2014 Honda CTX1300 Deluxe Review
In the aftermath of the motorcycle market cratering in 2008, Honda has been forcefully trying to reinvigorate sales with a fascinating collection of the conventional (the latest 500 twins, for instance) and the unpredictable. The latter brings us to the new Honda CTX1300 Deluxe.
Any discussion of the CTX1300 requires an explanation of exactly what it is. Conventional wisdom tells a viewer that it is a cruiser—maybe. The seat is low, the bars exceptionally wide, and your feet a bit forward, which adds up to a relaxed riding stance. Yet, there’s more to it.
The wraparound fairing is not the least bit cruiser-like. Instead, it has a futuristic aerodynamic shape that suggests sport riding. Having said that, with a spoiler rather than a windscreen, you are back to thinking cruiser. The pegs, while slightly forward, are actually closer to the neutral feel of a traditional upright.
Then, of course, you have the 1261cc V-4 motor salvaged from the now-absent ST1300 sport-tourer. But, the CTX1300 has a six-inch longer wheelbase than the ST, plus the rake is kicked out another 2.5 degrees, which puts it back into the cruiser realm—sort of. So, what is it?
Having put some time in the comfortable saddle, the CTX1300 Deluxe remains difficult to categorize, which may be exactly Honda’s intention. The goal is to create a new market, rather than merely service an existing one. Once you realize that this is not a bike that fits into pre-existing pigeonholes and there’s no point in comparing it to anything else, then it simply becomes a matter of determining if it is successful as a motorcycle.
Visually, the CTX1300 is a deceptive machine. With the bulky fairing, it looks larger when parked than it actually is. Swing a leg over the 29-inch high seat and you will be pleasantly surprised.
The pullback bars, mounted on a rear-set riser, put the grips well within reach, while the footpegs bend the knees on my 34-inch inseam legs at a comfortable 90-degree angle. The curb weight is 738 pounds with the tank topped off, though you would never know it when pulling it up off the kickstand.
Looking down, you see the plastic covers for the V-4’s heads. They don’t interfere with my knees, but they are close unless I’m sitting all the way back on the stepped seat.
Although the motor’s exterior is the same—and you see more of it on the CTX1300—inside, the V-4 is quite different from the ST1300 version.
Throw in different cams, valves, and pistons, drop the compression ratio so it runs on regular gas, and swap out the fuel injection system (each throttle body is 2mm narrower), and you know that the character of the V-4 is going to be radically altered.
While the motor retains its short-stroke DOHC architecture, this is a low-revving motor and the redline hits at 7000 rpm. We have experienced the early redline design on Honda’s recent CTX700 and NC700X twins, and in both cases we preferred the fully automatic Dual Clutch Transmission (DCT) for that sort of power delivery.
However, the CTX1300 does not offer DCT, and you have no alternative to manually operating the five-speed gearbox. You might think this is a concern, as the 700s spin up quickly and unexpectedly hit the rev limiter when accelerating. How- ever, this is not the case on the big CTX.
With plenty of power on tap at lower rpm, Honda has slowed down the speed at which the V-4 motor increases revs closer to that typical of a big V-twin. As a result, you naturally shift in time, and the rev limiter—which appears 500 rpm later than the redline — doesn’t come into play unless you want it to.
The five-speed transmission shifts beautifully, and with the flat torque curve and power off idle, there is no need for a sixth cog. In fact, it’s easy to find yourself cruising on the freeway in 4th gear, as the motor’s dual counterbalancers do an excellent job of taming the vibrations from the four-cylinder motor; a gear-position indicator would be a nice addition.
While the CTX1300 Deluxe may look highly modern, it doesn’t possess many of the latest technologies. There are no power mode options, no electronic suspension, and the traction control (a Deluxe-only feature) lacks any adjustment other than on/off.
We can forgive that, of course. You will only need the traction control in the rain or on very dirty roads. The V-4 is naturally docile at light throttle input, yet fairly peppy when you hit the throttle stop to join freeway traffic with only a short on-ramp to get up to speed. So, the technology is missing, but not missed.
That friendly power delivery is nicely matched to the handling of the CTX1300 Deluxe. Situated between sporting and cruising, the bike is simply pleasant to ride. The long wheelbase and relaxed rake give you stability in corners that reduces fatigue on long rides.
You don’t want to override the CTX1300, as it isn’t a big fan of major mid- corner corrections, or dancing through a series of S-turns; the rear Bridgestone Exedra is 200mm wide and has a fairly flat profile, which does its part to slow down the handling. It is not an issue, as the bike simply does not encourage that sort of riding. It’s about taking in the scenery, and giving you the confidence to do so.
Still, it is a Honda, so it earns a good- conduct medal in all situations. The suspension is not overly plush, so you have a good feel for the road surface. Bumps can occasionally startle, though the trade-off isn’t a bad one.
There is decent cornering clearance. Hot-rodders will happily start scraping when making time, while the joyrider may have the bike for years without touching anything but the tires to the ground in a turn. Regardless, the front Bridgestone rubber is a 130, so you have a healthy footprint when you do feel the need to test the CTX1300’s cornering limits.
ABS is a feature on the Deluxe that the standard CTX lacks.
However, both have highly effective and controllable two- wheel braking when using the foot pedal, which you will find yourself doing most of the time. If you ride in dry conditions, you’ll be hard-pressed to ever activate the ABS, though oil or sand can trigger it.
In addition to traction control and ABS, the other feature that makes the Deluxe deluxe, includes a Bluetooth-enabled audio system. It is a bare-bones system, as you can only scroll through songs.
Fortunately, you can play them on either the speakers or your helmet’s headset. Oh, and you also get some high-tech auto-cancelling turn signals on the Deluxe that work spookily well.
For long distance touring, most will want the accessory tall windshield. The fairing directs the windblast smoothly, but a lot of it still gets through to the rider. This is great on short rides or in-town, but less appealing on long high-speed runs.
The bags are theoretically detachable, but they are nicely integrated and likely to always stay on the bike. A trunk is optional for longer trips and passengers, and a pillion backrest is also available.
Uncategorizable, the Honda CTX1300 Deluxe has done an excellent job of expanding the options for motorcyclists, be they newer riders or those with plenty of experience.
- Helmet: Bell Mag-9 Sena
- Jacket: Axo Grid
- Gloves: River Road Boreal
- Jeans: Drayko Drift
- Boots: CruiserWorks Men’s Tour
Photography by Kevin Wing
Story from the Ultimate MotorCycling magazine. For subscription services, click here.