Something is happening at Honda these days. They’re sick of all that whining about how they “lost their way” and they’re sick to death of Mercedes power making McLarens look slow and they are choking on rage-vomit at the thought of Ducati – freakin’ Ducati! – thinking they have some sort of “handle” on the power-cruiser segment that. Honda. Invented. They’re done with all of that, and if the latest round of middleweight, do-anything UJM Hondas didn’t convince you of that, let me introduce the new daddy. Meet the 2014 Honda Valkyrie.
A Bit of Honda Valkyrie History
Back in the 1980s, Honda’s GoldWing wasn’t the bloated road sofa it is now. It wasn’t a sportbike, either- it was comfortable, you sat low like you did on a Harley, too. Like said Harleys, the early GoldWings had 2 wheels, but the similarities ended there. GoldWings were seriously powerful in their day, and the early ‘Wings would leave a Harley like it was stuck in 2nd gear- along with just about everything else. In 1985, Yamaha answered the Honda’s power cruiser call with the first-generation VMax, a riding experience that was once described to me with the words “I screwed it on until I could see Jesus, then I up-shifted”.
At the time, Honda played up the GoldWing’s touring capabilities and took the styling further away from the Harley/Indian cruiser aesthetic, leaving that to the small-displacement Shadows and Viragos of the world, leaving the VMax alone as the power cruiser daddy. At the dawn of the 1990s, Yamaha announced that they’d be taking the VMax’ terrifying V4 and stuffing it into a retro-styled bagger called the “Royal Star”, which would then be set upon the woefully under-equipped and under-powered Harley-Davidsons, the big BMW cruisers, and Honda’s GoldWing.
Honda fully expected the Royal Star to be a monster, and responded with a monster of its own, the original Honda Valkyrie.
That bike made use of the late 80s GoldWing’s flat-6 in a body that was stripped of bags, fairings, radios, heaters, speakers – what, you didn’t know GoldWings had all that? Sonny, the Honda GoldWings of the era had more parts than a Honda Civic. Stripped of all that nonsense, the Valkyrie was one of the fastest straight-line bikes in the world.
Sadly, the world wasn’t ready for a massive muscle-cruiser. Remember, this was years before American Chopper convinced a bunch of middle-aged bankers and orthodontists that a big-inch chopper was something they should own. The Valkyrie was moderately successful, but the redesign of the GoldWing and the realization that the market didn’t care how objectively superior the Royal Star was to the Harleys meant there was no budget to build a new Valkyrie. Since then, however, the power cruiser market has exploded- beginning with the previously mentioned Harley-Davidson VRod and evolving to include the 2300 cc Triumph Rocket and the Audi-designed “everything that’s wrong with the world” Ducati Diavel Douche-mobile. Sick of being shown up in the market they invented, then, Honda is back.
2014 Honda Valkyrie
For 2014, Honda’s new power-cruiser ditches the GoldWing’s luggage, fairings, and a host of electro-do-dads that it didn’t need, anyway. The end result is a bike that weighs more than a 150 lbs. less than the already quicker-than-you-think-it-is GoldWing, leaving a mere 6 lbs. for each of the 1800 cc flat-6’s horses to lug around, compared to 8.6 for Porsche’s newest 911 and more than 7 lbs./hp on Nissan’s GTR supercar (and don’t even get me started on how the Honda nearly doubles their MPG). It’s plenty fast, in other words, and Honda has – finally! – realized that a motorcycle doesn’t have to look like it was designed by your grandfather to be appealing.
Honda pushed out a number of photos of its new 2014 Honda Valkyrie super cruiser, but these are my favorites. Expect this bike to show up on next year’s “best bike” lists, and a full review in the spring. Enjoy!
Source | Photos: Honda.