If you’ve read the story of Peter’s “Half Way Round” trip of Australia, you’ll recall that he suffered a cracked frame on his Yamaha XJR1300 and ended up buying another bike, a Honda ST1300. Again, if you’ve read that story you’ll know he was very pleased with the big Honda. So I was interested to know how it was going and what he thought of it now that he’d owned it for a while. And he kindly wrote in to tell us. Firstly, I’ll let him summarise the eventful trip and change of bikes. “In early 2009 I headed off from my Adelaide home, on a trip which took me through the eastern states, up the coast to Cairns, west to Darwin and home down the centre. While in Cairns my Yamaha XJR1300 broke the rear sub-frame on both sides, aft of the rear shock mounts, probably due to overloading. You can read all about my adventure elsewhere on this site (just click the link above - Elwyn) or at http://halfwayroundwithpete.blogspot.com/ (That's the full story on his Blog - Elwyn). Fortunately, Hanks Engineering in Cairns was able to repair the frame for me, but I had lost confidence in the Yamaha's now cracked frame to be able to continue to journey with the luggage that I was carrying. After much negotiation with my wife back home and with the bank manager, I traded the repaired Yamaha on a demo Honda ST1300 on sale at Cairns Honda. I was then able to continue my great adventure on the new Honda. I thought that my impressions of this bike would be of interest to other riders.” Indeed it is, Peter! But before getting to the Honda, Peter looks back at the bike that preceded it, the Yamaha XJR1300. He writes, “At the time I was after a traditional style bike with a sit-up riding position for old blokes, over 1000cc, not too heavy, good pillion comfort, air cooled (less to go wrong) carby- aspirated, and either naked or with a bikini fairing. That narrowed my choices considerably. The XJR was a great bike and I did 60,000 km in four years, including a fair amount of interstate touring. The Yamaha XJR is probably one of the most versatile and forgiving bikes around. I got about 40,000km out of my first chain and sprockets, and had to replace the carby inlet rubbers at 50,000km as they started to crack. No other long term issues, other than the broken frame!” As mentioned above, after the problem with the frame, Peter traded the bike on a Honda ST1300. And now he takes up the story of that. “The ST is quite heavy at about 310kg with a full load of fuel, and it took me a while to get used to the bulk. The riding position is identical to the XJR, and my hands and feet fell into place the first time I sat on it, with none of the searching for foot pegs and grips that usually happens when you change bikes. Because of the weight, it's basically impossible to push backwards if it's on any slope at all, including road cambers, so I have to take care where and how I park it. It's a bit of a pig in traffic, and is more unwieldy than the XJR. However, for touring it's a gem, and at highway speeds everything just feels so right. With ABS and linked brakes, the stopping power is amazing, and the ABS gives the confidence to hit the brakes as hard as possible if the shit really hits the fan. For the riding that I'm doing now, the ST is a good choice. The cook loves the back seat, and has a tendancy to doze off on warm days. The down side of the bike is just the weight, and the ST has no heated grips as standard, which is an odd omission for a dedicated tourer. (The Honda heated grip kit is about $1,200, so I won't be getting those!).” Now that he’s clocked up another 10,000km he writes a good review of the bike. “A comfortable riding position, sitting up fairly straight, with very little weight on my wrists. The ergonomics are identical to my old XJR, with my hands and feet automatically falling into position on the bars and pegs. I have found the OEM seat to be uncomfortable. Smooth power delivery, right through the RPM range. 3,100 RPM at 100 km/h in top gear. The bike really feels “in the groove” at highway speeds, with the fairings, screen and engine power all working well. It just feels “right”…… doing what it was designed to do, and doing it well. Turns into corners quickly for a big bike, and has good side ground clearance. There’s more than enough power for fast acceleration and overtaking with “two-up”. It’s a bit of a lump in heavy city traffic at slow speeds. Heavy to push around, so that when parking I do need to ensure that I don’t leave the bike where I might have to push it backwards against even the smallest slope.
Some owners have reported the ST as being a very hot bike to ride, due to heat build-up within the fairings. I have not found this to be the case, even after riding some long stretches, in temperatures over 40 degrees. I understand that the later versions of the bike have improved the insulation inside the fairing, and other changes have increased the airflow to resolve this issue. There are rare reports of the ST developing a rear end weave, when speeds in excess of 180 kph are combined with certain heavy load conditions. (I note that the Owner’s Manual advises not to exceed 130km/h when carrying cargo). I’ve found the bike to be stable and to have a very “planted” feel at a sustained speed of 130 km/h (in the NT of course!), both with all my camping gear, or with a pillion.
Shaft Drive….. Yippee, no more chains to clean. Excellent wind protection from well designed fairings. Adjustable height windscreen gives good protection against wind and rain. With the screen at full height, I find that I am sitting in a pool of still air. The low mounted mirrors built into the front fairing protect hands from wind and rain. The panniers are easily removable, and integrate nicely into the lines of the bike. They are generous in size, and each is capable of holding a full face helmet. Comfortable pillion seat. With the seat set on the lowest position, I can easily get two feet flat on the ground. The 29 litre tank, gives a range of over 500 km. ABS and linked brakes give confidence in hard braking situations. Easy to put up on the centrestand. The rear preload can be adjusted via a knob on the left side, which is accessible while sitting on the bike. The ST has replaceable left and right engine guard covers, so that in the unfortunate event of dropping the bike, damage is confined to plastic covers which cost only $35 to replace. I tested this feature while doing a “U” turn on the second day that I had the bike, and it works well!
No heated grips, which I believe should be standard on a touring bike. Beware if you intend to fit the OEM set, as they will cost you over $1,000 (fitted). As mentioned, I have found the OEM seat to be uncomfortable on long days, and fitting a good quality sheepskin cover has improved it considerably. I may eventually go to a custom touring seat such as I had on my XJR, as it significantly improved comfort. The inside of the front fairing storage lockers get very hot. I measured the temperature with a probe on a 30 degree day. While on the move it was 43 degrees inside the locker, and after the bike had been sitting in the shade for half an hour with the engine off, it rose to a very hot 57 degrees. As a consequence I’m reluctant to store anything electronic such as a camera, or wallet with credit cards in these otherwise very convenient storage areas. Some owners refer to these as the toaster/ovens or the pie warmers! It is difficult to check the coolant level, as the overflow bottle is well tucked away. It’s almost impossible to see the level marks on the side of the bottle, but some ingenious solutions have been devised to check the level. It can be difficult to read the digital displays at some sunlight angles, particularly when wearing sunglasses. The linked brakes do not allow dragging the rear brake only, which I would like to be able to do when maneuvering slowly on loose surfaces when I don’t want any front brake at all. Wide luggage, which is strapped across the back seat and extends out over the panniers, will obstruct the rearward view through the low mounted rear view mirrors. I discovered this when carrying my self-inflating mattress and tent strapped across the back seat. It is not a problem when carrying a pillion, except of course if they are wide enough to extend well out over the panniers!
Engine - 1260cc, fuel injected V4
Power - 87 kW at 8,000 rpm
Torque - 117 Nm at 6,500 rpm
Dry Weight - 287 kg
Gearbox - Five speed manual
Height adjustable seat - 775mm, 790mm, or 805mm
Fuel Tank - 29 litre
Brakes - ABS and Linked Brakes
Tyres - 120/70 ZR 18 (Front) and 170/60 ZR 17 (Rear)
Fuel Consumption - 5.3 litres per 100 km over an even mix of city, hills and highway riding.
The optional Top Box has a maximum loading of 9 kg and has enough space to hold two full face helmets. Panniers each have a maximum load of 9kg. Front fairing pockets each have a maximum load of 2 kg
The Honda ST1300 is a great touring bike for either one or two people, with ample power for the job, and a good fuel range. It looks the goods, and there’s plenty of storage space. For a big bike, it handles the twisty bits well, but is really in its element at highway speeds. I will fit some after-market heated grips before next winter, and will probably end up changing the OEM rider’s seat for a custom touring seat. The OEM pillion seat is great. I can easily live with my other dislikes.” Thanks, Peter, for a very thorough review of the bike! This is the sort of owner’s impressions and findings that are invaluable if you are considering buying the same type of bike. So, thanks again, Peter! I hope you continue to enjoy your new Honda!
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