Honda F6C Valkyrie — Motorbikes Reviews, News & Advice — bikepoint.com.au

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Honda F 6 C Valkyrie

Honda F6C Valkyrie (March 2005)

Whether it’s big Nordic warrior-women or big Honda motorcycles, Motorcycle Trader’s Rob Smith is your Valkyrie man

As cruisers gain in popularity the emergence of the ‘Power-cruiser has been an interesting development and one that even the originators of the cruiser mould couldn’t ignore. Three years before the V-Rod and a long seven years before the new Triumph Godzilla — err I mean Rocket III there was the Honda Valkyrie. And as far as buying-used goes there’s a lot to like about the Valk, so in this issue we’re going to put the Valkyrie under the microscope.

HISTORY

It was stroke a genius to take the flat six engine from the Gold Wing and turn it into a cruiser; it was an even bigger stroke of genius to make it such a good motorcycle. I’m already on record as having a latent dislike of cruisers, especially the wannabe HD clones, regardless of their origins. So it takes something special to make me like it and something extra special for me to actually say Yes, I’d own one of those.

Let’s start with that engine.

This baby is as unique as Honda’s now-legendary V4s. Liquid cooled, 12 valve, SOHC horizontally opposed six cylinders displacing a satisfyingly large 1520.3cc with a bore and stroke of 71x64mm and a compression ratio of 9.8:1. Stirred into the mix are six 28mm CV carbs, different cams to the Gold Wing bringing the end result to a claimed 100bhp and a fat, creamy wodge of torque measuring 13.3kg-m at 5000rpm.

Power delivery is via a five speed box and shaft drive and running-gear features a low-slung steel ‘diamond’ type frame with the engine a stressed member. Numbers are the expected lazy 32¼ of rake and 152mm of trail, while the seat height levels out at 740mm. Up front there’s a heavy looking set of non adjustable 45mm USD forks while south of the seat there’s a pair of preload-adjustable conventional shocks.

Weighing a claimed 309kg (dry) means that the brakes will have their work cut out for them. The big Valk runs a pair of 296mm floating discs with twin piston calipers bolted to the legs and a single 316mm disc and twin piston caliper on the back.

Since being introduced back in 1997 as both the GL1500C and the GL1500T2 there has only been one notable variant of the Valk, namely the full dress — all the fruit plus blender — Interstate that arrived in 2000. The T (Touring) model had panniers and a screen as standard and so had more functional as well as aesthetic aspirations over the C.

The Interstate had some substantial mods, including lower seat height, larger fuel tank (26 litres) and updated engine tuning that claimed a little more midrange urge.

ON THE ROAD

Firing up the quick spinning six is fun all by itself. The six just spins up with a rushing note that whispers ‘Exotic’ and has you blipping the thing ’cause it feels so good. Just as you’d expect, the Valk is a big machine, the bars feels about a metre apart as you drop into the wide and amply-padded seat, notch the gear lever into first with surprisingly little effort and look across to the chrome dials somewhere in the distance.

The other thing you notice is that at last there’s a cruiser that hasn’t succumbed to the ergonomic foppery of forward controls. Your feet actually locate comfortably close to, if not actually under, the riders spine allowing the rider to take body weight over bumpy surfaces instead of transferring road shocks straight to the lower spine. Score one for common sense.

Clutch out and the six cylinders whisk you away with just a hint of throttle as you can’t help noticing just how light the steering has become. At low speed the Valk has amazing balance courtesy of the flat horizontally opposed engine layout and as a result can pick its way around with clutch-out confidence.

Fifth comes up fairly quickly as, while the Valk doesn’t object to a diet of revs, it’s kind of pointless and there’s more than enough response instantly available to deal with any situation whether it be jumping into the traffic gaps, whooooshing past lines of traffic or hauling hard out of bends. It’s not breathtaking and some of the competitors would undoubtedly nail it in a roll-on, but it is plentiful, eye-blink instantaneous and utterly seamless.

Ride quality is magic carpet excellent and there’s never any doubt that you could cover huge distances on one of these. Having said that as with a lot of cruisers the rear shocker springs are a bit on the soft side and lack rebound damping so with a decent hit you’re going to feel the hit and deal with the oscillations afterwards. Even so the suspension is far and away more sophisticated than on some others and it feels like it.

With a fuel capacity of only 20 litres, it could do with another five as at 16km/l after 320kms you’ll be pushing it and the riding position could definitely tolerate longer periods in the saddle.

Another area where the Valk scores highly is in the bendy stuff. Handling is class leading and rewards a smooth and considered approach with a combination of reassuring chassis stability and surprising rapidity. Even now there’s no other cruiser that comes close in terms of rioting around the hills.

Light steering (for a cruiser) reasonable suspension and a decent amount of ground clearance (those footrests again) means that bends can be enjoyed with a degree of spirit rather than feared as with most others of this ilk.

When it comes to stopping, the brakes do a pretty good job of tying the plot to the planet. They’re not brilliant and could probably do with an upgrade but for the most part they’re enough for most people.

IN THE WORKSHOP

Being a six you’d expect the servicing costs to be pricy — well — the good news is that despite appearances the Valk won’t break the bank. Servicing costs are a wallet-easing $150 every 6000kms for a minor service, $300 at 18,000kms for an intermediate and $350 for a major at 24,000kms that includes valve clearances.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR

Simply put, the architecture of the Valk is rock solid. Buy with utter faith that very, very little if anything is going to go wrong. As with any bike there are always a few minor items so we’ll run through the ones that have cropped up during the research.

Not unusually it was the early models rather than the later more refined versions that suffered the problems and so it’s no surprise that most of the issues related to the first 1997 model. First up is the droopy rear indicator syndrome. Admittedly not earth shattering but let’s face it no-one wants anything droopy on their motorcycle.

This problem is easily fixed by fitting a later set of mounts.

Other minor things include leaking coolant reserve tanks from the lower hose where it connects to the lower tank connection. And while on the subject of leaking fluids, there are reports that the fuel shut off switch can leak allowing fuel to get into the cylinders. This is not good because if the engine turns over with raw fuel in the combustion chambers, then the cylinder will hydraulic lock with the potential for breaking the starter idler gear.

Of course the simple answer to this is to make sure that the fuel tap gets turned to the offf position when the machine isn’t in use.

Loose header pipe nuts. Easily identifiable by the tap-tap of escaping exhaust gas or popping on the over-run, these need to be checked regularly and ONLY torqued to the recommended settings. Jeffrey Honda in Ferntree Gully, our local Gold Wing and Valkyrie experts recommend that they get checked after replacing the rear tyre, as the left hand exhaust has to be removed in order to get the rear wheel out.

Apparently a fairly common, but once again, minor problem is a complete lack of electrics. Yeah-yeah it sounds serious but in fact it’s nothing more than a dodgy earth from the battery caused by a layer of paint. A simple scrape and clean sorts it.

Honda F 6 C Valkyrie

What to look for on inspection? Have a look under the bike to see the side stand casting. Check for damage from bouncing up kerbs, a decent hit or repeated hits will bend the cross member.

Apart from that all the obvious things relating to service history and crash damage should apply.

MODIFICATIONS

Discounting the tourer stuff like panniers, screens and all the usual fair-ground type chrome and glitter, the suspension has to get a going over. The USD cartridge type forks are far easier to achieve good results with than conventional forks, due to their inherent sophistication. Pete the Spring from ProMecha recommends a change to a higher rate progressive spring to retain the softness plus changes to the shim stack and oil grade.

Rear shocks would cop a rebuild and Gold valves to permit a huge increase in rebound damping.

The results would be a ride equal to before but offering much more control. There’d be a bit more ground clearance and thus the means to exploit the performance the Valk is capable of.

When it comes to brakes, experimenting with pads and braided lines will produce improved brake performance to take advantage of upgraded suspension performance. Regarding braking, simply practising full-on braking during a training course is the best money spent on improving braking and is undoubtedly of more long-term use.

If you just have to have more engine performance then a visit to the American web sites will have you loosening your wallet as those guys have everything you’re likely to need from Two Brothers exhausts to superchargers.

SPEX (C model)

ENGINE

Type: Four-stroke, Liquid-cooled, SOHC, three valves per-cylinder horizontally-opposed six cylinder

Bore x stroke: 71×64 mm

Displacement: 1520.3cc

Carburetion: Six 28mm CV type

Transmission type: Five speed constant mesh

Final drive: Enclosed shaft

Honda F 6 C Valkyrie
Honda F 6 C Valkyrie


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