I've ridden for years, mostly sportbikes and sport tourers with some ADV riding and a few cruisers mixed in.
How is the CTX1300 for passenger comfort with the stock seat? Is it comfortable enough for 2-3 hour rides?
I'm assuming the handling and cornering clearance is somewhere between a sport tourer and a typical cruiser...is that reasonably accurate? How aggressively can it be ridden on curvy back roads?
Are the Traction Control and ABS on the Deluxe worth the extra $$? Is there a noticeable difference?
I remember leftover 2014s selling for around $8k a few years ago. What are realistic prices for well kept used ones? I am in Ohio and have just started looking.
Welcome, tpoppa! I know I'm a little late to the party, but just to toss in my two pennys:
When I was shopping for a new bike, I had every intention of buying a new Valkyrie. My wife sitting on the back of the CTX was one of the things that changed my mind. How long your passenger can be comfortable also depends on if you are using no back rest, the small OEM backrest, or the Honda top case. My wife prefers to ride with the trunk while my son prefers the small back rest. It depends, but I can't imagine it not being comfortable. I routinely do back-to-back 9 or 10 hour solo days on the stock saddle. No issues.
I just got back from the Tail of the Dragon, and I'm positive that my bike was better-suited to the task than 90% of the other bikes there. That said, the speed that you take the corners varies wildly with your own experience and confidence. I've blown past sport bikes on twisty roads, and I've had my butt handed to me by an old guy on an American V-Twin. It depends, but the CTX did an awesome job just a few days ago. My sole limiting factor determining the speed at which I could take the curves was the omnipresent police observation at Deal's Gap. I would say that if you're on this bike and your friends are riding faster, it might have more to do with just getting used to the CTX. And unless you have a stack of speeding tickets and at least half a dozen wrecks behind you, you *probably* aren't riding at 8/10ths of your bike's - or your - ability.
In my experience, the traction control and ABS is definitely worth it. It's saved my bacon more than once. Also, the extra-wide tires on the CTX, as compared to other bikes, appear to be an unexpected advantage in squirrely road conditions. I remember a few gravel roads in Missouri that seemed scary but ended up being just fine. Low seat-height and center-of-gravity helps for sure. I didn't end up going over any fallen logs, though, so ground clearance wasn't really an issue.
I can't give any input on pricing. I paid nearly $18,000 for mine in 2014, and I have to tell you (although you might not believe it), I still think I got a bargain. Good luck!