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.
1991 Honda ST1100
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.
2003 Honda ST1300
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.
2009 Yamaha FJR1300A
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.
2009 Kawasaki Concours 14
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.