The Gold Wing had been the huge hit that Honda had wanted and needed to crack the US with an exceptional tourer.
It was intended to be the bike to compete with the big V twin cruiser/tourers from Harley Davidson and offer an alternative long haul comfortable bike which is exactly what it did.
However, Honda then saw a gap in the European market for an equally good touring bike but it needed to be more suitable for European roads. So it needed to be a lighter bike influenced more by the popular sports bikes that were dominating Europe but capable of longer trips.
Honda therefore started the Sports Touring line, the ST series which consisted of the ST1100 and the ST1300. Which got the name Pan European in Europe.
The ST1300 Pan European was released in 2002 in the UK, 2003 in the US and went on to have a long production run until 2013 in most places.
Honda ST1300 Review
At the heart of all good motorcycles is a good engine and the V4 in the Honda ST is as good as they come, smooth with more than enough power, capable when ridden at high speeds, torquey enough at low speeds. There is little more you could ask for from an engine.
You can twist the throttle in any gear and there is enough punch to pull the heavy bike to your desired speed.
Taking note from successful sport bikes, Honda used a lighter aluminum frame to house the engine and build the rest of the chassis around.
The Honda Pan European has a full fairing for excellent wind protection and weather protection, it has been deliberately designed for this purpose. Later models also received color matching hard luggage space, with plenty of room for everything you would need for longer tours. Touring is the only agenda on the Pan’s to do list.
When it comes to handling the Pan is an excellent bike, easy, mild manners, low comfortable seat and spacious enough to carry two comfortably for a long time. It is steady, stable and confident, with the ability to throw it over in the corners if you desire, which is where the surprising sporty side comes out to flourish.
Brakes were considered really good and only got better with the introduction of the ABS version. The ABS increased stability and made slowing the big bike down a breeze.
Fuel economy is pretty good and better than the Honda Gold Wing so you aren’t guzzling gas when undertaking serious journey’s.
In terms of reliability the bike is a Honda so owners have had little to complain about with main things coming up being corrosion. The shaft drive makes the bike easy to maintain and generally a safe bet for lots of miles, just be sure to keep on top of the basics like the air filter and oil changes.
One very serious problem was posed by the Police model in 2002. One Police officer lost his life in an accident as a result of a high speed ride that caused the bike to lose control. The problem was investigated and it was concluded that the Police models were unstable at speed due to the extra equipment and set up required for them to be functioning police models. It should be noted however, that this handling issue was limited strictly to the Police editions.
Overall if you want to get a shift on rolling across continents in comfort then the Pan European is a great choice and that is the consensus across most of the press from the time of the original bikes release too.
Plus if you go for an older model you lack a lot of the modern electronics on every tourer on the market today, so you can actually go back to basics and get to enjoying the fundamentals of riding old school style.
Honda ST1300 Specs list
Engine and Transmission
Engine – Four-stroke, 90 degree, V4, DOHC
Capacity – 1,261cc
Bore x Stroke – 78 x 66mm
Compression Ratio – 10.8:1
Cooling System – Liquid
Starting – Electric
Induction – PGM-FI electronic fuel injection, 36mm throttle bodies
Transmission – 5 speed
Final Drive – Shaft drive
Clutch – Wet, multi-disc
Top Speed – 139.8mph
Chassis and Dimensions
Frame – Aluminium alloy, triple-box section pressure cast dual-spar with aluminium-alloy swingarm
Front Suspension – 43mm air-assisted telescopic fork
Rear Suspension – Single-sided conventional damper
Front Brakes – 2 x 310mm discs with 3 piston caliper
Rear Brakes – Single 316mm disc with 3 piston caliper
Rake – 26 degrees
Trail – 98mm/3.9″
Wheelbase – 1,491mm/58.7″
Length – 2,282mm/89.8″
Width – 935mm/36.8″
Height – 1,332mm/52.4″
Seat Height – 790mm/31.1″
Dry Weight – 286kg/631lbs
Wet Weight – 331kg/730lbs
Fuel Capacity – 29 liters
Honda ST1300 Variants
2002/2003 – ST1300A
The first ST1300 was released in 2002 and for 2003 it received a much needed upgrade of ABS.
2003-2005 – ST1300 ABS
The model received revised styling changes along with the ABS version becoming standard.
2004 – ST1300P
In 2004 Honda released the Police version.
Models largely remained the same, with improvements made over the years and revisions but the foundation of the ST1300 didn’t change all that much during its production.
Buying a used Honda ST1300
Prices in the UK for the Honda ST1300 largely vary between £2,000-£6,500 depending on condition, age, mileage etc.
In the US you can find bikes for between $4,000-$6,000 with some exceptions either side.
For a very competent sports tourer that could run alongside any new bike it is very good value, whether you want to ride along the pacific coast or across Europe, it could be the exact vehicle you are looking for.
Restoring a used Honda ST1300
There are plenty of low priced bikes available if you are looking for a project.
Having seen my father-in-law slide his Pan European down the road leading to him having to strip it down to the bare bones before putting it all back together, I can confirm it is a fairly easy bike to work on and parts are very affordable.
There isn’t too much money to be made by selling a restored ST1300, you would do little more than break even in most situations.
The ST1300 is rightly regarded as one of the best sports touring motorcycles of all time. It wasn’t without its issues but there is no denying the fact that it was a bike that did exactly what Honda set out for it to do.
For Europeans and riders in the US who wanted something slightly smaller than the Gold Wing, it was a model that had the power of a V four, the comfort of a serious touring bike held together in a sports bike package.