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First Ride: 2006 Honda ST1300 Pan European

For 10 years now Honda's Pan European has been one of the sharpest touring tools in the box.




For 10 years now Honda's Pan European has been one of the sharpest touring tools in the box. But a decade without development is a long time in the motorcycle world, so for 2002 the ST1100 becomes the ST1300 and a full set of new clothes to go with it. Sonic does the launch in South of France...

I better pipe up at this early stage and admit to never having ridden a Pan European before. Just one of those things - me and the old Pan never crossed paths, although I have to say that it was so damn ugly (personal opinion) that our lack of acquaintance didn't really worry me. It was a copper's bike, the transporter of evil, and I had no interest. But not so the new one. Good-looking tool, this...

Proper swoopy styling job, the new ST1300 Pan. With fashion cues taken from the 2002 VFR800 and Varadero, it looks the biz with it's sculpted headlights and fairing. The solid panniers - wide enough for a full-face Arai each one - meld nicely into the backside of the new Pan, and overall the bike looks well decent. You can park-up on the ST1300 and it'll draw interested looks, not ignored off-hand.

Damn, it's comfortable. And on the ABS-equipped version you get an electric screen. Best electric screen I've ever been sat behind, going from an almost sportsbike-low to GoldWing-high at the touch of a button. Sadly, for the ABS and the leccy screen you pay £1,000 over the standard model. The ABS I wasn't fussed about one way or t'other, but the screen you've just gotta have...

The 1,261cc motor is a real grunter. The Honda lads were keen to point out that the bikes we were riding were pre-production machines, and there was indeed a tremendous variation between the performance of the bikes due to tolerance differences in the motors. Some were spot-on, others further out. Either way, the new ST1300 pulls beautifully from as little as 3,000rpm, chugging up through its smooth five-speed gearbox in no time. The transverse V-four throbs away underneath you with a pleasing rumble, and the revised shaft-drive is so torque-free you'd think you were on a chain-drive bike. Fuel mixture is dumped inboard by four 36mm fuel injectors, with all the benefits in throttle response and engine feel that injectors bring over carbs. I found it easiest to short-shift into top gear and just cruise along admiring the view. Which is, after all, what these bikes are all about.

Flat-out speed (if you're not interested in the view, or it happens to be particularly dull at the time) that I saw on the traditional analogue speedo was 150mph, and the ST1300 was totally stable at these speeds on choppy French B-roads. This is partly down to the 18-inch front wheel and excellent Bridgestone BT020 touring tyres, but mostly down to the all-new aluminium beam frame. Gone is the spindly steel item of old, now replaced by this massive construction that's not only 15kg lighter and 50mm shorter in wheelbase, but also about 500% stronger. There's no wobble or weave, just a solid feel from the chassis that allows you to potter along fully-laden with wives and luggage, or go respectably loopy once you get to your destination on the other side of the planet and scrape seven shades out of the footpegs. Honda quite rightly recognise that just because someone buys a bike for touring on, it doesn't mean they don't want to have some fun when they get to where they're going. As myself and freelancer Chris Moss found out on a psycho flat-out blast back to Carcassone after the photoshoot, you can have plenty of fun on the new Pan European.

What else? Good clocks, excellent ride position, brakes are sharp and very responsive, preload is remotely adjustable for fatties and thinnies, fuel consumption is good (I managed 160 miles of very silly, non-Pan riding before running out of gas), headlights as bright as the sun on full beam, heaps of pillion comfort, a three-way adjustable seat to fit longies and shorties and a full accessories list that includes a 45 litre top-box and a radio.

It wasn't until I got home to the UK and had a quick peek at the specifications that I realised the ST1300 weighs in at 280kg dry. Stick a rider and a full tank of fuel on, and you're looking at the best part of 400 kilos. Which is a staggering weight, and yet they've got the centre of gravity so sussed, the Pan never felt that heavy on the move. By way of comparison, I jumped on a VTEC VFR800 they had lying around during the launch and went for a blast up the same roads we were riding the Pan on. There wasn't a million miles between them, you know. Sure, you could feel the extra weight of the Pan in the corners, but for a bike to be as capable over the motorway miles as the new ST1300 is, to then handle nearly as well as a VFR800, is achievement indeed. Another great bike out of the Honda stable with no real flaws. How bloody typical...

VERDICT

Ace touring tool that now looks as good as it rides. Incredibly comfortable, strong motor and great handling mean you can take all your crap to the hotter parts of the world, and then have fun riding when you get there.

SPECS

TYPE - TOURER

PRODUCTION DATE - 2002

PRICE NEW - £10,300

ENGINE CAPACITY - 1261cc

POWER - 116bhp@8000rpm

TORQUE - 86lb.ft@6500rpm

WEIGHT - 276kg

SEAT HEIGHT - 790mm

FUEL CAPACITY - 29L

TOP SPEED - N/A

0-60 - n/a

TANK RANGE - N/A

For 10 years now Honda's Pan European has been one of the sharpest touring tools in the box. But a decade without development is a long time in the motorcycle world, so for 2002 the ST1100 becomes the ST1300 and a full set of new clothes to go with it. Sonic does the launch in South of France...

I better pipe up at this early stage and admit to never having ridden a Pan European before. Just one of those things - me and the old Pan never crossed paths, although I have to say that it was so damn ugly (personal opinion) that our lack of acquaintance didn't really worry me. It was a copper's bike, the transporter  of evil, and I had no interest.  But not so the new one. Good-looking tool, this...

Proper swoopy styling job, the new ST1300 Pan. With fashion cues taken from the 2002 VFR800 and Varadero, it looks the biz with it's sculpted headlights and fairing. The solid panniers - wide enough for a full-face Arai each one - meld nicely into the backside of the new Pan, and overall the bike looks well decent. You can park-up on the ST1300 and it'll draw interested looks, not ignored off-hand.

Damn, it's comfortable. And on the ABS-equipped version you get an electric screen. Best electric screen I've ever been sat behind, going from an almost sportsbike-low to GoldWing-high at the touch of a button. Sadly, for the ABS and the leccy screen you pay £1,000 over the standard model. The ABS I wasn't fussed about one way or t'other, but the screen you've just gotta have...

The 1,261cc motor is a real grunter. The Honda lads were keen to point out that the bikes we were riding were pre-production machines, and there was indeed a tremendous variation between the performance of the bikes due to tolerance differences in the motors. Some were spot-on, others further out. Either way, the new ST1300 pulls beautifully from as little as 3,000rpm, chugging up through its smooth five-speed gearbox in no time. The transverse V-four throbs away underneath you with a pleasing rumble, and the revised shaft-drive is so torque-free you'd think you were on a chain-drive bike. Fuel mixture is dumped inboard by four 36mm fuel injectors, with all the benefits in throttle response and engine feel that injectors bring over carbs. I found it easiest to short-shift into top gear and just cruise along admiring the view.  Which is, after all, what these bikes are all about.

Flat-out speed (if you're not interested in the view, or it happens to be particularly dull at the time) that I saw on the traditional analogue speedo was 150mph, and the ST1300 was totally stable at these speeds on choppy French B-roads. This is partly down to the 18-inch front wheel and excellent Bridgestone BT020 touring tyres, but mostly down to the all-new aluminium beam frame. Gone is the spindly steel item of old, now replaced by this massive construction that's not only 15kg lighter and 50mm shorter in wheelbase, but also about 500% stronger. There's no wobble or weave, just a solid feel from the chassis that allows you to potter along fully-laden with wives and luggage, or go respectably loopy once you get to your destination on the other side of the planet and scrape seven shades out of the footpegs. Honda quite rightly recognise that just because someone buys a bike for touring on, it doesn't mean they don't want to have some fun when they get to where they're going. As myself and freelancer Chris Moss found out on a psycho flat-out blast back to Carcassone after the photoshoot, you can have plenty of fun on the new Pan European.

What else? Good clocks, excellent ride position, brakes are sharp and very responsive, preload is remotely adjustable for fatties and thinnies, fuel consumption is good (I managed 160 miles of very silly, non-Pan riding before running out of gas), headlights as bright as the sun on full beam, heaps of pillion comfort, a three-way adjustable seat to fit longies and shorties and a full accessories list that includes a 45 litre top-box and a radio.

It wasn't until I got home to the UK and had a quick peek at the specifications that I realised the ST1300 weighs in at 280kg dry. Stick a rider and a full tank of fuel on, and you're looking at the best part of 400 kilos. Which is a staggering weight, and yet they've got the centre of gravity so sussed, the Pan never felt that heavy on the move. By way of comparison, I jumped on a VTEC VFR800 they had lying around during the launch and went for a blast up the same roads we were riding the Pan on. There wasn't a million miles between them, you know. Sure, you could feel the extra weight of the Pan in the corners, but for a bike to be as capable over the motorway miles as the new ST1300 is, to then handle nearly as well as a VFR800, is achievement indeed. Another great bike out of the Honda stable with no real flaws. How bloody typical...

VERDICT

Ace touring tool that now looks as good as it rides. Incredibly comfortable, strong motor and great handling mean you can take all your crap to the hotter parts of the world, and then have fun riding when you get there.

2006 Honda ST1300 Pan European Specifications

SPECS
TYPE - TOURER
PRODUCTION DATE - 2002
PRICE NEW - £10,300
ENGINE CAPACITY - 1261cc
POWER - 116bhp@8000rpm
TORQUE - 86lb.ft@6500rpm   
WEIGHT - 276kg
SEAT HEIGHT - 790mm   
FUEL CAPACITY - 29L   
TOP SPEED - N/A
0-60     - n/a
TANK RANGE - N/A