2014 Honda Valkyrie | First Ride Cruiser Motorcycle Review
The Honda Valkyrie is back for 2014, but it is no longer the classic style cruiser and bagger it was in the 1990s and early 2000s. Instead, it returns as a power cruiser – still on the Honda Gold Wing platform – that is something of a cross between the 2003 Valkyrie Rune and the new CTX1300.
The iconic 1832cc flat-six motor is there, of course, as is the twin-spar aluminum frame and single-sided swingarm. Rather than go classic with the styling, the 2014 Honda Valkyrie has what Honda describes as “progressive” styling. You may call it “contemporary” or “futuristic”, if you prefer.
While the Gold Wing takes care of the long-distance touring set, and the F6B is there to satisfy the weekend tourer and bagger aficionado, the new Valkyrie is pure bravado. There is no windscreen, no linked brakes (ABS is optional), the bars are wider, the footrests (wide pegs) a bit farther forward, and taller wheels (19 front, 17 rear) to give it a bit more presence and cornering clearance. Oh, and one more thing—the Valkyrie weight about 150 pounds less than the Gold Wing (depending on the Wing’s configuration) and 90 pounds less than the relatively stripped down F6B.
Imposing to look at, the Valkyrie is welcoming upon mounting. The wide bars fall right to hand, though you’ll initially search a bit for the pegs, particularly if you’re used to riding the Gold Wing. Compared to the Gold Wing, the Valkyrie is extremely roomy and many will consider the open ergonomics to be more comfortable than the tourer. The seat is firm, as you’d like on a sporting bike, though wide and supportive. The Valkyrie is a cruiser, but it’s one with an accent on power and handling.
Hit the start button and the flat-six comes to life like an automobile. It immediately settles into a quiet idle and waits for you to click it into the first of five speeds. As with any flavor of the Gold Wing, the transmission is flawless. If you miss a shift on this bike, it’s your fault.
Acceleration on the Valkyrie is impressive, though not startling. The throttle has an extraordinarily long throw, which is part of the reason the motor accelerates so smoothly. If there’s a hiccup, flat spot, or spike in the delivery, it didn’t show itself on this first ride. Replacing the throttle with a quick-turn unit might (or might not) reveal one, and it certainly would add some excitement to the proceedings.
Handling has always been a strong point for the Gold Wing, so it’s no surprise that the Valkyrie is a great handling bike, especially for one that weight 752 pounds when the six-gallon fuel tank it topped off. The low center of gravity that comes with the flat-six motor is the reason, as we all know.
While you need to be respectful of the mass that is hurtling down the road, the Valkyrie is not reluctant to change direction. Just a bit of bar input is all it takes; body English is less critical that it would be on a sport bike, due to the weight of the Valkyrie.
Tipping into a corner is slow but steady. The 19” front Dunlop Sportmax is 130mm wide and has a conservative profile, though more aggressive than the F6B or Gold Wing. You’re looking at nearly 30 degrees of rake and a wheelbase over 67 inches, so nothing is going to happen suddenly. Once into the turn, you can change lines if you like, and it doesn’t take undue muscle – an impressive feat.
In switchbacks, the Valkyrie willingly swaps direction and feels good doing it. The weight is low and glues the Dunlops to the ground. Cornering clearance is generous, so only those who are comfortable pushing a 750+ pound bike hard will ever touch the feelers on the pegs to tarmac.
The 45mm forks and linkage rear shock don’t wallow, which is a good thing, as they are non-adjustable, save for know for changing the shock preload. For most solo riders, the showroom setting will be perfect. If you’re going to ride hard two-up, you might want to consider a bit of additional preload.
Braking is bare-bones on the standard Valkyrie. No ABS or linked brakes. If you don’t ride in low traction conditions, you won’t need the ABS version, which is a standard mechanical design, rather than the fancy ABS on the CBR1000RR. When braking, the rear 316mm disc works well, thanks to the semi-fat 180mm rear Dunlop. The Valkyrie doesn’t get the anti-dive forks on the Gold Wing, so aggressive front-brake usage will cause the weight to move onto the front wheel – no stoppies, though!
It should come as no shock to you that the straight-line stability is superb. It takes a lot to upset this chassis. The plastic covers in front of your knees (the right one protects the side-mounted radiator) cut most of the wind to your legs, though they also help route engine heat away, so the bike is comfortable in 90-degree temperatures. Wind gets through to the torso and head of the rider, but it is well-managed and not turbulent.
Above all, the new Honda Valkyrie is a fun motorcycle to ride. You have the swagger that comes with a big bike beneath you, and it has the power and handling to back that up. A good rider will surprise many a squid on sportbikes in the canyons. The fact that the 2014 Honda Valkyrie is easy to ride, confidence inspiring, and incredibly comfortable, is just icing on a tasty confection.
Photography by Kevin Wing
Helmet: LS2 CR1 Carbon 1.1
Eyewear: Serengeti Sortie Shiny Silver
Gloves: AGV Sport Mayhem
Pants: Icon Strongman 2
Specs: 2014 Honda Valkyrie
Engine Type: 1832cc liquid-cooled horizontally opposed six-cylinder
Bore and Stroke: 74mm x 71mm
Compression ratio: 9.8:1
Valve Train: SOHC; two valves per cylinder
Ignition: Computer-controlled digital with 3-D mapping
Final Drive: Shaft
Front: 45mm cartridge fork; 4.8 inches travel
Rear: Pro-Arm single side swingarm with Pro-Link rear single shock with hydraulic spring preload; 4.1 inches travel
Front: Dual 310mm front discs
Rear: Single 316mm rear disc
Tires: Dunlop Sportmax
Wheelbase: 67.2 inches
Trial: 114mm (4.5 inches)
Seat Height: 28.8 inches
Fuel Capacity: 6.1 gallons
Colors: Black, Dark Red Metallic, Blue Metallic
Curb Weight*: 750 pounds
2014 Honda Valkyrie MSRP: $17,999 (ABS: $18,999)