Is this thing running? I knew I had pushed the starter button, and I heard a low rumble. The tach had sprung to life, but I couldn’t feel much. These Honda flat-six motors are so smooth they always surprise me. This, despite the fact that I tested the Gold Wing F6B in the recent past. Amazing engine, in more ways than one.
But the Honda Valkyrie I was about to test for the first time was much more than just the housing for that wonderful flat-six motor. It represents Honda’s return to the concept that created a cult-like following the first time. Take a big powerful luxury tourer and strip it to the bone. Remove enough weight from an already fast motorcycle and you are left with a much better handling, much quicker motorcycle. The 2014 Valkyrie starts with the Gold Wing chassis and 1832 cc liquid cooled, fuel injected, horizontally opposed six-cylinder engine. It loses more than 150 pounds to arrive at a claimed wet weight of 750 pounds (full tank of gas). Still a big bike, but keep in mind the engine feels like it could pull around your motor home.
The twin-beam aluminum frame that makes the Gold Wing a solid platform for a rider, passenger, luggage and an additional 154 pounds of chassis makes the Valkyrie feel like it was carved from a single piece of billet. The Valkyrie gets a low 28.8 inch seat height, and unique wheel and tire sizes, including a 19-inch front and 17-inch rear. That 19-inch front tire is no skinny piece of rubber, as it is a somewhat unique 130 section unit with more width than most sport bike tires.
It is a good thing that the front tire has a fat contact patch, because the Valkyrie comes with some serious front brakes, including stiff, four-piston calipers gripping twin 310 mm discs. A single-disc resides in back.
The ergonomics get tweaked, with the footpegs 1.3 inches higher and 0.6 inches forward compared to those on the F6B. The handlebar is 1.3 inches forward, 1.5 inches taller and 0.7 inches wider compared to the F6B. The seat is broad and supportive for the rider, and includes a removable passenger seat. Those aluminum passenger grab rails are also removable.
The headlight, tail light and turn signals on the Valkyrie are all LED units.
This is Honda, and this is the latest member of the Gold Wing family. If you expected it to be refined and well sorted, you would be right on the money. The new Valkyrie is smooth, fast, handles in a balanced manner, and stops quickly. We had a chance to ride the Valkyrie back-to-back with a full-dress Gold Wing, and that missing 154 pounds makes a huge difference, as one might expect.
Although the engines have a similar feel, the response in the Valkyrie is understandably much quicker, and the chassis feels much more controlled. In fact, we found the suspension tuning of the Valkyrie quite firm. Not harsh, but several notches stiffer feeling than the suspension of the Gold Wing. By comparison, the Valkyrie feels much more confident and sure-footed when ridden quickly, which was surely one of Honda’s goals. The suspension tuning is an excellent compromise, which is a good thing given the fact that it is largely non-adjustable, with the exception of a remotely available spring preload adjuster for the rear shock.
The new Valkyrie provides the perfect platform for testing powerful brakes, with its long wheelbase and extremely low center of gravity. The brakes deliver with excellent power and modulation. I really appreciated the wider contact patch on the 19-inch front wheel, as contrasted with some of the skinny 19-inch front wheels I have sampled on other cruisers. It made a huge difference when braking, and particularly when cornering.
Speaking of cornering, the Valkyrie can achieve some very impressive lean angles before touching down a footpeg feeler. Moreover, it has the chassis and rubber to take advantage of those lean angles. This is a bike that can be hustled quite well through fast sweepers, but don’t expect to flick it side-to-side through tight corners. When you try to do that, you realize that the Valkyrie needs to take its time, a bit, when it comes to changing directions. The bike will start to understeer slightly when you try to mimic a sport bike.
Nevertheless, for the category of motorcycle the Valkyrie fits into, it handles extremely well. It provides confidence and holds a line well through bumpy turns.
The ergonomics may or may not suit Gold Wing enthusiasts. The pegs are relatively high and forward, providing a more aggressive platform that will be unfamiliar to Gold Wing riders. Nevertheless, it proved a comfortable perch for our 100 miles in the saddle in Southern California yesterday.
Honda went to the trouble to tune the intake and exhaust notes on the Valkyrie to provide a lower rumble at low rpm levels, and a throatier shriek at high rpm levels. As far as we could tell, they achieved their goal, but we would like to ride the bike outside of a tight group of journalists to further assess this. The LCD instrumentation is thorough, and it has 5 levels of adjustable brightness so that it can be tuned to be legible in bright sunlight. A very useful feature.
The Valkyrie is fast. This engine is flexible with a broad spread of thrust. Honda says that the torque peak is down at 4,000 rpm, and that the horsepower peak arrives at 5,500 rpm. In practice, gear selection is far less important on the Valkyrie than it is on many other motorcycles when it comes to corner exit performance. Often two, and sometimes as many as three, gears will do the job well. Vibration is never an issue on this bike, which remains silky smooth at all rpm levels.
The 2014 Valkyrie has aggressive, forward-looking styling. Honda knows that it is pushing the envelope with some of their new styling exercises, and certainly must know that it will leave behind a good deal of the aging demographic that clings to the Gold Wing platform. Nevertheless, Honda needs new riders drawn to that platform, and the radically styled, high performance Valkyrie might turn that trick. We will see.
One thing that is not in question, however, is the polished, refined nature of the Valkyrie. Raw, aggressive acceleration in a package that is possibly the most tested, refined mechanical system in the motorcycle universe. The Valkyrie performs exactly as the Honda faithful expect. If the radical new styling hits home, Honda will have another hit on its hands.
The 2014 Valkyrie is available in 3 colors (pictured in this article), including Black, Dark Red Metallic and Blue Metallic. An ABS brake system is only available as an option on the Black model. Base price is $17,999 U.S. MSRP, and $18,999 U.S. MSRP for the ABS model. Take a look at Honda’s website for additional details and specifications.
Here is Honda’s summary of the features and benefits, as well as the specifications for the Gold Wing Valkyrie/Gold Wing Valkyrie ABS:
The Valkyrie® name is legendary, and the machine first introduced in 1996 has a hard-core following to this day. Now for 2014, the Gold Wing® Valkyrie takes that unmistakable swagger to a whole new level. It’s a winning formula: Take a legendary machine, strip it down to the essentials to shed pounds, wrap it in minimalist bodywork and power it with an engine that produces ground-shaking torque and an unmistakable six-cylinder howl. The core of this remarkable custom is Honda’s unique 1832cc liquid-cooled horizontally opposed six-cylinder engine that also powers the Gold Wing and Gold Wing F6B. With an awe-inspiring power-to-weight ratio, aluminum twin-spar frame and suspension system tuned for serious riders, the Valkyrie is all about unparalleled performance and style, and it also includes modern touches: LED headlight, taillight and turn signals, multi-function digital LCD instrumentation and available Anti-Lock Braking System.
Features & Benefits
– Powerful, fuel-injected 1832cc engine features a parallel two-valve cylinder head with direct shim-under-bucket valve actuation for extraordinary power and performance along with a smooth, sophisticated engine feel and rugged dependability.
– Torque peak arrives early at only 4000 rpm and peak power hits 1500 revs later for astonishing roll-on performance.
– Programmed Fuel Injection (PGM-FI) incorporates two 40mm throttle bodies and six high-pressure programmed fuel injectors for excellent metering under varying conditions.
– The ECU provides two digital 3-D fuel-injection maps for each cylinder, creating ideal fuel mixture and spark advance settings for superb rideability. Unique knock-control sensors monitor for knock to improve performance.
– ECU closed-loop emissions system utilizes two oxygen sensors to constantly deliver a precise air/fuel mixture, while two exhaust catalyzers further reduce emissions of carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons and nitrogen oxides.
– Slash-cut exhaust tips give the Valkyrie a distinctive visual identity plus a deeper exhaust note.
– Two side-mounted radiators enhance cooling efficiency and use low-air-pressure areas created by side cowls to draw cooling air through the radiators and beyond the rider at highway speeds.
– Twin-spar aluminum frame layout parallels the design for sport bikes to deliver handling traits and rider feel and feedback more like a sport bike than a cruiser.
– Low seat height of 28.8 inches, curb weight of 750 pounds and low center of gravity all combine to help give the Valkyrie impressive handling and brilliant all-around performance.
– 19-inch front and 17-inch rear wheels add a touch more cornering clearance to the equation.
– Remote hydraulic shock spring preload adjuster allows for quick and easy suspension tuning.
– For a more sporting nature, the footpegs are 1.3 inches higher and 0.6 of an inch forward compared to those on the F6B. The handlebar is set 1.3 inches forward, 1.5 inches taller and spreads 0.7-inch wider compared to the F6B’s bar.
– Spacious and accommodating two-piece seat with removable passenger seat.
– Stylish tail section incorporates aluminum passenger grabrails that are removable for a streamlined look.
– LED headlight, taillight and turn signals contribute to a distinctive appearance.
– Fat 1-inch handlebar lends a custom look.
– Multi-function digital LCD instrumentation.
– Optional ABS model contributes to consistent braking action under a wide variety of road conditions.
– Electronic self-canceling turn signals monitor speed, distance and time parameters for more accurate functioning (ABS model only).
– Available in Black, Dark Red Metallic and Blue Metallic. ABS model available in Black only.
– Transferable three-year limited warranty; extended coverage available with a Honda Protection Plan.
Honda Genuine Accessories†
Backrest, Wind Deflector, Passenger Floorboards, Rear Carrier, Saddlebags, LED Fog Lights, 12-Volt Accessory Socket, Billet Master Cylinder Cover, Chrome Side Stand, Chrome Side Covers, Chrome Swingarm Pivot, Custom Grips, Boulevard Screen, Tall Windscreen, Leather Touring Bag
† WARRANTY: Because we’re so confident in the quality of each of our Honda Genuine Accessories, we’re pleased to offer one of the best warranties in the industry. Three-year warranty begins on the day accessories are purchased by the customer.
Accessories subject to change.
Model: Valkyrie / Valkyrie ABS
Engine Type: 1832cc liquid-cooled horizontally opposed six-cylinder
Bore and Stroke: 74.0mm x 71.0mm
Compression ratio: 9.8:1
Valve Train: SOHC; two valves per cylinder
Ignition: Computer-controlled digital with 3-D mapping
Final Drive: Shaft
Front: 45mm cartridge fork; 4.8 inches travel
Rear: Pro-Arm single-side swingarm with Pro-Link rear single shock with hydraulic spring preload; 4.1 inches travel
Front: Dual 310mm front discs
Rear: Single 316mm rear disc
Wheelbase: 67.2 inches
Rake (Caster angle): 29° 50’
Trail: 114mm (4.5 inches)
Seat Height: 28.8 inches
Fuel Capacity: 6.1 gallons
Estimated Fuel Economy**: TBD
Valkyrie: Black, Dark Red Metallic, Blue Metallic
Valkyrie ABS: Black
Curb Weight*: 750 pounds (Valkyrie) / 754 pounds (Valkyrie ABS)
*Includes all standard equipment, required fluids and full tank of fuel—ready to ride.
**Miles per gallon values are calculated estimates of fuel consumed during laboratory exhaust emissions tests specified by the EPA, not during on-road riding. Use for comparison purposes only. Your actual mileage will vary depending on how you ride and maintain your vehicle, weather, road conditions, tire pressure, cargo and accessories, rider and passenger weight, and other factors.
Meets current CARB and EPA standards.
©2014 American Honda Motor Co., Inc. All Rights Reserved.