First, the background. I'm a very experienced rider (70K+) who was in the market for a new or nearly new HD. I kept dropping by the Honda shop to check out their used Harleys. After seeing the 1800S, it didn't take me long to reconsider. After a test ride, there was no turning back. Less than 2 weeks later, I've racked up nearly 1000 miles, & can't stay off the thing, even in November.
Of course, the appearance grabbed me at first glance. I love the classic, retro styling. Sitting on it revealed the most perfect ergos I've ever experienced on a motorcycle. While I'm relatively short, my legs and arms aren't, so it's always been a tradeoff. The floorboards were a hit. I've ridden bikes with floorboards before, but they just didn't seem to be in the right spot. The big VTX fit me like I designed it.
Then there's the motor. Visually stunning, and operationally outstanding. Remember, I was in the market for a HD big twin with 70hp/90ft lbs torque, so the 110 inch VTX with its 106/120 numbers was like a dream come true. No more wishing I had more power & torque going up hills or against a big Okie headwind. I've spent the last 5 years on an 883 Sportster, so you can imagine I'm in horsepower heaven.
The power isn't of any use if you can't get it to the ground, and I found that the gearing was really spot-on. A low first gets all the mass moving, then 2-4 gets you there with all the thump you need. Fifth is there for the ride when you get out in the open. In fact, it took me a while to get used to using fifth at 55. Initially, I thought I was lugging the motor. While letting my brother ride it, with me trailing on his Road King, the VTX's exhaust note let me know that it wasn't lugging at all. I just wasn't used to all that torque down low. Once you get out on the super slab, that fifth gear has plenty of leg room, with a sweet spot that stretches from 65 to 85. The only downside is that running at 80 will diminish the MPG noticeably. In fact with me at the controls, MPG is always diminished. I just can't seem to keep my hand out of the throttle. Roll-ons are a blast. A healthy dose of throttle at 50 in third will have you grinning' like a possum. Do the same at 70 in fourth and you'll be on the top side of triple digits in very short order. This thing pulls like an airplane taking off. I feel guilty for submitting to this new addiction, but I'm hooked.
I've noted to anyone who'll listen, that the brakes on this beast work at least as good as the motor. The modified linked braking system feels very natural, and affords controlled quick stops in about as short a distance as I can imagine. I've yet to lock the wheels, and yes, I've tried.
There are not many miles on the odometer yet, but with a grand in the first week, I'm getting the feel of it, and it feels like I'm looking forward to a really long relationship.
On a finishing note, the stock 1800S saddle had studs, so I accessorized to match. On my backside meter, I've logged 250 miles in one day with no ill effects. On other bikes, I've experienced the need to get off at as few as 15 miles. My wife is still considering recommending an aftermarket seat, but at this point, I'm very happy with the stock seat, both in appearance/fit and comfort.
If I were to ever wear this bike out, you can be sure my first look will be at the next generation of the VTX.<br />