Honda Valkyrie – The Development Story
Honda Valkyrie Development Story
The Valkyrie name is legendary, and the powerful six-cylinder Muscle Cruiser that stirred so many souls when it was first introduced in 1996 has a hard-core following to this day. Now for 2014, the Valkyrie takes that unmistakable swagger to a whole new level.
It’s a winning formula: Take a legendary machine, strip it down to the bare knuckles, wrap it in minimalist bodywork and power it with an engine that produces ground-shaking torque and an unmistakable six-cylinder howl.
The Valkyrie is not a tribute machine that celebrates the past. This is a cruiser unlike any other for people who appreciate quality and distinctive style, and the kind of performance no conventional custom can match.
The core of this remarkable machine is Honda’s unique 1832cc liquid-cooled horizontally opposed six-cylinder engine that also powers the Gold Wing and Gold Wing F6B. With an awe-inspiring power-to-weight ratio, aluminum twin-spar frame and suspension system tuned for serious riders, the Valkyrie is all about unparalleled performance and style.
The Valkyrie’s arrival comes at a perfect time; interest in the heavyweight cruiser segment have been ratcheting upward as experienced riders with discriminating taste seek out big-engine performance for a premium riding experience.
And the Valkyrie fits that description, with the added benefit of performance the conventional bikes in the category can’t touch. This is the bike the Valkyrie faithful have been waiting for, and it’s bound to attract a broad segment of the riding public as well because arresting looks, massive power and superb handling in a large displacement motorcycle tends to create its own gravitational pull.
A class of one, then and now
That first Honda Valkyrie inspired the phrase Muscle Cruiser to describe a whole new category of motorcycle. The appearance of this original no-holds-barred machine literally carved out a brand-new class of one: unique custom styling, a big displacement six-cylinder engine for big power, great handling and genuine long-haul abilities all rolled into one gotta-have-it package.
And to nobody’s surprise, it became an overnight sensation. Now this brand-new Honda Valkyrie redefines the Muscle Cruiser category by elevating all of the above qualities to new heights. Through its minimalist approach, the Valkyrie weighs an incredible 154 pounds less than the current GL1800, which should give you a hint about its awe-inspiring performance.
Power to spare
With the torque peak arriving early at only 4000 rpm and peak power hitting 1500 revs later, plus a considerably sportier power-to-weight ratio than the Gold Wing or F6B, the Valkyrie delivers astonishing roll-on power. A shorter, lighter and more compact exhaust system with slash-cut tips gives the Valkyrie a distinctive visual identity plus a deeper, booming voice of authority to accompany its amazing power. A black-out treatment like the F6B gives this powerplant a muscular hot-rod look.
By the very nature of its design, the unique, horizontally opposed six-cylinder engine configuration promotes an exceptionally low center of gravity, which leads to responsive handling. The Programmed Fuel Injection (PGM-FI) system carries over from the Gold Wing, and this system too is a model of refined performance under just about every street-riding situation to be encountered.
The Valkyrie features its own unique intake ducting to feed air to the two 40mm throttle bodies, which feature six high-pressure fuel injectors. In addition, the five-speed gearbox, clutch and shaft final drive have all been thoroughly proven over more than a decade and millions of miles of real-world GL1800 use.
Specially designed radiator shrouds net an important rider benefit: The shape and angle of the shrouds re-direct hot air away from the rider for added comfort.
Strong foundations for handling prowess
The Valkyrie chassis design centers on the basic aluminum frame used in the GL1800 and F6B, and it’s a great one. Paralleling Honda’s twin-spar aluminum frames designed for sport bikes, this frame delivers handling traits and rider feel and feedback more like a full-on sport bike than a cruiser.
Because aluminum is easier to manipulate for efficiently tuning frame-tube shapes, wall thicknesses and other dimensions for optimum rigidity and light weight, the specific strength and rigidity/tuned flex qualities are applied to the frame where most needed. Most major dimensions remain unchanged from the GL1800 and F6B, but the Valkyrie frame does sport a different rear subframe to accommodate its unique seating arrangement.
That 154-pound advantage over the full-dress Gold Wing reaps some truly amazing rewards: excellent maneuverability, light and agile manners. The stout 45mm fork has been lengthened to raise the front end, and it incorporates a cartridge damper for plush yet well-controlled response. Fork damping settings are unique to this model, given its lighter curb weight of 750 pounds and a new weight distribution that is now effectively a 50/50 split.
The rear Pro-Link single-shock suspension system and a single-sided Pro-Arm® swingarm incorporate a shock with damping tuned toward sporty riding. A dial-type remote adjuster offers easy access for quick adjustments to rear shock spring preload.
Dual full-floating 310mm rotors (larger than the 296mm discs found on the F6B and Gold Wing) and new four-piston calipers up front, plus the rear 316mm disc setup deliver stellar braking power and terrific feel (an Anti-Lock Braking System is available as an option). With 19-inch front and 17-inch rear wheels, the Valkyrie also adds a touch more cornering clearance to the equation.
Reflecting its more sporting nature, the Valkyrie’s rider triangle has changed as well. The footpegs are 1.3 inches higher and 0.6 of an inch forward compared to those on the F6B. The handlebar is set 1.3 inches forward, 1.5 inches taller and spreads 0.7 inch wider compared to the F6B’s bar.
And yes, that is a beefy 1-inch handlebar with new switchgear that adds to the Valkyrie’s muscular looks, and it’s rubber-mounted for added comfort. The traditional-style fuel tank holds a full 6.1 gallons, and the two-piece seat draws attention to the open, more spacious cruiser-oriented riding ergonomics. Passengers will appreciate the look and function of the aluminum grab rail, but if priorities lean toward solo riding, the rear seat and grab rail are easily removed, and a cover is provided to hide the rail mounting points for a cool solo look.
The Valkyrie also receives its own unique meter setup with an LCD digital speedometer, tachometer, trip meters, clock, and fuel-level gauge, and the rider can also customize the opening message when the key is turned on. The unique handlebar switchgear, LED turn signals, LED taillight and LED headlight all contribute to the Valkyrie’s unique appearance. And to top it all off, 15 Honda Genuine Accessories will be available that gives buyers even more to work with to personalize their Valkyrie’s looks.
With the Valkyrie, Honda adds a new branch to the Gold Wing family tree, now encompassing three truly unique motorcycles for riders of different stripes. Like the very first version, this newest Valkyrie is a genuine muscle bike, yet one that is remarkably refined thanks in large part to its incredibly powerful yet smooth six-cylinder engine.
With its awe-inspiring acceleration, a chassis designed to deliver an elevated level of handling performance for more aggressive riding, radical hot-rod styling and all-around versatility, the Valkyrie goes well beyond conventional class limits to do what the original Valkyrie did: Carve out a class of its own. And that makes the Valkyrie profoundly and completely Honda.