Honda's gigantic six-cylinder Valkyrie was far from most people's idea of a superbike. It had high handlebars, twin rear shocks, cruiser-based styling and a 1520cc flat six engine based on that of the Gold Wing tourer. Yet the bike that was also known (outside America) as the F6C soon proved that, despite its sheer size and laid-back look, it had the performance to make for a memorable ride.

The concept of a Wing-based naked bike was logical, given the US market's enthusiasm for cruisers and the GL1500's huge popularity over the years. The Valkyrie embraced the American style of high bars, big fenders and long wheelbase. But that flat six engine gave the bike a unique character. It dominated the bike's look, its copious chrome backed-up by more on the headlamp and pair of stylishly flattened silencers.

The six's unchanged 1520cc capacity made the HONDA Valkyrie the largest-engined cruiser on the market. The sohc motor gained hotter camshafts and revised valvegear. As well as the new exhaust system, designed to boost mid-range output, this bike had six 28mm Keihin carbs in place of the Gold Wing's pair of 33mm units. The result was a maximum power output of lOObhp at 60()()rpm - hot stuff by cruiser standards - plus huge reserves of low-rev torque.

Chassis layout was conventional in all but size, with a tubular steel frame, and fuel tank in the normal place (instead of under the seat, like the Wing). Front forks were thick upside-down units. A pair of chrome-covered shocks held up the back end of a bike that weighed a substantial 6831b (310kg). But the Honda's low centre of gravity, conservative steering geometry and long wheelbase combined to make it very stable and easy to ride at low speed.

Ride of the A HONDA  Valkyries


Much of the big bike's user-friendly feel was due to its engine. The Valkyrie had so much low-down torque that it barely needed its five-speed gearbox. The big six pulled without complaint with just 20mph (32km/h) and 800rpm showing on its pair of white-faced dials. Acceleration at such speeds was inevitably gentle, but the F6C didn't have to be revved much harder to show a strong, seamless, almost totally smooth build-up of momentum. At an indicated lOOmph (161km/h) the bike was still pulling hard and in thrilling fashion towards a top speed of over 125mph (201km/h).

If the engine's performance was impressive, so too was the Valkyrie's chassis. The frame was strong enough to cope with all the weight, and suspension was firm and well damped enough to make quick cornering not only possible but  enjoyable. Ground clearance was generous by cruiser standards, and the Valkyrie's braking was good too, thanks to a pair of front discs gripped by twin-piston calipers, plus a larger rear disc.

Many motorcyclists dismissed HONDA VALKYRIE performance cruiser' tag and refused to take the bike seriously, but most who rode the Valkyrie were won over. It combined distinctive looks with a smooth, powerful, supremely flexible engine and a remarkably competent chassis. Honda had set out to build a giant cruiser with the performance to match its size, and had achieved exactly that.

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