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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.