Call them bikes that perfectly fill the gap between Honda’s flagship Gold Wing tourer and their CBR liter bike and you won’t be wrong as the ST1300 and ST1300 ABS are simply long haul motorcycles with sport bike expectations. With sleek, full-coverage bodyworks, an adjustable windscreen and removable luggage, these smooth and agile, V4-powered machines are also built to get the best out of that long way home.
For those seeking long-distance comfort along with exemplary engine performance and superior handling, Honda presents the ST1300 Sport Touring motorcycles which earn high marks from riders all around the globe.
Although the ST1300 bikes don’t feature any changes or upgrades for 2009, earlier production models are almost as important as future ones as they provide the needed feedback for later revamps.
In 2000, during the bike show season, Honda started to test the public with a sport-touring prototype featuring a 1500cc V6 engine, single-sided front and rear suspension and an automatic transmission. The project, named the X-Wing was rumored that would replace the Honda ST1100 (Honda’s Sport Touring machine produced since 1990) and it partially did because in 2002, Europe and Australia saw the all-new ST1300 Pan-European. For the U.S. market, the new bike would be imported in limited numbers starting in 2003 as the ST1300. The approximately 500 units per year made quite an entry as they incorporated many of the X-Wing’s sleek lines but none of its running gears.
Power was provided by a lower-slung 1261cc V4 engine placed on a stressed member in a lighter aluminum frame. What strongly differenced the new bike from the ST1100 was the use of balance shafts delivering smoothness and allowing the engine to be bolted directly to the frame. The all-new engine featuring a revised layout orientated the weight downward, resulting into a less top-heavy ST1300 than its predecessor. Great amounts of power reached the rear wheel through a cassette-type five-speed transmission and shaft drive requiring low maintenance but ready to gather many miles.
Owners of the 2002 model claimed that their machine wobbled at speeds above 100mph, a very important issue that determined Honda to halt production of 2003 bikes. This was solved but some of the 2002 bikes were recalled for replacement of some chassis parts, a fix that was implemented to the early 2003 models on the production line.
Another problem also caused the recalling of the 2002 model which had a redesigned engine pan fitted as some bikes had experienced oil loss after grounding on road obstacles such as speed bumps.
Bikes recalled for the first two problems also got rid of the wire that chafed against the frame and blew a fuse, preventing the engine from running.
After all the problems were solved and the top quality product was more reliable than ever, it was ready to hit the American market in style so it used its cool lines and carefully selected paintjobs in order to stand out.
In its first year of production (2003 for the U.S. market), the Honda ST1300 presented a beautiful Silver paintjob which was replaced with Blue in 2004 and Red the next year.
The bike’s fourth year of production was marked by a Black paintjob, but 2007 soon came and changed it into Light Silver Metallic.
New for 2008 was the Candy Dark Red color which also carries on to 2009 on both the simple and the ABS models.
Yamaha also stands for supersport touring perfection as the 2009 FJR1300A is built around a powerful and reliable 1,298cc, liquid-cooled, inline-four, DOHC, 16-valve engine that is used as a stressed member of the light and versatile chassis. New for 2009, the model features an updated clutch, aluminum frame, adjustable ergonomics and pushbutton adjustable windscreen. Also, being packed with an advanced air management system and adjustable bodywork, the standard ABS-equipped Yamaha FJR is synonymous with comfort. But not with affordability as the bikes in this category do cost a little bit, the 2009 Yamaha FJR1300A meeting a base MSRP of $14,490.
A strong competitor both for the Honda and Yamaha is, logically, Kawasaki. In this case, the 2009 Concours 14 makes for a cheaper alternative (MSRP: $13,499), but one that definitely presents no weaknesses as the 1,352cc inline-four, DOHC with Variable Valve Timing (VVT) engine is the biggest in its class. Also, Kawasaki likes doing everything big so the bike features generous dimensions.
Being a touring machine, the Honda ST1300 features full-coverage bodywork, three-way adjustable rider’s seat and two large 35-liter detachable saddlebags. Everything encountered on this motorcycle says touring but a push-button, motor-driven windscreen that adjusts to alter height and angle is more than I can take. It simply gives a luxury note and significantly improves riding comfort and feel.
In order to protect that gorgeous plastic-cover, the body-protector remains extend in case of the bike happens to tip-over. The breakaway rear-view mirrors also minimize the damage on an eventual tip-over but a proud owner will surely take good care and provide the bike with ingenious alarm systems designed to protect the bike from unwanted viewers and especially people who can cause a tip-over.
Smooth exterior design is provided by the aerodynamic features providing smoothness and a joy to watch. Everything blends in perfectly, starting with the headlights, through the gas tank, and finishing with the beautifully designed saddlebags.
2009 model year is available in Candy Dark Red paintjob making the design features to really stand out, just like in 2008.
The levels of performance encountered on the Honda ST1300, also known as the Pan European, move the touring experience to the highest point on any graphics while comfort and control where top priority when designing this touring machine.
Being one of the few works of art in the touring world, Honda’s famed ST1300 covers great distances while still providing the supreme combination of exhilarating performance, responsive behavior and limousine-worthy comfort.
Introducing stylish, aerodynamic bodywork elegantly integrating loads of carrying capacity while its unique three-step height-adjustable rider seat and push-button adjustable windscreen are present to make sure that any kind of rider can be accommodated in complete comfort and satisfaction given by the proper wind protection offered.
Completing the definition of sport touring, the ST1300 with its exceptional comfort features, carries its rider and passenger with their full load while still managing to provide rider confidence and positive feedback mile after mile.
As the miles gather up and confidence reaches great levels, the rider can use the high-powered fuel-injected V4 engine, advanced aluminum twin-spar frame, high-performance sports suspension and the linked braking system in order to really extract satisfaction and quickly pump adrenaline through his motorcyclist body.
The ST1300 is a real confidence provider and lets the true impression of an extremely capable touring bike, providing exceptional performance and sharp handling. The Pan European is all original, from its unique engine configuration to its strong chassis, bodywork and integrated panniers, everything on this bike is designed to function like a dream without the waking up part because reliability is one of its best qualities.
Honda made sure that their new creation would be a real torque producer while still revving like a sport bike by creating the 1261cc V4 and positioning it in line with the frame. The frame itself is and all-aluminum twin-spar construction while the all-aluminum swingarm completes the overall package and offers plush ride.
Comfort is obtained through the ideal seat and windscreen combination. With the push of a button, you can raise or lower the windshield and adjust the degree of tilt over 13 degrees. The comfy, supportive seat features three height settings as well as three fore-and-aft positions.
I really enjoyed the protection offered by the roomy cockpit given by the ST1300’s full-coverage which protected my body from the elements so once I got off the bike, I found myself looking forward for a next ride with this wonderful machine that actually made me feel like an executive and two wheels.
It is said that luxury comes with a price but with the new Honda ST1300, masses will be riding in complete comfort and overwhelming satisfaction as this sport-tourer is being offered for a retail price of only $14,599.
By paying the price, you are guaranteed to enjoy Honda’s heritage and experience gained by producing the famous ST1100. You won’t be riding just a sport touring machine, but a living legend.
Overall, the package offered by Honda is absolutely outstanding. I have encountered a strong developed motorcycle featuring impressive exterior design matched only by comfort, handling and performance.
I haven’t been riding like I did on the Honda for a pretty long time and I have to say that my excitement was completely justified and the reward was bigger than even I was expecting. The ideal touring machine and the definition of comfort have now a new name: Honda ST1300.
Engine and Transmission
Engine Type: liquid-cooled longitudinally mounted 90o V-4
Bore and Stroke: 78mm x 66mm
Compression Ratio: 10.8:1
Valve Train: DOHC; four valves per cylinder
Induction: PGM-FI with automatic enricher circuit, four 36mm throttle bodies, eight holes per injector
Ignition: Computer-controlled digital with three-dimensional mapping and electronic advance
Final Drive: Shaft
Chassis and Dimensions
Suspension Front: 45mm HMAS cartridge fork; 4.6 inches travel
Rear: HMAS gas-charged single shock with spring preload adjustability; 4.8 inches travel
Brakes Front: Dual full-floating 310mm discs with LBS three-piston calipers
Rear: Single 316mm disc with LBS three-piston caliper; Optional ABS (ST1300 ABS)
Tires Front: 120/70ZR-18
Wheelbase: 58.7 inches
Rake (Caster Angle): 26.0o
Trail: 98mm (3.9 inches)
Seat Height: 31.1 inches (+/- 0.6 inch)
Fuel Capacity: 7.7 gallons
Curb Weight: 719 pounds (ST1300) 730 pounds (ST1300 ABS)
Features & Benefits
Honda Genuine Accessories
I choose to base my reviews on the standard machines because these are the ones that usually sell best and gain a lot of miles but this is not the case because the definition of touring is completed with an optional Anti-Lock Braking System (ABS) and the safety brought with it.
Honda ST1300 ABS
Honda designed the ABS version of the ST1300 as a motorcycle equipped with a smart system that combines with the LBS (Linked Braking System) for a wide range of braking and steering control. This results into a performance system of last generation developed by Honda especially for this kind of machines.
Yamaha offers ABS as standard on the 2009 FJR1300A, but apart from that model there is also the 2009 FJR1300AE. This model features an electric-shift five-speed transmission in Yamaha’s quest for the ultimate Touring machine, but the “A” model still seems more appropriate.
With the 2009 Concours14 ABS, Kawasaki offers better braking performance for that same truck of a bike. MSRP in this case is $14,299.
As the battle between the three continues, we can only be confident and supporting in our awaiting for the grand final, locked wheels excluded!
I also had the opportunity to enjoy the ST1300’s comfort and handling on the ABS model and I noticed that the bike’s sport-orientated performance is matched only by the ABS as I strongly pulled the brake lever and pedal.
If you also want to test the bike’s braking abilities, than you should take in consideration its size and weight so I recommend to choose a straight road without traffic and then progressively but still firmly apply the brakes until getting used to the bike’s reaction and feel. After a few tries, you should be able to test them really hard and see how the ABS works on a motorcycle.
Everything comes at a cost and Honda makes sure that its ST1300 ABS still remains affordable while offering a better braking system. With an MSRP of $14,699, it invites customers to put everything in balance and than make a decision.