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My Impressions
:

1999 Honda Valkyrie Interstate
Valkyrie Interstate in Zion National Park

Please Note
As I no longer own a Valkyrie, this page will no longer be maintained.  It will remain posted, as is, as long as are enough hits to justify doing that. 

General Observations:  Valkyrie near Fredonia, AZOn first seeing the bike it is difficult to avoid the feeling that the styling  just does not quite work.  And there would seem to be more than a little evidence that many of the modifications made to the basic Valkyrie to produce the Interstate were made in haste, and were poorly engineered.  But to cut to the chase, after going over the bike very carefully and riding it for a few hundred miles I think Honda has a winner here but it is by a TKO instead of a  clean knockout as with the previous models.  In what follows, I will assume that you have read my observations on the 1997 Valkyrie Tourer.
(2/19/99)  Finally, my thinking on the styling of the Interstate has crystallized.  Above I note that at first glance the styling does not quite "work".  With the help of some prodding from others, it is now clear what the problem is, it is that damn tail trunk. The lines of the trunk do not flow with the bike; it is not in harmony with the bike.  The trunk itself is fine, it just does not belong on this bike.  With the present front end just as it is, and with the back half of the bike dressed like the Tourer the visual impact would be stunning.  Come on Corbin, give us a hand here!  
(3/4/99)  I now have about 2500 miles on the bike.  The engine is getting stronger by the day.  I am slowly becoming aware of the subtle differences between the Interstate and my 1997 Tourer.   One is that the Interstate wants to run fast.  On the local freeways, the speed limit is 75.  I have found that it is almost impossible to ride this bike 75 mph.  It simply wants to go 85 and you really have to keep your eye on it.   The Interstate simply seems to have "longer legs" than the Tourer; it settles in more naturally for the long haul at high speed.  And, the increased range (200 miles without worry) is really wonderful.  Most of my riding is with folks on Wings and they always need to stop for gas before I do.  I must confess I am pretty smug about that. 
The air handling and wind protection on the Interstate are much improved (as noted below).   But some people have written to me about buffeting.  I do not sense any problem.   However, when I am riding at high speed, if I put my hand a few inches above my head, I can feel a LOT of turbulence up there.  I wonder how this bike is for a really tall rider?  I am only 5' 10".
The "reduced vibration" resulting from rubber mounting the engine can be noted at VERY high speeds.  Otherwise, I sense no difference between the Interstate and the Tourer.  Neither bike shakes!  My goodness, you would have to leave your Harley turned off for a week before it would shake as little as any of the Valkyries.
(3/30/99)  The odometer is now 3600 miles (and counting) and I like the bike more each time I ride it.  Ladies and gentlemen, this is one fantastic bike.  Out on the open road it glides effortlessly (and quickly) over the miles.
(5/18/99)  The odometer is now about 5000 miles (and soon to be counting fast).  Nothing negative to report.   It is a wonderful motorcycle.  Wherever I go, it is always the center of attention.
(7/22/99)
I have just returned from the "Rush to the Rockies" in Montrose, CO.  The meeting was a stunning tapestry of  gorgeous bikes, wonderful sounds, and the natural wonders of "beautiful Colorado".  But above all, the meeting was glorious because of the people. I suppose it should not be surprising that the best bike on the planet is selected, loved and ridden but the best people on the planet, but it is great to verify that it is, indeed, the case.  A collection of photos from the Montrose rally will be posted as soon as I get around to organizing it.  OK, the pictures are HERE!
The Fat Lady functioned flawlessly on my ride to Montrose (why are we not surprised?). My Interstate now has about 8500 miles on the odometer.  I have been riding Valkyries since April of 1997 and I still never take trip that I don’t marvel anew at how good this bike really is.
(10/15/99) Yes, I have been sorely remiss with respect to my responsibilities to this WEB page.  The weather in Southern Utah has been great for riding, and I have been.  My odometer is now at 12,600 miles and counting.  The Fat Lady is running flawlessly.  The manual says that I should check the valves at 12,000 miles.  However, being of the "if it ain't broke don't fix it" persuasion, I am really in no rush.  My present project is trying to improve the mediocre performance of the Hondaline CB.
(1/25/00) Welcome to the new millennium!  Is the Valkyrie the bike for the new Millennium?  Yes, indeed it is.  The riding weather in Southern Utah is a bit spotty in January.  However, I have been able to ride at least one or more times a week.  It was not like this when I lived in Minnesota.  My odometer is approaching 14,000 miles and I am certainly due for my 12,000 mile valve check, which I should be reporting here fairly soon.
(7/23/00) The odometer is now 21,300 and counting.  I have been to Montrose and had a great time.  I will post some pictures as soon as I get around to it.  The fat lady performed flawlessly on the Montrose trip, but that's old news.  My present bother is my Metzeler tires, installed about 3000 miles ago.  About all I can say at this point is that if you like rain grooves, you are going to love Metzeler tires.  To be fair, they are quiet and now they are stable up to about 75 to 80 mph, after which they tend still tend to wander.  As they wear, they are starting to get more stable at high speeds.
(8/28/00) Following a round trip from Hurricane, UT to Northfield, MN, some 3000 miles, the odometer reads 25,150 miles.  The Valkyrie ran flawlessly.   The only trouble I encountered was a helmet speaker that decided to become intermittent during the return trip.

What's New!
The obvious differences between the Interstate and the Tourer are:

(1)  The simple windshield has been replaced with a retro-styled, fork mounted fairing.  The windshield is distortion free and seems to be about an optimum height.  The fairing has a "dash" that contains a speedometer and tachometer whose styling is reminiscent of the speedometers found in pre W.W.II American cars.  The speedometer and tachometer are small and not very attractive.  You get the feeling that Honda tried for a "retro tacky" motif here and it didn't quite work.  They only got the second part of the motif right.  See the next entry, "air deflectors", for an evaluation of the protection of the windshield. 
(2/16/99)  I have just returned from a lovely trip to Laughlin, NV area.  Some of roads there were in bad condition.   On a "washboard" road, the fairing will set up some nasty resonance and feed back strongly into the handle bars.  This can be quite annoying.  This was not a problem with the Tourer.

The dash in the fairing also contains a liquid crystal display (LCD) and speakers for the built-in radio (a CB is provided for but is not standard equipment; the wiring is supplied for an intercom).  Regarding the display, liquid crystal displays are generally not very attractive, but this one sets new standards for being ugly.  When you first turn it on, it appears that there has been a massive failure in the display.  Fortunately, that initial "test" phase goes away in a second or two. 
The display has, among other things, a clock, a fuel gauge (the one really neat presentation on the display), and provides you with information about the radio functions.  The radio has adequate sensitivity and power (they claim 80 watts, but I really doubt that).    It is a reasonably full-featured AM/FM Stereo radio with signal scanning and automatic station memory scans to make finding stations easier when you are traveling.    The speakers are, to be charitable,  adequate.  Put another way, the acoustic engineers at places like JBL, Advent and Yamaha are not loosing any sleep over the technology in these speakers (unless, of course, they manufactured them).  There are places for speakers for the passenger but they are not supplied.
A button on the dash allows you select what to display in an LCD window on the speedometer.  You can choose either the odometer, which you can not reset, or each of two trip meters,  which you can reset individually.  These two independent trip meters should prove to be very useful.
The clock, all the radio functions and all of the CB functions (if you have one) are controlled by a switch module available to your left thumb.  This amazing collection of controls contains 5 push buttons, 6 rocker switches and a "key" for the CB (if you have one).   Not only is the sheer number of choices on this switch console daunting but, with the exception of the CB key, the switches and buttons are too small to be conveniently manipulated while wearing heavy gloves.  It is frightening to contemplate how many Valkyrie Interstate riders are going to run under the back of 18-wheelers while they are trying to find one of the numerous possible functions controlled by that collection of switches.   The good news is, most of the choices will seldom, if ever, be required while speeding down the road.  

(2/8/99)  As another writer so aptly put it, "Can you say too many switches"?

(2)  Air Deflectors.  One of the first things you notice about the Valkyrie Interstate are the two black "boxes", one on each side of the radiator.  These boxes, having been described by some as "butt ugly", are part of what I believe to be the one of best features of the Interstate.  With these boxes and the design of the fairing, Honda has addressed  one of the most serious problems with the Valkyrie.  The plain fact is, that huge lump of an engine generates a whole lot of heat and riding a Valkyrie on a hot day can be a less than pleasant experience.  I live in Southern Utah where the temperatures in the summer are routinely around 105 or more.  The Valkyrie Interstate seems to have made air management a top priority.   The way this all works is quite simple.  There is a plastic "sheet" behind the radiator that keeps much of the air coming through the radiator from flowing over the rider.  Rather, it directs the hot air out towards those black boxes.  The air boxes then direct the engine heat out to the side of the bike and around the rider.  It works and it works very well.   There is also a louver in each air box to adjust the "outside" air flow over your legs.   When these louvers are closed, the boxes act to protect you legs from air flow and allow the heat from the top of the engine to warm your legs. 
So all you folks out there complaining loud and long about how ugly the bike is and about all its bad features, find one and take a ride.  The air management is simply superb.  It makes riding the bike a lot more fun, and that is what it is all about.
P.S.  Don't, under any circumstances, take these air boxes off.  I was curious and took one off!  Getting it off was not much of a problem, but getting it back on was one of the most difficult things I have ever done on a motorcycle.  If I had not first removed it, I would have bet a great sum of money there was no way that it would fit.
Note Added 2/8/99:   OK, perhaps the above P.S. was made in a fit of pique.  There is definitely a trick to getting the boxes back on and once you learn it, they are not quite so hard to install.   The trick is mainly to get the box far enough towards the front of the bike and make sure the front is lined up and pushed in towards the bike.  Then bring the rear around and line up the rubber tab.  It's still not easy but it is not as hard as my first note implies.

(3)  The Rear Trunk.  A new feature on the Interstate is the rear trunk which also provides a back rest for the passenger.  This trunk also sports four tail lights.   The inside pair are simply running lights while the outside pair are running lights and brake lights.  The standard Valkyrie did not have much for rear lighting.  That problem is now solved and solved with some style.  Unfortunately, Honda used the same rear fender that is used on the Cruiser and the Tourer and simply filled in the "hole" where the taillight would go on the earlier models with a plastic cover.  My gracious Big Red, this a $16,000 motorcycle.  Would it be too much to expect that you could have had a new plastic fender made just for this bike?  Aside from that grouse, the rear trunk is roomy (two full-face helmets for example), water tight and functional.  The trunk lock has two positions, one normal, and the other unlocked so you can use a lever under the trunk to open the lid without the key in the lock.  That should prove very handy!
The new rear lighting is both welcome and fairly attractive.
And, under the trunk, there are some REAL helmet locks!
(2/19/99)  Unfortunately, the trunk does not "fit", in an esthetic sense, the bike.
(9/17/99)  I have received EMAIL from two folks who have purchased and installed the taillight used by the other Valkyrie models.  One owner sent me a picture of his Interstate with the trunk removed and the taillight in place of that plastic plug in the rear fender; VERY attractive.  I was right, the visual impact of the Interstate without that "bulbous" (word supplied by another) trunk is stunning.

(4)  Side Bags.  For those of you sympathetic folk that were worried that the engineers that designed the "helmet lock" for the previous Valkyrie models had been fired or, perhaps more appropriately, asked to fall on their swords, rest easy.  They are back, and they have designed the covers for the side bags.  Words fail me, and that is not a usual circumstance.  About all I can say is you have got to see it to believe it.  Rush to your local Honda dealer and take a look.  To give you a hint, the rear trunk is so wide that the saddle bag covers can not be opened upward (we would like to think they knew that was going to happen ahead of time but . .).   Apart from the outrageous design of the covers, these are the same useful bags that were on the Valkyrie Tourer and those ugly seams have been eliminated so they look even better.

(5)  Gas Tank.  The Interstate carries 6.9 gallons of gasoline to slake the famous (infamous?) thirst of the big six.   This increases the range to well over 200 miles before reserve and effectively eliminates the "tyranny of the tank".  For those of us that rode the Valkyrie in some of the remote areas of the Southwest, this is a VERY significant improvement.

Some observations about the Valkyrie Interstate:

Believe it folks!  This is one bear of a kit.  One owner informed me that his dealer estimated 3 hours labor for the installation.  If so, that would be the bargain of the century.  While the final result is very attractive and the instructions are reasonably clear, this is a big and fairly complicated task.  You need to take off the tank, make some fairly difficult cut-outs in the radiator covers (the famous "boxes"), string a wiring harness and, of course, take off and install each of those boxes several times.  There are some aspects of the product that are poorly engineered, notably the provision for positioning the lights, but everything seems to work as advertised and the components are high quality.  
Finally, is this all worth it?  Well, I answer, quite apart from their promised utility, I think they are VERY attractive. See for yourself! 

(9/6/99) I recently attended a GWRRA Rally in Pocatello, ID and had a set of generic air horns installed by a very nice vendor.  Cost, $120 on the bike!   The installation is very tidy and they sound great.  The horns are under the swing arm and the compressor under the right side cover.  I did spend a couple of hours cleaning up the wire routing, but that is because I am compulsive about that sort of thing.  And, another great benefit of this installation is the removal of that cheap and woefully ineffective horn that looks so out of place in front of the cam belt housing.  It is remarkable how much better the front of the bike looks with that horn gone.

Gas Mileage.  There is no reason to believe that the gas mileage will be any better on the Interstate than on the previous models.  That is, the gas mileage should be around 35 mpg if you ride sensibly and much lower if you push the bike to near its limits.  However, the size of the gas tank has gone up to almost 7 gallons.  Now, I can go riding with my Gold Wing buddies without suffering their indulgent and condescending glances when I have to stop for gas before they do.  The Valkyrie Interstate now carries about a half gallon more fuel than a Wing and should therefore have slightly better range than a Wing (Wings don't get remarkable gas mileage either). 
(2/16/99)   On a recent trip of more than 600 miles, the gas mileage with the Interstate was at least as good (or slightly better?) than I ever observed with the Tourer.  I made this trip with three friends, all on Wings.  The Valkyrie Interstate does have better range than the Wing, as conjectured above.
(5/18/99)  Alright, laugh if you must but I am now prepared to say that my Interstate gets better gas mileage than my 1997 Tourer.  I recently went on a trip of some 250 miles with a group from the local chapter of the GWRRA.  The pace was relatively sedate, 60-70 mph, and the Interstate delivered about 41 mpg.  I never exceeded 40 mpg on my Tourer.  And, I have had reports from friends riding Interstates with two up getting 35 mpg.

The Gas Tank.  It is larger but it still has the same problem with splashing gas on the tank as the tank gets nearly full.  Adding the last half gallon or so is still a process that requires patience, skill, and a good gas pump nozzle.

The Side Stand.  I guess "cruiser cool" requires that the bike lean over very far on the side stand (check out the Harley, for example).  No change on this.  The Interstate is still a handful to wrestle off the side stand.

The Turn Signals.  The Valkyrie Interstate does not have self-canceling turn signals, nor does it have a beeper to alert you that a turn signal is operating.  However, the Interstate DOES have two indicator lights on the dash that are easier to see than the single indicator on the back of the headlight shell used on the previous models.   Regrettably, the Interstate indicators are still pretty dim in full sunlight.
There are NO emergency flashers on the Interstate.  That is simply inexcusable.  Honda makes all those sanctimonious statements about bike safety, and then they don't put emergency flashers on a touring bike.  Go figure!

Details.

  • Instrument Lighting.  The instrument lighting on the Interstate is better than on previous models.  I guess I would describe it as adequate.

  • Fuel Reserve.  The Interstate has a nifty LCD gas gauge on the dash.  However, you access the reserve gas supply with the same ugly rotary valve that was on all previous models.  The really important point here is that the tank is now almost 7 gallons.  That is cause for rejoicing.

  • Temperature Gauge?  Still no temperature gauge.  That is pretty hard to understand.  There is plenty of room on the LCD panel to have a temperature gauge.  Or, failing that, there is plenty of room on the dash to have an analog temperature gauge.  I gather we are getting the message that Honda does not want us to have a temperature gauge.

  • Trim.  There are more sloppy welds and poor workmanship on this bike than I have ever seen on a Honda.   On the other hand, most things fit together nicely.  It is generally tolerable but not what we have come to expect from Honda.

  • Helmet Lock.  Finally, a win for the good guys.  There are two fine helmet locks on the back of the bike under the rear of the tail trunk.  Thank you Big Red!

By the way, I do love the bike, warts and all.   I will amend this page from time to time as I get more experience with the Interstate.  If you have any comments, criticisms or just want to say "hidy" please write
I am member #1088 of the Valkyrie Owners Association (VOA).   My experience  has been VERY positive.  They seem like a nice group of caring folks.  If you are a Valkyrie owner and have not joined, do check it out!
Some Recommended Valkyrie Web Sites:
                           (1.)     For those who ride the dragon!
                           (2.)      the F6RIDER - Check it out!
                           (3.)     This page is a MUST - The bike a work of art!
                           (4.)      Honda Motorcycles Home page
                           (5.)      Some Valkyrie Links
                           (6.)     
The Valkyrie Owners Association
                           (7.)     The Hurricane, UT weather                          

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Revised: 3/10/01

 

 

 

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