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: On 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 dont 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.
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
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:
Size. The previous Valkyrie models were HUGE motorcycles. Well, the Interstate is bigger yet and heavier yet. The good news is that the extra weight is well distributed and not really all that noticeable. My experience so far is that the Interstate is not significantly harder to muscle around than the previous Valkyries.
(3/16/99) I have had many people write and ask me how one deals with the size and weight of the Valkyrie. Many people are afraid of a bike this big and heavy. My answer: Yes, the "fat lady" is a huge motorcycle and she is much more than pleasingly plump. She is a handful in a parking lot and you need to pay careful attention when you are coming to a stop. However, when she gets rolling you are not going to believe how light and stable she becomes. A Valkyrie starting out it is like a hippopotamus lumbering ahead a few strides, and then spontaneously breaking into a joyous and graceful pirouette. Can you picture a tutu, size XXL?
Handling. The Valkyrie Interstate handles beautifully as did the previous models. The addition of the heavier fairing and the travel trunk did not make it "over steer" as I feared it would.
Comfort. The Interstate has a new seat and it is wonderful. The new seat is firm but not too firm and the back support has been greatly improved. The new seat is a bit larger, and the passenger accommodations are much improved. And, the seat has a grab strap! How many years has it been since you have seen one of those? Not enough you say? I agree!
Perhaps the most significant innovation offered by the Interstate is the vastly improved air management. This, you need to experience to believe. When I took my Valkyrie Tourer in to pick up my Interstate it was fairly cool here in Southern Utah. On the 15 mile ride to the Honda shop I got very cold. I was wearing light leather gloves and my hands were numb when I arrived. On the way home, I noticed that the wind protection was much improved and the new fairing afforded me very nice protection for my hands. So, riding 15 miles to turn in my Tourer I froze my ***. However, when I brought the new Interstate back I was perfectly comfortable and took a "bikers shortcut" around by Zion National Park which transformed my 15 mile trip into about 70 miles.
(6/24/99) It is summer in Southern Utah and triple digit temperatures are the norm. The air handling system on the Interstate does make the it an easier bike to ride in the heat than the Tourer. Many contend that the Valkyrie is worse than other bikes in hot weather. My reaction to that is that no bike is pleasant to ride at 105 degrees and the Valkyrie Interstate is not significantly worse than the others.
The suspension seems to be right on. I normally ride alone so I set the pre-load of the back shocks to the next to softest setting and that works fine for me. The front end sports those massive inverted forks that were on the previous Valkyries. I note that the front forks now have "Showa" logos on them. No such logos were on my 1997 Tourer, although I suspect that the forks on the Tourer were also supplied by Showa.
The promotional literature for the Interstate says that they have added rubber engine mounts to "reduce vibration". My first question is, "what vibration?". My Valkyrie Tourer simply did not shake, and neither does the Interstate; I note NO difference! Perhaps at triple digit speeds there will be a difference. I will leave that test for others to perform.
(3/4/99) OK, I had to try it! Yes, the Interstate is a bit smoother when going MUCH too fast.
(2/1/00) A Co-Rider's Tale. An evaluation of the Valkyrie Interstate by a co-rider. Follow this link to what I consider the most significant evaluation of the Interstate "from the back seat".
Performance. According to the literature on the Interstate the motor has been revised slightly to give more "midrange punch". At this time I really can't comment on that. I have only a couple of hundred miles on the bike and I am reluctant to do any serious full-throttle blasts. I will amend this when I have the engine broken in and have risked my life a few times. Unless, of course, I should encounter a disrespectful Harley rider. The Valkyrie generally has impeccable road manners except that I can not seem to stop it from chasing down Harleys.
Suffice it to say, it is still a Valkyrie, it goes fast, the engine is superbly flexible, and it is glassy smooth.
(5/18/99) An interesting quote from "Red Rider", the Honda freebie magazine: "With 107 bhp and 103 pounds/feet of torque at a relatively lazy 4500 rpm, the Interstate arrives in the most aggressive state of tune compared to the Tourer and the Gold Wing, and that makes the Interstate the most powerful touring bike on the road."
(6/9/99) It has taken me a long time to comprehend the Honda hype about the "additional mid-range punch" of the Valkyrie Interstate. Well, I just returned home on I-15 and my eyes were opened. Here is a defining scenario: (1) Take the Lady out on the freeway and crank her up to about 80 mph in top gear. For a moment relax and enjoy the smooth effortless ride; (2) Now, twist the grip and grab the whole handful.
That, I submit, is world class "mid-range punch", more so than I experienced with my 1997 Tourer!
Brakes. The same brakes and they are still superb. By the way, I do not detect the rattle I used to have in the front brake of my Tourer at certain speeds.
Transmission. I may be imagining things, but the Interstate shifting does not seem to be as "notchy" as my 1997 Tourer was. Has there been an incremental improvement here? Honda transmissions are notoriously uninspiring but this one seems much improved. Can you say "Yamaha"?
Appearance. The Interstate is NOT as attractive as the Tourer, in my judgment. But, it works better for long haul traveling because of the added amenities, better seat, larger gas tank, and the superb air handling.
Accessories. I just got the bike. I will likely add saddle bag rails, a throttle lock and who knows what else. I will use this section for a running commentary.
(2/8/99) I have now installed the throttle lock, Universal Vista Cruise Control made by Sound Off Recreational, Inc., (I can't find a WEB site) and KuryAkyn highway pegs exactly like the ones that I had on my Tourer. According to Honda the bag rails that worked on the Tourer will NOT work on the Interstate but that rails for the Interstate will appear "soon". Cobra said that their bag rails will work on the Interstate but I am just a little skeptical. The problem would seem to be that the new seat comes down over the top bolt on the rear shocks.
(2/28/99) To further confuse everyone, including me, Honda has now posted accessories for the Interstate on their WEB page. I note with interest and surprise that the bag rails for the Interstate and for the Tourer have the SAME part number. So, you ask, what is going on here? I am sorry but I don't have a clue.
(THE Answer! - 3/7/99) A very kind person just sent me an EMAIL concerning the bag rail problem. Honda's WEB page was right (I hate it when that happens), the bag rails long available for the Tourer WILL work on the Interstate. This new Interstate owner traded in his Valkyrie Tourer and his dealer let him keep his bag rails, which he successfully installed on his new bike.
(3/27/99) The bag rails from Honda have arrived, are installed, and look great!
(3/11/99) Here is a comprehensive list (1/25/99 - list is very old) of the accessories for the Interstate.
(3/1/99) I have just ordered a center stand from Rivco. Rivco "thinks" this center stand will fit the Interstate but they have not tested it. If it will not work, they said they would pay postage both ways! Check back in a couple of weeks for a report.
(3/15/99) There are some problems with the RIVCO center stand. First of all, the installation instructions tell you to put the bike up on a cycle lift for the installation. Their advertising literature does not tell you that. However, with a bit of creativity it can be installed while the bike is on the side stand. The actual installation is difficult but possible. And, the result is very neat. The stand is nicely finished and made with high quality materials. It is both sturdy and attractive. OK, so much for the good news.
The bad news is that on the Interstate (or at least on mine), when the side stand "snaps" up, the tip of it smashes into the "step-on lever arm" of the center stand. I reported this to RIVCO by EMAIL and told them I was going to return the stand. One of their folks then called me and asked me to hold off on the return. He assured me that he would go to his local Honda dealer and see what the problem was and get back to me. When the man from RIVCO did get back to me he said that the side stand on the Interstate is about 1 inch longer than on previous models. I suspect that means the stand is longer on all the 1999's. I can't believe the Interstate has its very own side stand. Good heavens, it doesn't even have its very own rear fender! RIVCO said they were looking into some solutions and, again, would get back to me. I am still waiting.
Another problem is the "grab rail" sold with the stand. It does not fit! If this is to be a useful accessory on the Interstate, RIVCO needs to fix both the side stand problem and figure out how to mount the grab rail. Stay tuned!
(3/27/99) RIVCO called me yesterday and they are revising the center stand to work with the Interstate. I am supposed to receive a new stand in about three weeks. They are also working on a solution for the grab rail problem.
(4/28/99) RIVCO called again and the modifications on the center stand are complete. They said it would be about another week until the revised grab rail will be available.
(5/18/99) RIVCO still has not sent the revised center stand and grab rail. I guess the time estimate noted above is "RIVCO standard time".
(5/20/99) The new center stand from RIVCO arrived today but alas, the chrome was terribly flawed. They are in the process of sending me yet another one. This process has been long and very discouraging.
(5/25/99) I just talked to Holly from RIVCO and the new (this is the third) center stand is on the way. It does appear that RIVCO really cares. Everyone I have talked to there has been very nice. There are bunches of Packer fans there so they must be good people. Stay tuned!
(See John 19:30 - 6/3/99) The RIVCO saga finished! The third center stand arrived, as promised, shortly after I talked to Holly on 5/25/99. The finish of this unit was impeccable and the installation is now complete. It works fine but be advised that getting a Valkyrie Interstate up on the center stand demands both technique and strength in substantial measure.
Mounting the left grab rail requires that you drill a hole in the tail trunk support bracket. You have to be careful when drilling this hole because there are wires routed back of that bracket. You also have to be careful how you position the grab rail or you will make it impossible to open your left side bag. RIVCO supplies a spacer that you are supposed to use for the Valkyrie Interstate to cause the grab rail to stand out away from the trunk support bracket. I found that the spacer was too long and moved the rail out over the bag lid and blocked it. I did not use the supplied spacer and managed to get the rail positioned so that it is functional and still leaves sufficient clearance to open the side bag. For the mounting, I supplied a more substantial and much shorter mounting bolt.
Finally, as this this drama fades stage left, I would like to report that RIVCO sent me a $25 gift certificate with my third center stand. That was sweet! Those Packer fans are all heart.
(4/13/99) I have now installed a Honda Line CB radio kit (CB, antenna, passenger "talk" switch, and mounting kit). The installation is quite a long and involved process but the instructions are, for the most part, adequate, and the final result is neat and tidy. The radio itself has adequate sensitivity and output power but it is outrageously over-priced, even at a substantial discount. The CB unit itself mounts under the tail trunk on the trunk support rack. We hope that Honda has sealed it adequately against the weather.
(10/15/99) I am really getting sick of the mediocre performance of the Hondaline CB. One symptom of trouble is that I normally have to set the squelch to 20 (maximum possible setting) to limit the noise. Clearly, a maximum squelch setting does not do wonders for my reception range. I have recently tested my unit with an SWR power meter (Radio Schack, Cat. No. 21-5343). The meter confirmed what I already knew, the CB is not working very well. I am considering a couple of strategies: (1) shorten the top part of the antenna by cutting out it off; (2) replacing the antenna with an aftermarket unit. Stay tuned!
(11/3/99) I have now removed something like 1/2 inch from the top section of the CB antenna and this has improved the SWR reading to about 1.5 on channel 1 (I ride with Wingers and they love channel 1). It was nearly 3 when I started this project. A reading of 1.5 on channel 1 is quite acceptable so I think I shall pass on the aftermarket antenna.
I still have no idea why the squelch must be set at maximum to limit the noise. That is almost certainly cutting down my reception range. Honda should be ashamed to market this CB. Yes, it does work after a fashion, but it is an inferior piece of equipment. Any suggestions from anyone reading this would be most welcome.
(1/25/00) I am on a quest for CD player for my Interstate. I have given up on Honda producing one that is controlled by the switch panel. I would be happy with one that plays through the radio. I have been in contact with Sierra Electronics. They have a CD player of the type I am looking for that works for the Gold Wing. They keep telling me that they are going to do development work for the Interstate but they never seem to get around to doing anything. Maybe if more people hassle them they will get off dead center!
(2/19/00) Acting on the advise of and with a lot of help from Mr. Jack "Buck" Huddle, I have installed an Alpine CHM-S655RF CD Changer. I have only had in on the bike for a couple of days and I simply love it. If you are interested in further details of the installation, follow this LINK. It is an RF modulated unit that plays through the Interstate radio. It seems to have very adequate vibration damping. I have ridden about 200 miles with the unit playing and it only skipped once, and it did it with a lot of class. The skip occured I went through a very sharp and unexpected dip in the road going much too fast. The dip launched me about 4 inches off the seat, the CD player went silent for a fraction of a second, and then resumed.
(5/23/00) On the back of the Alpine CD changer control you are warned NOT to expose the control to high temperatures and direct sunlight. I was careless recently and left my bike uncovered for a long period of time in direct sunlight at a high elevation. The result was that my controller was damaged (picture). I have now replaced it, and that is not a very inexpensive option. So, if you have one of these changers be warned and protect that controller when your bike is parked in the sun.
(6/24/00) Sierra Electronics now has a cover for the CD controller that may solve the above problem (follow this link).
(4/29/99) I have ordered a Tulsa windshield and air deflectors. The new air deflectors replace, and allegedly improve upon, the small plastic units on the bottom of each side of the fairing. Neither of these items are presently available but Tulsa expects to ship in the first half of May (real soon now, I guess!). My hope here is to reduce wind noise and supply more protection for my legs. The windshield is also supposed to increase passenger comfort. I will report my finding here as soon as I have formed an opinion. Note that these products had not been added to the Tulsa WEB site as of this posting.
(5/18/99) Nothing has arrived from Tulsa yet and we are in the "big half" of May already.
(5/31/99) Alan Smith from Tulsa replied to my EMAIL inquiring about the shipping delay. It was a very nice reply! Tulsa has run into some problems with their supplier and they do expect to ship soon.
(6/24/99) The Tulsa windshield and air deflectors arrived late this afternoon and are already installed. The quality of everything seems high, the instructions are pretty complete, the installation simple and the fit is good. The instructions caution you to take great care with the "screws" (actually bolts) holding the speaker housings and windshield trim. This is VERY important! See the discussion below under maintenance.
The air deflectors are dark smoke in color and blend surprising well with the black of the fairing. They really dress up the front of the bike; bitchin'. Click here for the Lady dressed in Tulsa.
I will submit report on how well this all works when I get back from my trip this coming weekend.
(6/28/99 - THE TULSA REPORT) Yesterday I rode about 300 miles, frequently in very strong winds, and the news is all good. The Tulsa system (windshield and wind deflectors) is everything they claim it to be. Wind noise at high speed is dramatically reduced, and helmet buffeting is virtually eliminated. The shield is free from optical distortion and the whole package quite dramatically enhances the appearance of the front of the bike. Dont leave home without one (them).
(7/22/99) My trip to the VOA meeting in Montrose (with side trips) gave me about 1800 more miles behind the Tulsa shield. The Tulsa windshield is HIGHLY recommended. It affords superior wind and rain protection, reduces wind noise and all but eliminates buffeting. It is very hard to evaluate the efficacy of the Tulsa wind deflectors on the bottom of the fairing except to say that they seemed to efficiently deflect the rain out and down away from my legs.
(7/24/99) I have ordered the Honda fog light kit for my bike. Stay tuned for the report.
To anticipate some questions:
(1) Is there any fog in Southern Utah? Answer: NO.
(2) If there was fog bad enough to require fog lights would you ride? Answer: NO!
(3) Are the headlights on the Interstate adequate? Answer: YES.
(8/1/99) The Hondaline Fog Lights have arrived and are installed. My general comment is: "Don't try this at home boys and girls!" The first hint of trouble to come is that there are 11 pages of instructions. Then, there was one of those ominous notes in a small box, appropriately outlined in black, on the lower right corner of the first page:
Customer Information: The information in this accessory Installation Instruction is intended for use only by skilled technicians who have the proper tools, equipment, and training to correctly and safely add equipment to your motorcycle. These procedures should not be attempted by "do-it-yourselfers".
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.
Overall Finish. MUCH worse than my Tourer. For example, one of the plastic swing arm covers was molded full of air bubbles.
(2/9/99) Oh dear, I was wrong! The "plastic" swing arm cover is actually a metal casting full of, I presume, sand. It looks like they painted over a piece of pig iron.
The tank had a small blemish on it someone tried hard to patch. There are some of the worst welds on this bike I have ever seen on any bike. There are several places where the chrome appears to be of inferior quality. There was a rubber gasket inside one of the air boxes that was torn and not mounted correctly. The finish of this bike is NOT typical Honda quality. I hope they are not slighting their quality control.
Maintenance. I have not done any maintenance other than routine oil changes.
(2/8/99 - Seat Removal and Installation) I removed the seat to install a connection for my Widder electric vest and gloves. The seat has been redesigned and is a nice improvement when compared to the already fine seat on the previous models. Unfortunately, the seat is now a bit harder to remove and install. The culprit is a plastic tab in the middle of the seat that fits into a slot on the bike. To remove the seat you must first unlock it and raise the front of the seat slightly. Then, place your hand at the center of the seat and flex the seat downward slightly while with your other hand on the front of the seat, pull forward and upward (careful of that shiny tank!). To replace the seat, line up the metal tab on the rear of the seat with the slot on the bike. Then, with one hand at the front of the seat and the other flexing the center of the seat downward to engage the center tab, force the seat back and down into place. When you get the hang of it, the seat snaps smartly and firmly into place. The net result of this change is that the seat is locked down much more firmly than it was on the previous models.
By the way, the radio is under the seat on top of the battery. And, the small compartments used on the previous models for storing the owners manual and the tools are still there but not used.
(6/1/99) The tires are showing a lot of wear at 5000 miles. It looks like they will have to be replaced at about 9000 miles. Next, I think I shall try the newly announced Metzeler tires (ME880). Metzeler claims you should expect 14,000 to 16,000 miles. Yes, they are expensive!
(6/3/99) As of a couple of days ago I ordered a set of Metzeler ME880 tires from D&K Motorcycle Things. Prices: $142.65 for the front, $161.05 for the rear and $20 for shipping. BTW, the D&K WEB site does not make it clear how to submit an order for Metzeler tires so useful phone numbers are: 1-800-232-9069 and 1-505-589-0279. Clearly, mention of the Metzler (sic) tires was a hasty addition to their WEB site. Oh well, you don't have to be a rocket scientist to be into bikes, with the possible exception of learning how to use the radio controls on the Valkyrie Interstate ;-)!
(6/21/99) I just received a call from D&K and the news is not good. There are NO Metzeler tires available. It seems that Metzeler is not even close to filling the immediate demand and D&K will NOT be getting its promised allotment of tires. The best estimates now are more ME880 tires available at the end of July. This, coupled with the recent rumors that some Dunlop D206 tires are "delaminating", has put a lot of pressure on the supply of Bridgestone tires. Considering the fact that the Valkyrie manual could well say, "change the oil and the tires every 8000 miles", this could be a crisis!
I just received a call from D&K and the news is not good. There are NO Metzeler tires available. It seems that Metzeler is not even close to filling the immediate demand and D&K will NOT be getting its promised allotment of tires. The best estimates now are more ME880 tires available at the end of July. This, coupled with the recent rumors that some Dunlop D206 tires are "delaminating", has put a lot of pressure on the supply of Bridgestone tires. Considering the fact that the Valkyrie manual could well say, "change the oil and the tires every 8000 miles", this could be a crisis!
(6/24/99) I now have a set of Bridgestone tires at the ready; front - G701 (150/80R17) and rear - G702 (180/70R16).
(7/5/99) The odometer is now closing in on 7000 miles and the rear tire is showing a lot of wear. I fear that I shall have to put on my new Bridgestones before I head for Montrose. Naturally, my opinions will be recorded here in the future.
(7/12/99) The new Bridgestones are mounted! The bike and I are ready to rush to the Rockies.
(7/22/99) The Bridgestone tires are quieter and smoother than the Dunlops under all riding conditions. They do "sing" a bit around 50-55 mph, but it is not offensive. The really major improvement is that they are MUCH quieter in the turns than the Dunlops. As far as wet traction goes, I did not detect any problem. Please note that while I rode through a lot of rain on my recent trip to Montrose, I did not ride aggressively when the roads were wet. I have no desire to attempt determine what the handling limits of the Bridgestone's, or any other tires, are in the rain. Finally, while I have always liked the Dunlop tires and had no failures in four sets, I definitely prefer the Bridgestone's.
(9/6/99) The Bridgestones tires are now getting close to 5000 miles and they are showing a considerable amount of wear. I would guess that they will be about the same as the Dunlops in terms of longevity. Unfortunately, they are getting noisier and rougher in the corners as they wear. I am not sure how bad they are going to get but this could be a problem.
(9/6/99) Recently I have noted a bit of instability in my interstate. I am finding a slight "quiver" in the front end reminiscent of some the early Japanese bikes that actually needed a steering damper and didn't have one. I took it to my friendly Honda dealer and they re-torqued the steering head (under warrantee, bless their hearts, as it is a horrible job) and I set the rear shock preload up to position 2 (I ride alone). That seems to have solved it for now. However, I rather suspect that the increasing roughness of the Bridgestone tires is also implicated in this. I am definitely beginning to question my choice of the Bridgestones tires. Quiet and smooth initially, but deteriorating seriously as they wear! Stay tuned for further news.
(1/25/00) The Bridgestones are now up to about 7000 miles and are showing quite a lot of wear. My guess is that I will replace them at about 9000 miles. They seem to have about the same wear characteristics as the Dunlops. In my opinion, however, they are not as stable as the Dunlops.
(5/23/00) The Bridgestone tires have been replaced! They had more than 10,000 miles on them when replaced, and they should have been replaced about 1,000 miles ago. The rear tire was dangerously worn. I now have Metzelers mounted. I will report my impressions of these tires as I gain experience with them. My bike's odometer now reads 17,759 miles.
(6/6/00) I have about 750 miles on my shiny new Metzelers and I DO NOT LIKE THEM. They are not stable at speeds much higher than about 75 mph; they wander dangerously at higher speeds. Comments sent to me by other Metzeler owners tell me that Metzeler is, indeed, aware of this problem and they claim it is a result of "excessive downward force on the front of the bike." If this is indeed the case, and I would admit to being highly skeptical, then the Interstate with a Tulsa windshield and the Metzeler tires may well be a bad, even dangerous, combination. Stay tuned for further developments! If I can not find a solution to this problem by changing back shock settings and adjusting the air pressure, I will remove them. I think I will go back to the Dunlops. I know about the reports of delaminating, but the three sets I have had performed flawlessly. Yes, they are noisy when you are banked into a turn, but other than that they had very good road manners.
(8/28/00) My Metzeler tires now have more than 6,000 miles on them. They now have a very noticeable "flat spot". The good news is that there appears to be at least half the tread depth left. They better news is that they are now stable at high speeds. It seems to me that a 6,000 mile "break-in" period is NOT acceptable. Put another way, this is my last set of Metzelers unless they are improved. Naturally, now that there is a flat spot they do not corner quite as smoothly as they did when then were new.
(6/24/99) - Fairing. Recently I have become aware of a potential problem with the way the Interstate fairing is constructed, which may explain why it has more creaks and groans than a haunted house. In many places, parts are held together using shoulder bolts screwed into threaded brass expansion anchors which are set into the plastic. On my bike, three of these anchors were loose in their plastic seats as a result of over-tightening and one was destroyed because the bolt had been cross threaded (the brass anchor is very soft). The message here is to be careful with these fasteners, they are fragile. And, check to see if some were destroyed when your bike was assembled. If my experience is typical, there are a lot of Interstates out there with one or more faulty fasteners in the fairing. To make an inspection, remove the two speaker panels, one on each side of the fairing. There are more than a dozen of these fasteners in there including the eight that hold on the two speaker panels. If you find trouble, repairs are easy to make. Anchors that are loose (turn in their seats), can be set with epoxy or super glue. If the threads in the anchors are destroyed, the anchors are easy to replace (Honda part number 90316-MJ1-000).
(7/4/99) In search of quieter fairing! Follow this link to a discussion of how to "rework" your fairing. This is of special significance if you have installed a Tulsa windshield.
(3/3/00) The 12,000 Mile Valve Check. Now that the odometer is within a few miles of 14,000 miles I have decided to do the recommended 12,000 valve check. As I suspected, all was well in there, but I get ahead of the story. I have the Valkyrie shop manual, but I found the directions posted by the legendary Lamont and his associate Carl Kulow to be better. Follow this link to the directions, they are superb.
In my case, I adjusted only four of the twelve valves, and the ones I adjusted were very close to specs. Specifically, three were just a bit loose and one was just a bit tight. In all cases they were just barely out of spec. I also replaced the plugs, which looked just fine.
If you have been reluctant to take on this task, go for it.
(Addendum - 3/4/00) After a test ride, I had a little oil "weeping" from the bottom of the left valve cover. I pulled off that valve cover and put a touch of Permatex "Ultra Grey" along the mating surface on the engine. That took care of the problem. In truth, it was a very small leak, but with all the remarks I have made about the Harley's propensity to leak oil, I wouldn't want one of the Bro's to see any oil spots under my bike.
Warts. This is a very good motorcycle but not a perfect one. We hope Honda pays attention to the owners although it is not always obvious that they do.
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!
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
John Marshall's Home Page Go Back!
Send EMail to John Marshall !