RIDING WITH THE VALKERIES
Nicholas Frankl Contributing Editor
The Valkerie, introduced in the mid nineties to embarrass and amuse Harley-Davidson owners in equal measure is now on its final voyage towards the sun filled horizon. Soon to be replaced with an updated chassis and the Goldwing 1800cc engine (as if 1500cc wasn’t enough).
The Valk was a creation borne out of California and America’s desire to be BIG. No other nation, especially the Japanese, could ever have dreamt of such a vehicle, the motorcycle equivalent of a Cadillac SUV.
I first rode the Valkerie in a place more suited to Vespa scooters, namely, the rather narrow, tight n’ twisty and overly congested city of London.
At the time it was the only one in the Country and to mention that its fantastic “USA” red and white paint job rather stood out is the best understatement since Joan Collins announced that one husband could never satisfy a real women.
The largesse of the beast was sheer decadence in a town where gas costs $5 a gallon and the most popular car, a Nissan Micra, with two doors and only 4 cylinders (two less than the Valk), could carry 5 medium sized adults in comfort and still fit into a shorter parking space than the flat-6 motored Honda.
I rarely, if ever, get intimidated about riding or driving anything. But I remember the first time I was introduced to this bike thinking it would be unmanageable in London streets and incapable of maneuvering through the hostile and very unforgiving traffic. I wasn’t alone in this thinking, as just about everyone who came into contact with the Valk wondered how the hell it was possible to ride it at all.
Course I needant have worried. The engineers had done their homework and the Valk, although a touch on the heavy side (weighing in at 681 lbs) was amazingly easy to use once you were up and running.
No, squeezing in between the lines of cars wasn’t as easy as say a Hornet, but with the wide six cylinder engine slung out below and in front of the rider – it made the bike look rather menacing from the oncoming vehicles point of view and you could therefore run around the outside of the traffic with confidence that everyone could see you and no one wanted to run into a Harley on steroids.
Speaking of Harleys, I recall that at the time we also ran a Roadking as a comparison. The similarities, once beyond the overall concept stuff, were few, the differences many. For instance if you rode for a 100 miles and stepped off the Roadking your hands and feet were literally numb from the vibrations of the V-twin. Under breaking, their was also no competition, the Harley requiring significantly more tarmac and break pressure to shed speed, which also took longer to gather in the first place.
Simply put the Harley was fun, emotional and evocative, but also totally out classed by the larger, more stable better handing and balanced Valkerie.
The turbine like thrust from the motor is simply phenomenal, pulling cleanly all the way to the six thousand red line and leaving many sports 600’s in it’s wake. Once fully accustomed to the proportions and character, it is scary how fast and fluid you can ride.
Naturally tight canyons are not the forte of a bike this big, and I’m not a brave enough rider to really push the Valk to beyond mild peg scrapping.
On the down side, to order to handle this much weight and torque, Honda used a gearbox originally meant for agricultural machinery.
But as with the new Goldwing this has been significantly improved and I assume the new box with make the transition along with the rest of the mechanicals.
All the other Japanese manufactures have similar V- twin clones and the next best thing is probably the Royal star which is also priced around the Valks' sticker of $13,100. But that still is only a V-four – although a very good one.
Honda have already shown us what to expect next in the mind bending Ruan. If the new Valk is anything near this concept it will be one hell of a touer and I for one cannot wait.
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6FC - VALKERIE
Engine Type 1520cc liquid-cooled horizontally opposed six-cylinder
Bore and Stroke 71.0mm x 64.0mm
Compression Ratio 9.8:1
Valve Train SOHC; two valves per cylinder
Carburetion Six 28mm diaphragm-type CV
Ignition Solid-state digital
Final Drive Shaft
CHASSIS / SUSPENSION / BRAKES
Front Suspension 45mm inverted fork; 5.1-inch travel
Rear Suspension Dual shocks with five-position spring-preload adjustability; 4.7-inch travel
Front Brakes Dual discs with twin-piston calipers
Rear Brake Single disc
Front Tire 150/80R-17 radial
Rear Tire 180/70R-16 radial
Wheelbase 66.5 inches
Seat Height 28.9 inches
Dry Weight 681.0 pounds
Fuel Capacity 5.3 gallons, including 1.1-gallon reserve
Emissions California version differs slightly due to emissions equipment.
Available Colors Black
Model ID GL1500CD
Engine Type 1312cc liquid-cooled 52-degree V-twin
Bore and Stroke 89.5mm x 104.3mm
Compression Ratio 9.2:1
Valve Train SOHC; three valves per cylinder
Carburetion 38mm CV
Ignition Solid-state digital with three-dimensional mapping, two spark plugs per cylinder
Final Drive Shaft
CHASSIS / SUSPENSION / BRAKES
Front Suspension 41mm fork; 5.1-inch travel
Rear Suspension Dual shocks with five-position spring-preload adjustability; 3.7-inch travel
Front Brake Single 336mm disc with twin-piston caliper
Rear Brake Single 296mm disc with single-piston caliper
Front Tire 140/80-17
Rear Tire 170/80-15
Rake 32.0 degrees
Trail 144mm (5.7 inches)
Wheelbase 65.7 inches
Seat Height 27.0 inches
Dry Weight 661.0 pounds
Fuel Capacity 4.8 gallons, including 1.0-gallon reserve
Emissions California version meets CARB 2004 emissions standards.
Available Colors Black, Candy Red, Pearl Orange, Illusion Blue
Model ID VTX1300S