Review: 2014 Honda CTX1300

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2014 Honda CTX1300

Honda is not a company that acts out of desperation. Honda plans; Honda studies; Honda executes. Honda plays the long game.

 The 2014 Honda CTX1300 is part of a strategy that Honda believes will point the way for the next generation of riders. Following close on the heels of the parallel-twin CTX700, the new CTX1300 is a V-4 bridge to the flat-6 Valkyrie. Honda believes that riders who are looking for a more capable, modern cruiser will be interested in the CTX1300; they also believe that riders looking for a more relaxed experience than delivered by a sportbike or dedicated sport-tourer will be intrigued by the new V-4 bagger.

I got to spend a day riding the 2014 CTX1300 in the roads around San Diego — some of my favorite motorcycling roads in Southern California. After about 170 miles of riding, I’d had a chance to experience freeways, curvy country roads, changes in elevation, and a few hundred yards of gravel — just about enough time in the seat to get a good impression of the all-new Honda’s strengths and weaknesses.

2014 Honda CTX1300

What’s New

The Honda CTX1300 is an all-new motorcycle from the ground up. Take a look at the pictures. If you hate what you see, stop reading now. Nothing I say is going to make any difference to you. If you’re intrigued, welcome to the rest of the review.

Low and horizontal define the CTX1300. The bike seems to sweep back from its headlights, an impression that is reinforced with a low (28.9″) seat height, and bodywork that emphasizes the horizontal. The bike comes with an integrated fairing, low, non-adjustable windshield, and integrated saddlebags as stock equipment. The fairing and plastic bodywork pretty much conceal the all-new steel double-cradle frame. This is not a fully-faired touring machine, however. The 1,261 V-4 engine peeks out beneath the covers, with 4-into-2-into-2 exhaust headers flanking the bike on each side. The gas tank is beneath the seat, effectively keeping the bike’s center of gravity low.

CTX1300 has a few advanced technology features that will turn some heads. All of the bike’s lighting is LED, from the headlight to taillight to turn signals to marker lights. There’s a cool signature LED feature line of light that underlines the dual stacked headlights. That should give the CTX1300 a unique face on the road, and may improve visibility to oncoming traffic.

On the audio side, CTX1300 can be ordered up with a Bluetooth audio system that allows you to pair a Bluetooth helmet headset to the bike, and to feed audio to the bike via Bluetooth or USB (tucked in a covered compartment in the top of the faux gas tank). A pair of speakers is integrated into the dashboard for playback, as well. It’s an interesting concept — more of an interface and amplifier than a fully-featured audio system. There’s little visual clutter, which is good. Unfortunately, unless you feed the system content, like from a connected iPod or a memory stick loaded with .mp3 files, there’s nothing to play — no AM/FM radio, no other input. You can pair your phone or Bluetooth-enabled music player to the bike and then pair the bike to your helmet — but why wouldn’t you just pair the phone or music player to your helmet? The compartment that hides the USB port is big enough to hold an iPhone or iPod, which is great, but it doesn’t lock, which is unfortunate. If you don’t order the audio system on the base CTX1300 (it’s standard on the Deluxe), you get some ugly blank control switches on the left side of your dash, and speaker grilles in the dash, but no speakers behind them. You might as well get a sticker that says “I’m cheap.”

More technology is included with the Deluxe model, like Anti-Lock Braking (ABS) and Traction Control (TC) and electronic self-cancelling turn signals, making that “I’m cheap” sticker (and the base model) seem like a mistake, considering that the Deluxe model is just $2,000 more than the base.

2014 Honda CTX1300

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  • Jack McLovin

    Strangely attractive looking though I would never buy one.

    • Jason Fogelson

      What would keep you from buying one, McLovin? I happen to agree with you — but I’m curious what keeps you from plunking down your cash.

      • Clint Keener

        Me personally, the Multistrada is only a few grand more. Or the Diavel is around the same price ish.

        But I like the looks. I smell what Honda is poopin.

        • Kevin

          The Multi is much taller and the Diavel is more cramped and doesn’t really tour. I doubt anyone is cross-shopping the CTX to either of those bikes.

      • Jack McLovin

        Once a bike gets up to $18K the competition gets fierce. Like Clint replied, for the money I could get a rocketship with electronically adjustable suspension or an actual Harley. I fail to see where the money went when a boutique manufacturer can provide so much more value for the same dollar.

        • Michael Howard

          “… or an actual Harley”. I honestly fail to see this and any Harley as competing much for sales. Sure, there are some people who will consider both but, despite the marketing, these are very different bikes which appeal to very different riders.

          • Jack McLovin

            He asked my opinion and I gave it to him. Sorry to disappoint that my reasoning does not square with your market research. I actually have a specific Harley in mind; the Fat Bob. So yeah if IIIIIIIIIIIIIII pried my wallet open to buy an $18K toy this plastic cruiser from the cost cutting future would be towards the end of the list, after a VFR1200 and several super nakeds.

          • Kevin

            Yep, the F6B is definitely winning over former cruiser riders (Harley, Victory, etc.). The forum I’m on (www.hondaf6b.com) is chock full of former Hog riders. I’m not sure what type of rider is going to be picking this over a F6B, maybe those who prefer the looks, want ABS or are content with the base model CTX.

          • Piglet2010

            Why would a non Kool-Aid drinker want an “actual Harley”?

      • runnermatt

        There are a lot of bikes on my list that cost less than $15k, plus I don’t think I would like the cruiser like riding position (ever?). Years riding Mt. bikes and road bicycles means I find a forward leaning position most comfortable. Heck, I sat on a CB500X at the dealer once and with my hands on the grips the riding position felt odd, and that is one of the bikes I’m considering next.

        • Jack McLovin

          If you’re used to mountain bikes you might find the CB500X a tad bit underpowered ;-)

          • Robon Hood

            Lol as an owner of a CB500F, I can say the motor is plenty. It doesn’t have the same torque or bite of a V-Twin, but it has a lot of getup and go for how small it is. Power delivery is also very linear up into the higher revs as well. A very well rounded motor for touring as I’ve done several day trips on it without a windscreen. The “X” has a very similar seating position ( and I think another inch in seat height) but with the added benefit of a windscreen. Don’t knock the bike til you’ve ridden one for longer than a road test if ever.

            • nick2ny

              Yeah but anyone who says “get up and go” to describe power…

          • runnermatt

            Yeah, right now I’m out of shape so even my mountain bike is underpowered.

            The other two bikes on my list are the Vstrom 650 and the G650GS. But with shifting priorities I’m probably getting a truck first, then building a Factory Five Racing 818. It all comes down to finances and timing.

    • Erica Mathis

      I agree, I never buy new bikes. After taxes and dealer fees (Freight. Docs, assembly, etc) you’re at $20K For 1/4 the money you have an almost unlimited choice used low mile bikes on Craigslist and others where $5K (or much less if you look hard and are patient) can get you a beautiful bike.

  • octodad

    love it. has lot of muscle and is wave of the future. can I get it w/DCT?

    • Jason Fogelson

      Not for 2015 — five-speed manual only.

  • Paul Willis

    While I try to wrap my head around the concept of a 1.3 liter V4 with DOHC and 16 valves redlining at only 7k, I will offer this speculation: if Honda were to offer these at $9,999 they’d sell out in a month.

    • Jason Fogelson

      And Honda would be out of business a week later.

      • Paul Willis

        “Honda is not a company that acts out of desperation. Honda plans; Honda studies; Honda executes. Honda plays the long game.

        The 2014 Honda CTX1300 is part of a strategy that Honda believes will point the way for the next generation of riders.”

        Taking a loss on a model designed to stoke a new market is not an unheard-of, business-killing strategy. Initial sale is only part of the revenue potential of a new model. Honda also intends to sell the bejezus out of a ton of accessories and all the dealers are licking their chops at the upside of potential service revenues. All I’m saying is if they really want to move the needle on selling more than just a few, they should consider being a market leader on price.

        • Jason Fogelson

          Good point, Paul. Way to use my own words against me. Still, I think that pricing the model 45% lower is not a realistic strategy. I wouldn’t be surprised to see big time incentives on the CTX1300 to spur sales if the bike doesn’t catch on right away, though — special low interest loans, free accessories and rebates are the typical strategies.

          • Paul Willis

            38% lower, and it was idle speculation on my part. My point remains: price it for less and more will likely be interested. $16-$18k puts it up against some tough competition.

            However, I admit I could be wrong, since all I know about the bike is what I just read here! Good review.

            • KeithB

              I agree with you Paul. Perhaps $11,999 might be a better target.
              At the mid $15s, you can have an FJR 1300.

              • dinoSnake

                More importantly, at way too close to the $18k price if the CTX1300 Deluxe you can have the $20k Honda F6B. The F6B does not have ABS or TC (stupid choices by Honda) but it comes with a better (read: real) audio system, more luggage space, far more power, more upgrade accessories available and arguably more ‘sporting’ demeanor (strange to say that about a bike that weighs 120 pounds more).

                At the shows I really wanted to like the CTX1300. It seemed to be a good size, right engine, some decent tech, etc. I was hoping to find something smaller, yet even faster but still comfortable, than my Meanie. Yet, contrary to my stated target of reduced weight and size, it’s the F6B that had stuck in my mind, and my heart, as a solid contender as my next bike. It just felt so “right” and POWER! It weighs more yet feels no more bulky that the Vulcan, may even lighter as the center of gravity is so amazingly low. And the cockpit is beautiful, super comfy with full audio, etc.

                I’ll hate to say this but at $16k for the CTX1300, $14k for base, it would have ben a contender. At that price it would compete for your heart as an alternative to the FJR, Norge, KTM 1190, V-Strom 1000, etc – right in the heart of things. But that $18k I’d rather the Norge at $16k and pocket the difference, or spend just a bit more for the F6B.

                Honda is falling in to Yamaha’s trap of overpricing their goods – how did that work out for Yamaha?

                • sleepngbear

                  “at way too close to the $18k price if the CTX1300 Deluxe you can have the $20k Honda F6B. ”

                  But what if you happen to like the styling of this machine and think the F6B is a tad on the fugly side? Not to mention that he’s a little off on the pricing — MSRP is $17,499 for the Deluxe, not $17,999. I don’t care for the F6B at all — it looks too much like exactly what it is, a chopped down Gold Wing. But I’m liking the all new design of this CTX, enough that I’ve already put a deposit on one. We’ll see soon enough how that pricing works out for Honda.

              • Piglet2010

                But Honda needs an updated ST to compete in that market – I do not see people cross-shopping the CTX against the FJR.

                • KC

                  I agree, but is the CTX a neo/modern bagger, a sports bagger, an uber-scooter? I don’t see it as a sports tourer. I don’t see anything sports about it. It’s sort of a two wheeled, base-model, car. It’s very confusing to me. Fortunately, Honda does make a few models I do enjoy and understand.

        • runnermatt

          Too many companies competing to be the “market leader on price” is the main reason that there so much cheap shot that isn’t with buying. From hand tools to riding lawn mowers to large appliances to new homes. It seems almost everything (that is reasonably priced for people making less than $30k a year) made today is made to be sold cheaply instead of being built to last a long time.

    • Kevin Schell

      The concept has been a reality for some time. Have you ever heard of the ST1300PanAmerican that Honda’s been selling for the past 12 years?

      • Paul Willis

        Sure, although I’ve never ridden one. But I also would not have guessed that the rev limit would be set so low for a configuration that seems like it should be a revver. You ride one?

        • Kevin Schell

          I put 75K on an ST. The CTX does redline a little lower, has lower compression and it looks like the gearing is taller but I’m not sure it matters. This engine feels like a turbine. I short-shifted the ST all the time in town to avoid reaching excessive speeds. It was easy to ride with… um… enthusiasm. Seems like Honda’s trying to offer a more laid-back version of this beast of a motor. I guess there’s really no reason to rev when the torque curve is nearly flat :-)

          • ShadowRider

            As a new owner, I can tell you that the CTX1300 really zips, too. I have to watch it so I don’t end up speeding–that throttle doesn’t need much encouragement to get you moving! So from my perspective (coming from a Shadow Sabre 1100 cruiser), this thing feels like a sport bike. Merging onto the freeway the other day was amazingly easy compared to the Shadow.

    • kevin

      Completely agree about the low redline. My 800cc V4 honda is only just starting the party at 7k. Maybe the thought process is that if they’re trying to compete for the typical V-twin bagger customer and they don’t want a high revving engine. It’s pretty disapointing though if it really only produces “mid-eighties for peak horsepower” when the VFR1200 makes 170…

  • Jack Meoph

    “Take a look at the pictures. If you hate what you see, stop reading now.” OK

    • zedro

      Now we’ll never know how the article ends…..

      • Jack Meoph

        With a period.

        • zedro

          Sigh….how predictable

  • Nemosufu Namecheck

    I’m not going to buy this bike, but I know friends that absolutely will – and some of them already ride Hondas (Goldwingers). This will also appeal to the Harley and Indian crowd who are aging and would really like to get out of the wind a little bit, have a bike that starts every time, and helps them deal with aching backs (comfy seat, wind screen, etc). If Honda makes it more common to have auto transmissions and reverse gears it will really help this segment.

  • John

    “Honda plans; Honda studies; Honda executes. Honda plays the long game.”

    Come now. That’s just a bunch of crap. Honda doesn’t even know its market and makes huge mistakes all the freaking time. The list of motorcycles they’ve made that can only be sold for a few years is pretty long.

    Unless, if by “long game”, you mean they take forever to come out with a desirable bike and it’s long on weight and old technology, then yes, they do that.

  • JT

    Not one to criticize but those pipes coming off the engine look like pasta noodles. They don’t speak to me of strength and power.

  • Charles Quinn

    I like the bike and I like the thinking. This seems like the Honda who decided to challenge Harley-Davidson not with a H-D clone (although they’ve been as guilty of that as anyone at times) but with the first-gen Goldwing. I’m not sure it’ll succeed but I take my hat off to them for trying. And check it out in white, it looks like a Star Wars stormtrooper in bike form.

    • Piglet2010

      While not a bike I would likely consider buying, I would take the CTX1300 over any V-twin bagger.

  • John White

    Litre+ V4 in a cruiser. I have a feeling this is as close as Honda will get to making the V65 Magna again.

  • KC

    I had to read the article to see if there was anything about this model I find appealing. Nope. I can’t get past the look of the thing.

    I keep imaging tail-fins, like a car from the 50′s. Even the paint scheme is “car from the 50′s”. (Is there a “woody” option?) Now toss in the exhaust system that looks like cheap aftermarket headers and what looks like fake hood scoops for a catalog hotrod project. The rims look like plastic hubcaps. Then there’s those shin level wings. What a terrible place for tip-over bars.

    Elegant and sophisticated looking it is not. Honda is working hard to make the DN-01 look like a great idea.

    • Erica Mathis

      Couldn’t disagree more. I love the looks, so original, handsomely mean looking. If I never see another chromed-out, blinged-out, tasseled-out, pirate-riding “look how-loud-my-pipes-are-mom!”.. cruiser again, it’ll be too soon. This thing looks classy, like a white-collar sophisticated bike.

      • KC

        The “look” is different, to be sure. I think it could be cleaner and sleeker. The F6B is much more fluid. The CTX doesn’t have any sense of movement to it. That’s a hard thing to describe. Every picture looks like it’s not moving, or there’s no urgency to the forward motion.

        I agree with you that cruiser’s, in general, are getting a bit generic/formulaic. Maybe it’s because I don’t care for cruisers and the riding position.

  • http://krtong.com/ Kr Tong

    I swear theyve made this bike for 30 years. Different motor, different name, same concept: make a custom by digging through the honda parts bin. Take a look at the cb900c and let me know if you agree. Weight, ergos, performancd, handling, demographic are all about the same.

  • John

    Funny thing. If you take a 3000 lb vehicle with a 1.3L engine and ABS, no air conditioning, a tiny trunk and a minimalist stereo, it would be less expensive than a 750lb vehicle with the same paucity of features and half the wheels.

  • John Tiedjens

    all day comfort..semi sporty… 2 up capability and hard bags. Giving the market a new direction and modern choice for a cruiser… just brilliant!

  • Larry

    On a completely unrelated topic, did Wes crash again? I haven’t seen his byline in ages and his twitter has been idle for weeks. What gives?

    • James Jamerson

      He quit / got fired / something. Editors have been very hush-hush about it.

      • John

        Wes always seemed like a loose cannon to me.

    • Campisi

      He split after some sort of altercation with the, ahem, “corporate” aspect of RideApart. The legal intricacies of media contracts and whatnot likely make being hush-hush on the subject far and away the easiest option for addressing the issue on RideApart’s end.

    • IRS4

      He was kind of the reason I even dropped in here

  • John

    A Gold Wing used to cost half of what a VW Rabbit (Golf) costs. Now it costs more.

    I realize that a motorcycle is a luxury, but I’m not sure how they can explain how motorcycles go up in price at twice the inflation rate of cars.

    • Don Fraser

      I agree

      • John

        Ugh….it gets worse. I looked up the 1988 VW Jetta – ±$14,750. The 2014 Jetta? ±$16,750 1988 VFR? ±$4500. 2014 VFR? ±$12,500.

        And there’s way more similarity between an old and new VFR than between an old and new Jetta.

    • http://motocynic.wordpress.com/ Scott Otte

      Not trying to defend this steep increase in costs of motorcycles, but there is a certain economy of scale here. I’m pretty sure VW sells a lot more Golfs than Honda does Goldwings.

      • John

        This is true, but it could be handled very easily, by providing more variations from fewer platforms, just as they do with cars. The number of engine/chassis combos Honda has is ridiculous. Some may be worth it, but there are plenty of bikes that probably aren’t worth the hassle and some engine chassis combos that could be turned into very good selling bikes. I think the new 500 and 700 models reflect this concept in both design and price. I like both. I guess the real answer is that there’s a market for extremely expensive bikes and they fill it. The same thing is in the speaker industry. They make $100,000 speakers that cost maybe $2000 to build. But if you don’t make a $100K speaker, someone else will.

  • DoctorNine

    I’d rather see an updated PC800 style trunk on it. And it’s a little too long. But I like the concept a lot.

  • Sportbike Mike

    Has anyone here tried to look into the mirrors from the saddle of this thing?