Fantastic Touring machine
Having owned tonnes of bikes of all types old and new, I got the Honda for a massive tour across the East coast of Australia. We also bought an XJ900S Yamaha as well which I shall review separately.
I can say, my 1996 Honda ST1100ABS is an absolutely superb long distance touring machine. It's great on Fuel, it rides nicely at walking pace and very very easy to perform U-turns etc. In fact it's a pleasure to ride in traffic, or anywhere really, except quite wide for filtering between traffic, so not really suitable for much filtering. The wife almost nodded off a couple times on the passenger seat, so by far the best bike she's sat on the back of.
At 100HP it's got plenty torque and of course faster than practically anything on four wheels. It's not the quietest bike for touring, the V4 engine note being a little louder than a straight-4 touring bike, but still tolerable for long touring rides. Build quality is second to none. Only bike I've ever sat idle for 4 months, not even charged the battery and it starts up first time. Honda build quality from that era is legendary. Having owned V-twins as well as triples and straight-4's I can say the V4 is somewhere between the two types of engine. torque like a V-twin, but power like a straight-4. in my opinion it truly is the best engine configuration in my opinion.
The fuel tank is actually down low in the frame, so is the V4 engine. SO although it weighs about 300kg, I can at a squeeze lift it from the ground if I drop it, and I can get it onto it's centre stand and wheel it around alone. There is a technique to master, but it can be done alone, so don't be too intimidated by the large weight, it carries it well.
It has Honda Linked Brakes system. The rear applies the front, and the front applies the rear. Some riders (including me) will initially have a problem with this in theory, but once you experience it, you realise that on a massive bike like this the linked brakes are absolutely superb to use. Trail braking into a corner if you run in a bit too hot causes a little bit of front brake, just enough to prevent the forks diving (anti dive system included) but just enough to bring it all under control if you over cook it. Really fab. On the negative side though, you must buy a well looked after ST1100. If the brakes aren't working properly they are an absolute night mare to get repaired. It has many master cylinders and potential issues. SO check the colour of the fluid, and test the operation of the brakes. If they have too much travel or the fluid looks filthy, walk away, or seek a big discount. The ABS equipped model has much better brakes. It has bigger discs and calipers up front. Personally I would steer clear of NON-ABS models. from the test rides I experienced the brakes on the non-ABS are not up to the job.
Traction control is super. I think the ABS model may be the first production bike with traction control. It still works good, it's kicked in on me to anti-wheelie, and also in the wet to stop the back stepping out. Can be switched off if preferred.
The rear shock also is a bit old hat now by today's standards. I replaced it with an aftermarket shock with hydraulic preload adjuster so keep it up-to-date with the modern touring bikes. The stock rear shock does have adjustable damping preload adjustment though, so depends how much weight you want to carry and how hard you want to ride when considering a new shock.
Other great features, Luggage capacity is amazing, wind protection is excellent, fuel gauge is nice. Big grips and comfortable seat. Large stick out plastic nobbins so that if (or when) you drop it, it doesn't damage a thing.
SO the reasons it doesn't get 5-star from me:
Has a Timing belt. Although that last about 60,000miles / 100,000kms, that's a little car-like and us bikers prefer chains.
Brakes can be iffy when they go wrong, as stated, make sure you get one with nice maintained brakes
non-ABS brakes are a bit feeble in my opinion
Newer touring bikes surely surpass the big honda in the handling department, as do some older bikes from the same era.
I feel the clutch struggles to deal with the massive weight, so no traffic light launches or else you'll munch it up quick or get that nasty slipping clutch sound. (I overhauled my clutch, and it can still slip if released in anger).
Munches through tyres, especially when I ride it. Soft Modern touring tyres are a bit sporty for it, so it chews them up or flat spots them.
Buy one, if you want to tour you'll love it. And it also provides enough riding pleasure to be suit a one-bike owner, if you can only have one bike and it needs to be touring biased. In fact it's fun to ride it quickly within it's abilities knowing that none of your rider mates expects you to keep up with them. And if you do keep up with them, you'll feel like a road warrior...
x police st11oo
I have owned the bike now for 2 years.It has been problem free and a treat to own.low or high speed is not an issue with plenty of power on tap.servicing is easy to perform.I have had a lot of bikes over the years and can honestly say this is a keeper
A thing of beauty is a joy forever
The st1100 is probably the best bike to come off an assembly line ,ever.The idea that Honda had for the Pan European not only worked in Europe but also it works here in Australia as well.The huge distances you can travel in one day and get off feeling fresh is amazing .The bike feels very stable at high speed and also in windy conditions ,which is very important when your traveling on the highway at high speeds being buffeted by semi trailers.For those people who like to do their own servicing this is the bike to have .Just about all the servicing can be done by the home mechanic at intervals of about 12,000 ks although I change my oil and filter at 6,000 ks.This bike doesn't have a lot of electronic gadgetry which in my mind is a good thing.Its less likely to leave you stranded on the side of the road in the middle of nowhere .The motor is beautifully smooth with no vibration whatsoever and it pulls away strongly from very low revs.Just over 3000rpm will see you doing 100kmh.I do make sure when I park the bike that its not on a down hill gradient because you will never reverse it out without a push from a bystander( very embarrassing ) .Its a heavy beast and a great dea of care needs to be exercised when your manervouring it around when its stationery .Soon as your moving it becomes docile and handles very well.It doesn't like to be thrown round in tight twisty stuff though but loves long sweepers.If you like doing long distances and relaxing while your taking in the scenery ,feeling fresh after a days ride,being able to service your bike yourself economically ,knowing that your going to get big milages out of your motor ,this bike will suit you.Even the looks grow on you.
Good solid workhorse
I bought this bike to use as an everyday vehicle and as a 2 wheeled car it was excellent.
Mine was an ex police model so had a single seat. Whilst it provided a good saving on rego, the hump is a bit impractical as it's just plastic so not really suitable for carrying anything.
The bike was totally reliable, and with decent service intervals it is a bike designed to be used. Servicing is easy too. The engine uses timing belts but unlike some they are good for 150,000 kms or so. Oil change intervals are 12,000kms. These bikes can clock up huge mileages!
It has a nice 28lt fuel tank good for 450kms before the fuel light illuminates. The seat is comfy enough to use the whole range too.
The seating position is good and provides a good view of the road ahead.
I had a MRA screen which worked very well for me.
The panniers are ok and very useful but are nowhere near as nice as those offered by BMW on their bikes. The ST ones feel flimsier and the attaching and locking mechanisms are basic in comparison.
The headlight is good too which is something that most other bikes can't claim.
The only downside of the bike is that it's just not that exciting. It's the Camry of the bike world. It lasts forever and does whatever is asked of it, but just isn't exciting. The V4 at least gives some hint of character but still it never set my pulse racing.
I no longer have the bike and don't think I would have another.