The Durability of the Honda ST1100 and ST1300
The Honda ST series, (aka the Pan-European) was created for the sport touring market after the successful launch of the Honda Gold Wing. In 1990, Honda saw that the European market would be drawn to a lighter, more durable, and more practical motorcycle in Europe, and, thus, the Sport Touring bikes of the ST1100 were born. The European and American markets both embraced this compact, reliable bike and even today the pan touring riders keep this bike relevant and sought-after.
In 2002, Honda introduced the all-new ST1300 Pan European in Australia and Europe which would see improvements to the 1100 with more power, heated grips, an electric screen, a combined braking system with linked brakes connecting the front to the rear brake, a revised engine layout, traction control, cruise control, and better gas mileage.
As reliable and durable as the Honda ST1100 was, the ST1300 would improve on the longevity by incorporating a more powerful engine than the ST1100 with a low-slung 1,261 cc V4 engine mounted in a lighter aluminum frame. One major difference was the use of balance shafts for smoothness which allowed the engine to be mounted directly to the frame. It wasn’t a heavy bike (actually lighter than the ST1100) but still perfect for long-distance touring.
The placement of the new engine and the split fuel tank shift the weight of this bike lower to give it a low center of gravity. The rear wheel had a more durable transmission as well with a cassette-type five-speed, maintenance-free shaft drive, and well-mounted rear suspension.
The Durable Liquid-cooled Engine of the Honda ST1100 and ST1300
The intention of longevity was built into this bike by giving it a water-cooled engine which will increase the life of the engine because of increased temperature control. Liquid-cooled engines are able to regulate their temperature more effectively than air-cooled engines, which can help prevent overheating and prolong the life of the engine. Air-cooled engines rely solely on air to dissipate engine heat, which can lead to overheating, particularly in hot weather while idling or in highly demanding riding conditions.
Liquid-cooled engines are also able to dissipate heat more effectively and evenly, which can help prevent hotspots and minimize wear on critical components. Air-cooled engines can develop hotspots, particularly around the fins, which can lead to warping and other issues.
The Durability of Longitudinal 90-Degree Inline V-4 Engines
The Honda ST1100 and ST1300 both have a longitudinal 90-degree V-4 engine that was installed inline rather than a flat-four engine like the Gold Wing. The capacity is 1084cc with 110.7 BHP at 7800 RPMs. The rear-drive torque is 84 lb. ft at 6200 RPMs.
The durability of longitudinal 90-degree V-4 engines is because of a more balanced layout, with two cylinders on each side of the engine. This can help reduce vibrations and improve durability, as there is less stress on individual components. Flat-four engines, on the other hand, can experience more vibration and stress, particularly in high-performance or demanding riding conditions.
V-4 inline engines often have more complex internal components, such as camshafts and valve trains, which can provide improved durability and longevity. Flat-four engines tend to be simpler in design, with fewer internal components.
Most importantly these types of engines are often designed to dissipate heat more effectively, which can help prevent overheating and prolong the life of the engine. Flat-four engines may experience more overheating and stress when there’s not a lot of airflow.
The Durability of the Shaft Drive of the Honda ST1100 and ST1300
Other components that were made for durability were the shaft drive instead of a chain drive.
Chains require regular lubrication and adjustment, which can be time-consuming and messy. The ST1100 and 1300 shaft drive is sealed and does not require regular lubrication and has fewer moving parts, which means they require less maintenance overall.
Chains tend to stretch over time, which can lead to decreased performance and a need for replacement. A shaft drive, on the other hand, is less likely to wear out as quickly, so it tends to last longer.
Chain drives can get dirty and collect grime and debris, which can contribute to wear and tear. Shaft drives are enclosed units that are protected from the elements, so they tend to stay cleaner and run smoother.
Increasing the Longevity of the Honda ST1100 and ST1300
Perform Regular Engine Maintenance on the ST1100 and ST1300
Even the best-conditioned ST1100 is going to be about 20 to 30 years old and the ST1300 will be at least 15 years old and will need maintenance check-ups to continue its longevity. Although the ST1300 has a lighter aluminum frame, the ST1100 is steel and needs good rust protection.
Oil, air filters, new spark plugs, brake calipers, and tire changes are a given and must be performed regularly, especially on high-mileage bikes. Always check the service history with special attention to the fuel pump. But after 20 to 30 years, engine inspections and maintenance must be performed. Here are some key engine components to inspect and maintain:
- Pistons and Rings: Check the pistons and rings for signs of scoring, wear, or damage. If any damage is found, the engine may need to be rebuilt or replaced.
- Valves and Valve Seats: Check the valves and valve seats for wear and make sure they are seated properly. If they are worn or damaged, they may need a valve adjustment or to be replaced.
- Cylinders: Check the cylinders for signs of wear or damage, such as cracks, pitting, or scoring. If any damage is found, the engine may need to be rebuilt or replaced.
- Bearings: Check the bearings for signs of wear or damage, such as roughness, excessive play, or scoring. If any damage is found, the bearings may need to be replaced.
- Camshaft: Check the camshaft and cam belt for signs of wear or damage, such as excessive wear or pitting on the cam lobes. If any damage is found, the camshaft may need to be replaced.
- Crankshaft: Check the crankshaft for signs of wear or damage, such as excessive play, scoring, or wear on the bearings. If any damage is found, the crankshaft may need to be replaced.
- Engine Cases: Check the engine cases for signs of cracks or damage, and inspect the gaskets and seals for clutch fluid leaks or leeks of any kind. If any damage is found, the engine cases may need to be repaired or replaced.
- Engine Mounts: Check the engine mounts for signs of wear or damage, and make sure they are secure and tight. If any damage is found, the engine mounts may need to be replaced.
Amend Your Riding Style For Longevity of the ST1100 and ST1300
Because this isn’t a heavy bike like the Honda Gold Wing, some bought it for speed and agility. If you are an aggressive rider and love the sportiness of this sport-touring model, you may want to consider their age and adopt a more long-distance touring style of riding if you want it to continue adding up those miles. For longevity:
- Avoid excessive acceleration, hard braking, and high-speed riding. These actions put excessive stress on the engine and other components, which can lead to accelerated wear and tear.
- Avoid prolonged high-speed riding which generates a lot of heat and can cause engine components to wear faster. If you must ride at high speeds, take frequent breaks to allow the engine to cool down.
- Avoid slipping or riding the clutch as this puts unnecessary stress on the clutch and transmission components.
- Avoid overloading the motorcycle with excess weight and avoid towing a trailer which can put excessive stress on the engine, transmission, and suspension components.
- Avoid riding in harsh weather conditions, such as extreme heat or cold, as these can cause engine components to wear faster. Also, avoid riding in wet or muddy conditions, as these can cause rust and corrosion.
Store Your Honda ST1100 or ST1300 in Weatherproof Conditions
Finally, an important consideration in getting the most miles and years out of your bike is storage for good weather protection. If you don’t clean your bike after every use and store it in your garage, there are other options available. A storage unit, especially for the off-season, will only cost you about $75 to $100 a month and can save you on costly repairs and upkeep of the body and frame due to corrosion and rust.
If you are unable to store your Honda ST1100 or ST1300 in a garage or storage facility, then invest in a well-ventilated, weather-proof tarp that will not accumulate moisture due to condensation. This will keep your bike free from the elements that are most likely going to shorten the lifespan of your older bike.
About THE AUTHOR
Benjamin Rathbun has been hooked on motorcycles since 1987 when he bought his first bike, a 1973 Honda CBR450 for $300. Since then he has been through countless bikes and continued his two-wheeled hobby passing it down to his 21-year-old son who rides with him on the weekends in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Benjamin believes that nothing clears the mind faster than flying 26 inches above the asphalt on his Harley-Davison.Read More About Benjamin Rathbun