From the site MotorCycleUSA:
Honda Motorcycles deems the mid-sized cruiser demographic so important that within the last year it has produced four different models in this range. The forebear was the Fury, the company's first production chopper, which attempted to break the staid reputation of its cruiser motorcycles with a big-wheeled, raked-out, high-necked ride. Since its early release last April, Honda claims that over the last year it has been the best selling 'factory-custom' in the US.
The Japanese manufacturer's 2010 VT1300 Series continues in that vein, as the new trio deviates from the 2009 VTXs with more custom-styling influences. The frame on the new VT1300 bikes is more open in the head space so the engine isn't packaged so tightly, the streamline tank is racier and is styled more like the Fury's, the bars are more pull-backed in custom bike fashion, and the old solo pipes are now dualies blended together beneath an encompassing heat shield. The body work, from its fenders, air filter and battery covers have been infused with edgier styling by adding angular designs on the covers and stronger lines throughout. The VT1300 Series motorcycles are also longer and lower than ever before.
With these three new mid-sized cruiser models, Big Red hopes to offer a wider range of riders the experience of owning "custom bike styling" at an affordable price and have worked hard to keep the price point below $13K. With three different platforms to choose from, Honda believes that there is enough variation in its VT1300 series to appeal to a demographic, from cruiser riders who prefer a sportier pro- street style bike to a touring version for those looking to log serious miles on the open road.
So why would Honda invest so much R&D energy into one class of bikes? Because since the VTX's introduction in 2003, it has been a popular seller for the company. The first year it was introduced by Honda it sold almost 12,000 models. The 2003 VTX1300S was a classic-styled cruiser, featuring spoked wheels, floorboards, and traditional styling. The cruiser market was prime at that time and the Honda cruiser immediately became a sales success. In 2004, Honda amped up the platform with the introduction of the 2004 VTX1300C, equipping the new model with racy wheels, chopped fenders, and more custom-oriented paint schemes. That bike sold comparably, ringing in more than 11,000 units sold in its first year. In 2008, the evolution of the line progressed with the introduction of the VTX1300 Touring, coming prepped from the factory with a windscreen, saddlebags, and a passenger backrest. All told, Honda claims that it has sold 82,900 VTX motorcycles, bringing to light the importance of the model to the company and giving reason for Honda's decision this year to give cruiser riders the best of all VTX worlds with three new models.
Our one-day of gathering first ride impressions on Honda's 2010 Sabre, Stateline and Interstate models began in beautiful Temecula, California for a blast over the mountains to the fringe of the desert in Borrego Springs. The round trip included elevation changes, a handful of 20-mph hairpins, and plenty of big sweepers which allowed us to get the cruisers tilted over and feel out the capabilities of its chassis and to gauge its handling characteristics.
But before we dive into each bike's identities, let it be known that all three are powered by the tried-and-true engine developed in the VTX1300. The 52-degree V-Twin runs with an undersquare 89.5 X 104.3mm stroke compressing its fuel/air mixture at a 9.2:1 ratio. The single overhead cam design operates three valves per cylinder. A single-pin crankshaft provides a solid lumping character to the mill, while dual balancers keep vibes in the bars and foot controls to a minimum. The biggest change from prior years is in its method of induction, as Honda has abandoned the former CV-style carb for its Programmed Fuel Injection (PGM-FI) that features a single 38mm throttle body. It has an auto enrichment circuit that ensures that the bikes spark to life quickly with a flick of the electric start. The new fuel delivery system is what you'd expect from a Honda, silky-smooth in all gears. And while the powerplant in the new VT1300 series is a carryover, let's break down what makes each of these models unique.
Of the three new VT1300 Series motorcycles, the 2010 Sabre distinguishes itself as the most purebred boulevard cruiser of the trio with its pro-street styling. It starts with a longer stance than previous versions, with its lower frame rails skirting closer to the ground courtesy of a 70.0-inch wheelbase that is a full 4.5-inches longer than the old VTX. The 41mm fork is stretched out at a healthy 33-degree of rake, adding to its long and low appearance. The downtubes curve slightly in which allowed Honda to neatly tuck the slim-line radiator in between the rails, creating more space between the frame and front wheel. The top radiator hose tucks neatly behind the front valve cover, a new innovation for the marque that it has patented. Above the radiator, the steering head has been opened up to create space between it, the tank, and the engine which adds to its pro-street style.
An easy way to distinguish the Sabre from its counterparts is by looking at its fenders which are cut shorter front and back. A glance at its front hoop helps identify it as well, as the Sabre rolls with a slim 90mm and tall 21-inch front wheel. Its handlebars also hug the tank tighter being both lower and narrower than the Stateline or Interstate. Its seat is also a touch slimmer.
The 4.4-gallon tank is stretched similarly to the Fury's and features a chrome tank-mounted console. The big dial of the analog speedo is the focus of the console, but it also has an odometer, dual tripmeters, small turn signal indicator lights, high beam, a neutral indicator, oil pressure and coolant temp lights to go along with a digitally-displayed clock. The chrome housing is attractively styled, but the bike's cockpit itself is very compact for my six-foot-frame and the dial sits well below my line of sight when riding, meaning glances at the speedo requires a momentary removal of my sight from the road ahead.
Dual chromed exhausts streak down its right side while the driveshaft on the left sports a slim-profile. There's no jacking of the driveshaft, instead power delivery to the rear wheel is constant and smooth. With no chain or belt guards present, it opens up the backside view of Honda's new five-spoke design wheel. A 170mm wide, 15-inch tall Bridgestone graces the back and provides a grippy interface with the road.
2010 Honda Sabre SpecsEngine - 1312cc liquid-cooled 52° V-twinBore/Stroke - 89.5mm x 104.3mmCompression Ratio - 9.2:1Induction - PGM-FI with automatic enrichment circuit, one 38mm throttle bodyIgnition - Digital with 3-D mapping, two spark plugs per cylinderValve Train - SOHC; three valves per cylinderTransmission - Five-speedFinal Drive - ShaftFront Suspension - 41mm fork; 4.0 in. travelRear Suspension - Single shock; 3.9 in. travelFront Brake - Single 336mm disc with twin-piston caliperRear Brake - 296mm disc with single-piston caliperFront Tire - 90/90-21Rear Tire - 170/80-15Wheelbase - 70.0 in.Seat Height - 26.9 in.Curb Weight - 659 lbs (claimed wet weight)Rake - 33° (Caster Angle)Trail - 4.6 in.Fuel Capacity - 4.4 gallonsoff in about the same
Hiking a leg over the 26.9-inch seat height of the 2010 Sabre and thumbing the starter, the dual exhausts spark to life with a surprisingly aggressive growl. Pulling in the clutch and kicking it into gear, the clutch draw is light and rider-friendly and the five-speed transmission clicks easily into first.
The one shortcoming of an otherwise generous powerband is the lack of much power on the top end. Running through the gears, the five-speed tranny is well-sorted and shifting is smoother than American V-Twins. Fifth gear will get you into about the 85 mph range and by then the bike is approaching the rev limiter and doesn't have much more to give. Of course, by then you're exceeding the limit and these bikes aren't built for breaking the century mark, so the power supply is more than suitable for a mid-sized cruiser.
The bars sweep back and are in close. Team that with a foot controls that are comfortably within reach and the ergos position me leaning slightly forward with my arms tucked close to my body. The foot control for the rear brake is placed low and close to the foot peg and makes it difficult to find a safe riding position while wearing thick-toed boots. The forward lean of the riding position and narrow bars minimize the amount of bar action required to get the bike initiated in turns. The big 21-inch wheel tracks well enough in turns, but its fairly light unsprung weight does give the front end a little play on uneven surfaces.
Honda has been busy expanding its lineup of accessories for its VT1300 Series, and the Sabre's $11,799 MSRP should leave riders with a little change in their pockets to pursue customization. Honda showcased some of the 48 products available for the series on a Sabre that sported chrome engine guards, a leather studded tank belt, a lower cowl sharp-looking chrome-plated custom grips (a first for the company). ABS is also an option, for an even $1000 more, which still keeps it below Honda's magical $13,000 price point. Honda also claims the bike gets an attractive 47 mpg, but we didn't have much opportunity to test the claim in our brief 130-mile ride.
2010 Honda Sabre - MSRP $11,799, $12,799 w/ABS.
Colors - Candy Red, Black. One-year unlimited-mileage warranty.
While the Sabre bears Honda's torch for a factory bike with custom appeal it initiated with the Fury, the Stateline and Interstate lean more to the classic cruiser side of styling. Dynamically, the bikes are mirror images, with the only thing separating the two being the Interstate's slew of touring accoutrements. But even though the pair dons a more traditional look, they still are styled much sportier than previous VTX models.
Let's start with the Stateline. At first glance, it's hard to differentiate it from the Sabre. But closer inspection reveals that its valanced fenders swoop down much more than the Sabre's. The larger palette of the rear fender allowed Honda to deck it out with a larger, more triangulated taillight. While its downtubes feature the same curvature as the Sabre's, a frame cover in the steering head eliminates a little of the open-aired nature of its pro-street sibling. Take a gander at its front wheel and you'll notice that it's much thicker and smaller, measuring in at a chunky 140mm wide and 17-inches tall. The bars are also positioned much differently. According to Bruno Conte, Senior Designer for Honda R&D Americas, the handlebars are 25mm higher, 62mm wider, and pull-back an extra 81mm. The seat is also wider. The other most noticeable difference is in the engine compartment, as the Stateline's mill has received the blacked-out treatment. It also is available with the optional Combined Braking System (CBS), which links the rear brake to the front and engages one piston of the twin-piston caliper, along with ABS.
Bodywise, the 2010 Interstate is a mirror image of the Stateline. It too has the larger, swoopy fenders, a meaty 140mm, 17-inch front wheel, and the blacked-out engine treatment. But there are differences. The upper portion of its 41mm fork is wrapped in chrome covers. The transition to touring machine includes a windscreen, 22-liter capacity leather-wrapped saddlebags, full-size floorboards, a heel-toe shifter and larger brake pedal. The fixed bags feature a hidden locking system and an adequately sized rectangular-shaped storage area. And while you'd think that out of all three of the VT1300 Series that should have ABS as an option it'd be the touring bike, it's not available on the Interstate. When questioned about this fact, the only reason Honda offered was that it wanted to keep all the bikes under that magical $13,000 threshold, and the Interstate lists just below that at $12,749.
Firing up the Stateline, the first thing that's immediately noticeable is its contrasting rider triangle compared to the Sabre. The bars are noticeably wider and higher. The reach to the foot controls is the same, but the seat is a little wider, and the combination positions me in a more relaxed upright riding posture. The extra sweep to the bars gives the illusion that the cockpit is smaller. The speedo sits even lower in my line of sight and is difficult to see.
The launch from a standstill is facilitated by the seamless fuel delivery of the PGM-FI. The powerband delivers good low- and mid-range torque, but lacks a little up top. Coming around a bend and over a rise, a California Department of Transportation truck painting a white stripe has traffic backed up. Our group doesn't see it until we come blasting over the rise, resulting in an emergency braking situation. The 336mm big front disc with a twin-piston caliper has the feel but not a very aggressive bite. I mash the single-piston caliper on the 296mm disc on the rear, and granted the brakes don't lock up easily, but the combination still isn't providing enough power to bring a 672-lb bike to a halt for my liking. The front is the better of the two, and the back definitely is a little soft.
Heading into a curvy section of CA-79, the wider tire feels more planted on the road, but the wider bars require more action in the twisty stuff in comparison to the Sabre. The four inches of travel on the front has enough give to smooth out road imperfections, but the hidden single shock on the rear doesn't allow for any adjustment and its 3.9-inches of travel doesn't give much and provides a rigid ride.
Switching to the Interstate, the ride quality is the same. I find the heel-toe shifter is much more rider-friendly than the standard foot controls of the other two, but it did resist shifting down into first gear on the first kick numerous times. While sitting at idle waiting my turn for photo passes, the engine emits nominal heat. I've mounted a GoPro camera on the tank which brings to light the amount of vibrations in the tank area, but it doesn't transfer to the hand and foot controls. The windscreen is large, sitting just below eye level, but it doesn't provide much protection from buffeting. I'm wearing a half-shell helmet and I'm getting a face-full of hot air, but it is deflecting the blast away from my chest.
Honda's 2010 VT1300 Series covers the gamut, from what Big Red hails as its 'big impact bike' in the form of the Fury to a boulevard-cruising pro-streeter in the guise of the Sabre. The range includes a big-fendered cruiser with more traditional styling and a bike factory-equipped for the long haul. The styling of the VT1300 Series is a big leap forward for the traditionally conservative Japanese manufacturer. But the bikes maintain Honda's reputation for performance and reliability. It's an ambitious venture for the company, but Honda believes that there is enough variation in the VT1300 Series to appeal to almost every area of the cruiser demographic. With almost 83,000 VTX models sold, it's hard to question their reasoning.
2010 Honda Stateline - MSRP $11,699. $12,699 with ABS. Black, Candy Dark Red.
2010 Honda Interstate - MSRP $12,749. Pearl Blue, Black.