BONUS EXTRAS – 2010 Honda Stateline

Jon Langston’s review of the Honda Stateline appeared in the December 2010 issue of RoadBike. Here are a few outtakes from the photo shoot:

At first glance, the Honda Stateline, part of Honda’s new VT 1300 Custom Line, appears to be a full-fledged production chopper. It’s certainly got the bare-bones styling and long, low, fat-tired stance.

Upon closer examination, though, you begin to notice details that Honda seems to have overlooked, or just ignored. Touches such as such as custom-like one-inch handlebars that don’t bother to hide plain black cables that protrude like antennae, steel (not billet) foot levers and other components, and shiny chrome engine covers that, as it turns out, are made of plastic. On the plus side, they don’t get as hot as they would if they were metal …..

Staying true to its “custom” styling, this is the only badging on the bike (besides engine stamps). Yet it’s obviously nothing more than a sticker slapped between the taillight and the rear pillion.

Instrumentation is rudimentary — too rudimentary. That LCD readout is toggled by a tiny, hard-to-reach button about three inches down on the front of the dash — you can see it right off about the 30mph mark in the speedo. Keep those wide bars steady with your right hand, shift your weight forward (being careful not to upset the delicate balance of the long wheelbase), and reach up & push it in. With gloves on.

What do you get for all your hard, potentially dangerous work? Two tripmeters and a clock.

There are some nice touches on the Stateline, such as the inclusion of a helmet lock on the rear fender behind the seat and the wrapped, short-shot pipes. But considering all the other things Honda either missed or ignored, this sudden and erratic attention to detail seems like an afterthought.

Still, despite its inadequacies, the Stateline has a lot of positive attributes, such as a fine, well-balanced powerplant and comfortable riding position. I just wish Honda would’ve gone the distance in its execution, rather than letting the concept disappoint upon close inspection. Be sure and read my full review in the Decenmber ’10 issue of RoadBike. – Jon Langston

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Comments

  1. Chris Simons says:

    Jon,
    I’m confused by the surprised tone of the article when pointing out the plastic valve covers and LED display controls. These are items Honda has been practicing since at least the VTX models. In fact, Honda adding a clock to the LED display is an improvement over the VTX line! I was genuinely surprised to learn that your experience with the stability of the bike at higher speeds is dangerous as that seems very much out of character for Honda. I know that every bike made has compromises due to mass production costs but I am disappointed that Honda continues to “cheapen” the finishing touches of their product despite having a generally excellent record of reliability for performance. Thanks Jon for a thorough review.

    • Hey Chris-

      Sorry for the delay in getting back to you; I’ve been laid up after kissing asphalt on the Major Deegan back in October, just a couple days before you posted your comment. Some jerk cut off the car in front of me, then came to a complete stop in the center lane of the Expressway. God knows why. I’m okay, just some broken bones; should be back to work in a few weeks.

      I appreciate your kind words about the Stateline article. Sure, I caught some guff about it from the manufacturer, but RoadBike prides itself on its truth & honesty in our reviews. I really felt bad about talking smack about a company that’s been a tried-and-true friend of the magazine over the years, but I was assured I had the full support of the staff in writing that story, and in the interest of journalistic integrity and providing a necessary service to our readers, we plowed ahead with its less-than-complimentary tack, animosity (and potential ads!) be damned.

      As the article pointed out, we ALL found the bike to be lacking, in various ways and in several areas. But that horse was beat to death in the article; no need to revisit it here. The issue with the handling, tho, deserves comment b/c you’re right, Chris: Honda is known for its durability & quality, even while pinching pennies. Perhaps it was just this particular bike, b/c others said they noticed it, too.

      Either way, here’s the facts: I commuted about 50 miles each way on this bike for more than two weeks, and as soon as I cleared the city limits every morning and got up to about 65 or 70 mph (generally too much traffic in the evenings to achieve that kind of speed!) here came the speedwobble. Without fail. We never did figure out why our Stateline behaved that way; its ergos — fat tires, long wheelbase, wide bars — would seem to counter squirreliness. Didn’t.

      But I’d also like to take this chance to make clear that my review wasn’t based on a single weekend spent aboard a test model with a full technical team trailing in a support vehicle. No, it was only after racking up over 1200 miles on the Stateline that I wrote that review, and I specifically wrote it in that poll-the-staff style b/c I wanted to clearly illustrate that the complaints stated were not just mine, but the qualms and opinions of the staffers quoted therein. NObody here loved the Stateline; some liked it more than others, but EVERYbody who rode it had issues with it.

      That’s why we ran that article as-is; RoadBike doesn’t kowtow to advertisers. Never has, never will.

      I’ve caught my share of flack for that article — but I stand by it, and I’m glad you appreciated it, Chris.

      Cheers,
      Jonny

      PS: One final note: After that issue & review went to press, Star released its own 1300cc custom cruiser, the Stryker, which is on the cover of our current issue. Its list price? About a thousand bucks LESS than the Stateline — with zero plastic on the engine. Happy Holidays to all.

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  1. […] until recently b/c of a broken right arm — I noticed that someone had commented on my Bonus Extras post regarding my review of the Honda Stateline bike back in our October (has it been that long??) […]

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