I will admit that I have had a 'geek-on' for this bike ever since I read about them and saw one at a rally. I am drawn to utility like other avid motorcyclists are drawn to chrome and loud pipes.
I gave up my Burgman 650 scooter to get this bike, and I did so because of the reliability and utility of this amazingly designed bike.
I won't bore you - the reader - with the history and cult fascination of this bike. There are plenty of web sources to learn about that. But it says something about a bike that hasn't been in production since 1998, that it still has such a strong following and its features still has perennial functionality.
I bought my 1997, with 25k miles on a brisk 9 degree day in January of 2010 from a nice gent in Tennessee. The plastic - and there is a lot of it - was in great shape, as is often not the case with these rare, and getting rarer, specimens. It started and ran fine and about the only thing it needed was a new rear taillight assembly since there was a big crack in the lens. I replaced that straight away when I brought it home.
I like this bike. About the only feature that disappoints is how a tall, 6'3" guy has to bend his knees into the riding position. A little shorter and this bike would be ideal. That said, I sit up nice and straight, which is preferable for me. No sports-bike lean forward to make my aging joints and back sore after a few miles.
Shifting is positive and Honda-clunky - which is fine. The 800cc V-Twin engine has a soft growl whose sound and heat is contained by the white engine shroud invisible under the sea of Tupperware. A nice feature, as my previous ST1300 roasted my legs with its engine heat emission.
I have had many motorcycles and scooters and I have to say, this bike is the most balanced I have ridden. I would feel very comfortable taking this bike through its paces....fast or slow....and it would be ideal for the dreaded 'cone test' for new riders getting their M class on their drivers license.
Wind and weather protection is good - except for the feet. My PC has an after-market Rifle windscreen on it and it does as good as the stock one I suspect.
Storage is really where this bike shines. The whole rear end, from the split-seat back, opens up revealing the coveted - and unique - storage points, one cavernous tub on each side of the rear tire. Totally imbedded and integral in the design of the bike.
The beauty of these waterproof storage sections is that they are not clam-shell external pods. So when you open them, all your stuff doesn't fall out - the feature on the clam-shell storage pods I detest. Ergo, you can really cram a lot of stuff in them....and I mean more than the usual two helmets and gloves. The only drawback to these I can see as a long-distance tourer, is the PITA fact that you have to unload what is lashed onto your rear seat to gain access to the under storage. No matter though with a bit of planning.
Praise-worthy as the rear storage is in the rear, the storage up front leaves you puzzled as to where to put your sunglasses, folding maps, GPS unit, cell phone, sunscreen, etc. The left side glove box is small and doesn't hold that much and is not securable. The right fairing picket is a faux pocket and is the access point to the coolant overflow bottle.
As a commuter and errand runner, this lack of forward storage doesn't bother me much. But when I think through my long-distance tourer lens, some modifications would have to be made.
What I really like about the bike is that it is more-than-usual Honda bullet-proof. They engineered this bike to be virtually maintenance free....or as much so a bike can be. So, good gas mileage, proven and fool-proof mechanics and great utility make this a trouble and worry free bike.
Add to all of that the price point .....good ones with average mileage can range from $2500 to $4500....and you have a great bargain as well. Parts are still available to source - although the plastics are very expensive and a bit harder to locate at times.
A great bike overall and I will keep mine as long as I can I should think.