Honda VTX1300T - First Ride

The T Stands For Touring Have Bags, Will Travel

There's a worldwide perception that Americans are all about the bigger-isbetter maxim. From our SUVs to our cowboy hats to our starlets' double-Ds, it's hard to argue. How then would you explain that in the realm of that most American of tor scooters-the big-inch cruiser-one of the bestselling models is not so big after all?

When Honda introduced the VTX1800 in 2001 it was hailed as the biggest and baddest V-twin on the planet, with pistons the size of a P-51 Mustang's. That doesn't just sound big, it is big. But there comes a tipping point when the line is crossed, somebody looks backward, maybe a little bit crosseyed, and says aloud, "It's just too damn B-I-G!"

Enter the VTX1300, this year in T (for Tourer) guise, adding to the simple, elegant goodness of the unadorned model. Since the inception of the VTX line there have been a few key items that have typically found their way onto buyers' machines before they've even left the dealership. Thus the T-model adds nicely sized and styled leather saddlebags, a passenger backrest and a wonderfully tall (though not bus-like) windscreen.

There are several benefits to these extras being factory installed. First, you're saving money versus what it'd cost to add that stuff yourself. Second, no installation fees nor worries about some pimply faced tech gouging your paint with his Swiss Army knife. And third resale value, which should be higher than if you bolted these goodies onto a basemodel VTX.

To sample the VTX1300T, Honda invited us to the exotic Nine Oh Nine area code of SoCal's Inland Empire. After spending the better part of a day running 69 up and down tremendously twisty roads and chugging along Historic Route 66, it was easy to see why the 1300 outsells its bigger brother: There's a definite power deficit but a big difference in riding character. Factor in the price differential and it's a done deal for many.

Getting bike and body warmed up for our mostly chilly ride required several pots of coffee and a full pull on the 38mm Mikuni CV carb's choke knob. Once thawed, the 52-degree V-twin settled into a pleasant po-wacka-po-wacka from the bullet-style muffl ers, before a pull on the cable-actuated clutch lever and a stomp on the heel/toe shifter had us ready to merge onto the road well traveled. In typical Honda fashion, the VTX breaks no new ground and doesn't inspire any lifechanging moments; it just perfects what has long been a classic American two-wheeled staple.

Underway and on the throttle, the single-pin crankshaft and dual counterbalancers feed a wonderful stream of power pulses into the nicely sized grips. Propulsion is more than adequate for solo riders. While the bigger VTX1800 makes monster torque and horsepower, horsepower, this "little" 1300 did an admirable job of keeping us entertained. Even at altitude in the mountains, where the floorboards scraped early and often, we were impressed with everything from the agile handling to the balanced brakes to the clean gear shifts to the hiccupfree fueling. The well-sorted carburetion allows full-throttle acceleration from as low as 30 mph in top gear, right on up to supra-legal freeway speeds, where the chassis is as stable and planted as any cross-country traveler could ever want.

And it's here that the bits that make the VTX1300T a winner come into play. That wonderfully large windscreen keeps the rider in a pocket of still air with just the slightest bit of negative pressure on his back at speeds over 80 mph. Those saddlebags swallow enough clothes and paraphernalia to travel several states away from home. Our one-day ride just whetted our appetite for more time in the comfortable saddle.

The VTX1300T may not be as big as its 1800cc brother, but it's an arguably better motorcycle. And being the best is what Americans really are all about.

Tech Spec
Touring variant of the VTX1300, which is in turn a downsized version of the VTX1800.

The Star V-Star 1300 Tourer is the VTX's only direct competition, though it's bracketed by the Boulevard C50T and C90T, Kawasaki Vulcan 900 Classic LT and 1600 Nomad and no fewer than seven Harley- Davidson models.

Price: $10,999-$11,099
Engine type: l-c, 52-deg. V-twin
Valve train: SOHC, 6V
Displacement: 1312cc
Bore x stroke: 89.5 x 104.3mm
Compression: 9.2:1
Fuel system: 38mm Mikuni
Clutch: Wet, multi-plate
Transmission: 5-speed
Claimed horsepower: na
Claimed torque: na
Frame: Steel double cradle
Front suspension: 41mm Showa fork
Rear suspension: Dual Showa shocks with adjustable spring preload
Front brake: Two-piston Nissin caliper, 336mm disc
Rear brake: Single-piston Nissin caliper, 296mm disc
Front tire: 140/{{{80}}}-17 Dunlop
Rear tire: 170/80-15 Dunlop
Rake/trail: 32.0,/5.7 in.
Seat height: 27.4 in.
Wheelbase: 65.7 in.
Fuel capacity: 4.8 gal.
Claimed dry weight: 748 lbs.
Colors: Black, Metallic Silver, Metallic Red
Available: Now
Warranty: 1 year, unlimited mi.

A solid middleweight cruiser gets even more useful while broadening its appeal.

They say: "Fully decked out for cross-country travel straight from the factory."We say: "That's what most riders want anyway."
Patterned after the VTX1800T bagger, the new VTX1300T comes standard with leather saddlebags, windscreen and passenger backrest for $4000-$5000 less.
Two-piece seat with passenger backrest comes standard. Add a luggage rack-or any of 50 other Genuine Honda accessories-to make it yours.
Classic large-faced analog speedo includes digital readout with tripmeter, clock, etc.