Although the CTX is aimed predominantly at the American market, the cruiser movement is gathering momentum in Europe and Honda is confident it will provide a stepping stone between smaller capacity bikes and the mighty Gold Wing cruisers such as the F6C and F6B. Powered by a tweaked Pan European V4 engine with less power and taller gear ratios, on paper the CTX impresses. Honda has given it a unique steel chassis with the emphasis on handling, traction control and combined ABS as standard before a stereo with Bluetooth ability and panniers complete the package. Unfortunately sound still isn't included. Despite the Honda people claiming that CTX's exhaust note was designed by a special sound department for maximum aural pleasure, it is still far too quiet and has more of a high pitched whine than a lovely V4 burble. Will the riding experience be any better?
Honda have given the CTX a fairly sporty (for a cruiser) attitude with a 48:52 weight bias, something that shows up on the road. At slow speed the CTX's low weight distribution makes it easily manoeuvrable and the 735mm seat height is ideal for shorter riders or those nervous of controlling a 338kg bike at low speed. In traffic the V4 motor's initial grunt and light clutch are perfect for pulling away and the riding position is comfortable and relaxed. The exhaust note still fails to turn heads, but you can always crank up the stereo if you want to create a scene. I'm fairly certain the posh clientele of the sea front cafe appreciated Sir Mixalot's finest as I cruised past...
But get outside of town and the stereo is quickly drowned out by the sound of scraping metal. I know cruisers aren't meant to be hurled through corners, but for a sporty one the CTX is seriously lacking in ground clearance. I'm not talking decking the pegs for fun here, more the unnerving sound of a peg touching when you are doing 60mph and you hit a bump in the road while leant over. For me the constant scraping very quickly became an irritation as I wanted to enjoy the CTX's handling, but it was impossible as every time I lent it over the foot pegs started to drag. Honda says its CTX1300 is so named as it provides a Comfortable Touring eXperience, so I guess the reality is that this is more of a machine for gentle riding than any speed. But why give it good handling and then limit its potential through minimal ground clearance? Adding to the negatives are mirrors that show far too much elbow and annoyingly small tank storage compartments.
Having ridden quite a distance on the CTX I have to say that while I warmed to it, it is hard to recommend anyone spending £15,000 on one. There is little to fault when it comes to riding position and handling as long as you don't lean it over too far, but my issue is more down to the overall feel. In my opinion the V4 engine lacks any of the soul that a cruiser needs as it is too refined and smooth. It certainly ticks the functionality boxes but cruisers aren't all about function - emotion also plays a big part. A cruiser needs to look, feel and, above all, sound right. And I don't think the CTX does. This Honda is an oddity I think will struggle to find fans and if I was looking for a Japanese cruiser with which to tour or just impress people on, I'd go for the awesome F6C or F6B instead. They are proper cruisers with huge flat-six engines and real street presence.
2014 HONDA CTX1300
Engine: 1,261cc V4
Power (hp): 85@6,000rpm
Torque (lb ft): 78@4,500rpm
Top speed: 155mph (est)
Weight: 338kg (wet
MPG: 41 (claimed)