View Full Version : Me and a Honda ST1300 for 450 miles...

07-26-2008, 10:51 PM
I just came back from vacation in TN where a good friend of mine and I both rented Honda ST1300 bikes. His was silver, mine was black, with 18K on the clock. Mine had a Two Brothers exhaust on it and as far as I can tell, the rest was stock...

We spent a good day riding around TN and NC. Hwy 129 (aka. Tail of the Dragon), Cherohala Skyway, a bunch of other roads in Smoky Mountains. About 450 miles when all said and done. Got beautiful sunshine, then rained on a little, then drenched. It was awesome when all said and done... My ride report is pending... but I wanted to talk about the ST1300...

First - you should understand that I never did ride another big sport tourer, so this was a new category for me. ST1300 surprised me in both good and bad ways. Let's start:

STEERING - overall I was really impressed how well balanced the bike felt to me. I thought it had excellent road manners. Very neutral, did not try to pull me into the curve either way. I always felt in control without any weird input and I loved that! Even with the tank full (7.7 gallons??) - it did not feel really "top heavy". It was heavy overall but eh... it is a 1300... I still leaned that thing more than I ever thought I would during that time!

BRAKING - another area that impressed me. Perhaps a bit too jumpy, those front brakes, really got to take it easy, but once you get used to it - it really was excellent braking performance!

SEAT - meh... I dunno... I have to wonder... why do they put a Spanish inquisition torturing device on a $15,000 bike? I am not sure what is up with that - perhaps because I am 6'2'' with 32'' inseam, I felt that the seat was really uncomfortable. My ehm... area... started feeling numb after exactly 17 miles on the clock. Since then, it was a lot of shifting around for me... sigh... :wary:

HANDLEBARS - I thought they would be better if a little higher. Again, perhaps it's my body build... I really wished them a little higher but it was not too bad, as I was still able to ride standing up on pegs occasionally to deal with the seat problem as mentioned above...

SHIFTING - this was actually a bit frustrating at times. Twice the bike jumped out of 2nd into N unexpectedly... Trying to find N on purpose though was really tough. I was a bit let down by this. Also - what is up with this bike not having a 6th gear? I looked for it many times (and my friend did too). While the engine is supposed to be able to rev to 9K, it really does not "feel" comfortable to me past about 4K unless you are really gunning it. I dunno... :ponder:

FINAL DRIVE - for the most part, I did not mind the shaft... but I was a bit frustrated by it when the time of a lot of downshifting came... this was during the final ride on the Tail of the Dragon... yes, those 318 curves are really there... and it was pouring rain I mean it was a good rain even by TX standards... :lol2: I found it a bit difficult to try to conserve every last bit of traction by making sure that downshifts (and lower gear engagement) are very smooth without any "jerks" after clutch engages as I really did not want to see that back wheel break loose and start sliding under me on the wet road. I guess people that ride shafties a lot get used to this. I am used to chains I guess, which are a bit more forgiving in this situation... But both Yamaha and Kawasaki direct competitors are also shafties so there...

WINDSHIELD - I loved the button up-and-down operation... most of the time I rode with it all the way down, catching the wind myself. During smaller rain, I would raise it near max and would stay basically dry tucked in behind it. Very cool!!

POWER was great... but not overwhelming. It seems like a lot of grunt comes from lower end, not sure if my exhaust had something to do with it. The bike climbed from 3000 to 5000 feet without any problem, doing anything I wanted in between.

I did notice some heat coming to my legs from the engine, but it was not really uncomfortable.

Overall, the seat was the most obviously painful part for me. I enjoyed the bike, the ride and the roads very much. I could learn to love the bike I guess (with a different seat!) but now I wonder how the competition rides... that is for some other time!

07-27-2008, 02:42 AM
Good evaluation.

I tested one vs the BMW RT my dept rides now. Brakes were great, but not near what BMW has. Of course the police model wasn't linked like the civilian model. I'd love to ride one with the linked brakes just to see how it feels.

Power was good but again, didn't hose the BMW like I expected.

I agree on handlebar position.

Shaft drive? I didn't notice anyting on the negative side. It actually torqued less than the BMW.

Funny about the seat comments. The demo police model comes with a solo saddle that is WAY comfortable.

Overall, I liked the bike but I don't see one in my future. Now a Goldwing? Maybe so.

07-27-2008, 02:57 PM
I just put ~3000 miles on my 2003 ST1300 at the end of June / early July.

In all those miles the stock seat was never an issue. I did have some discomfort in my knees after a couple hours of riding. I need to try some combination of raising the seat and/or adding the MCL "highway blades".

Bars: I think a LOT of people feel that the the ST1300's bars are low. I would like to try a higher position sometime, but I wouldn't want to be stuck with that position. I guess what I am trying to say... isn't it better for the stock bars to be too low? It is "easy" to add risers. If the stock bars are too high... what can you do?

Shifting: on my bike shifting up from N to 2 produces a hefty "kaCHUNK" sound and feeling. Having only ridden this single ST1300 I have no idea if that is normal. It seems to only be an issue after everything is warmed up.

I also missed the 6th gear when I first bought the bike. I have grown used to not having it. The bike has more than enough power that once you're up to 5th you really don't "have to" shift down if you need to accelerate away. I also find the engine smooth enough that the possible lower RPMs of a 6th gear are not really missed.

Windshield: My 2003 is the one year they did not have the push-button windshield adjustment. :doh:

07-27-2008, 03:57 PM
So how did the two brothers sound?? Like a bike or a 4 banger car? I have handle bar risers, they help the position alot. I had my seat reworked and gel installed. I like everything about the bike with the mods except the sound, I would buy 2 bros or staintunes if I knew they sounded good. I want a motorcycle sound not a hopped up 4 banger sound, nor do I want a louder jetson mobile sound.

07-27-2008, 04:18 PM
You have to "put it" into 2nd... show it who the Master is :lol2: The stock seat is bad... real bad. You can get risers, which 90% of the ST1300 riders do add on for your riding pleasure.

If you are not used to a shaft drive bike, I've heard alot about drive line lash ;-)

Glad you enjoyed your ride ;-)

07-27-2008, 05:29 PM
So how did the two brothers sound?? Like a bike or a 4 banger car? I have handle bar risers, they help the position alot. I had my seat reworked and gel installed. I like everything about the bike with the mods except the sound, I would buy 2 bros or staintunes if I knew they sounded good. I want a motorcycle sound not a hopped up 4 banger sound, nor do I want a louder jetson mobile sound.

It actually sounded really nice, still like a bike too - not like one of those Civics with an oversized muffler :trust: . Gives it a bit of a mean growl. I did notice small amount of backfire/pop at deceleration - but it did not happen every time and it was not obnoxious.

Good to know about the mods. I guess there is no perfect bike in stock form for everyone!

07-31-2008, 05:14 PM
You hit the nail on the head about the seat. That was the first thing I replaced. Went with a Sargeant and couldn't be more pleased with the improvement. I'm also pretty tall (6'4") but I have a 36" inseam. Even though I keep the seat in the highest position, I wouldn't mind if the bike was a little taller. No problem with the bars for me though. Other than the seat, the only two gripes I have about the bike are the lack of power outlets, (this should have been a no-brainer for Honda, given the purpose of the bike), and that aggravating speedo error. Until I got my Zumo, I was continually having to mentally calculate my actual speed. FWIW, I've got 16,000 miles on the bike, (a 2006 model), and have also done the Dragon thing.

There are other lighter, faster bikes out there, but the ST suits me well. It'll go faster than I ever will!

07-31-2008, 05:50 PM
I may be one of the few that has an ST and a Concours 14. To me the ST is a well thought out bike. That seat does bother me also but the Spencer mod is supposed to relieve that, haven't done it yet. At least Honda did put a 3 position seat adjustment on it. I'm 5' 8", bars are perfect for me but there are risers for taller guys. It is heavier than the Connie, I've dropped mine twice just moving it around. I have the Motorcycle Larry highway wings that are nice on long trips. I have 18k on mine and have never had one problem with my tranny jumping out of gear, knock on wood. I like the storage in the fairing, Connie has basically none except the little one on the tank. St should have come with a power outlet, Connie has one. Connie does have a stronger motor, can really tell when 2-up. Connie has a 6th gear, just motors along at 3200 at 70.

07-31-2008, 06:00 PM
Ran out of writing room. I don't like the Connie seat, haven't taking it 2-up yet over 120 miles but what bothers me is the material on it, you stick to it more and can't move around on it as easy.But overall for the longer trips 2-up I'll be on the ST. Wife still thinks the ST is more comfortable to her. Connie has tiny passenger pegs and her feet keep coming off, will have to get a passenger peg lowering kit and different pegs.

Been to Deals Gap 2 times on the ST.

07-31-2008, 09:16 PM
I rode a buddy's ZZR1200, has risers, sargent seat, and a muzzy exhaust that sounded really sweet. I had a grin from ear to ear on the short ride but would likely turn to a frown on a long trip. But did I mention it sounded really good!

08-01-2008, 12:47 AM
Ah... when talking exhaust - I should mention that I always ride with earplugs... so the two bros did not bother me for those 450 miles... I did ride about 10 miles with no plugs and I did not think it was too loud, but I did take it easy there.