THESE pictures give the first clue as to how Honda’s gigantic Valkyrie cruiser could look after next year’s planned revamp.
Two different prototypes of the bike - also known as the F6C - have gone on show in the U.S. One has fairly traditional cruiser styling, while the other sports a more aggressive look, almost like a mammoth streetfighter.
With its huge bulk and equally huge price tag - the revamped bike is expected to cost around £14,000 in this country.
Both of these concept bikes appear to share the same 1832cc engine as the 2001 GoldWing - the current Valkyrie has a 1520cc motor. The injected flat-six produces a modest 117bhp, but has a tractor-pulling 123 ftlb of torque.
Of the two bikes, the more traditionally-styled one seems to be the furthest developed. Its box-section frame bears more than a passing resemblance to the GoldWing chassis, with alloy beams running over the engine and connecting to a hefty swingarm pivot.
Its shaft-drive then runs from the back of the engine through the single-sided swingarm in a similar style to the Wing.
The front suspension is trailing link, much like the system found on most scooters. It works through a solid pivot point with the damping unit located between the forks. While this system makes the bike lighter at the front end, it is not as effective as the cartridge forks found on sports bikes. It is more than adequate for a cruiser, though.
While the engine is the same flat-six, a chain-drive replaces the shaft-drive. This is really just to provide a different look and will have little effect on the bike’s performance.
With the shaft-drive gone, the single-sided swingarm has also disappeared. In its place is a double-sided tubular item, in keeping with the rest of the frame. Three stacked exhaust pipes on each side of the bike give it an almost dragster look.
The forks have been heavily chromed and are more traditional right-way-up items. These are far more common in cruisers and are more likely to be seen on the final production bike - unless customers have strong views to the contrary.
The rear ditches the other bike’s bulbous back end and instead sports more minimal bodywork which finishes in a racy slash-cut design.
But with Honda apparently so keen to find out what buyers want, the big question is what owners of the current Valkyrie think of the new bikes - and which of the two, if any, would entice them to part with their money.
To gauge the reaction of potential buyers, we showed these pictures to Gary Ingram, a member of the Valkyrie Riders’ Club. He said: ÒI love the idea of a 1800cc bike, but I think Honda has lost its way with the design. The Valkyrie is a touring bike, built as competition for the Harley, and I would hate to tour on ether of those bikes.Ó
He added: ÒI showed the pictures to two other owners and they agreed that the rear mudguard is horrible.Ó
It looks as though Honda may have to do some more restyling before the bike is finally released.