2014 Honda Gold Wing Valkyrie: Big Red has a Power Cruiser Again!

Text: Ken Freund • Photography: Kevin Wing

It’s been a long time coming, but Honda has brought back a large 
six-cylinder cruiser to its lineup—bigger and more powerful than ever.

Honda’s original Valkyrie was man-
ufactured from 1996 through 2003 and followed briefly by the Rune. The new Valkyrie’s styling is consistent with other new Honda models and features a long and low look, in part due to the cut-down windscreen. Updated features include LED tail light, turn signals, and headlight, as well as digital LCD instrumentation, a slew of accessories, and an optional anti-lock braking system.

Powertrain and Performance

The Valkyrie shares the same 1832cc horizontally opposed six that powers the Gold Wing and F6B. It’s known for torquey power in addition to reliability and long life. Honda’s well-sorted programmed fuel injection (PGM-FI) breathes through two 40mm throttle bodies and six high-pressure injectors for clean, smooth running under all conditions. All that horsepower moves aft via a hydraulically actuated wet clutch, five-speed gearbox, and shaft final drive.

Honda went to a shorter, lighter, more-compact exhaust with slash-cut tips. This changes the looks of the Valkyrie and adds a deeper, gutsier snarl to the exhaust note. The engine starts instantly and acts like it’s warmed up right away. Throttle response is spot on; you can lug the engine down to very low revs and it will pull away smartly without hesitation. Power builds in a strong linear fashion with a torque band as wide as a barn. Peak torque hits at only 4,000 revs and the horsepower peak arrives at 5,500 rpm (although Honda won’t release the power or torque ratings). With the lower weight, performance is excellent, there’s lots of passing power, and highway speeds are vibration free and effortless.

Clutch lever effort is moderate, and it’s easy to modulate the wet clutch. Gear changes are fast and slick, and neutral is easy to find. Honda has stayed with the Gold Wing’s five-speed gearbox, which provides a nice spread of ratios. Sixth gear isn’t missed too much.

Chassis and Handling

Valkyrie’s twin-spar aluminum frame is shared with the Gold Wing, which means it’s extra stout for this lighter machine. The rear subframe is modified to fit the seating arrangement, fender, and lack of tail trunk.

The sturdy 45mm fork is longer in order to raise the front end and is fitted with a cartridge damping system to improve ride and handling. Honda says weight distribution is now 50/50 fore and aft. Damping settings are specific to this application to allow for lighter weight.

At the rear, a single-sided Pro-Arm swingarm with a Pro-Link single shock has damping tuned for sporty riding. A remote adjuster knob allows quick adjustments to preload by hand; the knob is accessed by removing the left side cover below the saddle.

Twin floating 310mm front rotors (up from the 296mm units on F6B and Gold Wing) with big four-piston calipers, along with a 316mm disc and three-pot clamper, provide stopping power. Anti-Lock Braking System (ABS) is offered as an option. Braking effort is light, yet stopping force is great. Bringing the big bike to a fast halt is easy and very controllable with good feedback and feel.

With a taller 19-inch front rim and 17-inch rear wheel, the Valkyrie gets a bit more cornering clearance along with slightly revised rake and trail and longer fork tubes compared to the GL1800. The result is a bike that can lean over steeply in turns and feels more confidence inspiring while cornering.

By shedding the trunk and various accouterments, the Valkyrie weighs at least 152 pounds less than the current GL1800. Once underway, the bike feels fairly light and nimble for such a behemoth. Part of that is due to the low center of gravity of the flat six engine.

Suspension is sporty but not punishing over bumps. The long wheelbase makes the bike feel stable, as if it’s on rails. Still, the Valkyrie changes direction surprisingly well and tracks through corners with authority.

Features and Ergonomics

Valkyries have their own gauge cluster with an LCD digital speedo, tach, dual tripmeters, clock, and fuel gauge. The opening message when the ignition is switched on is also customizable, similar to the Gold Wing. Unique switchgear also sets the Valkyrie apart.

Riding posture is upright and relaxed. The rider’s footpegs are up by 1.3 inches and set 0.6 inch forward versus the F6B. Additionally, the handlebar is 1.3 inches farther forward, 1.5 inches higher, and 0.7 inch wider than the F6B’s. A tiny flyscreen provides style but little wind protection. If you plan to ride at highway speeds often, the accessory screen will be money well spent.

The saddle is nicely shaped and offers a low seat height, which shorter riders will appreciate. However, it’s quite firm and I found myself squirming after an hour or so. The forward fairing panels work well to route wind away from the rider’s legs while keeping excess engine heat in warm weather out of the cockpit area.

The Valkyrie is designed so that the rear seat is removable, and a panel gives the bike a solo-seat appearance. The grab rails can also be removed, and the cover hides the mounting holes for a custom appearance. Honda genuine accessories include a tall windscreen (needed), saddlebags (very useful), a backrest, wind deflector, passenger floorboards, rear luggage rack, LED fog lights, leather touring bag, and numerous dress-up trim items. These parts can make the Valkyrie into a pleasant long-distance tourer.

Final Thoughts

With the new Valkyrie, Honda now offers three different motorcycles based on the Gold Wing platform, each with its own personality. Available in black, dark red metallic, and blue metallic. Only the black is also available with ABS. This is a very refined machine that should appeal to experienced riders who appreciate high performance in a large motorcycle. Base price is a substantial ,999. ABS adds another grand.