– Motorcycle News, Editorials, Product Reviews and Bike Reviews

Motorcycle News, Editorials, Product Reviews and Bike Reviews

2005 Honda VTX1800F: MD Preview

Honda recently invited us down to its Torrance, California, USA headquarters to take a look at the new VTX1800F. This bike is the “sport cruising” version of the VTX1800 introduced in 2001 (for the 2002 model year). Since we have already provided you with a list of all the unique features of the VTX1800F in our article dated September 8, 2004, we will not list them again. Instead, we want to focus on a couple of aspects of this bike, and Honda’s cruiser program in general.

If there is any performance variation between other VTX1800 models and the “F”, it would be derived from the unique rear wheel. Other VTX1800s feature 16 inch rear wheels, while the “F” model features an 18 inch wheel with very low profile radial rubber. According to Honda, this results in more nimble, precise handling, in keeping with the “sport cruiser” concept of the 1800F. Since we have not ridden the bike, we cannot comment on this claim, except that the nature of the low profile 18 inch rubber should provide a different feel, and a different handling capability. If we have the chance to test ride this bike, we will comment on that aspect.

Also, it appears that all 2005 Honda VTX1800 models, including the “F”, have longer suspension travel in the rear (10mm longer), with revised damping and rebound rates, while the front fork features changes aimed at reducing friction for a more supple ride.

If you look at our original ride reviews of the VTX1800 (part one here and part two here) you will see that the performance of the rear shock was one of our few complaints, and Honda may have addressed this.

Is the VTX1800F really a sport cruiser capable of competing with some of the more purpose-built sport cruisers on the market? Aside from the 18 inch rear wheel, the 1800F could be considered nothing more than a styling exercise by Honda. Keep in mind, however, that the engine performance of the VTX1800 already surpasses most of the engines available in competing models, whether designated “sport” or otherwise. Handling is the one area where the VTX1800 is left behind by dedicated “sport cruisers”, and the unique 18 inch wheel and low profile rubber may partially address this.

In the end, most cruiser buyers may not worry about these details too much — tending to focus on styling as the primary factor in this decision making process. This brings us to the other aspect of Honda’s presentation, i.e., customization of their VTX1800 line.

According to Honda, you can build 51 different VTX1800 bikes on the Honda web site by choosing among VTX1800 models, colors, and then placing your bike within one of three specifications known as “Spec 1”, “Spec 2” and “Spec 3”. There is then a procedure for having your local dealer order this particular “custom” machine for you, at which time Honda will build it right here in the USA at the Marysville, Ohio motorcycle plant.

The problem for Honda may be getting interested buyers to its web site to try out this custom building program. Also, educating Honda dealers so that they can adequately explain this process to potential buyers may be a challenge. Finally, marketing this “custom building program” is a challenge in itself, where confusion can arise as often as information.

You might want to take a look at Honda’s web site here, and simply utilize the site to build a cruiser to your specification. In writing this article, I built the machine pictured at the top, which is a 2005 VTX1800F, Spec 3, with a Candy Black Cherry paint job. The program quoted a retail price of $14,899 for this machine, and invited me to request a quote from my local Honda dealer (which I declined).

This program is certainly advantageous to those VTX1800 buyers who want to customize their bikes (probably most of those buyers want to do this), and would be happier with a “custom” starting point provided by the Honda factory. In addition to the three specifications available for each of the models and each of the colors, Honda has quite a large amount of bolt on-accessories, from windshields to saddlebags, lights, etc. Those are also discussed on the Honda site, and you will have a chance to choose those accessories as you “build” your machine.

What does all this mean? It means that Honda believes that plenty of cruiser buyers are smart enough to figure all this out, and use the Internet to take advantage of this head start on their own custom VTX1800. Only time will tell whether this program will be utilized to the extent Honda thinks it will.

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