2014 Honda CTX1300 A Honda that’s a Hoot!

Text: Ken Freund • Photography: Kevin Wing

Honda’s latest new model, the CTX1300, continues to carry the torch for the CTX series by combining pleasing ergonomics and modern styling with new technology.

There are actually two choices: the basic CTX1300, which has a suggested retail price of $ 15,999, and the CTX1300 Deluxe for $ 17,499. The Deluxe has all the standard features of the basic version but adds ABS, traction control, self-canceling turn signals, and a built-in audio system. This lets you listen to music from most smartphones, iPods, and flash drives through a USB connection hidden in a dash cubby. The sound system can be heard through a pair of speakers or via a Bluetooth-enabled headset.

Powertrain and Performance

Honda utilized many major systems from the ST1300, including the longitudinally mounted V-4 engine and transmission. For use in the CTX1300, the liquid-cooled engine has been slightly retuned to provide strong, smooth torque and linear power delivery. The 1261cc V-4 has aluminum-composite cylinder sleeves that are designed for longer wear along with improved heat dissipation over conventional steel sleeves. Shim-under-bucket valve actuation is used, which allows high revs and eliminates side loading of valve stems for longer guide life and extends valve-maintenance intervals to 16,000 miles.

Honda’s efficient and reliable PGM-FI digital fuel-injection with 36mm throttle bodies and 3D mapping produces linear throttle response, while throttle-by-wire allows the use of traction control. Twin internal counter-balance shafts cancel both primary and second-order vibrations and deliver smooth output throughout the rev range.

The V-4 engine lights off instantly cold or hot and quickly settles back to a smooth idle with just a light pulse and pleasing exhaust sound. It really starts to pull at around 2,000 rpm and keeps on pulling past the 6,900-rpm redline until you bump into the 8,000-rpm rev limiter. I only did that once, really. Clutch actuation is smooth and easy to modulate, and shifting the 5-speed manual gearbox is fast and simple. There’s ample torque, so you don’t need to shift a lot, and cruising at a relaxing 3,250 rpm yields 60 mph in top gear.

Chassis and Handling

A conventional steel tubing double-cradle frame carries the 45mm non-adjustable inverted fork and the double-sided aluminum swingarm and twin rear shocks have provision only for preload adjustment. The front suspension has 4.1 inches of travel, and feels fairly supple going over bumps. Those same bumps felt more intense through the rear suspension despite its longer 4.3-inch travel. Damping adjustability at both ends would be a significant and welcome improvement.

Braking is strong, easy to modulate, and fade free thanks to the twin 310mm front brake rotors, which are clamped by three-pot calipers and a 315mm rear disc. Honda’s Combined Braking System (CBS) actuates the center piston of the right-front caliper when the rear brake is applied. To minimize front-end dive, a delay valve slows initial front brake response. It can be felt during rear brake use, but it’s not objectionable.

The test bikes were fitted with Bridgestone G853 Exedra tires; a 130/70R18 on the front and a beefy 200/50R17 in back. Grip is good during braking and cornering. The integrated traction control limits rear-wheel spin on low-traction surfaces and during hard acceleration. The optional ABS works as it’s supposed to and is not overly intrusive, so you won’t find it activating unless it’s needed.

Wet weight is a substantial 724.2 pounds for the standard CTX1300 and 731.4 pounds for the Deluxe version. An under-seat gas tank helps lower the bike’s center of gravity and the low CG belies its heft; once underway the big machine feels quite nimble. I was pleased with how the CTX leaned into turns and tracked through long corners, instilling confidence. You can tilt it over further than the majority of cruisers or baggers, however, most CTX riders will never experience dragging parts in a turn.

Ergonomics and Features

The CTX1300’s low 29.1-inch seat height should allow most riders to get both feet down when stopped. Riding position is comfy with knees bent at about 90 degrees, footpegs located below the rider (not out front), and arms extended in a fairly natural way. Front and rear seats are both cushy. A wide pullback handlebar provides leverage, which makes the bike easy to steer and gives it a light, easy feel despite its weight.

Form follows fashion on the CTX1300 as its long and low styling resulted in an inadequate windscreen. It directs air flow up and over the fairing in a smooth manner, so there’s no buffeting, and the wind passes over the rider’s upper torso and head. However, at highway speeds the blast is uncomfortably strong, and I found the optional taller windscreen to be a welcome addition. Mirrors are positioned below the handlebar and the location of the clutch, brake lever, and master cylinders, along with the rider’s elbows, block much of the view aft.

LEDs are used in the headlight, tail light, and turn signals. Instrumentation consists of an analog speedometer and tachometer with an LCD screen between. Along with the usual indicator lamps, there are scrollable readouts for instantaneous and average fuel consumption, clock, and twin trip meters.

On the Deluxe version, the optional audio system has three speed-sensitive settings that allow the volume to adjust based on motorcycle speed. There’s also an auto mute feature that cuts in below 7 mph and returns to its normal operation as speed increases to 9 mph. On the road the speakers can be heard quite well at legal speeds, and the optional tall windscreen provides additional benefit.

The color-matched 35-liter saddlebags are easy to lock and unlock with the ignition key and hold a fair volume but wouldn’t accommodate my full-face helmet.

Honda offers a bunch of genuine accessories including a tall windscreen, rear carrier, 45-liter trunk, backrest, retrofittable audio system, heated grips, centerstand, fog lights, and chrome trim that can turn the bike into a true touring machine.

Final Thoughts

The CTX1300 duo shows a family lineage to other new models in Honda’s lineup, such as the CTX700 series, F6B, and the latest Valkyrie. Overall the stylish new CTX1300 is a comfortable, competent cruiser/bagger with better ergonomics, handling, and braking than most machines in this category. It shows its Honda heritage with excellent fit and finish, drivetrain, brakes, and attention to detail. If you like the ST1300 but want something a little more “cruiserish,” this might be it. Whether your intended use is daily commuting, weekend rides, or longer trips, this machine should get you there in comfort and style.