Honda CTX1300 first test!

Author: Roland Brown Posted: 19 May 2014

To be honest, we're not completely sure about the look, but Roland likes it after riding it at its world launch. Meet the Honda CTX1300 seen here from the rear so you can appreciate the full glory of its bags. Or should that be baggers?
Honda developed the CTX1300 with one eye on the US, where “baggers” — mostly stripped-down V-twin tourers with a half-fairing and panniers — are hugely popular. So much so that last year Honda slimmed down the mighty Gold Wing to create the F6B, and now has taken the trouble to develop a new bagger powered by the 1261cc V4 motor from the ST1300.

The shaft-drive engine is detuned from the Pan European tourer spec, with new cams, smaller throttle bodies, revised injection system and a new exhaust. Its maximum of 83bhp is well down on the ST’s 117bhp but the peak is 2000rpm lower, at 6000rpm, and maximum torque is produced at just 4500rpm.

Style is a big part of any bagger’s appeal, and the CTX scores highly. Its shapely half-fairing holds the regulation short screen, plus mirrors that house the indicators. The V4 lump’s transverse cylinders give a unique look, along with the stepped seat and panniers that are colour-matched to the lustrous white, black or red paintwork.

Chassis layout is based on a tubular steel frame with 43mm usd forks and simple twin shocks. With a kerb weight of 338kg the CTX is heavy, but the V4 lump means the bike’s centre of gravity is low, aided by the petrol tank’s location under the seat, which is very low at 735mm.

The low seat combines with pulled-back bars and fairly forward-set footrests to give an upright, typically cruiser-like riding position, made more comfortable by the stepped seat’s substantial lower back support. Less typical is the view that includes not just round dials for speed and revs (with digital display between them), but also two round speakers and “tank-top” buttons for the music system.
Honda's new CTX1300 being ridden by Roland Brown. It weighs a lot, but handles surprisingly well, considering.
Performance from the softly tuned V4 is smooth and flexible, with useable acceleration on tap from as low as 2000rpm, and a surge of midrange grunt that gives pleasingly strong acceleration and effortless overtaking. Once under way you rarely need the five-speed box, which generally shifted smoothly. Gearing is slightly taller than the ST’s, giving a relaxed, long-legged feel at main road cruising speeds.

The only slight drawback, typical of baggers, is that the short screen did little to divert the breeze, so the sound system was drowned out above 50mph. (Riders less tall than me fared better; there’s also a higher accessory screen.) There’s no radio; instead you supply sounds via memory stick or smart-phone, connecting the latter either via Bluetooth or the USB socket in one of the two small fairing pockets.

Chassis performance was surprisingly good given the Honda’s weight and simple layout. As well as being stable in a straight line and giving a fairly plush ride, the CTX handled respectably well, steering with a light touch and even having enough ground clearance and tyre grip for some fun in corners. There’s plenty of stopping power, too, thanks to an efficient, ABS-enabled triple-disc system that adds a bit of front brake (via one piston of the left caliper’s three) when you use the foot pedal.

The panniers are useful though not big enough to hold a helmet. Thoughtful details include a fairly generous 19.5-litre fuel capacity, heated grips and self-cancelling indicators as standard, and a non-adjustable traction control system. Accessories range from chromed cylinder head covers and levers to practical stuff including a rack and top-box.

At £14,999 the CTX is far from cheap, but it’s fun to ride and has an appealing style and character all of its own. It’s a slightly quirky bike that is difficult to put into any particular category, but works reasonably well in a variety of roles from cruiser to tourer.
The CTX1300 bagger in white.
+ Points
— Style, engine flexibility and character, improbably good handling

- Points — Price, wind noise, weight 




83bhp, 78ft.lbs

Wet weight


Seat height



Red, white, black