Blue Thunder
2004 Honda ST1300
Sport Tourer

Note: I have since sold this beautiful bike. This was in no small part to having not one, but two beautiful boys. I simply realized that with small children, it would be at least a decade before Tara and I would be able to use her for what she was built - to take multi-day long-distance trips. Never once did I regret owning this wonderful machine. Don't worry though. I'm sure I'll have a ride like this again someday. C'est la Vie!

This is the Honda ST1300. The first production of this bike was in the 2003 model year. Before that, for 11 years, it was known as the ST100 which was a smaller engine bike with very different styling. Honda only offers one color per year in the ST models, with 2003 being metallic dark silver, 2004 pearl dark blue and 2005 candy dark red. Apparently Honda only likes dark colors for these bikes. Across the pond the ST1300 is called the Honda Pan-European, which has had a different range of colors as well including aqua (dark) green.

Sport touring is a niche market of motorcycles which marries, as you can expect, touring bikes (such as the Honda Gold Wing) and sport bikes or crotch-rockets. The Honda ST leans more toward the touring end of the scale, allowing you to take long, comfortable trips. This is what I was looking for, but this five-speed cycle also possesses enough power to beat anything you will encounter on the road short of a dedicated sport-rocket. This isn't a guess or any kind of speculation. You meet at the line with another vehicle and if you want to be in front of them, you will be. Depending on the region you're in, it's relatively hard to find ST bikes at shops, mostly because they are gone as soon as they come in. Also, they don't make nearly as many ST bikes as they do others. Honda's ST is most comparable with the Yamaha FJR1300 and the BMW R1150RT. The Yamaha leans more toward the sporty side of the equation, while the BMW tends to price itself out for what you get for the money. Overall, most reviews tend to give the edge to Honda's ST, and seeing as I like Honda's reliability and reputation, it was the logical choice for me.

When it comes down to it, this 650lb 4-cylinder bike is raw power. Yes it has comfortable amenities such as luggage compartments and whatnot, but without a doubt, this is pound-for-pound the most powerful machine I have ever seen, much less owned. With a Honda-claimed 125 horsepower and 92 ft-lbs of torque, this monster can reach 60mph in under 3.5 seconds. Even while cruising along at 80mph, twisting the throttle will still amazingly lurch you back in your seat. Also, the power plant generates about 750 watts of power to run a bike that only requires 250 or so. This leaves 500 watts, which is more than enough room to play with for adding all sorts of accessories.

The 2004 model is available with or without ABS (Anti-lock Braking System), otherwise they are identical from a feature and specification standpoint. My model is the non-ABS model. Why? While ABS is a no-brainer in a car, on a motorcycle I feel it's a different beast. When you're on two wheels, you have a much greater sense of how your bike is reacting to the road with every bit you accelerate and brake. With ABS, you would lose some of that feedback when the ABS kicks in. I will admit that on a slick road, ABS is awesome, but regular brakes can handle slick roads just fine if you know what you're doing. Other than that, ABS won't help you in a wet curve, but it will help prevent a skid, so if you're skidding your tires a lot, maybe ABS is for you. In any event, it's certainly up for debate, and you'll find plenty of people that feel one or the other is better, so it all comes down to personal preference, as well as cost (the ABS is significantly more $).

Am I happy with the purchase? Absolutely. She wasn't cheap, but with this kind of bike, you get what you pay for. Unfortunately, out of the box, she's at about 75% what she could be in terms of features, utility and creature comforts. It took a fair number of farkles to bring her up to what I would consider full potential, but that's ok, because this way she's customized precisely to my liking.

Below are a few pics of her with most accessories installed, except the first one. That's a picture from the day we picked her up at the shop.