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My test ride review

4948 Views 8 Replies 6 Participants Last post by  bob
After several months scrutinizing every review, picture and comment on the CTX 1300 (hereafter called C13), yesterday I finally got a test ride. My review will hit on some things that the paid moto journalists seem to miss or deemed not so important. First, let me say that If you are seriously in the market for a new motorcycle, get yourself to a dealer that offers test rides. Plan it. Take your gear and have a routine in mind. You wouldn't buy a cage without a test ride, would you? Same deal here. The salesman started up the C13 , a blue standard, and basically told me it is one down, four up and then left me to my own devices. Cool. I had to paddle the bike backward a few feet than then backward again down a small incline into the parking lot. No issues here. I twisted the throttle a couple of times, shook the C13 back and forth to get a feel for balance and then launched. Not true. I eased away at the pace of a snail in winter. In my mind, low speed performance in first gear is critical to enjoying the experience. Although parking lots, stop lights and congested roads are not the glamorous parts of riding, they are perennial parts of riding; an on-off, poorly fueled, badly geared low speed ride is something I've dealt with in the past and will not tolerate in the future. (I know I'm being wordy here, but have patience. I'm getting to the good stuff.) The parking lot was large and so I went through a series of eights, starts, stops, parks, turns, backups. Creep speed performance: 10 out of 10. It seemed almost impossible to stall the engine due to velvet clutch engagement and torque squared. The C13 is a long bike and the pulled-back bars make it feel even longer. However, what it lacks in turn radius is compensated by the torque of the engine at low rpm. Here is the humorous part. Every time I stopped and then started, my feet instinctively went searching for Bonneville SE pegs. Not there. Several times I even had to look down and find the places for my feet. This is a learning issue and once my feet got in the right place, all was well with the ergos. Leaving the parking lot I entered a smooth secondary road with little traffic and went through the gears up to about 55 mph. The C13 felt like no other bike in my experience (dirt bikes, BMW's, Triumphs). No vibration, clunking or throbbing. Smooth! Snick snick shifting. Ergos: a funky, unique sort of laid back, hot rod, one-with-the-machine position that took about 20 seconds to love. Seating position: 11 out of 10. (That's not a math error. That's my rating.) Most of this is the result of the seat (plush), peg position and the swept back bars. The bars give the impression you are pushing a magic wheel barrow but this is probably just because I'm used to bars that are much narrower. The road went through a series of turns that I took pretty slow but I did have the opportunity to test handling when I met a car slopping over the center line. (The driver was probably texting!) Even in the corner I was able to adjust position simply by shifting my weight to the right. The C13 felt really planted on this road at speeds less than 55 mph. Handling: 10 out of 10. (This review is starting to look like a figure skating competition) I don't care about lean angles and peg scraping because I just don't ride like that and I signed a piece of paper that said I would be on the hook for any mishaps. I left the good road and turned on a frontage road that would eventually put me on the interstate. This road had lots of craters and stress fractures due to the miserable winter weather. I was going about 35 mph and could really feel the bumps through the bars, but not so much through the rear shocks and seat. Middle speed ride on bumps: 7 out of 10. Now I'm wondering if the front shocks are adjustable and perhaps they weren't quite dialed in correctly. And while we are on a down note, I'll give the mirrors a big rotten tomato, mirrors: 6 out of 10. They are too small and don't adjust enough. There may be the possibility of mounting some mirrors on the bars, but the controls do not have the 10 mm holes so they would need to be clamp ons. (The Triumph Trophy SE I tested also had the same problem.) On to the crowded interstate, a kind of scary thing after logging only 4 miles on a foreign motorcycle. The C13 has oodles (that's a lot) of power and I was in the traffic flow almost instantly. Actually, I started overtaking cars and had to test the brakes a bit. They had a solid, confident feel. At speeds of 55-75 mph the suspension issue vanished. I sat back, relaxed and came to the conclusion that one could cruise along comfortably on the slab for quite some time. How long? It just depends on your body or age. I do know that with this C13 you won't be shifting gears or dealing with annoying vibration. It offers a comfortable, no-drama ride. Slab riding: 9 out of 10. (Dinged a point because of the next subject.) Now about that windscreen. Much has been said about this issue. Here is my opinion relative to three previous bikes where I never managed to smooth out the flow. The air flow on the C13 was laminar not turbulent. It was present but not overbearing, even on the interstate at 75 mph. The strange thing was that the wind pressure didn't seem to vary that much with speed. I usually wear earplugs to kill the pounding of turbulent flow. I didn't have on earplugs for this test and the sound was, as mentioned before, that of clear air, not turbulent air. There will be aftermarket windscreens that I assume will give better protection but right now I'm not so sure I would buy one. Perhaps if I was taking a really long trip I would get a bigger screen, but then I live in South Carolina where cooling wind flow is also often a necessity. A final wind note: the fairing gives excellent protection from mid-chest down and I'm 6 feet tall. Wind management: 8 out of 10. I exited the interstate and completed the test by weaving through some urban traffic. No problems whatsoever. Back at the dealer, I spent some time inspecting bits and pieces. I originally deemed the saddlebags as kind of cheap, but on closer inspection I've reconsidered. They are made of that ultra hard plastic that can be thin but still durable and the latching mechanism has a really satisfying, secure sound. There are two options for more storage. One can hook a dry bag to the saddlebag supports via two holes. There is also a place for mounting a rack that I assume can be paired with a top case. There are some things that should be there but aren't: 12 volt power outlet, heated grips, maybe even some cool floorboards. Conclusions. This would be an easy decision if the price point was a bit lower. The same dealer had some new 2013 F6B's that were selling for less than the 2014 C13 deluxe and the F6B is a huge piece of machinery with lots of creature comforts. I think the next step will be some haggling. Enjoy.
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Nice review, and pretty much spot-on with what I've experienced in two days with this machine. I can't say enough about the handling, and I also love the buttery smooth clutch. No bike is absolutely 100% perfect -- it couldn't possibly be unless they were making them one-off for every individual rider. This one has a few things that you will either get used to or correct with aftermarket goodies, but the good far outweighs the bad.

About a top case -- I just read somewhere that there is one from the factory that will bolt onto the luggage rack. Windshield options, floorboards, grips, all that stuff I'm sure will be coming if this bike catches on. ;)
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...Windshield options, floorboards, grips, all that stuff I'm sure will be coming if this bike catches on. ;)
And it's already caught on with a whole bunch of members of this forum! :D

Good review. And I also concur based on my test ride yesterday. Except that I didn't notice that much bump transfer to the bars and the road I was on also suffered the winter devastation. Lots of compression bumps and some filled pot holes from last year and a few open ones from this year. Only the worst of the bumps/pot holes were bothersome and that's with any bike (or cage) I've been on. Maybe I'm just not so sensitive about bumps. Also noticed the consistancy of the airflow, that it was the same at almost any speed. NICE! :D

Oh, and I thought the mirrors were fine. Not the biggest but plenty sufficient for me.

Sorry Ed, can't stop.
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I've had mine a little over two weeks now and about 750 miles and i agree with all of the points made in the review. At first I hated the wind in my face, but am getting used to it because it is so smooth and not buffeting. I will be buying a taller one when it becomes available because I don't like full-face helmets and in a rainstorm this windscreen would be miserable.

I can say that the handling is superb. I ride mine pretty frisky and have no chicken strips on the rear tire any more. I can't wait to get it up into the mountains.

I found a cool place for a 12v receptacle and will be doing a write-up on it soon.

One thing I am confused about is that several people have commented that their CTX came with a battery tender connector attached to the battery from the dealer. Mine didn't. I would like to know more about this.
Nice review!
I believe you are only a little over 2 hours from Sports Cycle in Rockingham NC I'm picking up my Blue deluxe on Friday. See salesman Jeff Crouch $15,600. Tax title tags, out the door $16,201. Just sayin....
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Many dealers attach a lead for a Battery Tender to every bike they sell. For folks who ride daily, this is a waste. I ran the initial battery in my first ST1100 for ten years without charging it.

If you live in a winter climate where the bike sits for months, you will need the Battery Tender. Or if you buy a crap bike like my Triumph that won't hold a charge you will need a Battery Tender. Honda does not make crap, so you won't normally need a charger for the CTX1300.

My dealer attached the lead. I'm going to find an adapter so I can use it to power my heated underwear when the weather turns down in November. Unless I mount a GPS to this bike, I don't ever intend to open the battery cover.
I've put a bit over 1000 miles on my CTX and I've decided it's very close to being the best highway bike I've ever owned. All it needs is a windshield and some beads on the seat and it will be ready to ride from here to Texas in a day.

The bike is not nearly as good in the twisties as my Trophy or either of the ST1100s I owned. It requires more lean to make it around the corners at the same speed as those bikes. It doesn't flick into the curves as sharply. But it's more than capable of presenting a good time when the road goes up the mountain.

I've ridden in a bit of rain and the lack of a windshield does cause some visibility issues. I prefer something that takes the rain up over my head.
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Ken, coming from sport tourers, I can see how you would make that comparison about handling. I'm coming from cruisers (been about 10 years since the ST for me), and the CTX handles better than all of them. ;)
A true cross-tourer then!
While I currently have a sport touring bike I'm not really a sport touring rider (thus the desire for a change). I feel confident, even in my very short test ride, that the CTX1300 would handle every bit the same for me as I manage my ST. Like I said, I ride my ST more like a touring bike than a sport touring bike. :)
Having said that I am certain there may a time or two I might scrape pegs on a very sharp turn but not intentionally. I've done that with my GW before... twice. I also was one of only two in my MSF class back in 2004(a refresher) who scraped pegs yet the instructor didn't ding us for that. I guess he recognized we two were a bit more experienced and could handle a little of that (being right on the edge of performance in turns) yet also used the opportunity to talk to the rest of the students about it.
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