After flying in to Melbourne at around 1700 and heading out to pick up the VTX 1800 I came to the realization that I had forgot to bring my gloves. So there I was in the middle of a Melbourne winter faced with a 200 kilometre ride up to Shepparton in the dark of night with no gloves to keep my delicate little digits (sic) warm.
Oh well, such is the life of a forgetful bike journo who actually utilizes bikes for transport needs rather than cars. A fact reinforced when I arrived at Winton the next day and met up with the only other bike journo that attends all the Australian race meets. Now this old duffer turned up in an Ovlov (Volvo) complete with bike on a trailer. Yes I am having a dig at the AMCN girls, sorry I mean guys. Sometimes I just can’t help myself but I am sure Ken will take it in the good humour it is intended ;-> Back to the bike….
The VTX 1800 is the most powerful V-Twin cruiser yet seen and has enough stomp to embarrass not just plenty of sportsbikes off the line, but all of them. I reckon this thing would beat any motorcycle over the first 50 yards, no problem. With the right amount of provocation and a fair bit of timing it can even rear up into a reasonably respective little mono!
Honda claim over 100 horsepower at 5,000rpm from the fuel injected donk but the really big numbers are in the torque department, try 163Nm or 16.6kg-m on for size, at only 3,000rpm! It is a low revving long stroke design with a large 4-inch bore, but it still revs harder than Yamaha’s smaller 1,600cc Cruiser. The acceleration off the line is excellent and the long stroke engine finds traction easily, plenty of throttle from a standing start will provoke some wheelspin but this just adds to the attraction and is really quite addictive.
It is clear that the 1,795cc liquid-cooled 52° V-Twin sets a new standard in cruiser powerplants. It is nearly vibration free, largely thanks to the rubber engine mounts, similar to the way a car engine is located.
You can feel the large pistons slide their way up and down through the long 4.5 inch stroke but this is not vibration, it is just a fact of large pistons in large bores.
The heavy 19 kilogram forged steel crankshaft makes it feel like the bike is not doing much more than idling when at the national 110 kph speed limit.
Most of the engine covers are chromed with an attractive silver finish on the crankcases and cylinders, these are finned for that traditional cruiser look.
Three valves reside in each cylinder head, two 34mm intake valves and one massive 55mm exhaust valve. Twin spark plugs per cylinder add to the efficiency and make for easy starting. Twin 42mm throttle bodies feed those heads from a 4.5 litre airbox. The standard exhaust system is a large two-into-one chromed unit that is a bit too quiet for my liking. A nice free flowing system would have to be the first thing added to any potential buyers shopping list.
The transmission is quite smooth and offers 5 ratios which seem to suit the bike quite well. My only complaint in this department is that I would like the shift to be a little more positive, but that is a sportsbike rider talking, and as far as this style of motorcycle is concerned the VTX is less vague in that regard than most. Drive is transferred to the large 180mm rear tyre via a shaft-drive system.
In the stopping department we see another variation of Honda’s Combined Braking System (CBS) which finds it’s true purpose in life on a bike such as the VTX 1800. It links the front and rear brakes together to ensure an optimal balance of braking performance when only the rear brake pedal is used. The front brake lever operates the two front disc brakes in the conventional manner. Braking performance is excellent and the VTX remains stable under full emergency stop conditions, all the way through to a full stationary stop.
Handling is quite good for such a large motorcycle, with inner city maneuvering hardly a chore and tight spots in parking bays posing no problems. Minimal effort is required through the bars to get the bike turned but the reach to the bars seems a little long and wide, but again this is what the cruiser market seems to like. Also in trend with the cruiser fashion the grips are very large and thick.
Out in the faster stuff Honda’s VTX holds a line well and the ground clearance is surprisingly good, you need to be really charging before you start grounding things out.
45mm upside down forks handle the suspension duties quite well and provide 130mm of travel, even when the strong braking performance is tested to the extreme they cope admirably.
Out back twin shocks offer 100mm of travel and are finished in chrome. They work quite well but hard hits over big bumps can be transferred through to the rider a little sharply, again this is common with this style of motorcycle.
A tank mounted display houses the tripmeter/odometer reset button, warning lamps for the indicators, neutral, low fuel, oil pressure, temperature, fuel injection and high beam. Above that display is the large conventional style speedo with an LCD display providing odometer and tripmeter readouts.
A remarkably low 693mm seat height will suit even the shortest in the leg department. The seat is what the cruiser boys call a ‘dragster’ style, it is quite supportive but with such an upright riding position I would like maybe a little more padding. Another thing that does not bode well for long distance touring duties is the 16.5 litre fuel tank which can be drained in under 150 kilometres if the rider gets a little excited with the throttle. Gentle cruising should see around 200 kilometres between fuel stops.
But bikes of this ilk seem to be mainly used around town or only short strops to the local cappuccino corner rather than any serious touring duties. Pillion comfort is okay but far from luxurious, I believe their will be optional extras that may offer some more comfort for your passenger.
A large chrome hooded headlight is extremely effective and much superior to that seen on any other cruiser that I have sampled. In fact it would put some sportsbikes to shame in that department.
If you intend to carry any gear it seems that the only option will be the Honda saddle bags. It doesn’t look as though strapping gear to the bike will be too easy.
Australia only gets one colour option on the American built VTX, and that is the black that you see here. At a RRP of $22,990 + on road costs Honda’s VTX 1800 will be available at your local dealer very shortly.
If you want a hot-rod cruiser with serious stomp the VTX 1800 will not disappoint.
VTX 1800 Specifications
Bore and Stroke: 101mm x 112mm
Compression Ratio: 9.0:1
Valve Train: SOHC, three valves per cylinder
Carburetion: PGM-FI with automatic choke
Ignition: Solid-state digital, two spark plugs per cylinder
Final Drive: Shaft
Front Suspension: 45mm inverted fork with 130mm of travel
Rear Suspension: Dual shocks with 100mm of travel and adjustable preload
Brakes: Dual 296mm disc with LBS three-piston calipers up front. Single 316mm disc with LBS two-piston caliper at the rear
Tyres: 130/70R-18 at the front and 180/70R-16 radial out back
Rake: 32.0 degrees
Seat Height: 693mm
Dry Weight: 320kg
Fuel Capacity: 16.6 litres (Cruising range of around 200 kilometres)
Colours: Illusion Blue, Black
Test distance: 750 kilometres
Engine Type: 1795cc liquid-cooled 52° V-twin