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Honda valkyrie interstate

Mac the Valk take II

(by Guy 'Guido' Allen, July 2022)


Honda
                    valkyrie interstate

We reckon recidivism is under-rated – and so we've bought another Honda Valkyrie Interstate, two decades after the first

It’s just as you’re straightening up, feeding in throttle and enjoying the distinctive growl from the flat six that it all comes flooding back. Two decades wash away as you recall the last time you felt exactly like this, winding up the Valkyrie Interstate for a run south towards home. Who knew Honda built time machines?

Valkyrie

We’ve successfully made the jump back to the very early 2000s, when muggins owned the first Valkyrie Interstate – then a new motorcycle (above). Or at least a low-mile demo I’d bought from Honda. I think we had it about three to four years, in which time it racked up at least 40,000km. So it had been well-used. (See a story from one trip, here.)

When it came time to sell, there was the inevitable remorse as it was ridden down the driveway and out of sight by the new owner. I’m no longer sure why it was offloaded – probably to fund something newer/faster/shinier/whatever. Over the intervening 20 years, I’d had plenty of time to think of Mac the Valk and increasingly those thoughts led to an urge to find another.

Honda valkyrie interstate

Call it buying back your youth, or fixing an earlier lapse of judgement – take your pick – another example is now ensconced in the shed.

For those of you not quite up to speed on these monsters, let’s do a quick recap. Honda’s first Valkyrie series (see our profile here) was a rework of the 1500 Gold Wing. Very much an American inspired design, it ran the familiar liquid-cooled SOHC flat six powerplant, tuned somewhat differently with six carburettors in place of the Wing’s two.

Oddly enough, the power claim was pretty much the same as for the Gold Wing – about 100 horses, however that seems modest since we’ve seen independent dyno charts suggesting they can make close to mid-90s at the rear wheel. Certainly the power delivery is more lively, particularly when it comes to mid-range.

honda
              valkyrie interstate

There were three variants: Standard, Touring (with panniers and screen) and the Interstate you see here. It included a more elaborate fairing, topbox, different seating, a claimed tweak to the mid-range over the other two, and an increase in fuel capacity from 20 to 26 litres. That lot weighed a hefty 350 kilos, dry.

While 100-ish horses may not seem like a lot these days, at the time it was a big number for a full-dress cruiser. Witness this impression from a contemporary road test by the folk at Motorcycle.com in the USA: “Anyone with a bold throttle hand and callous disregard for speed limits can take this motorcycle places where no touring motorcycle belongs, with monstrous torque offering fearless freeway acceleration and ample horsepower creating the potential for triple digit straights, should you be so reckless and irresponsible.”

My own recollections included a respect for the thing’s straight line urge and, believe it or not, halfway reasonable cornering ability. Now people give you a strange look when you say that, but it’s true. It’s one of those mind-over-matter situations, where if you grab the thing by the tiller and plan ahead in corners, it gets in and out quite respectably – certainly quicker than a land yacht this size has a right to.

honda valkyrie interstate

The brochures of the day led off with the line “give your riding buddies performance anxiety” and, if they too were on cruisers, there was a lot of truth to that. However any halfway competent rider on a reasonable 600 street bike would leave you for dead.

honda valkyrie interstate

With all that in mind, it was interesting climbing back into the saddle after all that time. My ‘new’ example is a 2001 model with 80,000km on the odo, in great overall shape and cost Au$11,000 (US$7500, GB£6300). That compares to Au$26,990 (US$18,500, GB£15,500) plus on-road costs two decades ago.

Back when it was new, Honda dealers had trouble shifting them off the floor. This example wasn’t sold until 2003. Although, weirdly, the moment they finished, there seemed to be some demand and used units were getting good money. Oh the joys of being a dealer…

honda valkyrie interstate

The engine is addictive, thanks to its willing nature and unique sound. Finding the five available gears is accurate, but it prefers a slow change from first to second if you want it to happen quietly. The sheer weight of the thing means any shaft reaction is minimal, while torque reaction from the engine is non-existent.

It loves fuel. Somehow that aspect of its behavior had been wiped from the memory. In normal circumstances it will manage around 11km/lt but expect to see that plummet if you go all Valentino Rossi on the throttle.

honda valkyrie interstate

Maintenance is surprisingly straight-forward. Valve lash is due around every 20,000km and is by screw and locknut. The big item is the cam belt, which cautious owners change over at 100,000km. Access is easy. Overall, these engines have a reputation for enduring huge distances.

Braking and suspension belong to another era. Adjustment on the latter is rear preload only and in this case the whole set-up feels like it could do with a freshen-up. It’s okay, but the term ‘finesse‘ doesn’t spring to mind.

Like a lot of very big bikes of the era, it has its own personality when being hustled along on a tight road. Think over-exuberant Labrador if you’re really pressing on, sometimes wanting to run wide, wagging its tail and putting on a bit of a show. It’s all quite benign and hugely entertaining.

honda
              valkyrie interstate

Meanwhile the brakes are two-piston calipers up front, used across a lot of Honda models at the time. They’re okay, but power is lacking and you really do need to lean on the rear to help out – not surprising given the weight distribution.

ABS? Err, nope. Ditto for any other electronic safety nets. Welcome (back) to analogue riding.

honda valkyrie interstate

One upgrade is the aftermarket cruise control. Coincidentally I had the same system on my previous Valk and it was a godsend for long trips. It’s essentially an adaption of an aftermarket car unit, using a vacuum system to control the throttle linkages tied to electronics that read road speed, with cut-out switches on the brakes and clutch.

Meanwhile we have a sound system that really is a throwback. It has an AM/FM radio receiver, is wired for intercom (Honda offered helmet headsets) and is set up to accept a CB transmitter. Complete with a folding aerial, it’s a relic of times past in these days of digital players and Bluetooth.

honda valkyrie interstate

When it comes to luggage, it runs a giant topbox that will accept a couple of full-face helmets, with helmet locks underneath for those days when it’s already packed with gear. Plus there is a pair of top-loading panniers.

Overall comfort is good. I’ll admit to being pleased to see a set of sheepskin covers on the thrones, as they make a difference over a distance. Previously I found the seats okay but not brilliant. The addition of the hollowed-out ruminants is worthwhile, even if they look suspiciously like something you’d see in a Camry at the local lawn bowls club.

honda
              valkyrie interstate

As before, at 188cm in height (6’2”), I found the stock windscreen a touch low – just at a height where the wind buffets your helmet. I’m applying exactly the same fix as last time, which is a taller and wider screen from Slipstreamer (formerly Tulsa) in the USA. Hopefully that will turn up soon.

BMW
              K1200LT

Now I’ll admit to being spoiled over recent months with on-board heating. For example, our recently-acquired BMW K1200LT (above – a similar age to the Valk) has heated seats and handgrips, which are a big winner when things turn icy. Add in a full fairing, and it’s a firm favourite as a Winter tourer. 

That, in a roundabout way, slots the Valkyrie in as our Summer tourer. Ridiculous…over the top? Maybe, but the two together (including some imminent repairs on the BMW) owe me around $23k, or about half the price of a new K 1600 GT or Gold Wing.

BMW R110GS

And before you ask, we have an adventure tourer as well, a BMW R1150GS in (above) good running shape that owes us about $6k. That fits in as a jump-on-and-go all-rounder.

honda
              valkyrie interstate

As others have observed, more often than not motorcycling is about the ride rather than the machinery. In this case I think it’s a bit of both. Mac the Valk II is a long way from having the tech of a current model, though it covers a lot of the important bases at a fraction of the cost.

In addition, it has an abundance of character, is quick enough to be interesting and, if the first ride of 750km is any indication, will fit nicely into the current fleet as a big lazy Summer mount.

So far, it looks like a good decision.


honda
              valkyrie interstate

 

RATINGS

GOOD

Loads of character

Tough engine that sounds good

Build quality is high

NOT SO GOOD

Very heavy

Loves its fuel

Honda Valkyrie Interstate

SPECS
Honda
GL1500CF Valkyrie Interstate 1999-2003

ENGINE
TYPE: Liquid-cooled, two-valves-per-cylinder, SOHC flat six
CAPACITY: 1520cc
BORE & STROKE: 71 x 64mm
COMPRESSION RATIO: 9.8:1
FUEL SYSTEM: 6 x 28mm CV carburettors

TRANSMISSION
TYPE: Five-speed, constant-mesh
FINAL DRIVE: Shaft

CHASSIS & RUNNING GEAR
FRAME TYPE: Steel loop
FRONT SUSPENSION: 45mm Showa, 130mm travel
REAR SUSPENSION: Showa twin shocks with preload adjustment, 120mm travel
FRONT BRAKE: 296 discs with 2-piston calipers
REAR BRAKE: 316mm disc with 2-piston caliper

DIMENSIONS & CAPACITIES
DRY WEIGHT: 352kg Interstate
SEAT HEIGHT: 730mm
WHEELBASE: 1690mm
FUEL CAPACITY: 26lt

WHEELS & TYRES
FRONT: cast alloy 150/80-17 tyre
REAR: Cast alloy 180/70-16 tyre

PERFORMANCE CLAIMS
POWER: 75kW @ 6000rpm
TORQUE: 130Nm @ 5000rpm

OTHER STUFF
PRICE NEW: $26,990 plus on-road costs

honda valkyrie interstate

honda valkyrie interstate

honda
              valkyrie interstate

honda
              valkyrie interstate

honda valkyrie interstate


honda valkyrie interstate

honda valkyrie interstate

honda valkyrie interstate

honda
              valkyrie interstate


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