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In 1995, Honda shocked motorcycle enthusiasts by unveiling a radical new concept bike at the Tokyo Motor Show. Named the Zodia, it was the first major indicator that something new was underway at Honda Worldwide. Phrases like "a blend of classic and modern styling" are commonly used but Honda took this ideal to an extreme. The Zodia looked downright intergalactic. Fast forward a few auto shows and another radical Honda concept debuts: The T2. It borrowed heavily from Zodia engineering but placed it in a more earthly context. The standard V-twin was also swapped out in favor of a Goldwing-derived flat-six. The combination hit all the right chords with the buying public. In fact, response was so strong that, in 2003, the T2 hit the streets, virtually unmodified, as the Valkyrie Rune. If you missed your first chance to buy a Rune, this pristine 1,100-mile example may be exactly what your garage is lacking.
The Rune is one of those rare production bikes that shows like a full custom. As one of a very small number produced, you could probably even pretend it's custom without getting your cover blown by another one pulling up beside you. The bike rides on timeless five-spoke wheels wrapped in 150/60/18 and 180/55/17 Dunlop tires, respectively. Fat fenders, complete with hand-painted pinstripes, tuck those tires, making the bike look lower than it actually is. The long and low look is further aided by a seamless 6.2 gallon tank that also houses recessed glare-resistant digital gauges while a solid Trimtab fairing helps reduce drag. All body pieces, including the unique curved radiator housing, are painted in a deep coat of black. For contrast, Honda brought in tons of chrome and stainless surfaces including the clutch master cylinder, brake master cylinder, headlight, and radiator cover. A large carbon vinyl gunfighter-style seat provides rider comfort while vertical LED taillights flush-mounted into the rear fender finish off the custom look.
With such dramatic styling, it's easy to overlook the level of engineering at play on this bike. Under the mass of black lies an aluminum diamond-shaped frame featuring a 68.9-inch wheelbase. To put that in perspective, Honda's Goldwing is only 66.5 inches. As far as production bikes go, this one is big. A unique trailing bottom-link front suspension redirects axle load through two upper shocks. One houses the main spring while the other holds a sub-spring and damping system. A race-bred rear suspension places the upper shock mount within the swingarm instead of the frame, offering unparalleled rigidity and handling. Braking is handled by dual 330mm front and single 336mm rear discs. With the Rune's innovative Linked Brake System, braking is progressive and easily controllable. The center piston of the three-piston front calipers is only activated when the rear brakes are applied, saving maximum stopping power for when it's totally necessary.
Without a fairly stout engine, that sort of braking power would be pure overkill. Fortunately, that's not the case here. The Rune features a liquid-cooled, horizontally-opposed, fuel-injected, 1832cc flat-six-cylinder engine delivering 97.4hp and 112.1 lb. ft. of torque at the wheel. Not only does the flat-six generate enough power to push the Rune all the way to 123mph, it does so with one of the greatest stock Exhaust notes a motorcycle has ever produced. Power is fed to the rear wheel via a smooth-shifting five-speed transmission and an impressively quiet shaft-drive. Form and function rarely cohabitate but this engine is an exception. Chrome valve covers and a unique six-into-two Exhaust system offer a tasteful dose of muscle car flair. The best part? All of this is backed by Honda engineering and dependability. Though it may look like an intimidating bike, you can rest assured that nothing leaves a Honda plant without being user-friendly and dead nuts reliable.
While the motorcycle world is chock-full of wild looking eye-catching bikes, it would be difficult to find one as magnetic and well-engineered as the Rune. A full nine years after its introduction, the design is still fresh and appealing, making it that much more difficult to believe it was ever a production bike. If you like the idea of a limited-production bike that will snap necks and provide years of trouble-free cruising, give this one a second look.
2014 Honda Valkyrie: It's back!
Honda reintroduces the Honda Valkyrie for 2014. Promo video with still
shot photos of the soon to be released Honda Valkyrie.
2014 Honda Valkyrie Walkaround - 2013 NY Moto Show
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