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Honda ST1300 Sport Tourer Hits Sweet Spot

By Arv Voss, May 19th, 2012

The 2012 Honda ST1300 Sport Tourer hits the sweet spot when hitting the open road. If, like me, you find that laying over the bike's tank and raising your head to see down the road isn't the fun it used to be, then you ought to shop for a multi-purpose sport tourer.

There are many sport tourings available in today's motorcycle marketplace, but after test-riding a Honda ST1300, you may not feel the need to look any further. The ST1300 isn't a new bike to Honda's lineup, but the 2012 model reflects progressive enhancements.

The ST1300 displays an extremely aerodynamic image with full fairing and bodywork. The fuel tank is sculpted for tucking in one's knees comfortably. Rider pegs and foot controls are positioned midway for optimum comfort.

My test 2012 Honda ST1300 was finished in a sinister gloss Black with Silver logo and graphics. There's a Black and White Police model with lots of extras geared to law enforcement bikes. The civilian model had a base price of $18,230.

Initially, when told that I was getting the ST1300 to ride and review, I envisioned an all-out sport bike, but was pleasantly surprised to discover that it was in actuality a sport tourer that was not only exceptionally good-looking, but fun and easy to ride.

The riding position was near perfect for my 6-foot, 4-inch frame, and despite the bike's 743 pound weight, it felt much lighter and maneuvered easily at both low and high speeds due to its exceptional balance and weight distribution. The seat is well padded and comfortable and the handlebars are easy to reach from the upright seating position.

The motor-driven adjustable windscreen offers 7.4 inches and 13 degrees of adjustability for greater wind protection and touring comfort. A thumb-operated push-button on the left handlebar operates the windscreen motor, and an additional 2.3 inches of manual adjustment is possible by repositioning the windscreen on its mounting brackets. It does an incredible job of cutting down high-speed wind buffeting.

Power is linear and plentiful with a quiet exhaust note. Throttle response is instantaneous and steady, provided the revs are kept up, otherwise, the shaft drive tends to send a message with a slight jerkiness. Not a problem at all if you're paying attention.

The motor is also relatively quiet, allowing one to enjoy a peaceful ride through the countryside. Harley riders won't know how to act -- I didn't at first. There's no loud V-Twin rumble -- only a mild whirring and thrumming. Ride quality is compliant, soaking up pavement irregularities gracefully, while carving twists and turns easily.

The power is courtesy of a compact 1261 cc, 16-valve, liquid-cooled, longitudinally mounted 90-degree V-4 with a PGM-FI automatic enricher circuit, four 36 mm throttle bodies, eight holes per injector and 4-into-two stainless triangular dual side exhaust. The motor's energy is geared to the rear wheel via a final shaft drive through a smooth shifting, cassette-type five-speed sequential manual gearbox.

Suspension componentry is made up of a rigid aluminum upper triple-clamp and 45 mm Honda Multi-Action System cartridge front forks with 4.3 inches of travel, while the rear suspension incorporates a single shock, which mounts directly onto the swingarm. The shock features a five-position (1.2 inches) spring preload adjustability and 4.8 inches of travel.

Slowing and stopping the ST1300 are dual full-floating 310 mm discs with CBS three-piston calipers with ABS up front and a single 316 mm disc with CBS three-piston caliper and ABS in the rear. Rolling stock consists of Dunlop Battlax 120/70ZR-18 front and 170/60ZR-17 low profile rear radial rubber mounted on three-swirl-spoke, U-section cast aluminum wheels.

The fairing houses an analog speedometer and tachometer as well as a digital dual trip meter and odometer, average fuel consumption, a depleting bar fuel gauge, air temperature and clock. A light pod appears on the right side with indicators for Neutral, ABS, oil temp and more. Readouts are legible except in very bright sunlight. There's also an electric windshield height adjustment and a locking fuel filler door.

My only thoughts for improvement would be a gear indicator and self-canceling directional signals. Bottom line, the 2012 Honda ST1300 is a sport touring bike worthy of high praise.

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