Honda VT1300CR Stateline Review
BY: Rod Chapman, PHOTOGRAPHY BY: Ed
Honda's cruiser ranks have swelled yet again, with the next-gen VT1300CR Stateline recently signing on for duty
- Engine delivers useable spread of mid-range grunt
- Good ground clearance makes cornering easy
- Quality finish
- Good braking package with inclusion of ABS and CBS
- Relaxed riding position
The Honda VT1300CR has little in the way of revolutionary technology, if any. But what we do have here are tried-and-true principles and components brought together in a wonderfully cohesive whole.
Powering the VT1300CR is a 1312cc, liquid-cooled, three-valves-per-cylinder, SOHC, 52-degree V-twin. This is the very same engine that powered the VTX1300, introduced in 2002. The power is fed via a five-speed gearbox to a shaft final drive.
Wrapped around that donk is a tubular steel cradle frame, with a concealed rear shock and a 41mm conventional fork suspending the plot at each end. Adjustment is limited to preload and rebound at the rear.
The frame tips its hat to ongoing custom scene trends in that it features a curved backbone and downtubes, adding to swoopy flowing lines accentuated by a sleek, bullet-style headlight and stretched 16.7L fuel tank. Combined with the raked front end, the result is one long machine, with a wheelbase of 1780mm.
Slowing the show is a single 336mm disc with twin-piston calliper up front, along with a single 296mm disc with single-piston calliper down the back. The VT1300CR cops ABS and CBS (Combined Braking System) as standard.
A tank-mounted speedo features an inset LCD display, which toggles between two trip meters, an odometer and a clock.
On the road
Honda pitches the VT1300CR Stateline as a retro machine, but these days the terms "retro" and "cruiser", when used together, give rise to more questions than answers.
Yes it's long and low; yes, it has deeply valanced guards front and back; yes, it has a V-twin engine as a centrepiece - all traditional cruiser fare. However, to my eye, with its flowing tank, sleek headlight, curved frame tubes and blacked-out engine barrels, it has definitely got a more modern twist.
In any case, you can't really argue over the quality of the finish. The paint is top notch, as is this bike's general finish throughout. The pullback 'bars look the part - shiny, and good and chunky - until you reach the controls at each end. Here the pipe diameter shrinks significantly to accommodate the switchgear. I thought it odd that said switchgear wasn't mounted flush up against the fatter section of the 'bar.
At 311kg ready to roll this is no lightweight. The V-twin emits a muted burble through its twin-stacked pipes, which rises to a throaty but inoffensive note when on the road.
That weight melts away once you're moving, and in general you'd have to say this engine, albeit quite old now, delivers a good and useable spread of midrange grunt. Honda New Zealand doesn't quote power and torque figures, but Honda Europe does for the CR's sibling, the CX. Given the CR shares the same engine, I thought it a pretty safe bet to include those stats.
Sure, just under 58hp isn't going to reinvent anyone's world, but it's the torque here that tells the story. At 107Nm it's a healthy if not mind-bending dose, but more importantly it's delivered at a super-low 2250rpm. Around town this adds up to pleasing punch, but on the highway it's a different story. At 110km/h you'll need to put a little planning into any overtakes, as at these speeds there isn't a whole lot of go left in reserve.
I've got no complaints about the electronic fuel injection and all the go is powered down to the ground via a five-speed gearbox and shaft final drive. The gearbox works nicely, but the lower gear ratios are quite spread out - there's a decent gap between first and second, and second and third. Something an owner would grow accustomed to with time, no doubt.
The handling afforded by a fairly conventional chassis and suspension package is surprisingly good. You can hustle this cruiser through a bend at a fair old pace should you wish to, and although it will get a bit of shimmy on should you strike a pothole mid-corner, it's really surprisingly good for a bike of this weight and wheelbase.
The ground clearance is decidedly healthy, allowing you to make good use of its Dunlop Elite 3 tyres.
The brakes have adequate feel and power - certainly ample for the bike's design brief - and the inclusion of ABS and CBS is a big bonus, providing a safety net that's bound to pay for itself many times over at some point. The "combined" aspect of the system never raised any eyebrows, even when trailing the rear brake through walking-pace U-turns - a situation where you could really notice the operation of the early combined brake set-ups.
The ergonomics are spot-on. The CR features a very relaxed, easy ride position, with good legroom and a short reach to its 'bars. The seat is particularly good - nicely sculpted and compliant. Pillions get the usual raw cruiser-land deal, with a tiny perch.
This is a nicely put together, well integrated package. Sure, its high-speed performance won't set the world on fire, but that's really not what this package is about. The biggest concern here is, I believe, its price. At $24,995 (plus ORC) it's a top-dollar machine - you could pick up a non-ABS Fireblade for $2500 less, and that really is the pinnacle of Honda's bike-building prowess.
That 25k price tag also puts it within $600 of Triumph's latest Thunderbird Storm with base-model options among the US V-twin marques (ie, Harley and Victory) not much further beyond that. And let's not forget the other Japanese brands, with the most frugal being Suzuki's Boulevard M90 at a ridiculous price of $16,995 ride-away.
For you're money you'll be getting a rock-solid package you know will stand the test of time, but you'll need to be a committed Big Red fan for the VT1300CR Stateline to defeat all comers in this increasingly competitive niche.
See the Honda VT1300CR for sale.
Engine type 1312cc, liquid-cooled, SOHC,
six-valve, four-stroke, 52-degree V-twin
Bore x stroke 89.5mm x 104.3mm
Compression ratio 9.2:1
Fuel system PGM-FI electronic fuel injection
Final drive Shaft
Frame type Tubular steel cradle
Front suspension 41mm fork, non-adjustable
Rear suspension Monoshock, adjustable for preload and rebound
Front brakes Single 336mm disc with twin-piston Nissin callipers (with ABS/CBS)
Rear brakes Single 296mm disc with single-piston Nissin calliper (with ABS/CBS)
Wet weight 312kg (ABS)
Seat height 678mm
Fuel capacity 16.7L
Max power 42.5kW(57.8hp) @ 4250rpm
Max torque 107Nm(79ft-lb) @ 2250rpm
Colours Black, Pearl White or Candy Dark Red