2014 Honda CTX1300 Review – First Ride + Video

Another Sport-Touring-Bagger from Big Red

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2014 Honda CTX1300

Editor Score: 84.75%
Engine 17.25/20
Suspension/Handling 12.75/15
Transmission/Clutch 8.5/10
Brakes 9.25/10
Instruments/Controls4/5
Ergonomics/Comfort 9/10
Appearance/Quality 9/10
Desirability 7.5/10
Value 7.5/10
Overall Score84.75/100

Dare we say Honda’s been bingeing on Street Glide-style models? Some may consider it blasphemous to include the CTX in the same sentence with Street Glide, but when it comes to motorcycles sporting fairings with low-cut windscreens and hard luggage, Honda boasts five new ones: CTX1300/Deluxe, CTX700 and Gold Wing F6B/Deluxe.

On second thought, it’s actually unfair to the CTX and F6B to rank them among less-performing models such as Street Glides. In commendable fashion, Honda has taken a risk and created a niche market unto itself, the Sport-Touring-Bagger, comprised of the five models listed above.

We’ve ridden and reviewed the Gold Wing F6B and CTX700, but Honda’s press launch for the CTX1300 outside San Diego was the first opportunity to sample the second, and more substantial, model of the CTX family. You can read about the technical information in our 2014 Honda CTX1300 preview story. For this article, we’re sticking with riding impressions, which we’ll begin by saying that the CTX is as unique in its performance as it is with its styling.

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The reengineered 1261cc V-4 motor differs from the ST1300 by way of camshafts, valves, throttle bodies and compression ratio to deliver more low- and mid-range power than its ST counterpart. Like the CTX700, the 1300 has a low, 7,000 rpm redline, which for traditional motorcyclists is a rev ceiling that takes some getting used to. Once familiar with the short-shifting nature of the V-4, keeping the engine in its powerband and riding its flat and seemingly endless torque curve becomes second nature.

Discuss this at our Honda CTX1300 Forum.

There’s enough cornering clearance to keep the pace exciting in the twisties. Braking performance is excellent. The CTX features Honda’s Combined Braking System (CBS) linking the rear brake to the center piston in the three-piston right-front brake caliper. A delay valve slows initial front brake response to minimize front-end dive.

There’s enough cornering clearance to keep the pace exciting in the twisties. Braking performance is excellent. The CTX features Honda’s Combined Braking System (CBS) linking the rear brake to the center piston in the three-piston right-front brake caliper. A delay valve slows initial front brake response to minimize front-end dive.

Engine performance is accompanied by a pleasingly throaty V-4 exhaust note that’s loud enough to make its presence known when cruising around town but quiet enough to not become bothersome at speed over long distances. We did notice a very unHondalike trait in some harsh off-to-on throttle response, resulting in tedious driveline lash that’s more of a nuisance than a deal breaker. Otherwise, the engine, five-speed transmission and shaft final drive performed dutifully throughout our day trip.

On hand at the intro were both the standard CTX ($15,999) and the Deluxe ($17,499). What you get for the $1,500 increase is ABS, TC (switchable), self-canceling turn signals, an audio package with Bluetooth connectivity, and a blacked-out styling treatment.

2014 Honda CTX700/N Review

Probably a first of its kind, the CTX’s self-cancelling turn signals function via the bike’s TC system. By using the same wheel sensors measuring speed, distance and time parameters, the ECU determines the completion of a turn and terminates the turn signal’s flashing. The system also accounts for changes in tire air pressure and wear-related changes in tire diameter. How’s that for high-tech blinkers? When signaling lane changes above 31 mph, the turn signal flashes for seven seconds regardless of distance traveled, and when below 31 mph, the signal ceases flashing after having traveled 131 yards.

Audio controls and instrument cluster adjustments are all located atop the faux fuel tank. Handlebar controls for volume or music track selection would be nice but probably not cost effective. The two storage compartments hold small items but are difficult to access with gloved hands.

Audio controls and instrument cluster adjustments are all located atop the faux fuel tank. Handlebar controls for volume or music track selection would be nice but probably not cost effective. The two storage compartments hold small items but are difficult to access with gloved hands.

Honda outfitted a couple CTXs with the optional tall windscreen which creates a protective bubble without bothersome rear-helmet buffeting. Other accessories include a passenger backrest, rear trunk and heated grips.

Honda outfitted a couple CTXs with the optional tall windscreen which creates a protective bubble without bothersome rear-helmet buffeting. Other accessories include a passenger backrest, rear trunk and heated grips.

The audio package on the Deluxe plays music via Bluetooth or USB connection. There is no AM/FM radio. The 20-watt per channel external speakers are powerful enough to be heard at lower speeds but are drowned out by wind noise at higher speeds. Sound quality is better behind the accessory tall windscreen. This is meaningless, however, if you have a Bluetooth-enabled helmet communication system directly linked to your Bluetooth music device – the best option for good sound quality.

When listening to the external speakers, the audio system features a three-level Speed-sensitive Volume Compensation (SVC) that adjusts music volume according to the speed you’re traveling. There’s also an auto mute function that mutes music when speeds dip below seven mph, and will return to the original setting at nine mph.

With a curb weight of 732 pounds (739 for Deluxe) the CTX1300 weighs only 36 pounds less than BMW’s six-cylinder K1600GTL. Thankfully the CTX’s low center of gravity masks its weight problem, but like the Gold Wing and ST1300, Honda needs to find a way to reduce the weight penalty of these machines to comparatively similar models from competing OEMs.

The lockable, 35-liter saddlebags are nicely styled and easily accessible but not large enough to hold a full-face helmet (and there’s no helmet lock). While there’s no quick-release mechanism, the bags are removable via two internal bolts.

The lockable, 35-liter saddlebags are nicely styled and easily accessible but not large enough to hold a full-face helmet (and there’s no helmet lock). While there’s no quick-release mechanism, the bags are removable via two internal bolts.

The CTX, with a non-adjustable fork and only preload-adjustable shock, maintained its composure when pushed hard in the canyons yet remained comfortably damped when traveling the freeway. The neutral riding position and friendly ergonomics also play a factor in promoting all-day comfort.

+ Highs

  • Innovative design
  • Comfortable
  • Diverse application
- Sighs

  • Weight
  • Driveline lash
  • Saddlebag capacity

The CTX and CTX Deluxe fill a gap in both engine displacement and price in Honda’s lineup between the $7,799 CTX700 and $19,999 Gold Wing F6B. Since the CTX700’s introduction last year, Honda claims its sales have been relatively brisk. Honda is, of course, hoping for the same results for the 1300, but at double the MSRP of the smaller bike and targeted at experienced, traditional motorcyclists, it’ll be interesting to see how the bigger, more expensive CTX is accepted.

2014 Honda CTX1300 Specifications

For the right person, though, we can attest to the CTX1300 being a solid motorcycle built to fill a niche we didn’t know existed until Honda created it.

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32 Comments

  1. Max Wellian
    Posted March 21, 2014 at 6:41 am | Permalink

    So my burning question is, do the cylinders act as knee warmers?

    • Posted March 21, 2014 at 11:58 am | Permalink

      Temperatures for our day ride were in the low 80s and I didn’t notice any unacceptable levels of heat coming from the cylinders. If you hug the bike with your legs you’ll feel engine heat. Otherwise, riding relaxed and allowing a breeze between the bike and your legs dissipates the heat. I’d have to say Honda did a good job of separating engine heat from the rider.

  2. ducatirdr
    Posted March 21, 2014 at 7:46 am | Permalink

    Honda – A motorcycle has to invoke passion. Your bikes are missing any trigger to have me lock on and say, “Whoa!” What’s up with that? From the 250 on up to the 1000RR (except the Repsol editions), they all lack a visual hook. Time to rethink your designer. Your babys ugly.

    • Max Wellian
      Posted March 21, 2014 at 7:20 pm | Permalink

      I disagree. It’s not boutique cute or anything, but I think it has a nice athletic yet relaxed look. Problem for Honda is, motorcyclists aren’t known for their acceptance of change. If it ain’t a Harley or GSXR, good luck in Amuica.

    • teknik1200
      Posted March 26, 2014 at 8:55 am | Permalink

      The fit and finish on some of their bikes seems lacking. I was nosing at some of them this summer but went with a different brand for this reason.

  3. rascalman
    Posted March 21, 2014 at 8:43 am | Permalink

    I have long said Honda needed to fill the void in the lineup with a midsized tourer for those of us that wanted more than was being offered. Though the Goldwing and Harley tourers are what I have ridden for several years they can be quite heavy and cumbersome when loaded down with passenger and gear. Honda and other manufacturers have bikes in this class but have done it with the Harley chasing V-twins which in my opinion should be left to Harley and instead build a smooth, reliable and mid-weight tourer. The 1300 engine was always the platform I hoped they would start from and when I first heard of this CTX1300 I was ready to pony up and ride one. But as is usually the case they fell short, first by not including the necessary conveniences at the sales price and second by setting the sales price so high that buying one and adding the desirable options pushes it into the range that you may as well buy one already designed for the road. Having to add a functional windshield for long distance and not including cruise is a big mis-step for Honda in my opinion. Maybe they are chasing the younger crowd but those of us in our senior years are READY to ride but want something less than the titanic Goldwing. Harley almost has hit the mark with the street glide but then you are stuck with that v-twin, that causes constant shifting in the mountain switchbacks, and has a much higher level of maintenance woes. Just a few minor tweeks and this bike could outsell anything within this category of machines, especially with the well known reliability of this engine. Sorry Honda, I’ll wait until you equip it for the road or enough of them are sitting around the showrooms that the rebates gets the price within reason to add the touring riders necessities.

    • Paul McM
      Posted March 22, 2014 at 5:39 pm | Permalink

      I own three Honda bikes and am a big fan of Honda build quality. As an ST1100 owner, I was really excited about this CTX. I love the longitudinal V-4 engine. I was hoping that they’d fix the flaws in the ST1300 and give me a reason to trade up. Specifically — improve the wind-screen (the screen on the new BMW RT is astonishingly better), make the seat adjustable, improve the lighting, drop 70 lbs from the machine, increase rider legroom and make the riding position more upright. Well we got a heavier bike, with a useless windscreen, a cramped riding position for a six-footer, and a much worse passenger seat. After actually seeing this at the Progressive Moto show, and sitting on it, I just walked away grumbling and shaking my head — “F’n idiots at Honda”. It feels fat (wide) and heavy at a standstill. I just don’t see cruiser riders moving to the CTX. And Honda just handed its ST buying group over to BMW, which offers better aeros, lighter weight, Cruise Control, electronically adjusted suspension, heated seats, and way better luggage… for not much more money. Maybe this will sell to short guys or guys who like an ass-down riding position … but there are so many other “cruiser” options.

      • ShadowRider
        Posted March 23, 2014 at 8:55 pm | Permalink

        Well, Paul, here’s one cruiser rider who IS moving to the CTX. I’ve owned a Gold Wing and a Shadow, and the CTX is the best of both worlds for me. I have a black Deluxe on order and should pick it up in less than a week.

        • Paul McM
          Posted March 23, 2014 at 10:08 pm | Permalink

          Wish you well on your choice. I hope the bike proves to be everything you want it to be. Honda build quality is second to none. I know you won’t be disappointed by that V4 motor. Let us know how the windscreen works. I’m just hoping that Honda brings out a real successor to the ST1300, a true third generation ST. Something lighter, with better aeros.

      • Erica Mathis
        Posted May 3, 2014 at 11:28 pm | Permalink

        “F’n idiots at Honda”? You mean F’n geniuses at Honda! The CTX weight is so low to the ground it feels 200 pounds lighter than it is. This isn’t a sport tourer so why you’re comparing it to an RT is a mystery. This is a new category of bike, a great do it all bike with a low seat height, incredibly easy to ride, more comfortable than a cruiser and better looking, imo.

  4. ShadowRider
    Posted March 21, 2014 at 11:27 am | Permalink

    Sorry you guys don’t seem to like this bike. I DO like it, very much. Enough, in fact, to put one on order a week after I saw it at the local motorcycle show, even though I have never actually ridden it. I’ve owned a Gold Wing 1200cc and a Shadow Sabre 1100cc, and this bike is pretty much everything I’ve been wanting. Yeah, I wish it had cruise control and a helmet lock, and yeah, it’s pretty pricey. But it meets my needs, I like the tech on it, and I LOVE the way it looks, especially the black Deluxe model that I’m buying. The early reviews indicate that it handles beautifully. That V4 engine borrowed from the ST1300 and upgraded for better power at lower speeds should be perfect for the way I use it–mostly around town but able to go longer distances on the weekends. Once again, though, I’m not the target demographic that Honda has for this bike. I bought the Gold Wing in my early 30s (when the average age of a Gold Wing buyer was mid-50s), and now I’m 58 and buying a bike that is probably being marketed to a younger, somewhat less experienced rider. I don’t think they care as long as people buy the bike, though. I predict it will be a pretty good seller.

    • Posted March 21, 2014 at 12:05 pm | Permalink

      I’m not sure why you think we (I) didn’t like the bike? As stated in the story, I think it’s a solid performer with innovative design. To be totally blown away for $16K, I’d like to see niceties such as cruise control, handlebar-mounted controls for the radio and the driveline lash smoothed. It scored a solid B, but addressing these items the CTX would have garnered an A.

      • Max Wellian
        Posted March 21, 2014 at 7:15 pm | Permalink

        A quick detach top box with some passenger padding would be nice too.

      • ShadowRider
        Posted March 23, 2014 at 9:03 pm | Permalink

        Tom, sorry, that comment wasn’t directed at YOU. It was directed at all of the other guys in this thread who seem to have nothing but complaints about the CTX. No, it’s not perfect. I would have liked to see cruise control, easier-to-reach audio controls and maybe even DCT (but then I would miss a lot of the fun of riding). But it had enough of the right things that I wanted at this time in my life. I think you did a great job of reviewing this bike. The video was the most informative I’ve seen and I’ve watched it multiple times. It just made me even more eager to get into that seat and start having some fun after a long, cold, miserable winter!

  5. Bmwclay
    Posted March 21, 2014 at 1:56 pm | Permalink

    Nice bike, good way to get into baggers for us older sport bike guys, but………..did I hear some undercarriage dragging during the video? Maybe around 5:30 or so? If that’s the case, count me out.

    • Posted March 21, 2014 at 2:00 pm | Permalink

      I dragged footpegs but no hard parts. Depending on your level of aggression hard parts will touch, but considering the bike it is, the CTX has relatively decent cornering clearance.

  6. Kevin
    Posted March 21, 2014 at 6:22 pm | Permalink

    I really liked the motor on the ST 1300 and wish they had not altered it on this bike. This bike and the ST need cruise control to be competitive in todays market. Both bikes need to go on a serious MSRP diet. Could have been a great motorcycle but as it is, it is too much money for too little bike.

    • Paul McM
      Posted March 22, 2014 at 5:23 pm | Permalink

      Yep, no CC, no centerstand, bags won’t fit helmet, rear seat (acc. to my girlfriend) is “narrow, hard, and not angled right”. At moto show I sat on the bike and pushed it around. I was shocked that it felt much more top-heavy than my ST1100. Seat was too low — I was cramped vertically and locked in fore/aft. The long bars and distant dashboard make you feel like you’re steering a wheelbarrow. As an ST owner and a huge Honda fan I was real excited about this bike. After seeing it in the flesh and sitting on it, I was very, very disappointed. You can even say angry. I guess Honda is targeting the “bagger” buyer, but I don’t see those guys leaving Harley for this… It will be interesting to see if this sells.

  7. Craig Hoffman
    Posted March 21, 2014 at 8:30 pm | Permalink

    I kinda like it. I want to like the ST1300 as I like the V4 engine layout, but that bike has a bit of a Pacific Coast hangover for my tastes. This CTX with it’s inverted forks and exposed black engine, looks cooler. It is a personal problem I suppose, but I have an aversion to bikes with conventional forks. They just say “cheap” “old” and/or “wimpy” to me. This bike might suffice with a tall windshield and a pair of Staintune exhaust cans.

    With a 7K redline and low down power curve, I imagine the CTX engine, like the ST engine that spawned it, will last hundreds of thousands of miles with ordinary care. That long history of reliability is a strong consideration for sure.

  8. Send Margaritas
    Posted March 21, 2014 at 9:05 pm | Permalink

    How does this compare to the FJR1300?

    • Posted March 27, 2014 at 1:51 pm | Permalink

      Not really comparable bikes. The CTX is a glorified bagger, not a sport-tourer. Performance wise, the FJR will leave the CTX in the dust.

  9. James Monroe
    Posted March 21, 2014 at 11:51 pm | Permalink

    Maybe I missed it – if so sorry..But how was the lean angle? I think I heard some scraping in there

  10. Lockwood
    Posted March 23, 2014 at 10:41 am | Permalink

    Only the old-timers will visualise what bike I am talking about: I am the proud owner and daily rider of an ancient Pacific Coast, the much derided bike that Honda’s genius prematurely proposed the conservative biker’s world.

    Twenty years later, it rides on flawlessly, and I appreciate daily the vast luggage compartement either for bringing back the grocery or sheltering the computer or carrying the luggage, it is extremely comfortable even on very long rides (400 Miles a day…) and believe it or not, the indicators do switch themselves off automatically!

    Admittedly, the engine being a V twin, it is not nice in low revs (basically below 3000rpm) and I wish that Sumo had been put on a diet before being sent to us…though as soon as you move it handles like a bicycle…And its fuel consumption is ridiculously low despite the carbs…a good thing since the fuel tank is a trifle too small.

    Finally I confess I still love her looks, and I affectionately call her ‘Beluga’.

    So this last Honda is certainly full of gadgetry (who except rude show-offs would want to bother the bystanders by imposing on them disputable music choices!). For a small fraction of the price of the CTX I get about as much pleasure and I dare even say, more versatility.
    But all in all, thank you Honda for constantly proposing technologically advanced innovative ways of riding around the planet, without lowering the quality and reliability standards set by Soichiro, the founder of the brand.

    Jack (from France).

    • fastfreddie
      Posted March 25, 2014 at 2:13 pm | Permalink

      The pacific coast is a monstrosity only a mother could love.Or apparently a french;) Congrats on owning a competent bike (I have no doubt it is),but to say one love its looks is just plain wrong.Any way you look at it;)

  11. Rob Mcginley
    Posted March 23, 2014 at 3:07 pm | Permalink

    This is a good start. Now add a trunk and entertainment system, heated seats ect call it the tour ver.

  12. Don Silvernail
    Posted March 26, 2014 at 3:33 pm | Permalink

    “with a non-adjustable fork and only preload-adjustable shock” & no cruise control for 16k?? O, almighty dollar, wherefore art thou? Honda – this effort is embarrassing. FJR 1300 anyone?

    • mikmckn
      Posted April 14, 2014 at 7:41 pm | Permalink

      My thoughts exactly. Honda had a great thing going and let it down with just a few bad choices. Suzuki just released the new V-Strom 1000 and hit a home run for less than $13k. The suspension is great and fully adjustable, the new motor is great and makes more power than this CTX and is smoother than the old twin. The new chassis is slimmer than the old bike. Suzuki is just some bodywork and bags away from a killer sport tourer while Honda is still charging way too much for niche motorcycles that nobody seemed to be looking for.

  13. Craig Hoffman
    Posted April 1, 2014 at 7:54 pm | Permalink

    Cycle News just came out with their writeup on this. Somehow that author got the Honda rep to admit this bike has been detuned from the ST’s 115 hp to around 88 hp.
    Honda can call it “tuning for torque” all they want. All I can say is Boo!!!!!

  14. Steven Cote
    Posted April 3, 2014 at 9:23 pm | Permalink

    732Lbs? To bad they didn’t do something like the Motus with that motor.

  15. HiknBiker
    Posted April 20, 2014 at 3:13 pm | Permalink

    As a previous owner of a GL1500, super comfortable & smooth, and an ST1300, not quite so much. I was sad to hear Honda had not solved the drive line lash on the new bike. Also on the ST I found my knees began to ache after 100 miles since I turned the big 70. I agree Honda seems to be oblivious to their weight problem.
    Still love their bikes but need more comfort Styling not so important.
    Hiknbiker.

  16. sgray44444
    Posted April 22, 2014 at 11:11 am | Permalink

    Honda is building a better appliance these days, but who wants to ride a washing machine?

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