Return of the Valkyrie

Honda Brings Back Its Big Power Cruiser

From the roof of the Peterson Automotive Museum in Los Angeles, Honda used the backdrop of the Hollywood skyline to unveil the return of an icon: the 2014 Gold Wing Valkyrie.

Emboldened by the success of its stripped-down F6B, Team Red took a scalpel to the Gold Wing yet again, slicing off the capacious saddlebags and bulbous fairing to create a true 21st century muscle cruiser.

There’s no mistaking the lineage; at first glance the new 2014 Valkyrie looks exactly like what it is - a stripped-down Gold Wing - and utilizes many of the modern accoutrements that made the 2010 redesign of the GL such a success, and last year’s F6B such a hit. Featuring the same 1832cc flat-six engine, LCD lighting front and rear, modern instrumentation and optional anti-lock brakes, the new Valkyrie also sports the same brawny shoulders as its brethren, thanks to the GL’s signature side-mounted radiator vents. Without the big-nosed fairing, though, those shoulders are even more pronounced, making the Valkyrie by far the most muscular-looking bike in the Gold Wing family.

“Today a motorcycling icon returns in all-new form,” said Powersports Press Manager Bill Savino. “The Valkyrie is back, but this isn’t a motorcycle that celebrates the past. This is a cruiser unlike any other for people who want to seize the future, who appreciate distinctive style, who want the kind of performance no cruiser can match. The Valkyrie redefines the term ‘muscle cruiser.’

And that muscle cruiser theme continues with the matte black frame, handlebar and instrument console, wheels, engine, and forks. In true GL fashion, the saddle is wide and comfy but not nearly as massive as the standard GL’s or even as roomy as the F6B’s. Also, the Valkyrie is equipped with a passenger pillion and grab rails that are similarly styled but slimmer than those on the F6B - and as on that bike, they’re removable for a streamlined, boulevard-ready look.

At a claimed 750 pounds wet, the Valkyrie weighs a full 150 pounds less than the standard GL - and with the same engine and components, the power-to-weight ratio must be mind-blowing. Unfortunately, this was just a press introduction and not a test ride (we can’t wait). But from the saddle, with a seat height of just 28.8 inches and a 180 rear tire, it’s surprisingly amenable for a bike of its size; the center of gravity feels even lower than that of the F6B. So with those things in mind and knowing how deceptively spry and quick the other Gold Wings are, we can only imagine the rocket this Valkyrie must be -- and how eagerly it will respond to being pushed through the twisties.

(Honda says the torque peak arrives at 4000 rpm and peak power hits 1500 revs later. - Ed)

Originally unveiled in 1996, the old Valkyrie had a devoted following; indeed, it’s one of those models whose discontinuation disappointed (at the very least) a legion of hardcore fans. This new incarnation likely won’t get much of a different reaction; Valkyrie loyalists will likely embrace it while those outside the club won’t necessarily be clamoring to get in.

With its peculiar engine, distinctive shoulders, and oddly shaped rear fender the new Valkyrie definitely dares to be different and, like its siblings, is bound to be polarizing. But Honda’s endeavor to lower the age of the average GL rider continues, and we’d venture a guess its new, true muscle cruiser will strike a chord with its hardcore fan base.

The 2014 Gold Wing Valkyrie will be priced in the $17K range; the ABS version should run about a grand more. Available in blue, red or black, the Valkyrie should be in dealerships the first part of 2014; in the meantime you can see it displayed in the Honda booth at the International Motorcycle Shows starting this December.

Additional info from the official Honda Press release:

The core of this machine is Honda's unique 1832cc liquid-cooled horizontally opposed six-cylinder engine that also powers the Gold Wing® and Gold Wing F6B. With awe-inspiring power, aluminum twin-spar frame and suspension system tuned for serious riders, the Valkyrie is about unparalleled performance and style.

A class of one

Through its minimalist approach, the Valkyrie weighs an incredible 154 pounds less than the current GL1800. The torque peak arrives early at only 4000 rpm with peak power hitting 1500 revs later. A shorter, lighter and more compact exhaust system with slash-cut tips gives the Valkyrie a distinctive visual identity.

By the very nature of its design, the unique, horizontally opposed six-cylinder engine configuration promotes an exceptionally low center of gravity, which leads to responsive handling. The Programmed Fuel Injection (PGM-FI) system carries over from the Gold Wing. The Valkyrie features its own unique intake ducting to feed air to the two 40mm throttle bodies, which feature six high-pressure fuel injectors.

Specially designed radiator shrouds net an important rider benefit: The shape and angle of the shrouds re-direct hot air away from the rider for added comfort.

The Valkyrie chassis design centers on the basic aluminum frame used in the GL1800 and F6B. Most major dimensions remain unchanged from the GL1800 and F6B, but the Valkyrie frame does sport a different rear subframe to accommodate its unique seating arrangement.

The stout 45mm fork has been lengthened to raise the front end, and it incorporates a cartridge damper for plush yet well-controlled response. Fork damping settings are unique to this model, given its lighter curb weight of 750 pounds and a new weight distribution that is now effectively a 50/50 split.

The rear Pro-Link® single-shock suspension system and a single-sided Pro-Arm® swingarm incorporate a shock with damping tuned toward sporty riding. A dial-type remote adjuster offers easy access for quick adjustments to rear shock spring preload. Dual full-floating 310mm rotors (larger than the 296mm discs found on the F6B and Gold Wing) and new four-piston calipers up front, plus the rear 316mm disc setup deliver stellar braking power and terrific feel (an Anti-Lock Braking System is available as an option). With 19-inch front and 17-inch rear wheels, the Valkyrie also adds a touch more cornering clearance to the equation.

Distinctive touches

Reflecting its more sporting nature, the Valkyrie's rider triangle has changed as well. The footpegs are 1.3 inches higher and 0.6 of an inch forward compared to those on the F6B. The handlebar is set 1.3 inches forward, 1.5 inches taller and spreads 0.7 inch wider compared to the F6B's bar. A beefy 1-inch handlebar with new switchgear is rubber-mounted for added comfort. The traditional-style fuel tank holds a full 6.1 gallons, and the two-piece seat draws attention to the more spacious cruiser-oriented riding ergonomics. Passengers will appreciate the aluminum grab rail, but if solo riding, the rear seat and grab rail are easily removed, and a cover is provided to hide the rail mounting for a cool solo look.

The Valkyrie also receives its own unique meter setup with an LCD digital speedometer, tachometer, trip meters, clock, and fuel-level gauge, and the rider can also customize the opening message when the key is turned on.

SPECIFICATIONS

2014 Honda Gold Wing Valkyrie / Valkyrie ABS

MSRP: TBD (approx. $17,000) 2014 Colors: Black, Metallic Red, Metallic Blue

Engine:

1832cc liquid-cooled, horizontally opposed six-cylinder

Bore x Stroke: 74mm x 71mm

Compression ratio: 9.8:1

Valves: SOHC, two valves per cylinder

Fuel System: PGM-FI

Transmission: Five-Speed

Final Drive: Shaft

Suspension:

Front 45mm cartridge fork, travel TBD

Rear: Single-sided swingarm w/ single shock, preload adjustable; travel TBD

Brakes:

Front: Dual 310mm discs

Rear: Single 316mm disc (ABS optional)

Tires

Front: 130/60R-19

Rear: 180/55R-17

Dimensions:

Wheelbase: 67.2 inches

Rake/Trail: 29.5 deg./4.5 inches

Fuel Capacity: 6.1 gallons

Curb Weight: 750 pounds (ABS: 754 lbs.)