- Ridiculously easy-to-ride and master
- Gobs of smooth vibration-free power everywhere
- Strong brakes with well-calibrated optional ABS
- Transmission could be more precise-feeling
- Suspension can feel overly springy on rough pavement
- Missing touring-friendly forward style footpegs
Honda targets a different kind of touring motorcyclist with its uniquely styled, V-Four-powered CTX1300 (starting at $15,999). Part cruiser, part touring bike, the CTX appeals to riders seeking an authentic riding experience, with elevated levels of comfort and technology, compared to what other brands offer.
The CTX sports a unique form—one that won’t be recognizable by most. But it’s that way by design, and despite being listed as a touring bike on American Honda’s website, ‘New-Age Cruiser’ might be a more fitting term considering who Big Red is going after. And with a stretched wheelbase, wide and sweptback handlebar, along with a super low seat height—it plays the part well.
Even with a rather hefty fully-fueled curb weight of 724 pounds, in action the CTX is responsive and highly maneuverable for a motorcycle of its size. Direction changes are made swiftly with a light touch of the bar and it’s very easy to get a feel for its neutral handling manners. The suspension generally delivers a smooth ride but things do get a little springy feeling on rough roads. A passenger and a full load of luggage will likely compound this, however, it’s worth mentioning that the rear shocks do allow the rider to dial-in different preload settings (we rode in the lowest and most comfort-oriented setting) to better accommodate heavier loads.
Through turns the CTX feels glued to the ground though ground clearance is somewhat limited with the rider’s footpegs reaching pavement at even modest lean. Although the CTX’s rear disc brake is hydraulically linked to the twin front binders the front set-up is actuated independently— a nice touch say if you need to scrub off a few MPH mid-corner. Both brakes also feature anti-lock functionality on the up-spec Deluxe model. In a simulated panic stop the ABS proved to be one of the more seamless-feeling set-ups we’ve tested on any motorcycle (high-performance bikes included) and is a welcome feature. We also appreciated the strong yet not overly sensitive feel of the heavy-duty Nissin front calipers.
(Top) The CTX1300 has an open cockpit that will accommodate shorter and taller riders alike. Although it looks bland we love the function of its instruments and control set-up. (Center) The CTX1300 is equipped with an excellent braking hardware. The rear brake is linked to the front however front is actuated independently of the rear which is a big plus for trail braking maneuvers. (Bottom) The CTX1300 comes equipped from the factory with removable and lockable hard cases. But, they aren’t big enough to accommodate a full face motorcycle helmet.
The CTX features a wide and generously padded seat and there is plenty of room behind the controls even for a taller rider. The rider’s footpegs are positioned at a more traditional street bike-style angle, which is great for city riding, but it would be nice if Honda offered another pair of forward-mounted footpegs so you could stretch your legs during touring-oriented rides on the freeway.
It is obvious Honda spent considerable time fine-tuning the CTX’s user interface and though the instrumentation looks cheesy and overly automotive-based, you can’t argue with how well it functions. Both analog-style speedo and tachometer gauges are positioned high up so your eyes don’t have to leave the road to check on the bike’s vitals. A multi-functional LCD sits between both gauges and displays the remaining fuel capacity of the 5.1-gallon tank, as well as fuel economy, coolant and air temperature, clock, odometer and trip functions. The display also lists the track/artist name of music (Deluxe model) that can be streamed wireless via Bluetooth or via the included USB-style plug under the right-side pseudo fuel tank flip-up pocket (the actual fuel tank is located underneath the rider’s seat). Other goodies for the Deluxe model include self-canceling turn signals and a wheel-speed enabled traction control system that modulates engine torque (via fuel injection cut) when excess rear wheel spin is detected.
We got a chance to feel how the TC reacts on loose gravel and were pleased with the way it gently interrupts power to restore traction in a smoother fashion than other touring-based systems we’ve tried recently.
Equally as impressive as the CTX’s highly-refined chassis is its water-cooled V-Four engine. There’s plenty of power on tap from idle all the way up through its indicated 7000 rpm redline. It’s smooth power too—the kind that you want when passing slower vehicles. In fact, the powerband is so rich in torque that you can pretty much lug the engine in any of its five gears and simply twist the throttle if you want to go faster—it’s that easy.
(Left) The CTX1300 handles incredibly for a 700-pound plus motorcycle. It’s very easy to get a feel and master without a lot of seat time. (Center) The CTX1300’s 1261cc water-cooled V-Four engine is an absolute gem. It’s smooth, powerful, and has a nice sound too it as well. (Right) The CTX1300 handles very neutrally and is easy to get a feel for on the road.
The CTX’s clutch features hydraulic actuation which nets a light lever pull and highly progressive feel. And paired with the engine’s potent low-end grunt the CTX is an exceptionally easy motorcycle to launch from a standstill. The gearbox performed well, but it would be nice if it had a more secure engagement similar to what Harley-Davidson or Yamaha/Star motorcycles currently offer. Furthermore, we’d love to see the convenience and thrilling acceleration feel of a Dual-Clutch Transmission as well.
The engine is also devoid of any hint of annoying, hand-numbing vibration. We also love its sound with it offering a much more high-tech mechanical melody than the traditional potato-potato boom synonymous of a V-Twin. Throttle response also proved to be spot-on with it offering a connected feel to the engine yet not being overly sensitive or difficult to master. Another nice touch is that the engine is tuned to run on lower grade 87-octane fuel. Speaking of fuel, we achieved an average of 37.2 mpg during a moderate paced touring-style ride. This should equate to a range of roughly 189 miles.
(Top) Cornering clearance is limited by the low-mounted footpegs but the CTX still delivers excellent road holding. (Bottom) The CTX1300’s seat is wide, deep and well padded. It’s a very comfortable saddle for all-day riding.
All in all there isn’t a whole lot to not like about Honda’s CTX1300. Sure, its suspension gets a little bouncy and there aren’t any highway friendly forward foot rests, beside those two gripes it’s hard to find any fault. Surely with its refined riding experience and almost too smooth engine the CTX won’t appeal to more traditional V-Twin riding enthusiasts. However, if you’re seeking a simple, fun and easy-to-ride touring motorcycle, then Big Red has got you covered.