, airflow hit me just below shoulder level. Taller riders or those that do most of their riding on the highway will likely find the taller accessory windscreen a good investment.

Upgrading from the $15,999 standard CTX to the $17,499 Deluxe version adds a raft of features, including traction control, combined brakes with ABS, and a quality sound system. Traction control has two settings: on and off. This isn't race-ready traction control that allows you to drift out of corners hard on the gas, but in low-traction situations, it's a good safety net to have.

The CTX has excellent brakes, and the bike slows quickly thanks to Honda's Combined Braking System (CBS) that links the rear brake to the front brake. When the rear brake pedal is engaged, the center piston in the three-piston right-front brake caliper is actuated to add stopping power, and a delay valve slows initial front brake response to minimize front-end dive.

The Deluxe's electronic self-canceling turn signal system works like a gem. It reads and interprets the status of the turning process based on data from the front and rear wheel sensors, and cancels the turn signals automatically once the turn is completed. At speeds below 31 mph, the blinker blinks for 131 yards; above 31 mph it blinks for 7 seconds regardless of distance traveled.

There's also an audio package on the CTX1300 Deluxe that includes Bluetooth connectivity, a first for Honda motorcycles. This audio system can play audio files from most smartphones and Bluetooth devices, USB digital audio players, and USB flash drives, and allows track selection. Music can be played through rider's choice of a Bluetooth-linked headset or through the audio system's external speakers by toggling a mode button. If audio is the only upgrade feature you're interested in, the system can also be added to the standard CTX1300 as a Honda Genuine Accessory, but the $1,500 premium for all the Deluxe upgrades is hard to beat.

By combining attributes found in more sport-touring machines with a style normally reserved for cruisers, the CTX1300 is a versatile bagger alternative that is just flat-out fun to ride.

tech SPEC


EVOLUTION

A retuned version of the ST1300's V-4 is placed in a long and low CTX chassis, finished with full audio, ABS, TC, and other comfort and performance options.

RIVALS

H-D Street Glide, Indian Chieftain, Kawasaki Vulcan 1700 Vaquero, Star Stratoliner Deluxe, Victory Cross Country

Price $17,499
Engine type l-c 90-deg. V-4
Valve train DOHC, 16v
Displacement 1261cc
Bore x stroke 78.0 x 66.0mm
Compression 10.0:1
Fuel system EFI
Clutch Wet, multi-plate
Transmission 5-speed
Claimed horsepower na
Claimed torque na
Frame Tubular steel double cradle
Front suspension Showa 45mm fork
Rear suspension Dual Showa shocks
Front brake Dual Nissin six-piston calipers, 310mm discs with ABS
Rear brake Nissin one-piston caliper, 315mm disc with ABS
Front tire 130/70R-18 Bridgestone Exedra
Rear tire 200/50R-17 Bridgestone Exedra
Rake/trail 28.5°/4.5 in.
Seat height 29.1 in.
Wheelbase 64.5 in. 
Fuel capacity 5.1 gal.
Claimed curb weight 724 lb.
Colors Metallic Black, Gray Blue Metallic, Candy Red
Available Now
Warranty 12 mo., unlimited mi.
Contact powersports.honda.com

VERDICT 4/5

A modern bagger interpretation that’s almost agile enough to be a sport-tourer.

By Brian Hatano
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ax1464
Seems like a review of a "bagger" would mention something about the saddlebags.
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