From One Flat Six to Another
The Valkyrie and I have enjoyed a love affair ever since I set eyes on the beast at the London Motor Show back in 1996. The red and white beauty was tucked away by a corner of the Honda stand, happy not to take center stage at a 4-wheeled event.
I knew intuitively that I just HAD to try this bike as soon as I could. “Sorry” said Scott, Honda’s excellent UK press officer. “This is the only one we have at present and it’s supposed to be going back to the USA.” Undeterred I persisted and eventually discovered that in fact it was to be kept in the UK for the Summer. That was two years ago and ever since I have longed to ride the 6FC.
LA is where this bike was designed for. It fits in just so well it could have its own star in Hollywood Blvd. While most of America is transfixed by the awe of a Harley and the loud crackle of those sawn off pipes, many have discovered a much faster, safer and vastly more rewarding riding experience when it comes to big bore cruisers. The Valkyrie and the Gold Wing may share a similar floor plan, and engine. But the details are very different. I have mentioned the suspension already, but even more surprising is that both the front and rear brakes are more powerful on the Valk. Surprising? Yes when you consider that the Valk weighs some 130 pounds less than the WWF super heavyweight 815 pound Gold Wing. This reduction in weight and slight increase in horse power (above 100bhp) combined with a more sporty engine management
setting is really what makes the Valkyrie stand out as one of the most enjoyable motorcycles that I have ever ridden. It doesn’t seek to hide it’s girth, instead flaunting it with brilliant chrome “and hey look at me” styling. If it were a car it would be a 1950’s Fleetwood with wings and a 10ft long hood. If it were a plane it would be the Spruce Goose!
Cruising around the nightspots of LA, the Valkyrie was as welcome at the door as any VIP or Gold Card. The valets all stood to attention, hoping some how to able to help park it, the Chef valet always helping to position the bike right outside the entrance - but all the time out of harms way. Their reward? Attention, attention, attention! Oh and $5 in their back pocket.
Girls love the Valkyrie too! They love the size and all the “pretty” chrome. They love the “doesn’t hurt my ass” seating position and back support. But what they loved more was the feeling they got whist riding on the back. The sound of the three-into-one exhaust, the smooth flat six purring away below them and the attention upon arriving. What better way to show off new black leather pants than arriving on a shiny Valkyrie?
What amazes one about he Valkyrie is the way this beast handles it’s own sheer size. The performance is more than just adequate - it’s down right outrageous. Head to head with a CBR600 he couldn’t loose me. Well, except when it came to the canyons. But I bet he was a damn sight more tired afterwards than I was. The whole nature of the bike is to enjoy the ride, take it easy, cruise!
Whilst down on Pacific coast highway I came across a lovingly tweaked Valkyrie. This fellow had put in a custom small screen. Moved the indicators to below the handlebars, fitted a sports exhaust and a twin pair of chrome air horns. The thing sounds incredible and really looked the business. Like Harleys, you can customize the hell out of the Valk and there is a very strong sense of community amongst Valkyrie owners- a real sense of family. How do I know? Well the last time I wrote up a Valkyrie I received more E mails from owners and members of Valkyrie clubs than for anything else I have ever scribed. They all the loved the article as I slatted a Soft tail in the process and I stand by what I said then.
Namely, I want one. Now Mr. President Kawamoto - please can I have one?
||100/6000 rpm |
||682 pounds |