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Motorsports Network

Road Test

Honda: 1998 Valkyrie Tourer

Muscle Cruiser
Some bikes just feel right from the first ride, and the '98 Valkyrie Tourer is such a motorcycle. From the moment you sit on the comfortable wide seat, place your feet on the large rubber covered pegs it's love at first ride. The bike will cruise around town effortlessly, as the long low chassis with it's very comfortable seating position just feels natural. The first time you twist the throttle and pump large quantities of fuel to the 1520cc liquid-cooled horizontally opposed six-cylinder engine you'll more than likely giggle as we did. The engine pulls everywhere but hits even stronger from 3,500 RPM up to the rev limiter which kicks in at about 7,500 rpm. What could be better than a civil and comfortable cruiser with enough power to rip your arms off - or to flat track across a dry lake as in Honda's TV commercial.

Built around a pumped up Gold Wing engine, the Valkyrie certainly carries it's own special character. The large displacement engine is fed by six separate 28mm CV carbs, the cam timing is more radical, redline is higher, and the cruiser uses a more free flowing six-into-six exhaust system which produces an exhaust note all its own. Valve adjustment is by screw and lock-nut adjusters, camshafts are belt driven and the alternator pumps out a whopping 546 watts. The Touring model adds a full-size windshield and saddlebags over the standard model.

The most memorable aspect of this bike, aside from its stump pulling power, is how this unique package blends so well to produce an extremely competent motorcycle. Though it takes more steering input than say a standard motorcycle, handling is sharp and rather quick for a bike of this size. The bike is nimble in most parking lot situations as well as extremely competent, stable, and balanced on the highway.

The windshield is one of the best we've ridden behind - bar none. There's no visible distortion, and it doesn't cause any noticeable swirling of the air like with some full screens. After numerous careful washings, the windscreen held up well with no noticeable scratches appearing. This windscreen provides very good protection from the elemants. In fact, you could travel just about anywhere with a pair of riding pants, winter gloves and an electric vest.

The attractive plastic saddlebags are lightweight, lockable and waterproof. They're also convenient to use, especially for trips to the store and such. Packing them for a trip will prove a little more difficult as their opening is more narrow than the bags themselves and no internal storage bag is provided. The two-piece bags are created from bonding two halves, so we don't know their longevity over time.

Riding the Valkyrie, especially behind the full windscreen, is an experience in itself. It takes about 30 seconds to get used to riding the bike and the engine puts out a myriad of pleasurable sounds. Passenger seating is comfortable and somewhat removed from the rider.

At night the gauges are very attractive as are the lights reflecting off the windscreen, tank, machined triple clamps and massive inverted fork tubes. The comfortable seating position allows you to move around a bit and you can easily slouch or sit up straight. Twist the throttle and the nicely stepped seat becomes your best friend.

The big Valkyrie likes to corner and transitions from side to side quite well. If pushed too hard, however, the peg feelers touch down in a way that gets your immediate attention as the large peg lifts your foot. The bike actually feels capable of greater lean angles than Honda allowed for.

As great of a package as this bike is, there are a few areas to note. First and foremost is the excessive road noise generated by the tires, which like the exhaust note is amplified behind the full windscreen. Hopefully this can be cured with a set of aftermarket tires.

The other area of concern is the ever present exhaust note. Around town and on most rides the wonderful sound of the six-cylinder engine is exciting and enjoyable. On long rides, however, the exhaust note can get to be a bit too much - even when wearing ear plugs. This probably doesn't pose any concern on the standard model but can be quite annoying behind the excellent windshield.

The Valkyrie drew more attention than we ever expected. We received thumbs-up from teenagers to Grandfathers. People who didn't even ride were drawn to take a look at the bike with it's abundance of chrome and huge engine sticking out. It's apparent that Honda worked very hard to give this bike a clean look - and they succeeded. As a result of this clean styling, there's nowhere to strap a bag other than the sissy bar. You also won't be able to lock your helmet without removing the front portion of the seat. Fortunately this is simple as Honda provided an out-of-the-way keyed lock to do so.

The Valkyrie Tourer is a great motorcycle, indeed one of the best cruisers we've ever ridden. It's a bike we could live with if given the choice of only one motorcycle in our stable - heaven forbid. It's as much fun to ride around town as it is on the open highway, and oh that engine. Having experienced the bike with windshield and bags, we wouldn't want it any other way. Take a ride on a Valkyrie, and you won't want the ride to ever end.

Honda: 1998 Valkyrie Tourer
Quick Specs: Ratings:  Poor Fair Good V/Good Excellent
Displacement: 1520cc Acceleration                 9  
Drive:   5-speed, Shaft Brakes             7      
Fuel Capacity:   5.3Gal. (1.1 reserve) Carburetion    

 

          9  
Fuel Mileage: 30-37 mpg (34 avg.) Comfort (overall)                 9  
Fuel Range:  (165) 135 to reserve Comfort (touring)               8    
Suspension Front: 45mm inverted fork Finish (quality)                 9  
Suspension Back: Dual shocks Handling (overall)               8    
Tire Front: 150/80R - 17 Radial Stability (handling)                 9  
Tire Back: 180/70R - 16 Radial Suspension (overall)             7      
Weight:   Dry - 714 lbs.

Fun Factor

                9  
Retail (US): $14,699 (Black $14,199)

Overall Rating

                9  

 

Ups Downs
Roll on power Excessive tire noise
Very comfortable Exhaust can be too loud on trips
Great seat Exhaust gets extremely hot
Excellent windscreen Hard to see control lights on top of headlight
Useable bags Fuel mileage
Fit and finish .