It’s no secret that Honda’s 1300cc V-twin line has been a huge sales success. They’re ubiquitous cruisers out on the road, due to their reliability, performance, and handling. While the 1300s haven’t been the most striking bikes from a styling viewpoint, they are more than competent machines on the road.
Honda started to change that image with the early release of the 2010 Honda Fury last year. It was a head-turning eye-catching high-neck chopper that had bystanders asking, “Is that really a Honda?” Despite its custom chopper appearance, the Fury offered the same impressive combination of reliability, performance, and handling.
Now, in the spring of 2010, Honda has released three new VT1300 (V-twins)–the touring Interstate, the pro-street Sabre and the subject of this test, the beefy Stateline, a bike that combines old school (fat tires and valanced fenders) with modern swoopy styling of the tank and seat.
Offering a completely different chassis from the VTX line or the Fury, the Stateline has a low-neck front end matched to shortish forks with a reasonable 33 degrees of rake, five degrees less than the Fury and a degree more than the VTX models. A 17-inch 140 front tire and 170 15-inch rear, both high profile, give the Stateline its visual status as a masculine cruiser. Adding to that, the Stateline gets blacked out cylinders and chromed cases. A shaft drive keeps the rear looking clean, and it had no bad habits.
I’ve been a fan of the 1312cc 52-degree V-twin for quite a while now, with its three-valve heads, dual spark plugs, overhead-cams (one per cylinder) and the EFI’s 38mm throttle body. One may gravitate to the flagship VTX1800s, but the motor is neither as smooth as the 1300, nor does it rev as freely. If you’re into a lot of two-up riding, the 1800 is a great choice, but for solo riding, the husky 1300 is more than adequate and ready to pass slower traffic at a moment’s notice.
With a seat height of 26.8 inches, the Stateline isn’t as low as some cruisers, but that’s seat height that should be more than close enough to the pavement for the vast majority of riders. I never felt like I was sitting high. Wide pullback bars put me in a comfortable upright position, and the forward-mounted pegs are close enough that I still had a pleasing bend in my legs (I have a 32-inseam). The seat offers good support and there’s room to move around, keeping you comfortable on longer rides.
In a straight line, the Stateline is rock solid. There’s no shake, even when taking it well past typical cruising speeds. The motor doesn’t vibrate anywhere near excessively, and you really have to have no sense of engine speed to hit the soft rev limiter. There’s no tach, and none is needed. There’s a windblast at high speeds, but no annoying turbulence, so it feels good with the throttle applied liberally. Fifth gear is often not quite high enough on Japanese cruisers, but the Stateline is an exception. At highway speeds, the long-stroke motor lopes along casually.
Braking doesn’t look impressive on paper–a four-piston caliper and single 336mm disc in the front, and a 296mm disc and dual-piston binder in the rear–but they’re adequate for the Stateline’s performance and weight (claimed 672 pounds wet). ABS is an option, but we haven’t tested it yet. We like ABS on cruisers, as it allows more aggressive use of the rear brake, so we look forward to trying it out.
Around town, the Stateline is a pure pleasure ride. The torque is there, and the five-speed gearbox always has the right ratio available. Leverage is plentiful due to the wide bars, and the bike feels nimble. The hand controls are light, so you never feel fatigued. It’s pretty much a given that Honda will get the suspension right, and the Stateline does not disappoint. There are four-inches at each end, and the ride ends up feeling reasonably plush without a hint of wallow.
The good manners of the chassis and suspension follow the Stateline into the canyons. The bike has excellent cornering clearance for a bike of this type, and I rarely dragged the heels of my boots in corners. The Stateline has a long wheelbase, but it’s more than happy to change directions when coaxed. The fat front tire is a mixed bag.
On one hand, it slows down the handling so it doesn’t feel squirrely, but that security is compromised by a spongy feel up front. You can feel the sidewall flex in turns, even when you aren’t pushing it. Of course, that flex is there to assist the suspension, so Honda smartly slanted the Stateline for comfort over performance.
There are two other flavors of Honda VT1300 that share many of the features and component of the Stateline. The Sabre, which has shorter, narrower bars and a 21-inch front wheel, will be tested in the June/July 2010 issue of Ultimate MotorCycling magazine. And, in the following issue, we’ll be taking the Interstate–basically the Stateline with touring accoutrements–on some long and lonesome roads.
As usual, I came away impressed at the capabilities of the Honda Stateline 1300. It has the basics of good styling, and there is no doubt than a good number of Stateline owners will want to spice up the vanilla paint. Purists may complain about things like fenders being plastic rather than steel, but purists aren’t the target demographic for the Honda Stateline. This is a cruiser that refuses to make you uncomfortable and won’t disappoint you when you want to take it out for a weekend ride that include a bit of an adrenaline rush.
Helmet: Akuma Phantom II MFR Carbon Fiber
Jacket: River Road Mesa
Gloves: Cortech Scarab Winter
Jeans: Icon Victory Riding
Boots: Tour Master Nomad
2010 Honda Stateline VT1300CR | Motorcycle Specifications
Engine Type: 1312cc liquid-cooled 52° V-twin
Bore and Stroke: 89.5mm x 104.3mm
Compression ratio: 9.2:1
Valve Train: SOHC; three valves per cylinder
Induction: PGM-FI with automatic enrichment circuit, one 38mm throttle body
Ignition: Digital with 3-D mapping, two spark plugs per cylinder
Final Drive: Shaft
Front: 41mm fork; 4.0 inches travel
Rear: Single shock; 3.9 inches travel
Front: Single 336mm disc with twin-piston caliper
Rear: 296mm disc with single-piston caliper; Optional ABS available in Black color only
Wheelbase: 70.3 inches
Trail: 4.6 inches
Seat Height: 26.8 inches
Fuel Capacity: 4.4 gallons
Estimated Fuel Economy: 47 mpg
Colors: Black, Candy Dark Red
Curb Weight : 672 pounds (includes all standard equipment, required fluids and full tank of fuel–ready to ride)
Honda Genuine Motorcycle Accessories: Boulevard Screen (tinted), Backrest and Pad (low/tall-narrow), Backrest and Rear Carrier Mounting Brackets, Leather Saddlebag (24L-plain/studded), Synthetic Saddlebag (18L-plain/studded), Saddlebag Bracket, Tank Belt (plain/studded), Rear Carrier, Custom Grips, Passenger Floorboard, Oil Dipstick, Engine Guard, Custom Footpeg, Lower Cowl Spoiler, Chrome Sidecover, Driving Light (PIAA type), Throttle Cable (braided), Clutch Cable (braided), Front Brake Hose (braided), Rear Brake Hose (braided), Audio Attachment Kit.
Photography by Kevin Wing and Simon Cudby