2014 Honda Valkyrie First Ride

Kit Palmer | April 24, 2014
The blue version Valkyrie features blacked out cylinders  forks and other parts  giving it that muscle look.

The blue version Valkyrie features blacked out cylinders, forks and other parts, giving it that “muscle” look. Photography by Kevin Wing

When Honda introduced the first Valkyrie in 1996, it also introduced what many consider was the first of an all-new category of motorcycle – muscle cruiser. Boasting more than 100 horsepower and 100 pounds-feet of torque from its ultra-smooth 1520cc horizontally opposed six-cylinder motor (borrowed from the Honda Gold Wing) it certainly was all muscle and a beast, albeit a friendly beast. And it was, without a doubt, the king of burnouts. It was also a big hit for Honda initially, but after hitting its target base fairly quickly, sales started to dwindle.

Honda tried to create new interest in the Valkyrie by focusing on a different group of riders, offering a touring version of the Valkyrie, and then the Valkyrie Interstate, but the Valkyrie in general had run its course and was discontinued altogether after 2001. It returned briefly a couple of years later as the 1832cc Valkyrie Rune, a limited edition, concept-turned-production custom cruiser that featured way-out-there styling and a massive $25,000-plus price tag. It was a huge departure from the original Valkyrie and was only offered that one year. For Honda, though, the Rune wasn’t so much about making a ton of money as it was about just testing the waters and seeing what kind of reaction it got from the general public. It must’ve been fairly positive. Have you seen all the futuristic machines coming from Honda these days?

As time went on without the Valkyrie in its lineup, Honda wanted to build more models based on its popular Gold Wing super tourer, more specifically utilizing its awesome 1832cc fuel-injected flat six-cylinder powerplant. The first result was the part cruiser, part semi-long-haul tourer 2013 Gold Wing F6B – a partially stripped down Gold Wing built with performance, cruising and weekend touring in mind. But Honda wanted to take the performance part one step further and did that by bringing back the Gold Wing Valkyrie, an all-muscle and performance-minded cruiser that is closely based on both the current Gold Wing and F6B.

Honda went for the Raging Bull look with the Valkyrie. It looks even more impressive in person.

Honda went for the Raging Bull look with the Valkyrie. It looks even more impressive in person.

At its core, the Valkyrie shares the same basic suspension, aluminum twin-spar frame and chassis, and motor as the other two ‘Wings, sans saddlebags, trunk and fairing, just like the original Valkyrie. According to Honda, the new Valkyrie weighs about 155 pounds less than the Gold Wing and about 90 pounds less than the F6B. Like the Rune, the new Valkyrie has extravagant styling and, according to Honda, is designed for those who want to “capitalize on modern technology, who appreciate distinctive style, and who want the kind of performance no cruiser can match.”

The 2014 Valkyrie will be available in three different color variations: blue, black and red. There is also a Valkyrie ABS version, which will be available only in black. The blue Valkyrie is a little different than the others. It features blacked-out cylinder covers and forks, while the black and red versions have a bit more chrome, most notably on the upper headlight shell. The Valkyrie retails for $17,999, and the Valkyrie ABS for $18,999.

We recently got the chance to spend the day cruising the curvy back roads of Temecula, California, on all three of Honda’s latest flat-six-powered machines: Gold Wing, F6B and, the real reason Honda invited us to ride – the Valkyrie and Valkyrie ABS.

If you’re not sure or are inspired by the Valkyrie’s new truly bold styling, give it a chance. Don’t make up your mind completely until you see it up close and personal. If it still doesn’t wake up your adrenal glands, then we don’t know what will… well, except for, perhaps, getting on one and opening up the throttle. In our opinion, the Valkyrie is both inspiring to look at and impressive to ride.

In a lot of ways, the new Valkyrie still reminds us of the old Valkyrie – just better in almost every way. It has more power and more torque, yet is just as smooth (if not more so) as ever. The last Valkyrie was carbureted, via a single-carb-per cylinder layout. The new Valkyrie is fuel-injected, featuring its own unique intake ducting to feed air to its two 40mm throttle bodies, and six high-pressure fuel injectors. Throttle response is nothing less than superb. We couldn’t detect any flaws.

Larger displacement, more efficient fueling and other motor tweaks make the new Valkyrie even more of a joy to ride than the former Valkyrie. Roll on the throttle and the power comes on hard – but not too hard. It gives you just enough time to warn you what’s coming and that’s a quick, steady, yet smooth, stream of power all through to redline. But most of the fun comes way before that.

Smooth and powerful. The new Valkyrie is a joy to ride.

Smooth and powerful. The new Valkyrie is a joy to ride.

Max torque is reached at just 4000 rpm with peak horsepower arriving just 1500 rpm later. Early in the powerband is also where the Valkyrie sounds best. Compared to the Gold Wing, its now more compact six-into-two exhaust system, with new slash-cut tips, delivers a throatier growl from bottom to mid, yet is still fairly quiet overall. There’s no mistaking the Valkyrie’s unique howl from its flat six-cylinder motor when this thing rides past.

Shifting the five-speed transmission is just as smooth as the rest of the bike, and the light-pull clutch makes launches from a stop a non-issue.

There is plenty of room to stretch out on the Valkyrie. In fact, it feels more spacious than the Gold Wing. The wide handlebars are well positioned and the two-piece seat is also wide and comfortable, and with a seat perched just 28.8 inches above the tarmac, the Valkyrie does not feel intimidating at all, even for such a big machine.

Despite being 154 pounds lighter than the Gold Wing and 90 pounds lighter than the F6B, the Valkyrie is still a beefy bike at 750 or so pounds, but it carries its weight well. Its long 67.2-inch wheelbase, 29-degrees of rake and 4.5 inches of trail, low center of gravity and wide tires combine to offer up a stable yet responsive ride. Nothing happens quickly on the Valkyrie when it comes to handling but it still feels remarkably light, agile and very maneuverable on the twisties. You do, however, start feeling its weight in the parking lot, but the low seat height helps make low-speed maneuvering more manageable.

Compared to the F6B, the Valkyrie’s rubber-mounted handlebars are set 1.3 inches farther forward, are 1.5 inches taller and are a little over a half-inch wider. Footpegs are positioned 1.3 inches higher and 0.6 inches forward for a more aggressive seating position.

The wide handlebars provide great leverage for easy corner-to-corner transitions, keeping your confidence high when the ride starts getting more spirited. You’ll be scrapping the pegs before you know it, but not as soon as you would on the F6B or Gold Wing. Still, you’ll be surprised how fast you can go before the scrapping starts. It’s very sporty for a big cruiser.

We found the Valkyrie to be well suspended with its 45mm fork, which incorporates a cartridge damper, and single-shock Pro-Link rear suspension system, with a single-side swingarm/driveshaft. The Val’ has a firm but livable-with ride and we didn’t really miss not having damping adjustments (but that could change if we were to live with it longer). Preload, however, is available in the back, via a dial-type remote adjuster, but we didn’t feel the need to change it.

The Valkyrie returns in three color choices: blue  red and black.

The Valkyrie returns in three color choices: blue, red and black.

The braking system is pretty basic on the Valkyrie. They aren’t linked in anyway, so you are responsible for braking operations of both ends. Overall, there is plenty of braking power from the Valkyrie’s larger 310mm (296mm on the F6B and Gold Wing) dual-floating rotors and four-piston calipers up front and the 316mm single rotor in the back, and they both have good feel. But if you want, a Valkyrie ABS version is available (and as mentioned in black only).

You probably already noticed that your eyes are constantly drawn to the massive side-mounted radiators and shrouds that play a big role in the Val’s appearance and styling. They are, however, also designed with function in mind. Honda says they were developed to keep the bike running cool, of course, while keeping hot air off the rider. We rode the bike on an unusually warm and sunny spring day in California and the Valkyrie never felt overly hot or uncomfortable while on board.

The Valkyrie has its own unique meter, with an LED digital speedometer, tachometer, trip meters, clock, and fuel-level gauge. It also has its own unique switchgear on the handlebars, and lots of LED lighting – turn signals, taillight and headlight.

Honda says it already has 15 accessories available for the Valkyrie, which is expected to show up on dealer floors any day now, if not already.

Our one-day ride on the Valkyrie came and went way too quickly and left us wanting more. After racking up over 100 miles on the odometer, we still felt fresh and ready to pile on another hundred after a short rest, similar to the previous Valkyrie. Yes, we had many fond memories of the old Valkyrie with its awe-inspiring power, super-smooth ride, excellent big-bike handling and unique looks. If you take these things and multiply them by two, you pretty much have the new and much improved 2014 Valkyrie.

2014 Valkyrie/Valkyrie ABS Specifications
ENGINE TYPE:      Liquid-cooled, SOHC, 2-valves per cylinder, horizontally opposed six-cylinder
DISPLACEMENT:                 1832cc
BORE x STROKE: 74.0mm x 71.0mm
VALVE TRAIN:    SOHC, two valves per cylinder
FUELING:               PGM-FI
IGNITION:              Computer-controlled digital with 3-D mapping
TRANSMISSION:                  Five-speed
FINAL DRIVE:      Shaft
FRONT SUSPENSION:        45mm cartridge fork
REAR SUSPENSION:           Pro-Arm single-side swingarm with Pro-Link rear single shock w/hydraulic spring preload
REAR WHEEL TRAVEL:     4.1 inches
FRONT BRAKE:    Dual 310mm front discs
REAR BRAKE:       Single 316mm rear disc
ABS:        Optional
FRONT TIRE:         130/60R-19
REAR TIRE:            180/55R-17
WHEELBASE:       67.2 inches
RAKE (Caster angle):         29° 50’
TRAIL:    114mm (4.5 inches)
SEAT HEIGHT:      28.8 inches
FUEL CAPACITY:                  6.1 gallons
COLORS:                 Valkyrie – Black, Dark Red Metallic, Blue Metallic/Valkyrie ABS – Black
CURB WEIGHT (Full fuel, ready to ride): 750 lbs. (Valkyrie)/754 pounds (Valkyrie ABS)

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