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Thread: Replacement for the Honda ST1300 in 2014?

  1. #1

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    Replacement for the Honda ST1300 in 2014?

    The Honda ST1300 will most likely be replaced with a new model around 2014. If so, then Honda may be well into the planning stages for the new design. In this short article, I will outline my view of what the replacement model should retain and change.

    I’ve owned my 2007 Honda ST1300 for two years. Although I’ve only ridden it for just over 12,000 kilometres (parenting a young child keeps me off the bike more than I would like), I’ve ridden it through the kind of extreme weather that is common in the South Island of New Zealand. This has included riding for over 500k through continuous rain and a night ride in a southerly storm with a wind gust recorded near my home of 161kph/100mph.

    My experience as an ST owner has been very much in line with other rider reports and the many excellent reviews of this bike. It does everything well that you could realistically want a big sports tourer to do. One review stated that although the ST1300 may not be at the very top of the list with respect to handling, aerodynamics, comfortable, performance, and styling when compared to the competition in the big sports tourer category, it ranks towards the top (first or second) in all of these areas. Before purchasing the bike I did a lot of market research. I won’t go into all the details here, suffice to say that it came down to a choice between the BMW1200RT and the Honda. Reading about the long-term reliability issues of the BMW and the absolutely legendary long-term reliability of the Honda ST1300 sealed the deal.

    In short, the Honda ST1300 is a superb bike. If you buy one you won’t be disappointed (unless you buy it with completely unrealistic expectations- it doesn’t have the performance of a Fireblade nor the electronic gadgetry on the latest BMW1200RT).

    Having said this, Honda has done remarkably little to update the ST1300, instead investing a lot into the VFR1200. It is due for replacement but will Honda get this right?

    The Longitudinally Mounted VR Engine- Keep It!
    As far as I am aware, the engine configuration on the ST is unique. You have to own one of these bikes to appreciate what an incredible engine this is. Beautifully smooth, with steady and predictable power delivery throughout the range, still more power than the 2012 BMW1200RT, and tremendous long-term reliability. I could go on but I know I’m preaching to the converted.

    The key point for Honda to note is that this engine configuration should be retained in the ST’s replacement. I don’t want to see a larger version of the VFR 1200 engine- I do want an updated version of the current ST V4.

    My only reservation is that if Honda stuff this up and shove a VFR engine in the replacement then it will help to keep up the price of used ST1300s (and reduce my desire to purchase the replacement – saving me lots of dollars).

    Aerodynamic Design- Less Wind Noise Please

    Although the aerodynamic design of the ST1300 is excellent, especially with respect to maintaining a remarkable degree of stability in high wind conditions (meaning up to storm force), it isn’t as good as the BMW1200RT. A former BMW owner said that for him this was the main area in which the BMW outperformed the Honda- there is a lot more wind noise on the Honda. So there is room for improvement in this area.

    Instrumentation
    Please keep the analogue speedo and tachometer! I don’t care if some people think this will make the bike look retro- the analogue instruments look good and are really easy to read in all light conditions.

    The electronic displays on the ST1300 are not easily readable in bright light conditions and when the rider is wearing sunglasses or using a tinted visor. Hopefully these displays will be improved in the replacement model and will be easier to read in a wider range of light conditions.

    Heated Grips
    The new model should, like the BMW RT, have reliable heated grips as standard, with the control mounted on the bars not the fairing. The Honda ST1300 is ultra reliable - the genuine Honda grips are not.

    Six Speed Gearbox Please
    There’s nothing wrong with the current five-gear setup, but it would be nice to have the extra gear for long distance highway riding.

    Styling and Exhaust Placement
    This is one area where there will be a wide range of preferences. To my eyes, the 2003-2004 BMW RTs are probably the best looking sport tourers ever built. The Honda ST1300 does not look as good as those BMW models, but I think it’ still a nice looking bike compared to the current competition in this category.

    There is, however, one thing upon which most ST1300 owners will agree- the bike looks ugly with the panniers removed. I love how much more like a sports bike the ST feels when you take off the panniers and the top box- it moves the centre of gravity a little further forward and even lower down in the bike- making it a joy to throw around on tight twisties.

    The ugliness of the current ST without the panniers could be avoided if the replacement model follows the styling of the VFR800 and runs the exhaust pipes under the seat. If it does this, then when you take the panniers off the ST’s replacement, it will look like a sports bike rather than a piece of agricultural equipment!

    Updated Electronics- Electronic Suspension Adjustment (ESA) and Traction Control

    There is currently a technological revolution going on with respect to the application of electronics to suspension and traction, following the earlier application to braking (ABS and linked braking). The replacement for the ST1300 needs to incorporate the advances now common on its competitors (BMW RT1200, FJ1300, Kawasaki Concourse, Triumph Trophy 2013 SE). Simple and easy to use electronic suspension adjustment would be great. I commonly ride to the supermarket, load the bike up, and return home. It would be really useful to be able to adjust for the extra weight at the push of a button. I find the ST1300 handles so well in the wet (with Michellin Road Pilot 3 tyres) that I am less convinced of the need for traction control (it's not like the replacement is going to have the grunt of a Kawasaki ZX1400R where 'low power' and 'rain' traction control settings are essential), but it would be nice to have. Having taken my ST onto the track for the first time, I now appreciate that it would be an useful technological advance to be able to select suspension and traction settings for more aggressive and faster riding. Finally, Triumph is making it's software upgrades for new models available to owners of older models- it would be good if Honda could do likewise with it's electronics package for the ST 1300's replacement.

    Other Stuff
    Improved shaft drive as per the VFR1200, make sure the thermostat doesn’t fail after 60,000 kilometres, slight weight reduction would be good, and the top box should be more easily and cheaply available than for the ST1300.

    Summing Up
    Overall, Honda should adopt a reasonably conservative approach to its design of the ST1300’s replacement. The ST1300 is a fantastic bike that is unique in important respects. The replacement should be based on a design that retains the ST’s main strengths, while improving and refining it to eliminate some of its weaknesses. In short, Honda should not replace the ST1300 with a completely different bike. BMW has been making small incremental adjustments to its RT models, and Honda should adopt a similar approach in its design of the ST’s replacement. Most importantly of all, it should retain the longitudinally mounted V4 engine configuration. If it fails to do this, then it will struggle to retain the loyalty of existing Honda ST owners.


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    Last edited by BrianST1300; 01-28-2013 at 06:16 PM. Reason: Additional research and further thoughts.

  2. #2
    TomStickler's Avatar
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    Re: Replacement for the Honda ST1300 in 2014? A short article with responses.

    No need for a 6-speed. As a matter of fact, the ST1300 is so torquey that it could get by with a 4-speed. You want overdrive for the slab? Just fiddle with the ratios on the current 5-speed. No need to add more rotating bits.
    Tom
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  3. #3

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    Re: Replacement for the Honda ST1300 in 2014? A short article with responses.

    Here's my wish list:
    1. Given the cost of those rear bags, make the rear tip-over bars standard please!
    2. The analogue instruments are perfect, but the digital displays for the rest are a disaster! Bright sunlight (think: AZ) and the sun coming at an angle means the dash is in reverse LCD and half of it is in deep shadow!
    3. Come up with a better fixing method for the "maintenance panels" on the fairing. I like to check the coolant levels daily, along with oil, tires, etc. That silly little plastic plug is taking a hammering, and I'm about to take a Dremel to the fairing to create my own "inspection window" !!
    4. Right angle valve stems should be standard, especially on the rear wheel!
    5. OK, so you designed a bike for people with an inseam of over 31" - why are the handlebar grips so skinny? My fingers wrap around them and touch the palms of my hands - admittedly, the pinkie doesn't quite reach that far!
    6. Fix the darn ignition key - make it a second key for everything else instead of the same key for all. If that key snaps on a trip, the rider is SOL if they don't have a spare in their pocket, and that gas tank lock is a key-breaker looking for a chance to succeed! To really put the cat among the pigeons, whichever lock the key breaks off in is now inoperable until a locksmith can get in there - why should these keys break so easily?
    7. DTE (Distance To Empty) ... need I say more? In a day and age where we can store 32Gb of data on a device the size of a postage stamp, and at a cost of under $50, why can't we have an accurate count of DTE? Shut off the bike, restart and it's anyone's guess! I've seen it go from 2 solid bars to one flashing bar in less than half a mile!
    8. Loud horns - the feeble "meep" from the existing horn can't be heard by the earplugged and helmet wearing rider of the bike, let alone the people in the soundproofed SUV with it's stereo up full. Loud pipes don't save lives, loud horns do!! Why should it be necessary to buy a brand new bike, then spend a ton of cash changing things that the manufacturer should have fixed in the first place? This is a big bike, commanding by its very presence, capable of doing what it looks like it can do, but when the rider presses the horn ..... meep! Passing 10 year olds squeeze the bulbs of the air-horns on their bicycles and drown it out!


    All that said and done, the one final thing I would ask is a way to make the gal on the back look even prettier than she already is

  4. #4
    BendBill's Avatar
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    Re: Replacement for the Honda ST1300 in 2014? A short article with responses.

    The OP's list is a good starting point if Honda decides for an incremental approach rather than their current moribund non-efforts. And regarding appearance, I too like the current rounded and sleek appearance similar to the BMW RT 1150 instead of the origami/Transformer look of the 1200 RT and the upcoming Triumph.

    Maybe Ma Honda could follow the example of the Yamaha FJR updates and add those bright new headlights with led turn signals and taillights. But I'd also like to see traction control. AND please-please-please NO radio gimmickry
    07 ST1300 ABS
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    03 BMW RT1150--sold / 81 Goldwing and 76 Kawi KZ 900--both long gone

  5. #5
    AdminiSTrator Mellow's Avatar
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    Re: Replacement for the Honda ST1300 in 2014? A short article with responses.

    Well, 1st off... if they're going to replace it... It's already been designed and tested... so all of this is a bit late. It's either sitting in a locked up vault and only one person has the combination or.... it hasn't been designed yet and this isn't late.. we'll see.. not sure they even look at the site, would be cool if they did.

  6. #6
    jonjonboo's Avatar
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    Re: Replacement for the Honda ST1300 in 2014? A short article with responses.

    I am a recent ST1300 operator and I believe this motorcycle is sold on the engine, leave it alone. I was shocked when I downloaded the maint manual and discovered this high performance machine had so many design flaws in the steering and rear drive bearings (seriously--cheap ball bearings?) The position of the handle bars for a sport touring bike is wrong and the suspension is in need of modification too. These are all things I am having to address and modify just to feel confident and comfortable to operate this machine.
    All the above mentioned are simple changes Honda could make without making seriously raising cost of production. I believe ABS should remain an option as I believe a properly trained an experienced rider can maintain better brake control without ABS. I believe digital cruise control should be a factory option as most riders want it. Power outlets located next to the glove box and one in the glove box should be standard.
    Radios, communication and GPS options should not be offered as it would bring up the price to much and most riders wish to custom fit these options to their needs anyway.

  7. #7
    RCS's Avatar
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    Re: Replacement for the Honda ST1300 in 2014? A short article with responses.

    Quote Originally Posted by jonjonboo View Post
    I believe a properly trained an experienced rider can maintain better brake control without ABS
    I'd like to meet that rider.
    Bob
    2004 ST1300A

  8. #8
    jonjonboo's Avatar
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    Re: Replacement for the Honda ST1300 in 2014? A short article with responses.

    Quote Originally Posted by RCS View Post
    I'd like to meet that rider.
    I have been riding all over the world for 34 years, come down to Louisiana and go for a ride.

  9. #9
    Your Humble Scribe Bones's Avatar
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    Re: Replacement for the Honda ST1300 in 2014? A short article with responses.

    Quote Originally Posted by BrianST1300 View Post
    The Honda ST1300 will most likely be replaced with a new model around 2014.
    Curious where you learned this.
    Ride. Good.


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  10. #10
    AdminiSTrator Mellow's Avatar
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    Re: Replacement for the Honda ST1300 in 2014? A short article with responses.

    Quote Originally Posted by jonjonboo View Post
    I am a recent ST1300 operator and I believe this motorcycle is sold on the engine, leave it alone. I was shocked when I downloaded the maint manual and discovered this high performance machine had so many design flaws in the steering and rear drive bearings (seriously--cheap ball bearings?) The position of the handle bars for a sport touring bike is wrong and the suspension is in need of modification too. These are all things I am having to address and modify just to feel confident and comfortable to operate this machine.
    All the above mentioned are simple changes Honda could make without making seriously raising cost of production. I believe ABS should remain an option as I believe a properly trained an experienced rider can maintain better brake control without ABS. I believe digital cruise control should be a factory option as most riders want it. Power outlets located next to the glove box and one in the glove box should be standard.
    Radios, communication and GPS options should not be offered as it would bring up the price to much and most riders wish to custom fit these options to their needs anyway.
    I believe pretty much the opposite.. LOL

    I think the engine is great but I think the 1200 V4 is probably a better solution as I'm hoping it will be lighter and given that it will be in the VFR and CrossTourer and maybe, new ST, then there may be better support for the engine and those bikes using that platform in general...

    Most bike manufacturers are not going to spend a lot of extra $$ on suspension in making a mass-produced bike track-ready... most owners, myself included, will never take advantage of that extra work and would prefer to have a cheaper bike to begin with - the ST is pretty expensive these days so ANYTHING new will probably be at that price point but that's just a guess. For some folks, the bike is perfect right off the showroom floor BUT, I do feel some adjustable handlebars would be nice, the ST1100 had that, maybe not perfect but gave you some options.

    I do believe a well trained rider with lots of practice can stop better than ABS but only in a situation where cones are setup and both riders are supposed to begin braking at the 1st cone... but, it would probably take a few tries and throw water, wet leaves, bad pavement in the mix and I feel ABS wins. The linked brakes on the ST are another thing that make even the non-ABS bikes brake so well. So, maybe in a planned situation non-ABS beats ABS but I don't typically plan any of my panic stops and ABS has helped ME out a lot. Most aren't going to practice braking, I'm not saying they shouldn't, just saying they won't do it so ABS is a great way to allow the technology to help you when you didn't go out and do the training you should... I also think it doesn't matter how long you've been riding or how good a rider you are, every one of us faces those panic stops and I'd rather have ABS on my side, just my opinion and every one has one.

    Cruise control would be cool.. but I wouldn't be surprised if it raised the bike msrp by $500-1,000... so, I'm good with my $20 Vista Cruise.

    Everyone is different and has different requirements for the bikes they have/want and at the moment the FJR is looking nice... but, I do want to see what Honda has to offer... they aren't as fast as the other manufacturers to get new bikes out but they are also a bigger company and more diversified and they're going to do what's right for the bottom line - which is what we'd do if we ran the company, or get fired.

    We'll see if they announce anything in the next couple of weeks before or at the Atlanta IMS show.. we may have another year of waiting..

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