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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I took my new Valkyrie out for an 80km run tonight to get to know it. It was raining yesterday on the trip home from the dealer. The run included some freeway, and quiet country roads beyond Melbourne Airport.
First impression, as on the test ride and the ride home, was it's BIG! Those radiator cowls are huge. I'd prefer a radiator in the conventional location, giving the bike a less bulky look, but the wheelbase would need to be even longer. After it's rolling, the bike steers quickly enough. The hydraulic clutch, slick gearbox and all that torque makes it OK, even riding in heavy traffic. I'm glad it has only 5 gears; six is one too many for this engine. It does not feel busy in top gear at 100km/h. It actually feels happier doing 3000rpm at about 110km/h, perfect for freeway cruising. The exhaust has a nice deep tone that's audible and pleasant even at speed with ear plugs in, but it's not too loud. It's fun to accelerate just to hear it.
On a dark moonless night the LED headlight is great, especially on high beam. Since it runs high and low beam together, if high beam fails at least low beam is still there. The horn sounds like a car too; car drivers take notice.
The suspension performed quite well. Freeway expansion joints came through quite a bit, making me think about excessive high speed damping at both ends. On my usual test section of rough and undulating road that exercises both high and low speed damping, I could feel the bumps, but my fillings stayed put. With a passenger aboard it would feel better again. It's certainly not plush, but probably about right to preserve some clearance in bumpy corners. It seems to handle like it's on rails.
The seat is quite firm. I'm not sure how it will go on a long trip. If it turns out to be too hard I'll buy the bike an Air Hawk cushion like the one I use on my other bikes. At least the seat is low, really easy to throw your leg over. The riding position is about perfect really. I'm 191cm, 6'3" tall and wear size 13 boots, but had no trouble with room for changing gear or braking. I love the 1" bars and thick handgrips. After an hour on a cold evening my legs and feet were still not too cold, thanks to the weather protection provided by the radiator cowls and engine. Brakes are progressive and powerful, really confidence inspiring.
The digital dash is just about perfect. I like having a clock, but I'd also like a temperature gauge of some kind, preferably digital like on my Daytona 955i. In comparison, the analog instruments on the F6B look quite hard to read. I like the naked bike feel of being able to look past the dash and see the road, rather than a wall of fairing.
Of course, the engine performance is GREAT! Turbine smooth, torquey and powerful, though it actually makes only about as much power as my Tiger 1050, or the R1200GS, or Yamaha MT09. I was surprised to see how small in diameter the exhaust pipes are, under the engine. With its six-in-line valve configuration per side it's clearly not designed to breath well at high rpm, or make a lot of power, but the power is very accessible. It's geared at about 36km/h per 1000rpm in top gear, so about 200km/h at peak power, 5500rpm. Apart from the cam chains, there are no chains or belts in the whole bike! Hyvo cam chains are trouble free with properly designed guides and tensioners.
I was surprised to learn the bike had only a 5 inch rear rim, not quite wide enough even for the 180/55 tyre. It precludes mounting a wider tyre, for me anyway. Why not a 6.5" rim that could take a 190 at least? The rear wheel looks undersized to me, out of scale with the bike. Then there is that weird front 130/60-19 Dunlop radial. I'll change that for a bias tyre eventually, Commander 2 or ME888.
It will be interesting to see how the fuel consumption turns out, how big the tank really is, full to empty, and thus the fuel range. I'm not sure why Honda moved the tank from under the seat, as in the 'Wing and F6B, to the conventional position, thus raising the C of G. The rear subframe is different; maybe there is less room there for a tank now, although the seat height is about the same, 29".

Overall, the bike is even better than I thought it would be when I decided (with some trepidation) to buy it after a short test ride. Very refined, with attention to detail everywhere, typically Honda. Everything works well. It's definitely not just an F6B without the fairing and bags. It has bigger wheels, better brakes, more ground clearance, different pipes, all LED lighting, digital dash etc. Quite a different bike.

Now for a screen, cruise control, pillion back rest, and some way to carry luggage.
IanB
 

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Glad you like it. Get highway pegs and rest your heels on the outside of them with your feet pointing out. You take up about as much of the lane as a car does. Very satisfying :D
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Yes, it certainly has presence on the road.
I neglected to mention that I briefly ran the Valk up past 270 kilofurlongs/fortnight on a quiet straight section of road, being mindful of kangaroos on a dark night. It got there quickly and effortlessly, and was still accelerating well. Tonnes of performance where you want it.
IanB
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I managed a second ride one evening last week after work, 150km. Again, mixed freeway and winding roads. It took 7.7 litres to refill the tank, so 19.5km/litre or 46mpg (US). Damm good! Means over 400km fuel range.
Today I did a 350km run. This time the fuel gauge went down almost as I watched.
16.25km/l or 38.5mpg. Average for Valkyrie 1800 in Fuelly is 41.7mpg. I guess I was riding more enthusiastically this time. The 2nd last segment of the 8 bar fuel gauge went off at about 275km, 17 litres, with 6 litres to go, in theory. I'll be sure when I run the bike until it stops. There is a lot of space above the fuel when it reaches the bottom of the filler tube and surges up. You could trickle a fair bit more in there if you were patient enough. At least I can assume 350km on a tankful.
From the service manual:
Primary reduction 78/49
Top gear 24/35
Secondary reduction 36/35
Final reduction 33/12
Revs/km for 180/55-17 tyre 505
Result 38.4 km/h, 24mph per 1000 engine rpm in top gear, or 2600rpm at 100km/h, 2900rpm at 112km/h, 70mph
My dash appeared to confirm this. The last 200rpm bar below 3000rpm on the tach turned on at about 115km/h (indicated) while accelerating very gently, turned off at about 107 while decelerating.

Differences between Valkyrie and F6B/Goldwing:
No fairing, radio, panniers (obviously!)
No centre stand
Digital dash
All LED lights
Same frame, except less rigid engine support beam to improve feel (really?)
Lighter rear subframe
1" larger wheels at each end
Lower load rating tyres (only 1.2% increase in rear tyre diameter, 0% at front),
Longer forks? (same rake, 5mm longer trail)
No anti dive on the front forks?
Bigger front disks
Four opposed piston calipers instead of 3 piston single acting calipers in front (no linked brakes)
Three piston single acting caliper in back (same), but with all 3 working off the rear brake lever
Fuel tank (2 litres smaller) in conventional location instead of under seat
Different air box to accommodate the fuel tank
Different mufflers
Same drive train, possibly different fuel map in the ECU
3kW, 4hp less power
Did I miss anything?

The bike is unconditionally stable. I tried waggling the bars, but they were completely "dead" at any speed I tried, just like with my Daytona 955i. I think this is the result of a very stiff frame and front end. It won't weave or wobble at any speed, even hitting mid-corner bumps.

The Valk has joined two other obsolete bikes in my garage; Daytona 955i and Husqvarna TR650 Strada. I wonder why this bike failed to succeed. It has performance-biased suspension, impeccable handling, good ground clearance, fantastic brakes and turbine smooth power. It's comfortable and sounds good, great fun to ride anywhere. Much more than a cruiser. Sports cruiser?
IanB
 

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Sports cruiser?
The term used over here is power cruiser but yeah, you're pretty much right. It was aimed at the aging sportbike crowd. Those people ready to transition from a sportbike to a cruiser that was still fast and agile enough not to bore them. It's a tough market and a small enough niche that I'm not sure success was ever going to be feasible. They were competing against the diavel, the vmax and the m109 which all already had a market presence. Plus the fact that it's big and heavy will intimidate a lot of potential riders. Late to the market and a small potential audience is generally a guarantee to fail. It's much easier to see in hindsight though.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Perhaps roadster? A bike with capabilities other than highway cruising and rapid acceleration.
Yes, I guess we are a small audience. It certainly intimidated me, until I got used to it. And yet the original F6C was successful. I rode one a few years ago, thinking of buying one, but it didn't go, didn't stop, and was short of ground clearance. I was very disappointed.
Good as the Valk is, if I had to own only one bike, it would be the Daytona (or the spare one I have in case something happens to it). I never considered the M109, Diavel or Vmax. I was after the flat 6 engine, without all the flab that goes with the F6A/B, with some potential sports ability. The only other contender for the last place in my garage was the V-rod Muscle (yet another obsolete bike).
IanB
 

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I know beauty is a personal aesthetic but I feel the vmax and diavel are just ugly and never considered them. I like the m109, it's very capable and compares quite well to the Valk, but with a lot more noise and vibration and doesn't me fit as well, ergonomically. I would have had to add risers to it right OOB, just to have a comfortable seating position. I sat on a v-rod, it fit ok but price and performance aren't even close, so I never gave it serious consideration.
The daytona looks like a sport bike? I never cared for them and they don't fit my 30" inseam very well. It's gotta be a cruiser for me.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I'm with you on the Vmax and Diavel. The looks of the Valk are challenging too, but I'm starting to like it. I don't like noise and vibration either. Even my Daytona (definitely a sports bike, which was ultimately outcompeted in its target market and withdrawn in 2006) has standard pipes, they're loud enough for me. What makes the Daytona my favourite bike out of the 20 I've owned is the engine: smooth and enthusiastic, different in feel to all the other 955/1050 triples due to light forged pistons and fairly wild cams. That said, it wasn't indispensable to me until I changed the clip-ons for flat bars and modified the suspension at both ends to remove the excessive sport bike compression damping. Those changes made it the most comfortable bike as well. And it has a 350km fuel range. I'm not sure which of the Daytona and Valk I'd choose for a 20,000km trip around Australia. IanB
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Now, after 1500km on the Valk, I know which bike I'd ride around Australia. Definitely the Valk.
I fitted a MRA Vario touring screen, which works very well. It looks OK too, IMO. It's a split screen, like the Givi Aero, not as wide, and there's a little more wind noise, but the air goes over my helmet, just, while I'm looking well above the edge of the screen. I can feel some wind on my upper arms, but minimal turbulence. Givi don't make a screen for the Valk.

The bike isn't perfect though. The engine performs well, wonderfully smooth. The exhaust sounds great, loud enough that you can hear it at any speed, but not too loud. The one thing that spoils the ride is the choppy suspension. You can feel every tiny bump on the road, then some bump you didn't even see crushes three vertebrae. The upright seating position makes it worse. I've had this before, on my Daytona 955i. Too much high speed compression damping. I eventually fixed it on the Daytona by installing Gold valves in the forks and the shock, with dual-rate compression shim stacks toward the softer end of the range. It transformed the bike; the best, most comfortable suspension I've experienced. It's surprising that Honda could get this so wrong. On a road bike, especially a cruiser, you don't want any more compression damping than is needed to prevent the suspension bottoming out. I'll take a look at options for improving the Valk's suspension.
IanB
 

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You can make the suspension softer by turning the rear suspension adjuster knob located in the battery compartment. If you turn the knob in a counter clockwise direction it softens the suspension. I turned mine as full as it would go and it definitely helped smooth out the bumps.
Mike
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Hm, preload changes only ride height, nothing else, not spring rate nor damping, unless you have so much preload that there is insufficient or no sag.

In my list of F6C differences I omitted the reverse gear. So did Honda.
Why did they leave that lousy damper rod in the left fork leg?
IanB
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 · (Edited)
The 10 minute edit period expired. I was adding that the Traxxion Dynamics cartridge and shock kit looks good.
I love the MRA Vario screen-for-naked-bikes I fitted. It's a true split screen like the Givi Airflow, not just a lip on top (which just increases turbulence in my experience). The Vario works great. Well made, and highly recommended. The universal clamps fit 1" bars too.
IanB
 

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Thx for the input on a suspension. Please keep us informed. I have a bad back and I'm looking to do something to soften the spension yet still allow me put on the miles and maintain control of the bike in the twisties.
 

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I put in the F6B spring from progressive. Not expensive and not that hard to change. Made a noticeable difference, but not a monumental one.
 

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I managed a second ride one evening last week after work, 150km. Again, mixed freeway and winding roads. It took 7.7 litres to refill the tank, so 19.5km/litre or 46mpg (US). Damm good! Means over 400km fuel range.
Today I did a 350km run. This time the fuel gauge went down almost as I watched.
16.25km/l or 38.5mpg. Average for Valkyrie 1800 in Fuelly is 41.7mpg. I guess I was riding more enthusiastically this time. The 2nd last segment of the 8 bar fuel gauge went off at about 275km, 17 litres, with 6 litres to go, in theory. I'll be sure when I run the bike until it stops. There is a lot of space above the fuel when it reaches the bottom of the filler tube and surges up. You could trickle a fair bit more in there if you were patient enough. At least I can assume 350km on a tankful.
From the service manual:
Primary reduction 78/49
Top gear 24/35
Secondary reduction 36/35
Final reduction 33/12
Revs/km for 180/55-17 tyre 505
Result 38.4 km/h, 24mph per 1000 engine rpm in top gear, or 2600rpm at 100km/h, 2900rpm at 112km/h, 70mph
My dash appeared to confirm this. The last 200rpm bar below 3000rpm on the tach turned on at about 115km/h (indicated) while accelerating very gently, turned off at about 107 while decelerating.

Differences between Valkyrie and F6B/Goldwing:
No fairing, radio, panniers (obviously!)
No centre stand
Digital dash
All LED lights
Same frame, except less rigid engine support beam to improve feel (really?)
Lighter rear subframe
1" larger wheels at each end
Lower load rating tyres (only 1.2% increase in rear tyre diameter, 0% at front),
Longer forks? (same rake, 5mm longer trail)
No anti dive on the front forks?
Bigger front disks
Four opposed piston calipers instead of 3 piston single acting calipers in front (no linked brakes)
Three piston single acting caliper in back (same), but with all 3 working off the rear brake lever
Fuel tank (2 litres smaller) in conventional location instead of under seat
Different air box to accommodate the fuel tank
Different mufflers
Same drive train, possibly different fuel map in the ECU
3kW, 4hp less power
Did I miss anything?

The bike is unconditionally stable. I tried waggling the bars, but they were completely "dead" at any speed I tried, just like with my Daytona 955i. I think this is the result of a very stiff frame and front end. It won't weave or wobble at any speed, even hitting mid-corner bumps.

The Valk has joined two other obsolete bikes in my garage; Daytona 955i and Husqvarna TR650 Strada. I wonder why this bike failed to succeed. It has performance-biased suspension, impeccable handling, good ground clearance, fantastic brakes and turbine smooth power. It's comfortable and sounds good, great fun to ride anywhere. Much more than a cruiser. Sports cruiser?
IanB
Very impressive information, it is very helpful in decision-making for the future. Thank you for sharing
 

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I put in the F6B spring from progressive. Not expensive and not that hard to change. Made a noticeable difference, but not a monumental one.
I’m interested in your post, are you saying that you put a FB spring on a Honda Valkyrie? If so can you explain in detail how it rides?Thank you in advance.
 

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Great information in this thread - thankyou.

IanB: can you comment on doing an Ohlins suspension upgrade for the Valk?
 
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