Honda CTX1300: PH2 Review

When Honda unveiled the CTX1300 at the Milan show last year I was left more than a little unimpressed. This weirdly styled cruiser rode on stage with what can only be described as a whisper of an exhaust note. In fact, so quiet was it I assumed the bike was a far smaller capacity. As it transpired, and the clue is in the name, the CTX is actually powered by a 1,261cc V4 taken from the Pan European. Now a few months later in the south of France and with keys in hand it somehow looks considerably better than before. Unfortunately it still sounds the same...

Bike dials or car dashboard?
Bike dials or car dashboard?
Boulevard cruising
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?

Great roads and handling ruined by ground clearance
Great roads and handling ruined by ground clearance
Angle grinder
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.

Hard to recommend, even over other Hondas
Hard to recommend, even over other Hondas
One for fans of the quirky only
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
1,261cc V4
Power (hp): 85@6,000rpm
Torque (lb ft): 78@4,500rpm
Top speed: 155mph (est)
Weight: 338kg (wet
MPG: 41 (claimed)
Price: £14,999




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Comments (15) Join the discussion on the forum

  • nightflight 04 Aug 2014

    I'd be upset if I found one of these.

  • Wedg1e 04 Aug 2014

    To be fair, it has taken Honda over a decade to find another use for the Pan Euro's engine; it's a bit limiting being such a big heavy motor and having shaft drive, it wouldn't be a good starting point for a sports bike (although more power for the Pan wouldn't go amiss if you're reading this, Honda wink).
    With the VFR1200 they started again and created another V4 with perhaps more versatility, so unless they did a major redesign of the ST1300 then a fat cruiser is probably the only way they could have gone - even if they thought they could sell a V-Max style dragster or were to replace the ST13 completely, the VFR12's engine would probably be the one they'd use.

  • jamespink 04 Aug 2014

    For goodness sake, who in their right mind would pay good money for this ridiculous lard arse bike? I just can not for the life of me see why any of these bloated bikes sell. Like its clever to ride a bike that weighs 2000Kg and scrapes everywhere....

  • pSynrg 04 Aug 2014

    More like 400kgs...

    But, possibly the same mentality that drive a 2,500kg "SUV" around heavily congested and polluted cities. When a compact, lightweight and practical super-mini will do it all better - apart from off-road...

  • DreadUK 04 Aug 2014

    The UK's not the target market, the US is. If they sell some in Europe then it's probably a bonus. It's no doubt perfect for eating up 500 miles a day on US arrow straight roads not popping to the local roundabout meet for a knee down.

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