Tanshanomi's Snap Judgments

Honda Valkyrie

Thu, July 22nd, 2010

Featuring a different large-displacement cruiser each day.

1997–2003 Honda GL1500C Valkyrie
With 'only' 100 HP on tap, the Val is down on power compared to the biggest V-twin cruisers, but the silky, more eager motor is more entertaining. Unfortunately, it's carbureted, which put the throttle response down just a notch compared to the best FI bikes.
Yes, it's big and long and heavy, but the low CG, decent ground clearance and nicely spec'd components make it legitimately entertaining in the twisties.
Unlike its horrid Rune successor, the original Valkyrie's conservatively styled bodywork wisely let its outrageous engine make the impression. There is nothing fake or silly on this bike; no plastic beauty covers, no parts that are designed to look like something they're not. It has the purest, most honestly functional appearance of any cruiser I can remember.
It is, after all, a Gold Wing.
While it pushes the boundaries of what is practical, weight- and size-wise for short city trips, it's actually much more practical than a full-dress Goldie for most riding, and with a windshield and saddlebags, not too shabby for touring. The ergonomics happily include 'normal' footpegs located just behind the engine, rather than the forward controls and floorboards found on most big cruisers.
I really want to pick one of these up before they're all ridden into the ground, but resale values remain high.
A flat-six cruiser sounds like a concept that just wouldn't work, but it did — beautifully.