Splitting Heirs: Honda Pan European ST1100 & ST1300

Beloved of the happily middle-aged (and the police), unobtrusive, but more than capable of letting fly on a twisty road, Honda's ST1100 was a marvelous thing. Can the same be said of the ST1300?

Click to view: Honda Pan European ST1100 & ST1300 owners reviews, specs and image galleries.

The Honda ST1100 Pan European was one of those bikes that quietly got on with doing the job it was designed to do. And that was to provide something just short of a full-dress touring bike in a slightly more manageable (and cheaper) form, at the behest of the European, not US, market.

That's exactly what it did, throughout its entire 12-year lifespan, which stretched from 1990 to 2002. Along the way it won an army of dedicated and loyal fans, like some bikes do. When it was replaced by the faster, gruntier, lighter, shorter and much funkier looking ST1300, there was a faint muttering among some of the Pan People that Honda had missed the mark with the new bike, and the point of just what had made their original Pan so special.

It didn't help that the ST1300 suffered an unusual (for Honda) series of problems, including high speed stability issues, sumps grounding out ruinously and various recalls - all of which, some three years later, are a dim and unpleasant corporate memory for the big H. But come on - a healthy dollop of extra capacity for the V4 engine, fuel injection, lots of bells and whistles (including an electric screen), surely the revised Pan must be a revelation compared with a bike conceived almost in another era of motorcycling.

We would've thought so here at Visordown Towers, but the muttering hasn't quite gone away and it seems the Pan Clan haven't migrated in massive numbers over to the new model. Why's that then? And is the current ST1300 actually a better bike than the old ST1100? And if not, why not? Or so, is it the people's resistance to change that's the problem? Plus, perhaps a little more saliently, with the new model a chunky £11,500, and late model '02 Pans available from five grand, if you're in the market for a solid tourer that'll last forever, what to do?

Damn all these questions...

In order to find some answers I started with Garry Mackay at DK Motorcycles. Garry knows lots about new and used motorcycles, and the people that buy 'em. As ever, he proved illuminating. "When a brand new Pan was announced," he says, "the anticipation was high. By chance we bought a dozen or so of the old model, simply because it was so good and we had them at the right price. But then with the recalls that the ST1300 suffered, I think that people's confidence in the new bike took a bit of a knock, especially as the ST1100 was so bombproof. But even more surprising was that ex-ST1100 owners were telling me that the new bike wasn't as good as the old one. The ST1100 still had such a following that we were selling ST11s to ST13s at a ratio of ten to one for a while."