Honda Valkyrie Interstate v. Yamaha Venture

Clash of The Titans

Page 2
"In addition, the heel-toe shifter, while confusing to our sport-bike oriented staff members, was more than welcome with our cruiser riders."

The seat is comfortable, although two taller staffers -- after a few hours on the road -- complained of slightly stiff lower backs. Fuel consumption averages about 34 miles per gallon, and although total fuel capacity is 6.0 gallons (including reserve) the fuel warning light came on after approximately 4.5 gallons of fuel were used.

Specs: Yamaha Venture
Engine : 1294cc DOHC, liquid-cooled, 16-valve, 70° V-4
Bore x stroke: 79 x 66mm
Carburetion : 4x 32mm Mikuni CV
Front brake : Dual 298mm Twin-piston caliper
Rear brake : 320mm Single-piston caliper
Front tire: 150/80-16
Rear tire: 150/90-15MC
Wheelbase: 67.1 inches
Seat height: 29.5 inches
Fuel capacity: 6.0 gallons
Dry weigh : 807 lbs
MSRP : $15,999 USD

The Venture's bags are well-built and better integrated into the bike's overall design than the Valkyrie's, even thought the Venture's top bag developed a glitch and refused to open more than half-way. Other accouterments that stand out include the 50's inspired, ruler-type digital speedometer.

The Venture lacks a tachometer, and although it makes a nice reference point, a tach isn't all that necessary on a touring motorcycle. The audio system -- with an intercom system, CB, full audio, cassette deck and easy-to-use handlebar-mounted thumb controls -- sounds as good as any stock audio system offered on a motorcycle. Cruise control is a nice option, even though we never used it.

The brakes need work. The dual front 298mm discs with two-piston calipers and a 320mm rear disc with a single piston caliper aren't strong enough to stop the Venture without a considerable squeeze and push and both levers.

In fact, one staffer noticed the rear brake's propensity to fade and commented that he wasn't even sure why it existed except to perhaps to comply with federal safety laws.

While this might be an overstatement, the entire staff found the soft and overwhelmed brakes to be the weakest link on an otherwise attractive, well-built and well-designed motorcycle. While the Venture is the better integrated motorcycle, the Honda Valkyrie Interstate might be nothing more than an excuse to showcase the 1520cc.

The flat six-cylinder engine that makes 94.6 hp at 5800 rpm and 91.9 foot-pounds of torque at 4700 rpm. Basically, the Valkyrie engine is a hopped-up Gold Wing engine reconfigured with six 28mm carbs (compared to the twin set found on the Gold Wing), revised camshaft timing and a freer flowing exhaust. The Interstate also receives a rear rubber engine mount to reduce transmitted vibrations along with revised spark timing and carb settings for improved mid-range performance. As opposed to the Venture's pleasing pulses, the Valkyrie Interstate is silky smooth, perhaps too smooth for those who prefer to feel their engine.

Max horsepower = 94.6 hp @ 5800 rpm.

Max torque = 91.9 lbs/ft @ 4700 rpm.

Even so, anyone with a bold throttle hand and callous disregard for speed limits can take this motorcycle places where no touring motorcycle belongs, with monstrous torque offering fearless freeway acceleration and ample horsepower creating the potential for triple digit straights, should you be so reckless and irresponsible.

Also, the transmission is smooth and shifts are rarely missed. Even though the Interstate's 66.5-inch wheelbase is more than one-half inch shorter than the Venture's, the Valkyrie felt and handled like the longer motorcycle. Cumbersome in town and through heavy traffic, the Interstate didn't feel balanced until we motored above 40 mph.

Like the Valkyrie standard and the Tourer, the Interstate tends to fall into stops. Suspension, except for rear preload, is not adjustable, and the front end is sprung a little soft, where the heavy fork-mounted fairing seems to add a little too much weight. As such, the Interstate swims a little in the higher speed corners. True, the Venture does as well, but the Interstate did so more predictably, and once we got used to the Valkyrie we railed through sweepers faster than the Venture, irregardless of the power differential.

Specs: Honda Valkyrie Interstate
Engine : 1520cc SOHC, liquid-cooled, 12-valve, opposed-6
Bore x stroke: 71 x 64mm
Carburetion : Six 28mm diaphragm-type CV
Front brake : Dual disc Twin-piston caliper
Rear brake : Single disc Single-piston
Front tire: 150/80R17
Rear tire: 180/70ZR-16
Wheelbase : 66.5 inches
Seat height : 28.7 inches
Fuel capacity : 6.9 gallons
Dry weight : 774 lbs
MSRP : $15,999 USD

"The fit and finish is typically high-quality Honda."

The Valkyrie Interstate offers 130 liters of cargo space, and the side bags are well made in that that are not flimsy, but they are awkward to use. Basically, the side bag tops are not fastened with hinges but attached by cables, so to open you have to unbuckle the lock and lift off the entire top. To close you must line-up the top with the bottom of the bags and buckle. It was difficult to do this, both opening and closing and every time we opened them it felt like the first time.

Eventually we became bored with fiddling with them, so if the top case were full and we were riding solo, we often found it easier to strap luggage across the passenger seat. The instrument panel is laid out well if not a bit traditional: a circular, analog speedometer and tachometer with an LCD odometer along with the usual warning lights and handlebar-mounted audio controls.

Except for Calvin Kim, who actually put in time to learn the idiosyncracies of the audio controls, the remainder of the staff were too lazy to figure out how to preset radio stations, adjust for bass and treble and move between the radio and the CB/intercom.

In any event the radio wasn't very loud; in fact it was difficult to hear through wind noise at freeway cruising speeds. Unlike the Venture the Interstate doesn't offer a tape player or cruise control. Wind protection on the Interstate is excellent. The windscreen is smaller than the Venture's, and while you will receive a bit more blast, the majority of the sight lines are above screen and you don't have to worry about clearing precipitation drops, and those that do collect flow off at speed. The handlebars are a bit wide, adding to the Interstate's lumbering handling at lower speeds, and our hands were less protected than on the Venture. Still, weather protection was more than adequate, and we have no serious gripes.

The Valkyrie Interstate provided excellent night-time visibility, both for the rider and in traffic. The headlights are powerful and the fog lights help increase both rider's visibility and the ability to be seen in traffic. The rear tail light, with brake lights on the top case as well as on the bumper, provides more than adequate visibility in traffic.

The Valkyrie Interstate is comfortable, although we did prefer the Venture's forward-set floorboards to the Valkyrie's foot pegs. The Valkyrie's seat, however, certainly isn't anything to write home about. After an hour or so our fannies screamed for relief. However, since the Valkyrie consumes about one gallon of gas for every 28 miles -- its cruising range is about 130 miles -- fuel stops and stretch breaks conveniently correspond.

The downside is that sore butts and frequent pit stops do not necessarily make for the most desirable touring conditions. Low mileage aside, the Valkyrie's brakes are adequate. While they aren't two-finger sensitive, the brakes provide ample stopping power, certainly more than the Venture's. All in all, however, the Interstate's brakes, along with the rest of the motorcycle, do what they are designed to do -- get you from point A to point B with a little grunt.

Conclusion

Both the Honda Valkyrie Interstate and the Yamaha Venture are excellent motorcycles that serve the same purpose but do so from different perspectives. Both cost the same -- $15,999 USD (the all-black Interstate we tested lists for $15,499) -- so picking between the two depends on priorities.

The Venture, with its well-integrated design, provides first class comfort, style and accessories with an adequate powerplant. The Valkyrie Interstate slides toward the performance side of the scale while offering decent comfort and a competitive number of goodies.

MO tends to favor the performance side of the equation, thus we tipped the scale in favor of the Valkyrie Interstate. Still, if you're more concerned with style and if the Yamaha's roadside assistance program appeals to you, then you might make the Venture your choice. MO? We are suckers for motor, and for that reason we're choosing the Honda Valkyrie Interstate.

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