First Impression: 2005 Honda VTX1800F Motorcycle

The latest member of Honda's VTX gang expands and improves on the performance-cruiser concept of the original VTX motorcycle and offers a new styling variant to boot. **By [Ar

It seems that every new version of Honda's flagship cruiser series, the VTX1800, brings incremental improvements in the way the bike works. The newest rendition of the big V-twin, the VTX1800F, expands on and refines the "performance custom" concept introduced with the original VTX1800, the C model, and brings some new and welcome improvements to the motorcycle.

Andy Cherney and I recently spent a couple of hours sampling the VTX1800F, and came away pleased with the changes we experienced (though we reserve the right to modify our opinions after we have ridden one for an extended period). Some of the changes we liked are apparent just by looking at the VTX1800F. These include the LCD instrument array, which includes a much-needed tachometer (presented in a bar-graph style above the digital speedometer), a clock, an LED taillight, the streamlined headlight, two-piece saddle, and the new lighter-looking 10-spoke 18-inch cast wheels under abbreviated fenders. It was surprising to us that the F-type weighs five pounds more than the C, which may be attributable to the fact that the new motorcycles has a two-muffler exhaust layout as opposed to the C's two-into-one.

The bike fit five-foot-seven Andy like a glove, but with my couple extra inches of inseam, I wanted the seat's kick-up moved rearward an inch or so. The seat was otherwise nicely shaped and presented nothing to complain about in the brief ride. Andy said it felt lower than the C's, but the spec numbers say it's the same 27.9 inches off the road. We both liked the riding position, too. Suspension compliance seems to have improved over even the VTX1800N, which has generally pleased all of us. Honda's specifications say the the F-model's fork travel, at 5.1 inches, is the same as previous VTX1800s, although we were told it has 10mm (about .4 inch) more stroke. Perhaps the fact that the rear shocks now mount on needle bearings rather than rubber bushings explains the smoother ride over small, sharp edges.

Throttle response also seems to have improved from the original VTX, providing less-abrupt reaction to small throttle changes, although there is still a bit too much lash and rebound from the big spring that absorbs shock in the drivetrain. The powerful, responsive power that has endeared the VTX to so many riders remains intact. The engine is the same as that bolted into the rest of the VTX1800s. We didn't get any performance or mileage figures, but there is no reason to expect them to vary much from the rest of the family.

Cornering clearance is about average for a big twin, with the footpegs' projections dragging first. The brakes are strong and controllable.

At $13,099 base price, the Honda VTX1800F is a bit more than the VTX1800C, the same as the VTX1800R, and less than the VTX1800S and VTX1800N. However, all four VTX1800s are now available in three different finish styles, which Honda calls "Build Specs." These provide different styles of finish on many of the bare metal parts and different engine-finish treatments. Each is priced differently as well, and color selection also changes the price. You can explore costs and see what the different Spec styles look like on Honda's Build Your Own web site. You can also order one set up exactly the way you want, provided you are willing to wait acouple of months for it to arrive. More likely, if the dealer doesn't have the model, style and color you want, he can find a dealer who does and arrange to get that one for you.

We look forward to an extended relationship with the VTX1800F, but at first blush, it seems to have incrementally advanced the state of the VTX art and science.

_Additional motorcycle first rides, road tests and comparison tests are available at the Road Tests section of MotorcycleCruiser.com. For a complete listing of the motorcycle tests available, see the _Motorcycle Cruiser Road Test Finder.

Andy Cherney felt that the VTX1800F fit him better than any of Honda's other big VTX motorcycles. Photo by Art Friedman
The saddle fit Cherney well, but Friedman wanted a bit more room to slide rearward. The passenger seat doesn't look very tempting.
At long last, the VTX1800 gets a tachometer! The new LCD brings a bar-type tach display, along with digital speed display and a clock.
The brief front fender and 10-spoke front wheel appear lighter than their counterparts on other VTX1800s, which would improve ride.
The 4.8-gallon fuel tank, which has also been adopted by the 2005 VTX1800C is now a much clearner-looking seamless style.
The VTX1800F's fenders don't wrap around as much as those of other VTX1800s, and the taillight is an LED style, like the N-type.
The F-type gets staggered dual pipes, a change from the two-into-one system on the VTX1800C, but perhaps heavier.