Honda's 2010 Fury

(Yes, That Says Honda)

**"This is one of the most exciting projects I've ever worked on. I can't wait to get one in my garage."

"This is totally unlike anything we've ever done, I hope we can actually build it."

"When one of my dealers asked me about it, I told him he was mistaken, we'd never build anything like that..."**

Actual quotes from Honda representatives at the unveiling

You just knew some OEM was going to come out with a chopper...but probably the last one you'd thought would do it first would be Honda. Sure, Harley-Davidson came out with the Softail in '84, Victory with the Vegas in '02, and Star's Raider is only a year old, but nobody (short of Big Dog and its ilk) has truly brought a high-necked hot rod to market until now.

Honda's blown minds before, going their own way with both the Valkyrie, then later the Rune. But those were both within the realm of what Honda does, taking the existing Gold Wing, stripping it, and adding some custom panache. The Fury goes beyond, featuring a flowing look and a complete styling package, the likes of which Honda really only attempted before with the Rune. The details are not just stunning "for a metric bike" which is something we've grown accustomed to over the years, but is something a guy who builds one-off bikes for a living would be proud of. From the painted frame and swingarm, to the beautiful welds, to the lack of afterthoughts like emissions equipment, kickstands, and horns tend to fall into. Instead everything is beautiful or hidden. More importantly, just about everything is elemental and does what it looks like it does. Honda even managed to keep their traditional shaft drive and pretty it up enough to fit the look of the bike.

One consistent knock on metric bikes over the years is that they simply take the formula of Harley's success and copy it. This bike doesn't break any new ground styling-wise, but it does do the smart thing and ape a style of bike that people lust for and simply can't afford. With even a conservative chopper (with questionable build quality) coming in around $20k, there is definitely a market there that an OEM can make a few bones in.

The basic eye-catchingness of the design itself proved to be a problem for Honda during the testing phase of the design. One of the testers (former champion racer Doug Toland) told us that most of the dirtied and disguised hand-built machines that they throw down the miles on before release hardly get a second glance, but with the Fury, they had to bug out on several occasions so would-be admirers didn't get a close look at the bike. We don't think it would have mattered, as nobody would have believed it was a stock Honda anyway.

Just like a true old-school chopper, you can draw a line from the rear axle, up the frame's backbone, all the way to the steering head. The fuel tank helps complete the look by following the line of the soaring frame rails, not the top of the engine. The designers took it a step further though, by wrapping the tank around the frame in the front, adding some shapely lines, and (thankfully) leaving it devoid of tank graphics (including the ugly warning labels Honda is so fond of). In fact the only branding on the entire machine is stamped into the engine covers, cast into the wheels, and a pair of small stickers on the rear fender that say "Fury" and "Honda." We could go on an on in rapture at all the little things Honda got right with this bike, but we just don't have the space. Trust us, it's that good.

The powerplant is out of the VTX1300, with some obvious styling upgrades. All the covers stand up to a 360-degree viewing, and are dipped in thick chrome. The exhaust pipes really are the exhaust pipes, and don't lead to some hidden under-transmission catalyst chamber. The motor sports Electronic Fuel Injection, so it might be a hint that the other 1300s in Honda's line are ditching their carburetors sometime soon.

If we had to find a wart, it would be the big gap under the rear fender at rest. It simply doesn't follow the line of the tire. However, drop a warm body on the bike and it all falls into place. Honda's engineers explained that the Fury needed to have enough height in the rear to transfer weight onto the kickstand when parked. Plus all of that travel and the bike sitting deep in the suspension stroke should make for a very plush ride. Another niggle is that the chrome plating is an inconsistent color throughout the machine, something a good chopper builder would pay close attention to, but for us to even bring it up about a stock bike shows the level of detail Honda has executed on the Fury.

While the Fury's style is a bit pass in the current chopper market, its got two things going for it. One, though the $30-50k chopper market is dead, there's likely pent-up demand from consumers who simply want a bike in that style that's affordable to your average joe. No price has been released yet, but with a 1300cc motor, it's likely to be south of $15k. Two, though it apes the style of a big chopper, it's actually quite compact in dimension, with a low 26.7-inch seat height and compact ergonomics, so the younger riders attracted to the current style of short rat choppers might take this bike and dirty it up a bit. It's ironic that this is a short chopper and yet is the longest Honda ever released.

We'll be curious to see which version of chopper nirvana proves to be the most popular: Harley-Davidson's fat-tired, floating-fender Rocker; Star's fat-tired, big-engined, big-rake Raider; or Honda's conservatively-tired (200mm rear) and engined, but radically-styled Fury. The Raider won our shootout last year, on the basis of just being a better bike, while Harley stole the show on style. If the Fury manages to be a good ride, coupled with the obvious drop-dead gorgeous looks, it could blow them both out of the water.

Honda considers the Fury to be a milestone machine, and for once we couldn't agree more with the hype. Chopper aficionados, look out! A move like this from a company known for extreme cautiousness, could ring in a whole new era in factory chops, or at the very least a new level of detailing in cruisers in general. -BB

2010 Honda Fury

Type: liquid-cooled 52 degree V-twin Valvetrain; SOHC, 3 valves per cylinder
Displacement, bore x stroke: 1312cc, 89.5mm x 104.3mmCompression Ratio: 9.2:1
Fuel Delivery: Fuel injection, 38mm throttle body
Transmission: 5-speed; multiplate wet clutch
Final Drive: Shaft

Front Suspension: 45mm fork,
Rear Suspension: Single damper, 3.7-in travel, preload and rebound adjustable
Front brakes: 336mm disc, 2 piston caliper
Rear Brakes: 296mm disc, single piston caliper
Front Tire: 90/90-21
Rear Tire: 200/50-18
Wheels: 9-spoke cast aluminum

Overall length: N/A
Seat Height: 26.7 in
Wheelbase: 71.24 in
Rake/trail: 38.0/3.5 inches
Fuel Capacity: 3.4 gal
Wet Weight: 663 lb (claimed)

Honda brought along a silver unit decked out in a few of the accessories that will be available at the bikes launch like: custom seats, chin spoiler, rear fender rack, windscreen, braided lines, LEDs and a slew of billet aluminum covers.