FIRST RIDE: Honda brings back new, better Valkyrie

Publish Date: 
Jun 17, 2014
By Bruce Steever

TORRANCE, Calif. - After a 10-year absence, Honda has finally brought back the Valkyrie. The original earned a huge range of fans thanks to its unique performance, looks and sound, all courtesy of the flat-six engine lifted from the Gold Wing. The new Valkyrie follows the same principle, but rather than classic lines and chrome, the 2014 machine brings a futuristic new look to match its vastly more modern running gear.

Like the original flat-six progenitor, the new Valkyrie is a combination of three things: class-defying performance, unique driveability and distinctive styling. With a starting price of $17,999, the Valkyrie slots in nicely with other premium cruisers. But unlike the vast majority of V-twin options on the market, the Valkyrie’s 1832cc flat-six brings significant improvements in power and torque, with a smooth turbine-like engine feel. 

And as with the engine, the twin spar aluminum frame is also borrowed straight from the Gold Wing (and F6B). In losing the luggage, audio system and massive fairings, the Valkyrie also drops more than 150 lbs. compared to the Gold Wing, for a claimed 750 lb. wet weight, resulting in a much more nimble and responsive machine. This stiff alloy frame connects plush, well-damped suspension front and rear (again, lifted from the Gold Wing line) along with a 19-inch front and a sportbike-spec 17-inch, 180-profile rear tire for excellent road feedback.

With decent ground clearance thanks to mid-mounted foot controls, the new Valkyrie can hustle from corner to corner quite effectively, without ever needing to rev the bearings out of the huge engine. When it comes time to stop, Gold Wing-spec brakes (capable of dealing with significantly heavier loads) bring the bike to a composed halt thanks to the low-slung, stable chassis. ABS is available as part of the Deluxe model, too.

Riders will want the Valkyrie for how it feels, looks and sounds. As mentioned, the flat-six is incredibly smooth, and thanks to its huge amount of low-end and midrange torque, the flat six provides a relaxed ride ideal for laid-back cruising and touring riding. In addition to the easy-to-ride character and almost automotive levels of refinement, Honda gave the Valkyrie a revised exhaust system with slash-cut mufflers to give the engine a bit more voice compared to the Gold Wing and F6B siblings.

And the bike’s styling is fantastic. The Valkyrie manages to combine an aggressively hunched, athletic presence with a compact feel from the saddle. The side-mounted radiators, which look bulbous in photos, work perfectly with the bike’s horizontal character lines and also serve to effectively direct engine heat and wind away from the rider’s lower body. Fit and finish is fantastic, with clever details everywhere, such as the integrated passenger grab rails, the classy reversed LCD instrument panel and the all-LED lighting.