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Finally, A Decent Color Picture Of Honda’s V-6 X-Wing; Thoughts On The Sport Tourer Segment

Courtesy of Honda, here is an official press photo (in color, for heaven’s sake!) of the prototype X-Wing sport tourer first discussed by MD on October 26, 1999.

This bike, if put into production by Honda, promises to be smooth and fast — in fact, very smooth and very fast!

Honda knows a thing or two about building a V-6 engine. Ever heard of an Acura NSX? The highest output, normally aspirated V-6 engine resides in an NSX. Also, Honda’s Accord V-6 is the smallest, lightest V-6 motor of its capacity (3 liters).

A V-6 powered sport tourer based on the X-Wing is expected to replace Honda’s ST1100. The ST1100 has been largely unchanged for many years, yet it maintains a large share of the sport tourer market and has a fiercely loyal group of owners. The ST1100′s purpose-built V-4 (which sits longitudinally like the X-Wing V-6), is a superb motor — smooth and fast (oops, I keep saying that).

Although Honda has a history of backing away from daring concept designs to far more conservatively styled production models, the X-wing has pleasing design elements which would transfer well to a production bike. Take a piece of paper and hold it to your computer monitor (as I have) and cover everything forward of the gas tank — the rear of the motorcycle is reminiscent of the integrated design of the PC800 – not too exciting. Now (this is a little harder) cover the back half of the motorcycle (everything behind the tank) and look at the front half — far more interesting, with pleasing, flowing lines drawn by fairing panels and head lights. The only objection I have is with the most-forward fairing piece extending over the fender — cover it with a post-it note and viola! I like the look of the whole bike now. This front fairing extension makes the bike look heavy, but, with the panel removed, the entire bike looks sleek and far more agile.

This bike will do extremely well — certainly in the U.S. Many aging baby boomers (including riders introduced to motorcycling on Harley Davidsons and other cruisers) are hooked on motorcycling, but want a more comfortable ride. They’re not ready for a Gold Wing, but their current ride is beating up their older bodies. The ST1100, and its successor, will answer this call quite well and the entire sport tourer segement should continue to grow for these same reasons.

This segment’s choices continue to broaden, from relatively light and sporty bikes like Triumph’s Sprint ST and Honda’s own VFR800, on one end of the spectrum, to the ST1100 and Kawasaki Concours on the other. Do you want your emphasis on “sport” or “tourer” — you can have your choice.

The production based X-Wing will do battle at the tourer end of this market against the BMW R1100RT and Kawasaki Concours. Honda is about to raise the stakes for these competitors.

By the way, will Honda bring to market the single-sided front suspension and steering mechanism displayed on the X-Wing? If it’s dynamic qualities are like those of the James Parker design on the Yamaha GTS1000, the handling and suspension performance should be exemplary (reduced stiction in the front suspension and anti-dive when on the brakes). Nevertheless, I doubt the production bike will feature this system for style reasons. Many people thought the look of the GTS1000′s front end killed sales of a functionally superior motorcycle. Honda is too conservative to take this risk.