2008 Honda VTX1300T Tourer | First Ride

(April 2008)

Say you're an oem with a perennially best-selling model, and it becomes increasingly apparent to you that its owners are heavily modifying the bike-most often with a windshield, bags and backrest. if you had any sort of business acumen your reaction to this situation would be to rig the base model with the aforementioned accessories and squeeze it into the lineup-stat. well, it took three years, but that's exactly what Honda's done with the new Vtx1300t tourer.

The VTX1300 series has been a runaway hit for team red from the get-go, so the only surprise is that they haven't done it sooner. Despite the recent slowdown in bike sales, 65 percent of all streetbike purchases are still cruisers, with tourers making up an increasingly large slice of the pie.

So for 2008 the popular Vtx1300 is now available as a turnkey touring bike. whether you call it the Vtx1300t or the 1300 tourer, Honda's newest maximum middleweight now comes fully decked out with a windshield, saddlebags and a passenger backrest straight from the factory (the same formula Honda used with its Vtx1800 tourer last year). It also gets its own ViN, which adds resale value down the road.

A ground-up design it's not, though-the tourer essentially piles those extra goodies onto Vtx1300r trim. the "r" in Honda nomenclature stands for retro, and that model's traditional, deeply valanced fenders and retro cast wheels, hooded headlight, tank-mounted instruments and floorboards define the newest 1300 as well. the only discern-ible differences are the touring bits and slightly reshaped bullet-style mufflers (the r wears slash-cut pipes), but you'll find no surprises down below-functionally it's a carbon copy of the Vtx1300r with that same big 52-degree, 1312cc V-twin using a single crankpin for a more pronounced rumble. (you can also tell it's a tourer by its chrome side covers and badging on the front fender).

So when it came time for us to take it out on the road, some of the tourer's ride qualities felt like dj vu all over again. to its credit, however, the Vtx1300t seemed to exhibit the tighter handling characteristics of the 1300 r and s versions rather than the sloppier c. the wide, 27-inch-tall saddle stayed comfortable throughout our half-day ride, and the low-rise handlebar was perfectly accessible-a slight pullback provided good leverage and suited us fine for highway cruising.

The heel-toe shifter changes cogs solidly (if loudly) after you work the slick clutch, though there's still that pesky lash evident in the drivetrain, which can make the transition from closed throttle to acceleration less than smooth.

The bike touches down soon, too, but at least the t's floorboards are hinged. As on the r, chassis flex on the 1300 tourer is better controlled than on the c version, and the bike is more nimble than you'd expect with steady cornering and a reasonably adequate suspension for the clean roads we rumbled on. Brakes are also unchanged, so that huge 336mm front disc will still haul you down but, again, with not as much feedback as we'd like. we found the best way to effect quick stops was to work both the front disc and rear 296mm disc together.

The added accessories do bring a weight increase of about 40 pounds, but the tourer wears them well-in fact the extra tonnage seems to settle the bike. the touring bits are well chosen, with a tall backrest that incorporates a long pad for passenger comfort, 24-liter, toploading leather saddlebags with buckle closures and a polycarbonate, mediumheight custom touring windshield with attractive chrome edging and brackets. the screen doesn't offer a quick-release design, but it's light and doesn't hamper handling noticeably in the twisty stuff.

What's more, all the extra goods are genuine Honda bits with good-quality fit and finish. As equipped, Honda says the $10,999 price of the tourer represents a better value than purchasing the accessories separately (we added up the price of the parts in the Honda Genuine Accessories catalog and came up with a total of approximately $1500-though that doesn't include labor for installation).

Honda's also stepped up with a bigger-than-usual accessory list for the Vtx1300t (it's had years with the other 1300s to develop it). the options include two styles of windshield, a lightbar, spotlight visors, several kinds of leather saddlebags, backrests and assorted chrome and billet trim and covers. there's even a digital audio system addon and heated grips, too.

Hey, better late than never.

'08 Honda VTX1300T Tourer
Suggested Base Price: $10,999
Colors: Black, silver, red

Engine
Type: 1312cc, liquid-cooled, 52-degree V-twin
Valvetrain: soHc; 3 valves per cylinder
Bore X Stroke: 89.5 x 104.3mm
Compression: 9.2:1
Fuel system: single 38mm constantvelocity carburetor
Transmission/Final DriVe: 5-speed/shaft

Chassis
Front Suspension: 41mm fork; 5.1 in.travel
Rear Suspension: Dual shocks, preload-adjustable; 3.7 in. travel
Front Brake: single 336mm disc, 2-piston caliper
Rear Brake: single 296mm disc, singlepiston caliper
Front Tire: 140/80-17
Rear Tire: 170/80-15
WheelBase: 65.7 in.
Rake/Trail: 32.0 degrees/5-7 in.
Seat Height: 27.4 in.
Fuel Capacity: 4.8 gal, 1.0-gal reserve
Weight: 748 lb (wet)

Visit motorcyclecruiser.com for more on the VTX1300T.

SOHC, three valves and a single-pin crank: no surprises from the 1312cc mill.
At 24 liters the leather-covered saddlebags offer plenty of room-and look good doing it.
The stereo speaker portion of the audio system blends cleanly with the handlebar.
The chrome lightbar accessory is engineered specifically for the Vtx.
Badging on the front fender is a classy touch, but we'd rather have stronger brakes.
The tourer wears a lightweight, solidmounted, medium-height shield to push gusts away.
Tunes for the t: Honda's Digital Audio system is one of the accessories you can bolt on to the tourer.