Just months after releasing its Fury "factory chopper," Honda has unleashed a trio of new 1300cc V-twin cruisers: Sabre, Stateline, and Interstate. All within the same family, each one of this trio offers an individual take on the factory custom theme, so folks shopping for a cruiser in this size range now have a slew of choices at their Honda dealer. Additionally, their style and function can be easily spiced up by adding Honda Genuine Accessories being released concurrently, giving buyers a host of ways to individualize their rides.
All VT1300 models share Honda's proven drivetrain, also used in the Fury and the discontinued VTX1300 series. Their 1312cc liquid-cooled 52-degree V-twin features a single-pin crankshaft to produce that cruiser cadence people love, plus dual balancers to minimize vibration. Single overhead cams open three valves per cylinder for strong low- and mid-range torque, and a 9.2:1 compression ratio allows the use of regular gas.
The Programmed Fuel Injection (PGM-FI) has no manual controls to fiddle with, and the system provides quick starts, hot or cold. Throttle response is smooth and linear, and a shotgun-style dual exhaust creates a muted but pleasing V-twin exhaust growl. The long, stretched-out gas tank has a capacity of 4.4 gallons, and at its 47 mpg EPA average fuel economy, that works out to a range of 206 miles.
A cable-actuated multi-plate wet clutch carries the power aft to the five-speed gearbox, and then to the shaft final drive. Clutch lever effort is moderate and the clutch is chatter-free and easy to modulate. Gearshifts are quick and sure, neutral is easy to access, and the final drive is quiet and free of excessive lash.
The stout steel-tube frame connects to a steel swingarm, and all models use a slim-line radiator that fits between the front frame downtubes. A thermostatically controlled fan keeps temperatures in check effectively.
Front suspension is via a conventional 41mm fork with 4.0 inches of travel. In back, a single preload-adjustable shock with 3.9 inches of travel handles suspension chores. Wheelbase is a whopping 70.3 inches, which aids stability, but makes U-turns a chore.
Handling is as you would expect with a heavy cruiser; the big Hondas roll into a corner slowly and predictably and hold a line with little effort. As you lean more steeply, the footpeg feelers (or footboards on the Interstate) start to drag, warning the rider to back off a notch. Ride quality is compromised by the limited suspension travel and damping; the suspension soaks up most mild pavement irregularities, but sharp-edged bumps can pass along a good jolt.
Our test bikes were fitted with Bridgestone Excedra bias-ply tires. Both the Stateline and Interstate share the same 140/80-17 front and 170/80-15 rear sizes, while the Sabre has a 90/90-21 front tire. The Excedras provide good grip for braking and hang in there through the corners until scraping sounds tell you to slow down. On the Sabre, the narrow 21-inch front tire changes the steering feel and is less confidence-inspiring than the wider tires.
Brakes consist of a single 336mm front disc with two-piston caliper and one 296mm disc with one-piston caliper in back. Front braking is strong and effective, but rear pedal effort is high and the aft brake feels numb. Both Sabre and Stateline offer the option of Honda's refined ABS with Combined Braking System (CBS), which links the rear brake to the front brake caliper. It adds an extra $ 1,000 and 15 pounds.
A tank-mounted chrome housing holds the analog speedometer, with an odometer and A/B trip meters, and a clock, plus indicators for turn signals, high beam, neutral, oil pressure, and coolant temperature. There's no tacho-meter or fuel gauge, but what is there is readily viewed.
Sans windscreen and saddlebags, Sabre is the rebel of the trio, with its open steering head area reminiscent of the Fury. Shorty fenders at both ends and a skinny 90/90-21 front tire give this model a more-aggressive look than its brethren. The low 26.9-inch saddle and narrow handlebar yield a forward-leaning posture with hands relatively close together. Colors are Black or Candy Red, curb weight is 659 pounds, and base retail is $ 11,799.
Stateline's persona is cruiser traditional, with long valanced fenders, chubby tires at both ends and a distinctive taillight. Front rubber is a 140/80-17 and the rear is a 170/80-15. A wider seat and a long, sweeping, wider handlebar with greater pullback provides a more upright and relaxed riding position, while a frame cover in the steering head area continues the retro style. Stateline's low 26.8-inch seat height allows it to fit riders of all stature. Colors are Black and Pearl Blue, curb weight is 672 pounds, and Stateline's suggested base retail price is $ 11,699.
With saddlebags for a weekend getaway and a windscreen for those long highway runs, Honda's new Interstate should appeal to touring riders. The Interstate adds these amenities to the basic Stateline package, along with floorboards instead of footpegs for the rider, a heel-and-toe shifter and a larger brake pedal.
Shaped along traditional lines, the tall screen offers good wind protection at highway speeds and the leather-wrapped hard saddlebags combine the cruiser look with functionality. They have a 22-liter capacity per side, which will hold a large gym bag, but not a full-face helmet. A hidden remote release system maintains a clean appearance, but there's no way to lock the bags. Saddle height is the same as the Stateline, and the wide, distinctive, pullback handlebar and floorboards make for a relaxed riding position.
Available in Black and Pearl Blue, Interstate's base price is $ 12,749. ABS is not available, but Honda offers 48 accessories including backrests, rear carrier, passenger floorboards, engine guards, driving lights, an audio kit and more.
We found the new VT1300 series to be quality machines with top-notch fit and finish. They run, shift, and get down the road nicely - and they look good doing it. If you're in the market for a cruiser in the displacement category, you owe it to yourself to check these out.
MSRP $ 12,749
Engine 52° V-twin SOHC, 3-valves per cylinder
Bore and Stroke 89.5mm x 104.3mm
Induction PGM-FI w/ automatic enrichment circuit, one 38mm throttle body
Ignition digital with 3-D mapping, 2 spark plugs per cylinder
Transmission 5-speed, wet clutch, shaft final drive
Frame tubular steel, double cradle with steel swingarm
Front Suspension conventional non-adjustable 41mm fork, 4in travel
Rear Suspension single shock, adjustable for preload, 3.9in travel
Rake/Trail 33°/4.6in (118mm)
Brakes Front/Rear one 336mm disc, 2-piston caliper/ one 296mm disc with 1-piston caliper
Tires Front/Rear 140/80-17/ 170/80-15
Curb Weight 712lbs (323kg)
Wheelbase 70.1in (178cm)
Seat Height 26.8in (68cm)
Fuel Capacity 4.4gal (16.7l)
Fuel Consumption EPA estimated 47mpg
Colors Black, Pearl Blue