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2014 Honda Valkyrie—Rider Test

Mark Tuttle
April 25, 2014
Filed under Cruiser + Touring Motorcycle Reviews, Honda Motorcycle Road Tests: Reviews on Honda Motorcycles, Road Tests, Top Stories

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2014 Honda Valkyrie

Long, low and stripped of excess, the new Valkyrie wears a bare-knuckles style all its own. Much of the chrome and silver is blacked-out on the Blue Metalic bike. (Photos by Kevin Wing)

As many Gold Wing and F6B riders know, a motorcycle with Honda’s GL1800 flat six at its heart can be ridden smoothly and quietly, like a luxury automobile, or blasted up and down through the gears with snarling gusto. It’s a big, versatile gem of a powerplant—one reason that Honda has based a variety of models on it.

2014 Honda Valkyrie

Unique intake ducting and a lighter, more compact exhaust help give the >Valky about five-percent more power and a throatier sound than its GL1800 siblings.

The latest is the 2014 Valkyrie cruiser, the first six with a feature that gets as much attention as the engine—its polarizing styling. Honda is throwing all kinds of designs at the wall lately—retro, crossover, techno, economical, futuristic—a good thing for the market even if they don’t all stick. In the Valkyrie’s case, its look is obviously aimed at the non-traditional cruiser rider, one who is perhaps a bit younger and wants something really different with some genuine performance. It won’t be mistaken for any other cruiser, not even the 1997 Valkyrie, that’s for sure.

With the introduction of the 2001 Gold Wing, Honda’s iconic flat six grew from 1,520cc to 1,832cc. Though it’s no longer the most powerful six-pack in touring land, its overall output bests every other cruiser save the Star Vmax and humongous Triumph Rocket III Roadster. The only real change to the fuel-injected, liquid-cooled SOHC mill with two valves per cylinder for the Valky is to the dual exhaust, which is shorter, lighter and belts out a deeper, more James Earl Jones note from its slash-cut tips. It and a slightly different airbox seem to help the bike make about five percent more power—on the Jett Tuning dyno the Valkyrie revved up 104.8 horsepower at 5,600 rpm and 112.4 lb-ft of torque at 4,000, with a monstrous plateau of more than 100 lb-ft of torque on tap from 2,200 to 5,400 rpm. This bike will lug down to idle and pull away smartly…in fifth gear.

2014 Honda Valkyrie

Less weight, taut suspension, low-profile radials and higher footpegs give the Valkyrie even better cornering manners than the Gold Wing or F6B, which handle pretty well for such big motorcycles.

Back in 2001, though the engine shrunk overall, the GL1800’s larger displacement required more radiator capacity. Instead of going with less than optimum wheelbase and steering geometry dimensions on the Gold Wing in order to fit a single huge cooling unit in front, Honda split the rad in two and hid the halves under the fairing on each side. This and the Gold Wing’s stout twin-spar aluminum frame and single-sided swingarm helped give it surprisingly good, big sportbike-like handling, which quickly dissipated any controversy over the side-mounted rads. They did create a challenge for the latest Valkyrie’s designers, however, who also wanted to maintain the GL1800 platform’s great handling, but lacked a convenient hiding place for the radiators on the stripped-down machine. The “big shoulders” shrouds that resulted tie-in nicely with the fenders and the bike’s avant-garde muscle-cruiser styling. They also direct hot air away from the rider and provide some lower leg protection.

2014 Honda Valkyrie

2014 Honda Valkyrie

Some tweaks to the GL’s running gear were necessary to adapt it to performance-cruiser duty. Wheel sizes front and rear were increased one inch for more cornering clearance, so the fork had to be a bit longer even though the bike runs slightly lower-profile 130/60-19 and 180/55-17 tires. The resulting changes to the steering geometry are minimal—wheelbase has grown 0.5 inch, rake less than 0.5 degree and trail 0.2 inch over the F6B/Gold Wing. The rear subframe was changed to accommodate the Valky’s unique seating arrangement, and seat height is right in the middle at 28.8 inches. The 6.0-gallon gas tank is the steel real deal, too—there’s no fuel hiding under the seat as on the other GL1800s. Yet, overall, the bike still has the chassis formula that makes the Gold Wing and F6B rock-stable on the highway and so ridiculously capable in the corners.

2014 Honda Valkyrie

Headlight, turn signals and taillight are all LED.

And get this—at 746 pounds fully fueled the Valkyrie weighs about 90 pounds less than the F6B, and is 154 pounds lighter than the Wing. If you like this engine, the Valky’s much improved power-to-weight ratio is the best way to experience it. Fire the big bike up with a roar from the more open exhaust and it pulls away strongly without hesitation, practically begging you to jump on the throttle. The bike’s lighter weight makes the big GL engine feel especially alive, and its broad spread of earth-moving torque and smoothness accelerate the bike like a rocket. It can be left in third gear and ridden briskly in the corners thanks to its good cornering clearance, and since all three GL1800s have the same gear ratios, top fifth gear on the highway delivers the same smooth flagship touring manners, with buckets of power in reserve for passing and such. It’s still a cruiserish experience, but sounds and feels nothing like the traditional V-twin potato-potato-potato.

2014 Honda Valkyrie Red

On the Dark Red Metallic and Black Valkyries, the tank nacelle, instrument and headlight shrouds, as well as the engine covers and passenger grab rails, are chrome or silver.

The sheer size of the Valkyrie gives it generous seating proportions, with a wide 1-inch pullback handlebar that is slightly wider, taller and farther forward than the F6B’s, and is rubber mounted—zero vibes get through to the rider in the bar, seat or pegs. The low seat is flat and broad, and footpegs are 1.3 inches forward and 0.6-inch higher for a sportier feel and more cornering clearance, as well. The instrument cluster, headlight surround, radiator shrouds and cylinder heads provide some lower-body wind protection, but your upper body is in the wind and all of your weight is on the firm seat, so long highway rides can become tiresome. Passengers have it pretty good, with a reasonably sized pillion and ample grab rails, both of which can be removed for a solo look. Among the 15 accessories for the Valkyrie are Boulevard and Tall windscreens, a wind deflector, backrest and passenger floorboards, as well as saddlebags and a rear carrier, so you can easily enhance its touring comfort and capacity.

The Valkyrie’s suspension has the same good travel front and rear as the Gold Wing and F6B, with damping that Honda says is calibrated for the lighter machine. It is significantly firmer than either of those bikes, great for more aggressive riding but a bit jarring over bumps. The cartridge fork has no adjustments, though the rear Pro-Link shock offers remote spring preload adjustment similar to the F6B’s. This bike also gets more stopping power to suit its sportier intent, with dual opposed 4-piston calipers up front with floating 310mm rotors that are larger than the Wing’s/F6B’s 296mm discs. A 2-piston floating caliper grabs the 316mm disc in back. On the Black bike, ABS is a $1,000 option, adds just six pounds and brings with it self-canceling turn signals. Both the standard and ABS-braked machines stop incredibly well, with great feel at the lever and pedal and just a slight clicking sensation in either when ABS is engaged.

2014 Honda Valkyrie

Radiator shrouds direct engine heat away from the rider and provide some lower leg wind protection. Tubular-steel engine guards are found on the Gold Wing and F6B as well.

Nice stuff includes an LED headlight, taillight and turn signals, and a cool-looking multi-function digital LCD instrument display with a customizable start-up message. On the Blue Metallic bike, several components such as the fork, tank nacelle, grab rails and engine covers are menacingly blacked-out; on the gorgeous Dark Red Metallic and Black Valkys those bits are chrome or silver. There’s a large locking storage compartment under the right side panel, and a thoughtful pair of guards to protect the engine in a tipover. Everything you need, nothing you don’t.

Photographs don’t do justice to the Valkyrie’s styling, which usually wins over even hard-core traditionalists when they see it in the metal. And if that doesn’t do it, one ride definitely will. It’s fast, comfortable, stops unbelievably well and sounds righteous, a 6-cylinder cruiser that shakes the custom paradigm to the core, just like the original. Only different.

2014 Honda Valkyrie/Valkyrie ABS

Base Price: $17,999/$18,999
Warranty: 3 yrs., unltd. miles, transferable
Website: powersports.honda.com

web-2014-Honda-Valkyrie-dyno-run-CHART

2014 Honda Valkyrie On The Dyno

Engine
Type: Liquid-cooled, longitudinal, horizontally opposed flat six
Displacement: 1,832cc
Bore x Stroke: 74.0 x 71.0mm
Compression Ratio: 9.8:1
Valve Train: SOHC, 2 valves per cyl.
Valve Adj. Interval: 32,000 miles
Fuel Delivery: PGM-FI w/ automatic choke
Lubrication System: Wet sump, 4.9-qt. cap.
Transmission: 5-speed, hydraulically actuated wet clutch
Final Drive: Shaft, 2.75:1

Electrical

2014 Honda Valkyrie

Multi-function digital LCD instrument panel can display the opening message, “GOLDWING VALKYRIE” plus eight characters of your choice. “HAULSASH,” for example.

Ignition: Computer-controlled digital
Charging Output: 1,300 watts max.
Battery: Sealed, 12V 20AH

Chassis
Frame: Aluminum-alloy dual-spar perimeter w/ engine as stressed member & cast aluminum single-sided swingarm
Wheelbase: 67.1 in.
Rake/Trail: 29.9 degrees/4.5 in.
Seat Height: 28.8 in.
Suspension, Front: Cartridge fork w/ 45mm stanchions & 4.8-in. travel
Rear: Pro-Link single shock, remotely adj. for spring preload, 4.1-in. travel
Brakes, Front: Dual 310mm discs w/ opposed 4-piston calipers/ABS
Rear: Single 316mm disc w/ 2-piston caliper/ABS
Wheels, Front: Cast, 3.50 x 19 in.
Rear: Cast, 5.00 x 17 in.
Tires, Front: 130/60-HR19
Rear: 180/55-HR17
Wet Weight: 746 lbs. (non-ABS model)
Load Capacity: 376 lbs. (non-ABS model)
GVWR: 1,122 lbs.

Performance
Fuel Capacity: 6.0 gallons, warning light on last 1.0 gal.
MPG: 87 PON min. (avg) 35.4
Estimated Range: 212 miles
Indicated RPM at 60 MPH: 2,550

(This article Return to Valhalla was published in the July 2014 issue of Rider magazine.)

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Comments

9 Responses to “2014 Honda Valkyrie—Rider Test”

  1. Paul Rees on April 29th, 2014 8:09 pm

    Does the Valkyrie have cruise control. Also does it have a gear position indicator.

    Thank you

    [Reply]

  2. ButterCheeks on May 1st, 2014 10:25 am

    cruise control? the F6B doesn’t even have cruise so i doubt it. if you want a power cruiser with cruise control just buy a 2014+ FJR1300, then remove the bags and paint it purple. should fit right in at your local Sonic fast food location.

    [Reply]

  3. Gabriel on May 1st, 2014 2:09 pm

    However it looks to have the same noodle front end that has been on GW’s since 2001 and It feels like it came of the original Honda 750.
    The original Valk had an inverted fork, why Honda wants to keep putting these forks on a model like this is bewildering.
    I sold my 1800 because of this, no matter how much money I threw at it the front end it was still lame.

    [Reply]

  4. grampi on May 1st, 2014 2:53 pm

    Road tests used to include things like 1/4 mile times, 0-60 times, top speed, top gear roll-on speed/time, etc…wonder why they didn’t include these things in this test? It is after all a performance cruiser…I’m curious how it would perform against the M109R…

    [Reply]

    Rider Magazine Reply:

    We haven’t included that data for quite a while because the staff is made up of touring, travel and adventure guys of ample size who would just keep on going at the end of the quarter-mile or upon reaching 60 mph.

    [Reply]

  5. rideforfun on May 5th, 2014 9:21 pm

    i realty like the F6B and the new Valkyrie. they both feel the same when they are stood up dry. the question is what happens when the are both full with gas. the F6B tank is under the seat and the Valkyrie tank is above the seat. i would like to buy the Valkyrie but waiting to see the accessories.I know some wonder why not just go with the F6B. to that i say 100 pound differance and a few long trips with the wife

    [Reply]

  6. Rob Sylvia on May 22nd, 2014 5:25 pm

    I agree, the bike gorgeous in the flesh opposed to how it looks in pics. They just don’t do this bike justice. I’d like to see a compare as well….M109…Triumph Rocket…Ducatti Devil …Valk

    [Reply]

    lu Reply:

    having owned a rocket3 and diavel I think I can speak from personal experience, you cant compare the r3 or the valk to the diavel because the diavel weighs 100kgs less, the diavel is a monster on steroids but the diavel and Honda have much of of the same, single sided swing arm, side mounted radiators and feels similar to the valk when you sit on them but the valk is more like the r3 to ride , if it was a race the diavel would win every time so to me the r3 and valk are in a niche of there own, if I had to choose between these two I would choose the new Valkyrie any day, the design is new, don’t get me wrong r3 owners but that flat 6 motor is the greatest , it’s a keeper, welcome to the 21st century,

    [Reply]

  7. Doug on June 14th, 2014 3:54 pm

    Have a 97 valkyrie standard, 95 goldwing se, and my latest addition 2014 valkyrie. Each bike has it place. The 97 valkyrie is dearest to my heart for style and riding pleasure, the goldwing for me and the wife to take 1 or 2 week rides, the 2014 valkyrie its for me to go out and haul butt when the feeling arises. The new valk out handles and out powers the other 2 bikes and definitely has it’s own personality balance is great handling is unbelievable . Thinking about quitting work and riding all the time. Gotta love those 6 cylinder engines

    [Reply]

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