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2014 Honda CTX1300 Deluxe | First Ride Review

2014 Honda CTX1300 Deluxe | Touring Motorcycle Review

The second member of Honda’s futuristically styled CTX line has arrived—the 2014 Honda CTX1300. Not a completely new bike, with an engine architecture sourced from the departed ST1300 sport tourer, the CTX1300 is a touring stepping stone between the CTX700 and the Gold Wing series.

The bulky-yet-aerodynamic fairing dominates the appearance of the CTX1300, giving the rider protection, as well as establishing it as not just another cruising bagger.

The ergonomics back up the unique status of the CTX1300. Not exactly feet forward, you knee is at almost exactly a 90-degree bend when sitting in the comfortable saddle. Plus, the CTX1300 has wide cruiser-style bars, so the seating position is perfectly natural, though not laid-back cruiser.

The ST1300-derived motor has a completely different character from the established sport-touring machine. The CTX1300’s longitudinally mounted, dual-counterbalanced 1261cc, V4 powerplant has different cams, valves, compression ratio (you can run regular gas) and four 34mm throttle bodies, differentiating it significantly from the motor found in the ST.

The result is a low-revving motor (much like the CTX700) that has sumptuous roll-on power and an easy, welcoming feel. With a wide, powerband that runs from idle to the 7000 rpm redline (plus some overrev before the limiter kicks in), Honda went with a smooth five-speed transmission, which is more than adequate.

There are two versions of the CTX1300 – standard ($15,999) and Deluxe ($17,499). The Deluxe version gets Honda’s Combined Braking System with ABS, traction control, an Audio Package with Bluetooth connectivity, and a sophisticated automatic turn signal cancelling system. Buyers of the standard CTX1300 will always be reminded of their frugal decision, thanks to functionless buttons on the “gas tank” (the fuel tank is actually under the seat) and faux grilles for the non-existent audio speakers.

The CTX1300 Deluxe is a combination of new tech and old school. You won’t find electronically controlled suspension. In fact, the only suspension adjustment is spring preload for the twin shocks. There are no engine modes (a Honda rep tells me they’re “fluff”), and the traction control has two positions (on/off), ABS is non-adjustable, and the front calipers are not radially mounted, though they are linked to the rear brake pedal. All lighting is LED, and looks great.

Notably missing is a Honda’s vaunted fully automatic Dual Clutch Transmission. According to Honda, a motor needs to be designed from scratch for that option, so the use of the ST1300 architecture eliminated that from the possible feature set. That’s unfortunate, as it would have been perfect for the CTX1300, just as it is on the CTX700 platform.

Regardless of the technological wizardry, or lack thereof, the 2014 Honda CTX1300 Deluxe is a highly competent touring machine that places itself as a stepping-stone between the CTX700 and the Gold Wing line.

At rest and rider-free, the CTX1300 looks like a large machine. However, once astride the CTX, it is fully manageable. The bars are wide and the riser pulls them back to the rider. There is no reach for the pegs, making it easy to transition between riding and stops. The seat height is a reasonable 29 inches, so most will easily be flatfooted when at rest.

With the neutral seating position, you’re off to a good start to feeling comfortable on the bike. With the seat a bit back and a 64.7-inch wheelbase, you do feel a somewhat distant from the 130mm-wide 18-inch front wheel.

For newer riders, it will take some time to trust the handling, though the easy delivery of the power accelerates that process. As you begin to have confidence in the fat front tire, the reluctance of the 200mm rear to turn disappears and reinvents itself as stability.

The fairly flat profile of the rear tire likes straight line riding, yet Honda weaves its magic with the handling. The rate is sporty, at just over 28 degrees, and that is balanced perfectly with the long wheelbase and chunky tires.

The slowness with which things happen – even the motor winds up slowly, unless you’re very aggressive with the throttle – will help the newer rider relax and enjoy the ride. In fact, it’s all about a kickback ride. It’s not a cruiser, but it gives you that unhurried feeling.

For touring, some riders will certainly want to consider the accessory windshield. Although Honda went to great pains to successfully manage the airflow so it is consistent, it’s still insistent. Around town and on slower canyon rides, the stock deflector on the fairing is great; long-distance rides will encourage the installation of the taller shield.

The clamshell bags are nicely integrated into the bodywork, though they have the same disadvantages of the style. When opening them on the bike – and they aren’t designed to be detached and carried inside – the contents tend to flop out. Honda has many accessories for the CTX1300, but soft bags that fit in the hard bags is not one of them.

Braking on the CTX1300 Deluxe is outstanding – not in its power, but in its controllability and ease of use. It has ABS, but the Combined Braking System makes it unnecessary in the dry. I pushed extremely hard on the brake pedal and could not get the ABS to activate. The big CTX just slows down predictably, reliably, and controllably.

With the brake pedal activating one piston in each of the front calipers, the front brake hand lever is almost superfluous, except in emergency situations. Again, like a cruiser, you can go rear-brake only most of the time.

The electronic self-canceling turn signals are pretty cool. They have a variety of criteria for shutting off the signal at the right time, and Honda nailed it.

The Audio Package allows you to play music from either Bluetooth or USB devices. The sound can come from the speakers or a helmet headset. That’s all fine, though your control of what’s playing is limited, so you can’t skip around to hear your favorite songs or bands. You’ll have to set up a playlist ahead of time and stick to it. Auto-mute stops the speakers from blaring out at a stop. The speakers are okay, but if you’re wearing a helmet, all it really does is remind you of the music you already like.

So, if you’re wondering if the Deluxe version is for you, that depends. If you ride in fair weather and don’t listen to music, you can take a pass. But, if wet conditions are typical for you, and you like to enjoy music while you ride, go Deluxe.

Essentially, the 2014 Honda CTX1300 Deluxe is another highly competent machine from Honda with an eye toward the crucial mission of expanding the market. Almost anyone can ride it, and enjoy it. It’s not for the any sort of cognoscenti. The CTX1300 is an everyman’s machine that gets the job done with a minimum of fuss and no drama.

Photography by Kevin Wing

Riding Style
Helmet: Bell Mag-9 Sena
Jacket: Axo Grid
Gloves: River Road Boreal
Jeans: Drayko Drift
Basewear: Moto-D Racing Motorcycle Base Layer
Boots: CruiserWorks Men’s Tour

2014 Honda CTX1300 Deluxe Specifications

Engine type: 1261cc liquid-cooled longitudinally mounted 90° V4
Bore x stroke: 78 mm x 66 mm
Compression ratio: 10.0:1
Valve train: DOHC; four valves per cylinder
Induction: PGM-FI with electronic control IACV, four 34mm throttle bodies, eight holes per injector
Ignition: Computer-controlled digital with 3-D mapping and electronic advance
Transmission: Five-speed
Final drive: Shaft
SUSPENSION
Front: Inverted 45mm fork; 4.1 inches travel
Rear: Twin rear shocks with spring preload; 4.3 inches travel
BRAKES
Front: Dual 310mm front discs
Rear: Single 316 mm rear disc
Features: Combined braking and ABS
TIRES
Front: 130/70R-18
Rear: 200/50R-17
Wheelbase: 64.7 inches
Rake: 28° 5’
Trail: 4.6 inches
Seat Height: 28.9 inches
Fuel Capacity: 5.1 gallons
Estimated Fuel Economy**: 42 MPG
Colors: Metallic Black, Gray Blue Metallic, Candy Red
Curb Weight: 731 pounds
2014 Honda CTX1300 Deluxe MSRP: $17,499

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  • gregsfc

    Another amazing achievement from the MC industry [sarcasm]! Honda has almost accomplished the same mpg out of a 1.3-liter, 730 lbs of curb weight motorcycle; that carries two; on two wheels as my 3200 lb; 1.9-liter; four wheeler that carries five; at 72% of the cost of my car. Absolutely amazing technology, engineering, and application.

    Meanwhile, a small R&D company in California has shown what is possible by mounting a 667 cc, naturally-aspired, light-weight, high-revving, single-cylinder diesel on a KTR650; streamlined it; added enough luggage to carry 4 bags of groceries; and can achieve 130+ mpg in real-world, highway operation; yet large companies can’t or won’t implement fuel-saving technologies, because most of the consumer community disregards the value of worthwhile motorcycle technologies. ref: http://www.dieselmotorcycle.com http://www.craigvetter.com

  • Randy

    731 curb weight. At least it’s not 900. The price puts it in with some serious competition, I wonder who Honda is targeting?

    The wind screen is just silly – might as well tack on the cost of a “touring screen” to the MSRP and provide both.

    But don’t waste a good engine! Visualize all that plastic off, and dumping those fat cigar “mufflers”. I think this would make a good rat/bobber/café.

  • Steve

    When I bought my third bike new in the 80s, I didn’t know it would end up a bit of a Legend.

    It was the Honda V65 Sabre when it first came out.  It was also when some of the first Ninjas hit our shores, too.  Admittedly, I was never (really…well, with VERY rare exception) much of a “Ricky Racer” type.  More than one reason I am alive and well today, including never going down despite well over 100,000 miles of motorcycling before I was 30…and it was virtually all “weekend” riding.  “My weekends,” anyway…

    But a few times, a Ninja would rev their engine next to me at stoplights, literally hurting my ears.  So I’d dust them.  While they smoked their tires, I didn’t have to try hard to keep both of my tires doing what they should.

    One of my favorite riding memories from my 20s, was one of my frequent Coast Highway runs from So Cal through Big Sur and Carmel north.  Usually with a loop through the Sierras then south homeward, via 395 past Lake Tahoe, Mt Whitney and Mono Lake, Devil’s Postpile and Mammoth. Fun to know when I did those loops, that the Owens Valley just west of Death Valley and east of the Sierras, was one of the deepest valleys in North America.

    On one such loop, always striving for “open roads,” I’d ride on week days well outside vacation times and holidays, one of my favorite such riding memories happened.  

    The visual I have today, would include a helicopter chase pilot enabling wide shots plus close ins, a la James Bond in a standout opening scene to one of those Epic Movies.  But with a “Bond Girl” driving the Ferrari, of course.  In short I enjoyed virtually no traffic for scores of miles, while playing a “Gentlemanly Sporting Cat and Mouse Run,” with the Ferrari I’d caught up with.  I say gentlemanly as both of us played it safe and smart.  So as an example, I’d let the Ferrari take me right prior the corners while safe, then get a little bit of a lead round them…

    …only to overtake the Ferrari soon after the corners. On the longest stretches, the Ferrari would of course begin catching up.

    My gut feel here, is this new bike from Honda very well may one day some years from now, attain a similar “Legend” status, albeit for very different reasons in comparison to the standout effort with their V65 bikes in the 80s.

    So I placed a substantial deposit down, well prior Christmas.  Which secured me the very first one that one of the Northwest’s largest motorcycle dealers, is just now getting in.  Sometimes “You Gotta Have Faith…,” just like the song says.  

    Meanwhile the reports thus far from the *clearly most studied observers riding the bike,* seem very solidly positive with notably few negatives.  With “game changer” or “new category,” a common theme in their reporting.  

    I frankly feel that if Triumph-Devotee Steve McQueen were here today, he may well have found himself VERY conflicted much like I was, including due my prior purchase having been another standout bike; the twice-winning (Performance) Cruiser of the Year from Cruiserworld, Triumph’s Thunderbird 1600 and 1700.  Easily my best bike ever (the Sabre was pretty top heavy), but I’m betting the CTX 1300 will quickly nudge into My Own “Personal” First Place.  It is, after all, ultimately all about each of us with our own preferences and tastes.  Opinions, too!

    Ride Safe Everyone; or our Fast-Expanding Nanny State will SURELY follow Europe with their FAR more stringent rules.  Like who can even buy a bike above a certain displacement, etc.

    Sent from my iPad

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  • Shane Kio

    After 8 months of owning this bike, I can solidly say that I did not make a mistake. This is a fantastic motorcycle, made for riding. Like Steve below, I had a V65 Magna, so I understand where he is coming from. Read reviews, seek out a test ride, talk to actual owners of this bike and you will see nothing but an awesome motorcycle. It’s the best grin-factory on two wheels I have ever ridden.