To this day I still don’t know if Honda know where their Pan European is. I stole this bike after the lads had finished using it for a test before Christmas, and then simply decided that I couldn’t give it back.
Three months later and the Pan (booked for a one-week test) has re-confirmed itself in my estimation that it’s one of the finest long-distance bikes ever made. I hated the old one, looked shit and wobbled like a fly-tipped sofa, but this incarnation is the very best application of Honda technology in a motorcycle. Proper 220-mile tank range, supreme comfort, excellent luggage system (although the bloody keys don’t half like getting stuck in the panniers) and the best screen ever fitted to a tourer. Art Editor Barry simply couldn’t get his head around the Pan’s electric screen when he tested it and elected to have it at the lowest setting. Which is utterly retarded of him, because at full extension the screen keeps you completely isolated from the elements and locked in a pocket of still air. I frequently flip-up my visor at 90mph in freezing conditions and sit there, happy as Larry, looking at roadkill and car accidents on the side of the road.
It’s heavy as a JCB but the Pan does an extraordinary job of hiding its bulk, being very easy to ride and steer at all speeds and conditions. In stock settings the rear can get a gentle mush on, but four complete turns on the remote preload adjuster did away with most of that. Mention too must be made of the build quality of this bike - proper job. It’s been doused in lashings of salt during the worst that winter has thrown at us, but a jet-wash every two weeks has stopped there being any major ill-effects. Bit of corrosion on the ABS teeth on the front spindle, and that’s it. In parts the Pan’s a bit plasticky (the mirror housings pop off if you so much as shout at them and the rubbery crash-dampers on the side aren’t pretty at all) but the thickness of the paint is never in question.
It’s not an exciting machine to ride but ruthlessly efficient, and at this it excels. On my daily 120-mile commute there’s only a handful of bikes that can hold a candle to the mile-munching qualities of the Pan (BMW’s legendary Adventure being one of them, which is my ‘proper’ longterm bike), and once I get into the twisty B-roads that lead to my house the big Honda can be hustled at a pace that surprises the crap out of loafers on sportsbikes.
Pans hold their value well and you’re looking at £4,500 for a well-used 1300, but 30,000 miles on these is nothing. Honda are now sending their demo Pans out with their heated grip system - if you’re serious about winter riding, you need this retro-fitted. Gets the grips so hot that you can’t hold them without gloves. Beauty. So thanks very much indeed, chaps. Now you can have your bike back!