Honda VTX1800F - Sport Cruising Has Arrived

11/22/2004 9:11:08 PM

When Honda first introduced the VTX in 2002, it was hailed as the king of performance cruisers. And rightly so. Its 1795cc liquid-cooled 52o V-twin engine, with its enormous 4-inch cylinder bores, hammered out horsepower like no other machine in the class-106bhp at 5000 rpm and 120 lb./ft. of torque at 3500 rpm, to be exact. The massive heart of the VTX1800C (C-type) was soon available in several variants, including the performance retro VTX1800R, the spoke-wheeled classic retro VTX1800S, and the neo-retro VTX1800N with its deep flowing fenders and flush-mounted LED-taillight.

With the introduction of the 2005 VTX1800F, Honda has taken the original VTX platform in a decidedly more sporting direction. The refreshingly minimalist lines and sporty upgrades immediately set this VTX apart from its siblings and encourage thoughts of stoplight-to-stoplight sprints and twisty, winding-road adventures.

"Our goal with the F-type was to design the VTX in the same way that a sporting rider would modify his bike," said Martin Manchester, project director at Honda Research Americas (HRA). "We wanted it to look lean and athletic." To achieve this look, the VTX's signature chromed-headlight is streamlined on the F-type with a smaller hooded lens, its arching line flowing back along the seamless, curved 4.8-gallon fuel tank. Manchester's design team bestowed the drag-style racer with a bobbed steel front fender and a straight-cut steel rear fender that angles upward, much like a sport bike fender. With the passenger pillion removed, the rear fender boasts a muscular bulge that visually smoothes and blends the back of the rider seat into the fender. The result is a flowing line beginning at the VTX's headlight and cascading all the way back to the rear fender. A recessed LED tail and brake light ensures this signature silouette is unbroken and gives the bike a high-tech, modern look. Up front, a handsome color-matched radiator shroud and chin fairing makes no secret of the fact that the VTX's engine is a high-performance water-cooled mill.

But Manchester's team wasn't finished yet. "We also wanted to make the bike look lighter and shorter," said Manchester. "The larger 18-inch diameter rear wheel and low profile tire help accomplish this, together with the smaller, upswept fender." The HRA team fitted the F-type with a short, two-into-two (with crossover) staggered exhaust with straight-cut muffler tips to finish off the look.

Custom touches abound. Milled aluminum billet side rails with a slotted surface treatment and a hairline brushed finish accentuate the rear fender line and provide a one-off custom look. Other distinctive styling features include custom-design wedge-shape mirrors and bullet-type turn signals with clear lenses, amber flasher bulbs and chrome visors.

The cleanly-styled 1800cc V-twin powerplant has no stray wires or hoses to distract the eye from the engine's two mighty cylinders. Despite its brute strength, the VTX F-type sports a thoroughly modern engine design with three valves per cylinder. It is made even more powerful by Honda's signature offset crankpins and dual primary-shaft-mounted counterbalancers, which allow the engine to develop horsepower at higher rpm while eliminating harsh vibration.

One of the most remarkable attributes of the VTX engine is its ability to make serious power while staying true to Honda's environmental commitment: California VTX1800s exceed the CARB-California Air Resources Board-2008 emissions standards. To keep the VTX engine running strong and efficiently, an ECU (electronic control unit) manages a closed-loop emission control system utilizing air injection and a three-way exhaust catalyzer to deliver the optimum air/fuel mixture under all operating conditions.

To monitor the F-type's vital signs, a tank-mounted digital LCD instrument cluster includes an analog-style sweeping tachometer (a VTX first) and speedometer, while a bar-graph odometer, A and B tripmeters, and a clock keep track of saddle time.

The new F-model also sports all-new wheels with an aggressive 10-spoke racing-style cast aluminum design. For improved handling capability, the rear wheel is an 18-inch hoop, two inches larger in diameter than the C-type. Low-profile, high-performance radials respond quickly to rider input - a 130/55R-18 front tire and a 180/55R-18 at the rear. Further evidence of the VTX's sporting intentions can be found in the suspension, where Honda engineers increased the rear shock stroke by 10mm, revised damping and rebound rates and replaced the top shock bushing with a needle bearing for smoother action. Up front, redesigned bushings and dust seals on the massive 45mm-inverted front fork reduce friction for more supple and consistent front suspension response.

The VTX braking system is on par with the bike's incredible engine performance. The F-type utilizes dual 296mm discs with LBS (Linked Braking System) three-piston calipers in front and a single 316mm disc and LBS twin-piston caliper at the rear. Honda's LBS system activates the two outer pistons of the front calipers when the front brake lever is applied. The rear brake pedal activates the two pistons of the rear caliper and also the center pistons of the front calipers to assure balanced braking when only the rear brake is applied.

Ergonomically, VTX F-type's wide, low seat is just 27.9 inches from the ground, assuring sure-footed maneuverability for a broad range of riders. Footpegs and controls are positioned for long-range riding comfort and new semi-swept high-rise aluminum handlebar mounts position the handlebar for comfortable, upright riding.

The new VTX1800F is available in four colors: Black, Titanium Tribal, Candy Black Cherry and Silver Tribal. But the eye candy doesn't stop there. Like its VTX siblings, the VTX F-type is available in three build variations: Spec 1, 2 and 3. When equipped with Spec 1,2, or 3, Honda's VTX1800F sport cruiser can be personalized with dealer installed accessories to suit the rider's taste. Better yet, Honda's renowned fit-and-finish is built into each Spec package, which means the accessories are covered by the same warranty as the motorcycle, and are designed by Honda to offer years of trouble-free service, something aftermarket accessories cannot offer.

Just as with the original VTX1800, Honda once again forges a new direction in the American motorcycle scene with the VTX1800F, and introduces sport cruising into the landscape of custom cruisers.