Normally, when people think of Honda’s touring motorcycles, they think first about the Honda Goldwing, a large, efficient power tourer that makes leaps to Alaska in what must seem like a single bound. Long-haul riders love them beyond the point of adoration, but if you don’t think you’re quite ready for that particular step, or you are more interested in the notion of sport touring, than the Honda ST1300 should be a strong contender in your decision making process. Although the Goldwing is without question the big dog in Honda’s touring neighborhood, you should never discount the little guy that lives on the corner. The Honda ST1300 has many of the long-haul features of the Goldwing, but provides a sportier, lighter ride.
Honda proclaims the Honda ST1300 a hybrid of the Honda Goldwing and CBR models, and while the Goldwing lineage is more beneath the surface, the Honda ST1300 carries with it much of the most attractive styling cues of the CBR sportbike models. With the exception of more subtle paint, a higher windshield, and color keyed saddlebags, an average Joe on the street might think that the Honda ST1300 was, in fact a CBR model. The Honda ST1300 really is a beautiful motorcycle, though, with lines that accentuate the power of the Honda 1261cc liquid cooled V-4 engine through the all-important visual intimidation factor. Performance of the Honda ST1300 isn’t a slouch, however. The V-4 engine layout pulls strongly in typical highway riding, while not being too top-heavy to lay the bike into curves like a sportbike. The Honda ST1300 features computer controlled ignition, a 10.8:1 compression ratio, and four valves per cylinder on a dual overhead camshaft layout. The five speed transmission and shaft drive are adequate, but with luck, future iterations of the Honda ST1300 will take a cue from other manufacturers and give the Honda ST1300 the six-speed transmission it so richly deserves.
The Honda ST1300 suspension takes cues from the Goldwing to provide a lush, comfortable ride, but departs from its big brother in that the Honda ST1300 is tuned closer to a sport bike’s suspension levels. You’ll find that the Honda ST1300 has a 45mm HMAS cartridge fork which provides you with 4.6 inches of suspension travel, while the back has a single gas-charged shock with five levels of adjustability. The rear provides 4.8 inches of travel. Brakes are sufficient on the Honda ST1300, featuring dual 310mm discs up front with three piston calipers, and a single 316mm disc out back with a three piston caliper.
In pictures, the Honda ST1300 appears to sit slightly higher than it does in real life. The seat height of the Honda ST1300 is in actuality just 31.1 inches, making this touring bike much easier to flat-foot than many motorcycles. Weighing in at 719 pounds, the Honda ST1300 isn’t the bruiser that the Goldwing is, but isn’t particularly light, either. Honda has always been good about keeping the center of gravity low, however, and true to form, the Honda ST1300 lifts easily off its side stand, giving riders the confidence that should the worst happen out on the open road, they will be able to bring the Honda ST1300 up by themselves.
The Honda ST1300 is available in two versions, one of which includes ABS braking similar to that which helps to control the Honda Goldwing. The colors available for the Honda ST1300 include Candy Dark Red and Metallic Silver, with the author’s personal favorite being the dark red color. The version without ABS braking retails for an MSRP of about $14,599, while the ABS equipped Honda ST1300 retails for $15,699, an $1100 option that you might want to look into if you’re considering putting some serious miles on the Honda ST1300 through inclement weather.