There is a simple formula to calculate the number of bikes you need…
Just one more…
Following our Yellowstone / Canada EagleRider tour in 2018 it was clear we would be doing a lot more of this style of touring. We followed that with a week touring Switzerland on a bike in 2019 with friends we met on the US/Canada tour and that just settled it. We were going to need a more tour friendly bike that we could both enjoy.
We have now sat on and ridden many different bikes. Our prefence was the BMW K1600GT that we rode in Switzerland but even an early model one is about double our budget. We both loved it, it has an amazing motor with huge amount of torque and all the mod-cons. One day. But for now we have to settle on something a lot more affordable.
I took an old Goldwing for a short spin and while it got along nicely it just wasn’t what I was looking for. I still wanted something a bit sporty but more touring focus. I’ve got green blood and really wanted to like the touring cousin of the ZX14R but I’ve never warmed to the GTR. I’ve ridden one many times but I’ve never got comfortable on it. The Yamaha FJR1300 didn’t have much more room than my current setup and Deb wasn’t that comfortable on it, and it was a bit more on the sportier side than I wanted (I have that covered on my ZX14R). The BMW K1200LT, Deb took one look at it and was adamant that she wasn’t getting on that – that is one ugly bike.! The K1300GT was okay, and the R1200RT – just didn’t grab me at all. I was also worried about servicing costs of the German bikes here as some of these old bikes can cost a lot if something breaks.
The other bike I wanted to try was the Honda ST1300. I must admit that I had always considered the ST a bit boring but it would be good to give it a go as I still have crazy covered with a Zed in the shed.! A couple of weeks ago an add for a Honda ST1300 popped up so we took it for a ride and it ticked most of our boxes – as a Honda it should be reliable (and not too expensive to maintain), heavily on the touring side of the sports-tourer continuum, comfortable for both of us, has hard luggage, and importantly … in our price range. The one thing it didn’t have that I wanted was cruise control.
I hadn’t planned on buying one just yet but but this one was too good to pass up.
Welcome to our new bike (Deb says this is her bike). A 2005 Honda ST1300, with 71,000km on the clock and overall a tidy unit with only a couple of small marks on the bodywork. The only modification to this bike is a set of heli-bar bar risers, other than that it is bog-stock standard all the way down to its 45/45w H4 headlight globes.
Don’t worry zed is still in the shed. It’s an awesome bike that I love and will still use for getting away on, but it wasn’t ideal for the two of us fully loaded. I toyed with selling the zed but I’m not ready to let it go and with close to 90,000km on the clock it’s more valueable to me than anyone else.
Shake down run
Saturday we went for a 450km shake down run out to Junee. Over the day we used freeways, highways and back roads and came away with a few things that we will need to do to improve its comfort and performance. I will run through what we found and over the next few months I’ll post updates.
The 29 litre tank is great, the low fuel light came on at 430km and when I fueled it up on Sunday with 460km on the tank it still had about 4 litres remaining in the tank. So it should have an easy 500km range.
Overall we were really impressed with the bike and it gets along really well, and for a big bike it handles pretty well. The ST has pretty basic suspension and it showed when you started to hook in. On rougher roads the rear felt a bit harsh, bottomed out and wallowed. It improved after I increased the preload and dampening and I think it would be okay at driving Miss Daisy pace but as you increase the rate of knots the suspension just doesn’t keep up. A bit of lovin’ on the suspension is called for which should make a big improvement to the overall handling and ride quality.
On the Oz ST forum they mention the trinity of comfort for the ST – seat, handlebar risers, and screen.
- The seat has to go! It feels lovely and comfortable when you first sit on it and then after about 100km it just becomes horrible. So one of the first tasks is to get the seat remade. When you’ve had a custom seat it’s hard to put up with a standard seat.
- The bike already has a set of handlebar risers, so nothing required here.
- Screen – From everything that I have read the main issue with the standard screen is that it creates excessive turbulance and noise. I really don’t like looking through a screen and most guys talk about larger and taller but I’m actually thinking that this one could be shorter – especially in summer to get more air in.
We backed up the ride to Junee with a ride with a few friends. We covered a number of our local roads out to Gunning, Crookwell and Goulburn. All up about a 260km loop. On the previous ride the rear suspension felt harsh so I wound up the preload and rebound which helped but I noticed that it was actually bottoming out occasionally which explained the harshness. So I cranked the preload all the way up. That certainly made a big difference but highlighted that the bike was very undersprung for our riding so we will certainly need to do something about the suspension.
So the list of things to do:
- Seat – I will be contacting MJM’s in Goulburn to remake the seats
- GPS mount – I will be installing a GPS mount for my Garmin Zumo 660 so I can use it on either bike.
- Pannier liners – done. After using pannier liners for a few years they make life on the road so much easier so I bought a set of Bestem pannier liners which are well made, fit perfectly, and at a reasonable price.
- Lighting – standard globes have been upgraded to Narva Blue Plus 110, but I will need a set of driving lights installed for any serious night riding.
- Cruise control – at this stage I’m not going to worry about it – the MCCruise is the best out there but at AU$1300 is more than I am willing to spend. This is a lot lazier motor than the ZX14R and the Omni-cruise seems to operate pretty well to give your right hand a bit of a break.
This bike has great potential and should be a great bike to cover lots of miles comfortably. So stay tuned as we get this bike ready for more two-up touring adventures.