Honda auto balance bike. Autonomous BMW R 1200 GS

Honda CTX1300: Don’t You Forget About Me

There are a few bikes I’ve had the pleasure of checking out that leave unforgettable impressions. They’re usually the bikes that have no direct parallel with other models. Even if I don’t end up buying them, I remember them forever. One of these is the Honda CTX1300.

I first saw a CTX1300 by accident, just browsing one of the local dealers for fun (guilty!). But since then I’ve always kept my eye on the big CTX. They have a weird combination of things, some of which I know I’ll end up with — like that tantalisingly neutral riding position, not too forward, not too kicked back…

It’s hard to pigeonhole the CTX1300. So I don’t. The decision process in thinking about a CTX goes something like this:

  • “I want to be very comfortable for a long time”
  • “But I don’t want to spend Gold Wing or Road King money”
  • “Also, I want a V4, but I don’t want a Multistrada or an older cruiser”
  • “I like those weird cult bikes!”

If so, then maybe the Honda CTX1300 is for you. And you’d be one of the rare few able to say so!

The Honda CTX1300 is, on the face of it, an odd bike. It’s one of the easy rebuttals to the statement that Honda makes boring bikes (see our list of unusual Honda motorcycles, including this one). And it didn’t do too well — Honda made it just for the 2014 model year before admitting “OK folks, maybe that one wasn’t quite right.”

But there’s something about the CTX1300 that may call to you. If you’re curious, you’re probably curious about the same things I was:

  • What exactly is the Honda CTX1300?
  • Core specs of the CTX1300 (the good and the bad)
  • How the Honda CTX1300 makes power vs the ST1300
  • Alternatives to the CTX1300

Are you obsessed with motorcycles?

Well, I am. That’s why I created this site — as an outlet. I love learning and sharing what others might find useful. If you like what you read here, and you’re a fraction as obsessed as I am, you might like to know when I’ve published more. (Check the latest for an idea of what you’ll see.)

You can’t ride a spec sheet, but you can get a feel for whether a bike is for you or not!

Here’s what you need to know about the CTX1300 without going into extreme detail.

What is the CTX1300? Is it a cruiser? A sports tourer? Or a bagger?

The FIRST EVER Autonomous Motorbike is The BMW R 1200 GS

The Honda CTX1300 is, in a nutshell, a motorcycle that makes it obvious that definitions of bikes are flexible. It’s a motorcycle that you could describe as any of the following:

  • Like a V-twin bagger, but a lot more “Honda” — Quieter, smoother, easy to handle, but with a lot less of the V-twin rumble that many like
  • Like a Gold Wing, but lighter, and with a different character to the engine
  • Like an ST1300, but with more of an emphasis on comfort than sportiness

But however you slice it, the Honda CTX1300 is, in summary, a fairly large, very comfortable, and extremely unique way of slicing up long distances.

There’s a lot about the CTX1300 that made me curious. Is it heavy? Is it fast? Is it fun to ride, or will I feel like a retired cop? It’s hard to tell how you’re going to feel until the first time you sit on one, and probably not until you’ve taken it for a spin.

In terms of where it sits in Honda’s line-up, the CTX1300 is one of Honda’s attempts to make something for the cruiser or bagger market. They’ve done this a lot. Honda has of course had decades of experience with the Gold Wing, with legions of fans who are as devoted to that one model as others are devoted to entire brands.

Honda has also made many variations of the Gold Wing, like its Valkyrie cruisers and even a bagger variant, the F6B (which is an obvious competitor to the CTX1300).

But while Honda still makes the Gold Wing and even still produces the Honda Fury for the US, the CTX1300 didn’t strike a chord.

There are a number of reasons why it didn’t last. A few of these discussed a lot on forums are

  • Initially very high list price (MSRP US17,499 for the Deluxe in 2014). That just buys you a lot of bike.
  • Unusual style that didn’t quite hit — shiny and cool looking, but without the bling and raw appeal of many other cruisers (for the mass market)
  • Very significant detuning from the ST1300 (losing 31 kW or 42 bhp) without much torque benefit

Let’s look a bit more at the engine.

The CTX1300’s Engine

I have to make special mention of the engine of the Honda CTX1300 because it’s so unusual.

Yes, it’s the same basic block that we see in the Honda ST1300 (a.k.a. Pan European, a.k.a. “Pan Europ” by its fans), which you probably know from that last time you were pulled over.

This already is an unusual starting point. Most cruisers aren’t in V4 format. There have been a few in the past, like the Yamaha V-Max 1200 and VMAX 1700 (they changed the way they wrote the name) power cruisers, the Honda Magna, and the Yamaha Royal Star, but by and large we know that most cruisers are V-twins. This is even true of those from Japanese manufacturers.

(In 2022, Ducati announced the Ducati Diavel V4. It’s not an XDiavel, but I suspect one will come in later years.)

Anyway, Honda sunsetted the ST1300 / Pan European after a decade of service with no direct replacement, but brought the motor back for one last hurrah in the CTX1300.

Honda made a number of changes to the engine’s internals though. Here’s how they shake up:

What you can see is that both the CTX1300 start out strong, with tons of torque from down low. The CTX1300 does have a ~10% fatter midrange, but things even out by 5000 rpm, after which torque for the CTX drops precipitously. At that point, the ST1300 is just getting started.

Honda also lengthened all drive ratios in the CTX1300 by modifying the gearing of the secondary drive. This gives the CTX1300 a lazier feel, which suits the riding position and torque delivery.

After 5000 rpm, the ST1300 keeps climbing in torque, like a big-bore sport bike, though with the RPM compressed to below the 8500 rpm range. This is the “S” in “ST”1300. It’s why cops ride bikes like the ST: because if they have to get to 200 km/h (130 mph) to chase after some cheeky devils, they can (in theory; in reality that’s usually quite dangerous).

honda, auto, balance, bike, 1200

CTX1300 Deluxe vs Standard — What do you get?

In most markets, all you get is what in the US they know as the Deluxe. But in the US, you get the option of a standard or a Deluxe CTX1300. This is a similar situation to the Honda VFR800 8th gen, for example.

honda, auto, balance, bike, 1200

If you’re shopping in the US, you may be curious to know what the Deluxe and Standard offerings give you.

With the Deluxe version of the Honda CTX1300 you get

  • ABS and Traction Control
  • Self-cancelling turn signals (which you can’t have without ABS — it uses the ABS sensor ring to know how far you’ve gone)
  • A sound system with Bluetooth
  • Heated grips
  • Center stand
  • Panniers (Side luggage)
  • Blacked out rims and some body parts

BMW Self Riding Motorcycle – BMW R 1200 GS

Here’s a fun fact — the Honda CTX1300 is the first bike that Honda released with Bluetooth connectivity. In fact, it’s quite interesting that it’s a rare instance of a bike that can play your cellphone’s music and that doesn’t have a TFT display.

In addition, you could get as options on the CTX1300

  • A taller windshield
  • Fog lights
  • 12v accessory socket
  • Matching top case

So how do you pick a Deluxe if you’re not sure if the ad is correct (which is surprisingly often)? Look for the ABS ring. It’s tempting to just look at the presence of the speakers, but the standard version has the same grills in front of some absent speakers.

I’m not sure why people accidentally mark a base model CTX1300 as a Deluxe. Maybe they just all seem “Deluxe”!

There’s just one feature I think the CTX1300 visibly lacks and that’s cruise control. I’ve seen some fitted with MCCruise’s aftermarket unit, and that makes sense to me. The ST1300 lacked it too, but many hoped that the CTX would have it.

Alternatives to the Honda CTX1300

The Honda CTX1300 is a somewhat unique bike, but you could also say that a decent alternative to it is any distance-oriented cruiser or sport tourer.

Even within Honda’s stable there are several alternatives. People looking at unusual bikes like the CTX1300 would be likely to consider the below.

The first and most obvious competitor to the CTX1300 is Honda’s Gold Wing F6B. The Honda Gold Wing F6B is a stripped-out (albeit mildly) version of the 5th gen Honda Gold Wing.

It’s powered by the same 1832 cc flat six as in the same gen Gold Wing that makes peak torque of 123 ft-lb / 167 Nm at 4000 rpm (most of it from very low), with peak power of an impressive 117 bhp / 87 kW at 5500 rpm.

To make the F6B, Honda attempted to simplify / streamline the Gold Wing, maybe for a younger market. So Honda ditched a lot of the features Gold Wings came with, removing the rear box, cutting the windscreen, eliminating sat nav and airbag options, auto cancelling signals, and seat heaters. They kept the sound system, though.

controversially, Honda also stripped cruise control and the reverse gear, both of which are fairly central to the Gold Wing experience in my opinion. Honda eventually fixed this in 2014 for the 40th anniversary edition of the F6B (MY 2015).

At launch, the F6B was a few thousand dollars more expensive than the CTX1300. But they were in the same ballpark. As time has worn on, the F6B is still generally more expensive.

Honda ST1300 (2002-2013 leftover stock)

Another obvious competitor to the Honda CTX1300 is the bike from which it got its engine — the Honda ST1300.

If you’re after a bit more sportiness, and a more sport-touring than a sport riding position, the ST1300 may be your cup of tea.

The Honda ST1300 is, for most people, a better bike. It’s comfortable, much faster than the ST1300 (and much sportier feeling — though still somewhat sedate in the world of sport tourers), and well-regarded as being a bike that lasts for well over 100000 kms. It was a favourite for many police departments around the world.

One of the simpler reasons to recommend the ST1300 is that because it has been around for much longer (11 years — 2002 to 2013 model years, and with many sold as leftover stock for years afterwards), has many more riders, and so many more active forum members to help you with repairs, parts, and general knowledge.

But if even the fairly comfy position on the ST is uncomfortable for your knees or wrists (we all have our limits), then it’s a no-go!

As a small perk of the ST1300 — you get nearly 50% more fuel range, which means a functional range of ~300 miles of highway riding. This is a great bike for doing the SaddleSore 1000 as you’d only need to fill up three times.

Honda CTX700 (2014-2018)

The final major alternative to the CTX1300 is the CTX700. Depending on where you live and the kind of roads around you, the smaller CTX may make more sense.

Honda also released the CTX700 for the 2014 model year. But unlike the CTX1300, they kept making the 700 for a few more years.

The Honda CTX700 hit a few more notes than the CTX1300. It’s also a relaxed cruiser with futuristic styling and a neutral (rather than foot-forward) riding position.

But it’s lighter, A2-friendly (though not LAMS-friendly in most states of Australia, as it’s slightly over the cc limit), and even comes in a naked version, the CTX700N.

That twin-cylinder engine, by the way, is a gem. It’s under-stressed and not terribly exciting, but for its class it has a decent amount of character. At any rate it’s no more or less interesting than the V4 in the CTX1300, but with much cheaper service (just one cylinder head, and of course half the number of cylinders).

The real draw of the Honda CTX700, though, is that it comes with Honda’s Dual Clutch Transmission (DCT) as an option. This means either automatic or paddle shifting, making for a very comfortable ride.

People hoped that Honda would release a CTX1300 with DCT, but they never did.

No, the CTX700 isn’t very high-powered, but neither is the 1300. Nor is it very high-spec. But look at that that price! The CTX700 was less than half the price of the CTX1300 new, and you got a lot of bike for the money. The same is true now on the used market — but there are relatively few of each.

What makes the Honda Navi special?

It’s really down to a simple formula. First, 10-inch rear and 12-inch front wheels are pretty small for a motorcycle, and they make it very easy to dart around in slow-speed city traffic, producing a quick-on-its-toes sprightliness to the Navi.

Add in a low, 30.1-inch seat height, straightforward cockpit controls, and especially the absence of a clutch lever or shifter, and a motorcycle really couldn’t be less intimidating.

How does the Honda Navi ride?

A 109-cc motor will either seem anemic if you’re already a throttle twister, or won’t mean anything at all if you’ve never ridden. If the latter describes you, know that this is a somewhat large displacement in the scooter realm, and that creates pep — if not fireworks — from about 0–30 mph. At about 45 mph and above, acceleration gets glacial. You can stretch the little Honda to 55 mph, depending on whether or not you’re steaming into a headwind — but without a fairing to help make the Honda more aerodynamic, you will be limited to local roads. And don’t even think about the interstate.

So what you’re looking at is a commuter bike for around town, and for that duty, it’s excellent. The ergonomics make the seating position pretty comfortable. Unlike a lot of scooters that require your feet to be inboard, ahead of you, like you’re sitting in a chair, with the Navi, you straddle the bike and use your right foot on a pedal to apply the rear brake (your right hand controls the front brake lever).

This classic motorcycling posture feels safer, because it lets you use your legs to grip the seat and soak up potholes and jolts. All of that gives you more control — and you’ll want it, since the Navi’s suspension only has 3.5 inches of travel from the fork and 2.8 inches at the shock (and you remember those tiny wheels, right?), which means the little Honda can get bounced around on rough roads. Using your legs for balance offsets these oscillations.

Plus, it’s an entertaining little machine, easily as nimble as any electric bicycle I’ve tested. I was a human grin from stem to stern blasting along winding roads, and the Honda rides especially playfully when you’re on an “excuse mission,” like buying a pint of ice cream. That would feel like a chore in a car; on the Navi, it’s a carnival lark with an ultra-cheap cost of entry.

Also, the Navi is comfortable. You sit in a very upright posture, and although I didn’t want to ride the Navi all day — mostly because bikes without fairings tire you out with the constant air pressure — riding a few hours was, if anything, invigorating. You’re not going to rocket anywhere, but there’s also no temptation to try. You can’t fly, so you glide instead.

There are some oddities to the Navi equation. Fuel economy, as mentioned, is extraordinary. but the 0.9 gallon fuel tank is tiny. It would be swell if that tank could drink in, say, another half-gallon?

Also, where there’d ordinarily be a clutch ahead of the left grip, there’s a parking brake lever. Remember: This bike has a CVT, so you can’t park it in gear like a conventional moto to keep it from rolling when the engine’s switched off. The brake locks the bike’s front, and you need that brake to be engaged to start the Honda with its push-button ignition. Once fired to life, release the brake, twist the throttle on the right-hand grip and away you go.

Braking is a little soft if you’re used to any modern motorcycle. Drum front- and rear brakes slow the Navi just fine, but there’s not much bite to the one in the back. Down a longer hill, approaching a stop, you can feel that nearly all the braking takes place on the front tire — and if you were riding in the rain, that probably means you’d have to work the stoppers more carefully to safely bleed off speed.

A final beef: A simple gauge cluster is fine, but the turn signal indicator is too dim; in direct sunlight, you can’t tell if it’s still on, and that’s a hazard in traffic.

Does anything else stand out about this bike?

The single-cylinder motor is positioned under your butt. On most motorcycles, it’s perched further forward in the chassis, just ahead of your body. That rearward positioning gives the Navi a bit more stability than other scooters I’ve tested, so despite a wheelbase shorter than some electric bicycles, even at 50 mph, the Navi doesn’t get unsettled. I rode it on a windy day, and even with a stiff crosscurrent pushing sideways against me and the bike, it wasn’t hard to keep the Navi on course.

Also, that funky motor arrangement leaves room for a 15-liter box within the frame. That keyed, waterproof “trunk” is just big enough for bringing takeout dinner back to your pad — or, provided you don’t wear size 15 kicks, to stow a pair of shoes and a jacket, or a change of pants and a shirt. You should wear protective clothing when you ride, but that introduces the conundrum of how to carry a change of garb when you arrive. This way, you could toss the protective jacket in a backpack and carry your shoes inside the bike.

Honda also makes a rear rack and other accessories for the Navi, expanding use cases and capabilities. Not bad for a mini moto that’s super utilitarian, super fun, and dirt cheap.

How much does the Honda Navi Cost?

The base price for the Honda Navi is 450,807 for all colorways: Red, Grasshopper Green, Nut Brown and Ranger Green.

Engine: 109-cc air-cooled, 4-stroke, single-cylinder

Gearbox: CVT

honda, auto, balance, bike, 1200

Seat height: 30.1 inches

Wet weight: 236 pounds

Top speed: 55 mph

EPA Fuel Economy: 110 mpg

Lit Motors and BMW’s self-balancing two-wheelers

Previously we wrote about Lit Motors and BMW both presenting self-balancing two-wheelers. From Lit we know that the tech consists of two control momentum gyroscopes (CMG), which uses gyroscopic torque to keep its two-wheeled vehicle in an upright position at a complete stop, automatically lean into turns and even counterweight in the instance of a collision. Unfortunately, BMW didn’t elaborate on the technology powering the self-balancing system.

All in all, the Honda ‘Riding Assist-e’ bike is a pretty special looking bike. Maybe a little more than just a learner’s bike. We have marked October 25th in our calendar and are looking forward to what Honda has in store for us.


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Self-Balancing Motorcycle: How Does It Work?

Besides the main goal to go electric, achieving autonomy to take human intervention away from processes is the next target manufacturers are aiming at. We already have cars which can drive on their own and the technology is only being refined further as you read this. For a machine as personal as a motorcycle though, imagining that they would develop tech to make a two-wheeler balance and even ride on its own was almost impossible. However, the self-balancing motorcycle is now a reality. And no, we aren’t talking about three-wheeled examples like the Niken.

Now, if we consider conventionally-designed machines, there are three manufacturers who have made substantial progress in this area – Honda, Yamaha and BMW Motorrad. Among these, Honda’s Riding Assist tech and the Yamaha Motoroid can move around without a rider and also balance themselves on their own, even while standing still. On the other hand, BMW’s tech can make the bike ride itself once it gains momentum, however, requires a side stand to be deployed when it isn’t moving. Let’s dig deeper to understand how the technology works.

Honda Riding Assist

Unlike some other examples, Honda’s Riding Assist tech does not make use of a gyroscope to make the motorcycle balance itself. Instead, it relies on a variable rake angle of the front wheel and a motor for the handlebar to balance itself. The concept works in a way where the wheelbase extends to achieve a positive rake angle when the motorcycle is moving at a relatively faster speed, whereas, a negative angle tightens the wheelbase for the motorcycle to move around at slow speeds and to tackle sharp turns.

Yamaha’s Motoroid is like your lover which recognises the rider’s face and comes running towards it. The best part? It even listens. The bike’s chassis gyrates to bring itself off the side stand and once the rider makes a gesture, it moves forward. The primary technologies in use here are an image recognition AI system for recognizing the rider’s face and gestures, Yamaha’s “Active Mass Center Control System” self-balancing technology and a haptic human-machine interface.

Honda Riding Assist will change the way we ride motorcycles in future:

Honda is one of the pioneers of developing the new age technology for cars and bikes alike. Recently, Honda Motorcycles unveiled a unique feature for its motorcycles, the Honda Riding Assist. It is an all-electric concept motorcycle which continually assesses its position. Furthermore, it can also move the handle-bar. Thus, it makes sure that the motorcycle always stays in an upright position. This feature is very helpful while riding the motorcycle in heavy traffic.

At the Tokyo Motor Show, Honda showcased a motorcycle which can stand on its own with or without a rider. The bike uses the same robotic technology that Honda invented while developing its walking humanoid robot. With the advent of new era technology, Honda Engineers made this possible on a motorcycle.

Why Honda Riding Assist?

Pulling a heavy bike out of the garage is a chore. Riding a bike at very slow speeds is quite challenging. It leads to instability. This could also become tiresome. It is because the rider has to balance his/her weight along with the weight of the bike. This may result in the riders laying down their bike. To overcome these issues, Honda came up with Honda Riding Assist. This tech helps the motorcycle stand upright.

To keep a motorcycle upright, you need a large and heavy gyroscopic device. Also, you also need to keep turning it. However, it will alter the riding experience. So, Honda decided not to use the Gyroscope. Instead, Honda’s device is only the size of a lamp. It can be fitted above the front wheel. When you turn the system on, the motorcycle stays upright even when the rider walks away from it.

The auto-balancing function is always on even when the rider sits on the bike. When the bike comes to a dead stop, the rider need not put their feet on the ground for balance. The motorcycle balances itself even while riding at very slow speeds. This is very useful in the stop-and-go or slow speed traffic in urban cities. Once the rider gets off the bike, it can even follow the rider wherever he/she goes such as moving into the garage.

The technology behind Honda Riding Assist:

Honda derives this technology from its two-legged, self-standing humanoid ASIMO. Honda Riding Assist uses this proven robotics technology to create the self-balancing motorcycle. Thus, it greatly reduces the possibility of falling over when the motorcycle is at rest. Honda aims to improve the experience of riding a motorcycle. It also plans to employ this feature on large as well as small motorcycles used for the daily commute.

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