To create the 2014 Honda Valkyrie, Honda pulled the fairing and luggage off the Gold Wing, replacing that instead with minimalist, futuristic styling. In the process, the Valkyrie sheds 154 lbs of weight, massively increasing performance from its 1,832 cc, flat-six engine.
No changes have been made to the Valkyrie's engine, but a minor growth in fork length increases rake from 29.15 to 29.50 degrees, increases trail from 4.3 to 4.5 inches and grows the wheelbase from 66.5 to 67.2 inches.
As a result, the Valkyrie may sound like it differs from the Gold Wing only cosmetically. But, those cosmetic changes are so significant, they reap physical benefits.
By dropping all that weight, the Valkyrie's power-to-weight ratio is dramatically improved. It has the same engine as the Gold Wing, developing 117 bhp at 5,500 rpm and 123 lb.-ft. of torque at just 4,000 rpm. Where the 904 lbs Gold Wing makes .129 bhp-to-lbs, the Valkyrie manages .156. Obviously, the same effect occurs with torque; .136 lb.-ft./lb on the 'Wing, .164 on the Valkyrie.
To put those numbers in perspective, the Valkyrie will out-accelerate Honda's own VFR1200F with its .171 lb.-ft./lbs torque-to-weight ratio, but still fall slightly behind the heavier Triumph Rocket III thanks to its superior .201 lb.-ft./lbs ratio. At "around $17,000" the Valkyrie will cost a little more than the Rocket III's $14,999 MSRP.
The other big differences over the Gold Wing are in foot rest position and brake disc diameter. Versus the Gold Wing, the the pegs sit a full 1.3 inches higher, providing a substantial, but as-yet-unreleased increase in available lean angle. Brake discs grow 296 mm at the front to 310 mm, clamped by the same four-piston calipers.
Yes, the rest is cosmetic. The pillion seat and grab rails will bolt-off, revealing a fender untainted by bolt holes or black plastic. Turn signals, taillight and headlight all go LED. A new, minimal cowl shrouds the radiator while diverting hot air away from the rider. Bars grow in diameter to a full inch.
Given the limited changes between Valkyrie and Gold Wing, it'd be understandable if you're a bit nonplussed by the new model. We felt the same way when the F6B was unveiled, but discovered a bike that differed near totally over the Gold Wing when we rode it. Will this Valkyrie do the same? We'll bring you a review early in the new year. Look for sales to start in the Spring of 2014.