Chopped & Stretched Motorcycle
Beginning with the CM series over 30 years ago, Honda’s custom motorcycles have been defined by their adherence to corporate ergonomic, handling and performance standards. As a result, most Honda cruiser offerings through the years have had the zingy taste of vanilla. Flawlessly prepared vanilla, to be sure, but vanilla, nonetheless.
That’s not to say that Honda has not taken chances with its cruisers. One only has to look at the flat-6 Rune to dispel any notion that Honda is intractably conservative. But, despite its unconventional appearance, the Rune retained its rideability and comfort.
Honda’s internal anomie regarding the early release 2010 Fury is revealed in its own press kit. In one breath the Fury is described as both "the wild side of Honda," and in the next as having "the same functionality, fit and finish, quality and reliability built into every Honda." Never the twain shall meet, one would think.
Ultimately, the Fury is more about Honda’s laudable engineering standards than it is about turning the custom world upside down. However, Honda does stretch its canon as far as it dares. At just over 71 inches between axles, the Fury’s wheelbase is the longest ever on a Honda (over two inches longer than the Rune).
To power the Fury, Honda unexpectedly went with the 1312cc motor derived from the VTX series, rather than its 1795cc big brother. Honda points out that the lower-displacement allowed the designers a bit more flexibility, as it permitted development of smaller ancillary pieces-including the radiator, airbox, exhaust, and fuel tank-giving the Fury its much-valued "negative space." In an odd twist, the seemingly more visceral Fury gets fuel injection, while the VTX1300 is still mixing it old-school with a carburetor.
The styling of the Fury is, perhaps, intentionally a cipher. The purpose is that owners will personalize the bike to their own standards. For instance, the turn signals are clearly designed to be removed as soon as possible, and one can envision an immediate trip to your favorite custom painter. Also, there is quite a bit of plastic that waits to be replaced by a more stylish material. At the same time, much of the work is done for the buyer: LED taillights, internal wiring, a clean instrument cluster, and a decent amount of chroming. Honda will be offering select accessories installed on our test bike, including the tribal-stitched seat, front spoiler (with dual LED lights), case covers, minimalist windscreen, and a low-rise sissy bar.
But, enough with the beard scratching, second-guessing and backseat driving. Honda, to its credit, intended the Fury to be ridden, not simply observed and statically critiqued.
While Honda proudly trumpets the single-pin crank 52-degree twin, claiming it provides a more "custom" feel, a stab at the start button reveals that the folks in the Department of Counterbalancing have more sway. The Fury isn’t exactly pond-still at idle, but it is quite calm. Blipping the throttle has little effect on the motor’s composure, and the dual-outlet exhaust is well within legal levels.
As a powerplant for the enthusiast who prefers riding to posing, the 1300 is satisfying. Even though it boasts a long 104mm stroke, the engine marches quickly to the rev limiter, though there is no tachometer to track your advance. With a torque curve that appears to be flat from idle to redline, gear choice is neither an art nor a science. The Fury is good for about 40 mph in first, but if you are going from a stop onto a highway, feel free to start from second gear. Basic brakes slow things down decently, though not overwhelmingly quickly. An ABS option will be available later in the year.
Anyone hoping to hear that Honda’s chopper has ungainly ergonomics, near-rigid suspension, unstable handling, and little cornering clearance, will suffer abject disappointment. The signature features/shortcomings (your choice) seemingly inherent in the chopper medium have been engineered out of the Fury.
Take the Fury well over the speed limit on the freeway, and you will notice that it ignored the rain grooves and expansion joints along the way-the ride is imperturbable. In town, you will find that preparing for jolts from potholes, speed bumps, and dips is unnecessary. The hidden shock, adjustable for preload and rebound damping, works with the beefy 45mm forks to smooth the way for the urban warrior. U-turns in tight parking lots show just how well the Fury turns-I was able to execute full-lock, 180-degree turns with my feet on the pegs.
It’s no sport bike or touring bike, but the Fury does acquit itself surprisingly well in those venues. The seat and ergonomics are good for daylong rides, and the favorably forward-low positioning of the footpegs is especially fatigue reducing. If your ride includes plenty of corners, relax. It takes an active effort to engage the footpeg feelers, and that still leaves plenty of lean before anything solid connects. The grip of the Dunlop Elite 3s easily exceeds the ground clearance, and the narrowish 200mm rear tire and 21-inch front rim add to the light steering and willingness to change direction. A driveshaft is certainly unorthodox for a chopper, but it serves the Fury without distraction.
With the Fury, Honda has taken the chopper experience and separated form from function. The round-pipe frame, naked at the headstock, and the beautifully sculpted teardrop tank are especially true to form. Functionally, the Fury serves up the gourmet vanilla-everything works ideally and as expected, checking personality disorders at the door. Those dedicated to the chopper as a lifestyle will certainly gaze elsewhere, but motorcyclists looking for a bit more edgy style may have found exactly what they are looking for. April / MAY 2009 ULTIMATE MOTORCYCLING
Photography by Kevin Wing
Helmet: Arai Profile Sinister
Jacket: Firstgear Honcho
Gloves: Firstgear Highway
Jeans: Cortech Mod
Boots: Tourmaster Nomad