Without a doubt, the most common inquiry from onlookers upon setting eyes on my blue 2014 Honda CTX1300 would have to be “what kind of bike is that?” It is quite obviously a new Honda with its new badging and motorcycle aficionados are able to source the longitudinally V4 from the CTX’s donor bike, the ST. The sport bike tires, large brakes and inverted forks hint of some nimbleness despite the large fairing, wide bars, comfy seat and bags that contrast those sentiments. CTX, as per Honda is an acronym for Comfort, Technology and eXperience. This bike is meant to do almost anything on a paved road and coming away from this road trip, I would tend to agree. The one thing this motorcycle absolutely excels at is eating the kilometers.
My annual trip took me just outside Boone, North Carolina, a central location for some of the best riding roads in the Great Smokey Mountains. Our route to Boone was intentionally made to avoid the Interstates and the CTX was an absolute dream to ride down both the 219 and along the legendary Blue Ridge Parkway. Shallow sweepers, small towns and typical highway speeds suit this bike perfectly. The ensuing days took us to much more aggressive roads such as the phenomenal Tail of the Dragon, Back of the Dragon and some of the many state roads throughout Tennessee and North Carolina.
The CTX1300’s riding position is about as neutral as you can get, and suited my 5’9 frame perfectly. Wide pulled-back bars make steering a breeze and a large front fairing directs most of the air past your body. The only peculiar item would have to be the front shield. I had a hard time deciding whether it was good or bad. At slower speeds it was perfect allowing just enough air directed at my body to keep me cool, however when picking up the pace to 100 to 120 km/h, the air would hit in the middle of the helmet. The airflow was very clean and caused almost no buffeting, but on my long highway trip home I began feeling fatigue in my neck due to the constant pressure. Without a natural forward-canted riding position as found on most sport tourers, which in turn uses the airflow to balance the head in position, I had to hold my head in place. A higher shield is available and might solve some of the issues.
Controls are a readily available on the handle bars with a display and Bluetooth controls located on the seam between the tank and the fairing. The latter required a look down to use. This brings me to my favorite part of this bike, the seat. This seat is truly a marvel of engineering, so much so that I took pictures of it specifically. It supported my posterior from side to side and is built completely flat with high quality foam. I was able to change positions on a regular basis and I never experienced any soreness or hotspots even on long hauls on hot days. This is by far the best motorcycle seat I have ever experienced.
In a world of six-speeds Honda installed a five-speed tranny that in reality is all that I required on the CTX1300. The engine, while detuned from the ST1300, delivers a broad smooth torque range at any RPM and is a very versatile engine for any kind of riding. This is not a sport bike engine and I never felt that push back from massive acceleration at any speed or RPM setting. Though, that is not what Honda had in mind. For such a large bike, the new Honda CTX1300 is extremely easy to operate at any speed with the exception of slow speed turning. This has more to do with its long wheel base than anything else. Sharp high speed corners are only limited by the foot pegs which made quite a few touchdowns. The rider’s foot is sandwiched between the exhaust and the foot control which made me lift my feet on sharp corners. Slowing down a bit might have helped with this, however. I must admit Honda really has designed a motorcycle which can do almost anything on paved road. The balance between all forms of riding was the intent and the CTX1300 is damn close to achieving that goal.
Storage on the CTX comprises of two hard saddle bags and two small storage compartments embedded in the fairing. The left side compartment would fit some change (handy for tolls) and my passport while the right compartment contains a USB input jack and deeper compartment that easily fit my iPhone. The saddlebags are not as large as they may appear from the outside and have various indents on the inside which reduces their apparent volume. I could not fit a full face helmet into either bag. Although we only rode through one torrential storm, the bags remained completely dry. The locking mechanism is easy to use and is accessed by the same key as the ignition.
Displays with a multitude of information are becoming common place on motorcycles now and the CTX has two large analog dials, a speedometer and tachometer, that sandwich the LCD display. The LCD is two-tiered, with the top automatically showing some peculiar information like instant average rather than the range to empty. I left it on the trip time which would automatically rest when the bike was turned off. The bottom tier contained all the trip and odometer readings. Both screens could be cycled by the buttons next to the gas tank.
Which brings us to the back to answering the question “what kind of bike is that”. The answer is that the 2014 Honda CTX1300 really does carve its own niche in the motorcycle market. I could see myself riding it every day as a commuter, taking it out for a weekend jaunt or a multi-week trek across the continent. In a country where a motorcycle is truly a recreational vehicle, the CTX1300 would easily make my list of top five do-it-all bikes. As far as looks are concerned, I didn’t run into a single person who did not think the bike was anything but beautiful, and I whole-heartedly agree.