Honda's VTX 1800cc
That's right, Honda's VTX is 1800cc - two 900cc cylinders of sheer grunt. This time, when Honda decided to go after Harley Davidson's traditional market, it learned from past mistakes. Recognising that the Harley badge could never be replaced, it went for it's own unique selling proposition - masses of grunt - 1800 cc of grunt, to be precise.
Now it's not a perfect motorcycle by any stretch. The VTX is very heavy, though you'd never know unless someone told you. And its ground clearance is limited, particularly due to that enormous muffler. But 1800cc of motor covers a multitude of sins, and the VTX's fuel-injected 100 cubic inch donk is the baddest in town! The fuel injected, six valve bruiser produces a bone-crushing 16.2 Newton metres of torque at just 3000 rpm. Claimed figures don't count for much compared with the actual experience of twisting that throttle from idle and feeling the VTX start pushing road behind it like you have NEVER felt it before.
We were very fortunate in preparation for this article, to ride a completely standard VTX and one with drag pipes. The usual problem with testing a motorcycle such as this is that you never get to see it as it will inevitably hit the road - no-one will retain the standard muffler, almost certainly swapping on a set of raspier pipes, partly to increase the ground clearance, but mainly to let that massive mill snarl a little. And snarl it does - it's a funny thing I've noticed over nearly thirty years of motorcycle testing, but no-one has ever claimed they didn't see me when I was riding a motorcycle of this ilk. Not once did they make me feel threatened with an aggressive move of any kind, and I suspect its partly due to the fact that it's not wise to mess with someone who rides a machine like this.
Riding the VTX down the beach road on a Sunday morning is like witnessing the parting of the Red Sea. Everyone who rode the bike commented on the Harley's, whoops, Honda's "presence" - cars you would not normally expect to give way are suddenly extremely courteous. Exactly what gets this 'respect", be it the size or the styling, it doesn't matter. It's there, and it's bloody marvellous for your state of mind. Getting back to the size for a moment, it has the longest wheelbase in motorcycling, and clocks in dry at 320 kilos, almost 50kg heavier than the 1670cc Yamaha Warrior and Harley's new-age hotrod V-ROD.
BUT ... every rider gets both feet on the ground, WITH knees bent! The seat is low, and so is the weight - the VTX is extremely easy to ride, even for the relatively inexperienced - it'll pull any gear, at any speed, it's always predictable and stable under all conditions.
The brakes are massive and predictable, and the VTX tyres are big. The braking system is linked with a strong rear bias, so you can brake entirely with your foot. Stopping quickly is just a slight firmer press of the foot brake - the bike squats due to the rear bias, but it stops quickly and feels VERY safe when it does so. Crash stops just require a squeeze of the hand too. In many ways, the VTX is like an automatic, and the really comfy seat and ease-of-use makes for a very cruisey ride. Throw in a complete lack of hassle from the other road inhabitants, and the VTX is a wonderful way to relax.
Now the VTX is not a racetrack, curvy-road style of bike but it can kick the butt of almost anything at the traffic lights! A bullet-proof clutch, fat torque between 3000 and 5000rpm, and that fat rear tyre combine for a very fast exit.Fully prepped , the VTX is capable of high elevens for a quarter mile - very respectable - but at the end of 400 metres, the rider looks more like a sailboarder , flapping in the breese on those high-riser bars at around 180kmh. The part where the VTX makes ground on the sub-eleven second quarter milers is the first 100 metres, making it a real world strip bike.
The VTX is capable of thunderous acceleration but that's not what it's about. It's a reliable, high-tech, fuel-injected FUN bike and it does it as well as anything I've ridden in 30 years. In closing, we must point out that three people who rode the bike in the two weeks we had it are considering buying a VTX.