I\'m not sure what\'s up with Honda lately, it seems that they are starting to develop an edginess that\'s catering to the hard-core bike lover rather than the masses - I like it.
I met up with Honda press guy, Lee Edmunds, at the big H - HQ and followed him on the most direct route to Malibu along a very busy 405 freeway. Lane splitting on this bike is only for the brave (or the gullible) and I think I knocked off 14 mirrors en-route to our destination. To say this thing is big would be an understatement - It\'s huge. Unmanageable? Nooo, listen Wimpy, the wheelbase is "only" 68.9 inches so it\'s really a pussycat and if you watch your P\'s and Q\'s very manageable under any conditions.
Those conditions included some of the twistiest roads I\'ve seen for quite a while. Edmunds, mounted on the relatively agile ST1300, proceeded to lead at a pace that was quite, hmmm brisk. I was astounded that I could keep him in sight, and even make inroads, as and when the terrain allowed. The Rune has such neutral handling traits that banzai late braking and peg carving corners held no fear for this test jaunt.
The forks, however funky or radical they looked, worked well with minimum dive. Trailing bottom-link would, at first glance, seem a throwback to yesteryear, but they look and felt good. The rear, would you believe, is a Unit Pro-Link currently seeing active duty on the CBR600RR and, of course, the RC211V. Don\'t expect to spot it on the Rune though - it has a few yards of bodywork covering it all up. It did bottom out on some of the gnarlier bumps, but I\'m sure I was riding this thing faster than I had any right to, it looked like there was some preload available to cure this, so it shouldn\'t be a problem even to you larger bearded gentlemen.
The brakes are similar to Honda\'s own VTX . Don\'t dare call them linked, because they are not, they\'re combined. Basically it features two three-piston front calipers and a single two-piston rear caliper. Squeezing the front brake activates the two outer pistons of the front calipers and a stomp of the rear activates the two pistons of the rear caliper and the center pistons of the front calipers.
There\'s more to it than that, but all you need to know is that it works mighty fine. You could finish a U-turn or a super tight corner quite nicely with a dab of the rear. No unsettling of any kind no matter how brutal the input. Oh, whilst on the subject, the brakes are the biggest on any production Honda - Naturally.
The engine felt very similar to the Gold Wing (itself, no slouch) and although no official figures have been released or confirmed, felt around 105 to 110 for both horsepower and torque. It\'s the same 1832cc liquid cooled horizontally opposed six-cylinder motor and it\'s fuel injected (of course) with six 32mm throttle bodies. Get up and go is instantaneous and the sound emanating from the very unique flared exhausts is pleasing to the ear - Think hotrod meets Valkyrie meets Mr. EPA.
Styling is sensational too and from the cockpit offers a really attractive and symmetrical view to the front. With the headlamp so far "out there" it felt long and low (and it was). We had two versions available to us, one with the slightly shorter swept handlebar and the second a longer sweep some 50mm closer to you and 20mm lower. Being six-one, I preferred the shorter of the two but your mileage may vary. Instrumentation is pretty decent too with nice subtle (glare-adjustable) digital readout\'s for speed, fuel gauge, trip and odometer. It\'s tucked away in a nice recessed shroud on the tank and is in your face without being in your face.
The gas tank is a nice piece of sheet metal fabrication too, long low and seamless in construction, the paint seemed 68.9 inches deep too, with a very subtle (bordering on invisible) Rune badge on the side. It holds over 6 gallons too, so you can dodge the gas stations and concentrate on the boulevard cruising. Seating is only 27.2 inches high (low?) and is a nice gunfighter-style shape. Room for one, unfortunately - but you can\'t have it all ways.
More style features include flush LED\'s that are recessed within the rear fender. Beautiful 5-spoke chrome wheels. A nice chromed radiator cover reminiscent of an old 50\'s Bugatti racer or similar. The are also technological marvels abound with a built in security system and a trick remote automatically retracting steering lock.
The styling and build quality is unsurpassed and is everything one would expect from a $26K custom.
That styling got a resounding thumbs up from all who have seen it and judging by the Pied Piper entourage that we seemed to be collecting on our day trip, its going to be a success story.
Honda deserve to sell a bunch of these, it\'s a radical departure from those sensible people that we\'ve grown to love.