Honda ST1300 ABS | Doin' Time

Fresh Meat

Catterson questioned my sanity on this one, but then, he does that at least three times a week. I figure the ST is a perfectly rational long-term pick. It's spent more time rolling than parked since winning our big-inch sport-touring comparison. Plus, being warm, dry and comfortable makes any ride more enjoyable-especially when I'm a few hundred miles from home on a wet, cold Sunday night and the Powers That Be demand my presence on Monday morning. Cat's MV is sexier, but it spends more time parked than rolling. Sexy isn't much good when you're on State Route 58 after most sane people are asleep.

Putting 300 miles between fuel stops is easy. ABS saves my bacon at least once a week here in the land of Blackberry- packing SUV pilots and slippery, concrete freeways. If these headlights and mirrors aren't among the best in the business, they're close enough. Any nasty surprises from ahead or behind are mostly my fault. Still, it's not perfect. Suspension is harsh over the genuinely rough stuff. There's too much noisy air in the cockpit whether the windscreen is up, down or in between. And the dainty clearcoat covering Honda's black paint scuffs far too easily, particularly where the knees of my Aerostich suit get friendly with the fairing.

A little 3M Clearmask transparent plastic paint protection may help my cosmetic complaints. Beyond that? I'm still researching the windscreen thing. Suspension? I'm thinking shock and fresh fork oil, in that order. Speaking of oil, the V-four has burned all of 8 ounces of the stuff in 5050 (hard) miles, so I'm swapping the black crud in the crankcase for fresh synthetic 10-weight ahead of the manual-mandated 8000 miles. Getting the filter out without lubricating the neighboring exhaust header may be tricky, but it's a whole lot cheaper than paying a dealer. The book calls for fresh 80w final-drive fluid at 16,000 miles, but the stuff that's in there looks grim enough for a change at 5000 or so as well. Those of us who agonize about strange mechanical noises-aka me-suspect the high-load, low-rpm clatter has something to do with Honda's adjustable balance shafts; more details next time. And though the standard Bridgestone BT020 radials still stick amazingly well, the rear is just starting to square off. The original-equipment 020s allegedly last longer, especially in the rear, but we shall see. For now, it's time to go riding.