Breaking Away With The 1999 Honda Valkyrie Tourer

Bike No. 2 from the Breaking Away Comparison

The 1999 Honda Valkyrie Tourer
You just can't look away from that beefy engine that delivers the Honda's smooth, terrific power.Dean Groover

This article was originally published in the April 1999 issue of Motorcycle Cruiser.

Every conversation about the Valkyrie starts with its engine. Absolutely unique in cruising, that mammoth flat six is imposing, intriguing, eye-catching and exciting. Its almost-automotive design springs from its original duty of powering the Gold Wing touring bike. It was something of a shocker when transmogrified for cruising duty. With a brief wave of the hot-rodder’s wand, Honda also made its cruiser a musclebike.

To make the transition from dresser, the single-overhead-cam engine got six carbs instead of four, slightly steamier camshafts, screw-type tappets in place of hydraulics, and closer transmission ratios. It also got a large serving of chrome. Powerful, smooth, and reliable, the Valkyrie invited you to go traveling, even before Honda started equipping it for that purpose. The Valkyrie Tourer, introduced for '97, broadened the invitation with a windshield and saddlebags added to an otherwise standard Valkyrie. This year Honda went even further, making major changes to create the Valkyrie Interstate, which takes the flat six almost back to its Gold Wing form. We expect to test the newest Valkyrie in time for the next issue.

The basic Valkyrie garnered top marks in the flagships comparison in our August '98 issue. Power, handling, comfort, great brakes and a singular, self-confident style helped it to best seven other brands' top cruisers in the eyes and the seats of the pants of our testers. The conversion from basic Valkyrie to Valkyrie Tourer involves nothing more than the addition of a windshield and hard saddlebags. No other parts need to be altered, beefed up or reconfigured to handle the additional equipment and load. Aside from brackets and colors, the bikes are identical.

No one mistakes the Valkyrie for a Harley. That long, flat, liquid-cooled engine with its polished-chrome covers over the single overhead cams on the sides and cam-drive belts in front doesn't make the least pretense of being another air-cooled V-twin. Then there are the carbs with their manifolds curving down into the engine. And the smooth, quick-revving sound speaks more of a highly tuned race car than a lumbering V-twin. Not everyone loves the looks, but at least there is nothing me-too about the engine choice.

Honda took it own course elsewhere too. The gracefully curving lines of the headlight’s eyebrow, the fat upside-down fork legs and the squared-off fishtail-style of the removable muffler tips are all originals. You can see much of the motorcycle’s design philosophy in the instruments. Instead of setting them in the trendy but hard-to-see site atop the fuel tank, Honda put the gauges up above the headlight. There is also a tachometer, a rarity among cruisers. It tells you Honda regards performance as more than just a visual component of the Valkyrie’s character.

The 1999 Honda Valkyrie Tourer
The Valkyrie Tourer has many high points that made it one of the favorites of the "Breaking Away" comparison.
Honda Valkyrie Tourer Overview
High Points:
Terrific power
Very smooth
Handy saddlebags
Exceptional windshield
Distinctive style
Best passenger comfort
Best saddle
Low Points:
Engine heat in hot weather
Many pieces bait the style police
Fewer accessories than others
First Changes:
Remedy some styling flaws
Bag liners
Shorter riders should shorten the windshield
Specifications
1999 Honda Valkyrie Tourer
General
Designation: GL1500CT
Suggested base price: $14,199
Standard colors: Black
Extra cost colors: Red/ivory, black/silver add $500
Standard warranty: 36 mos., unlimited miles
Recommended service interval: 8000 miles
Engine & Drivetrain
Type: Liquid-cooled, horizontally opposed six
Valve arrangement: SOHC, 1 intake valve, 1 exhaust valve; screw-type adjusters
Displacement, bore x stroke: 1520cc, 71 x 64mm
Compression ratio: 9.8:1
Carburetion: 6, 28mm Keihin CV
Lubrication: Wet sump, 4.5 qt
Minimum fuel grade: 87 octane
Transmission: Wet, multiplate clutch; 5 speeds
Final drive: Shaft, 2.833:1
Chassis
Wheelbase: 66.5 in.
Overall length: 100.2 in.
Rake: 32.3 deg
Trail: 6.0 in.
Wheels: Cast alloy, 3.5 x 17 in. front, 5.5 x 16 in. rear
Front tire: 150/80R17 Dunlop D206F tubeless radial
Rear tire: 180/70R16 Dunlop D206F tubeless radial
Front brake: 2 single-action dual-piston calipers, 11.7-in. disc
Rear brake: Single-action caliper, 12.4-in. disc
Front suspension: 45mm stanchions, inverted, 5.1 in. travel
Rear suspension: 2 dampers, 4.7 in. travel, adjustable for preload
Fuel capacity: 5.3 gal (1.1 gal reserve)
Wet weight: 775 lb
GVWR: 1166 lb
Weight bias: 55.4 percent rear wheel
Handlebar width: 34.0 in.
Seat height: 29.1 in.
Inseam equivalent: 33.8 in.
Electrical & Instrumentation
Charging output: 546 watts
Battery: 12v, 12AH
Forward lighting: 7-in. 55/60-watt headlight, position lights
Taillight: Single bulb
Instruments: Speedometer, odometer, tripmeter, tachometer; warning lights for high beam, turn signals, neutral, low oil pressure, sidestand
Performance
Fuel mileage: 30 to 38 mpg, 34.3 mpg average
Average range: 182 miles
RPM at 60 mph, top-gear: 2990
200 yard, top-gear acceleration from 50 mph, terminal speed: 73.0 mph
Quarter-mile acceleration: 12.95 sec., 101.4 mph