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Motorbike Review April 2014

Motorbike review - The Honda Steed.

HondaThe Honda Steed is a classic motorbike. It is certainly regularly seen on the streets of Pattaya. Indeed many rental shops in Pattaya have a stock of high-end bikes and among them you will find the Steed. The Steed comes in either a 600 or 400 low-slung design.

This is a very successful chopper bike that has become quite sought after. It was manufactured from as far back as 1988, and was in production for some 10 to 15 years depending on the country of manufacture. 

The bike is very easy for a newcomer to handle thanks to its low seating and very low centre of gravity. The bikes’ length is 2.355 metres and can comfortably carry an additional passenger. The seat has an upright back section, which gives comfort and stability to either the main rider or pillion passenger. It means the riding position is comfortable and quite upright even though the overall height of the bike remains quite low. 

The bike weighs 199 kg, so it’s quite heavy, but the engine is placed on the frame at a very low level giving the bike stability with most of the weight at the base. The Steed's overall height stands at 1.12 metres and the seat height set at 0.69 metres or 27.2 inches from the ground. It has one of the lowest seats of any cruiser bike, but that does not mean to say that averaged sized riders or even those who are taller than average won’t feel comfortable on the bike. Yet the bike comes into its own for shorter riders, where there is plenty of chance to get foot control directly to the ground, for example, in heavy traffic conditions.

Still the Steed really stands out as a cruiser. For longer journeys it provides a comfortable, predictable ride and at higher speeds the soft suspension with good total movement of 90mm makes for smooth running. It comes into its own in the 96 kmh to 110 kmh (60 mph to 70 mph) range with a very comfortable ride even on uneven roads. The bike can hit a top speed of 192 kmh (111 mph). It employs a single shock with an adjustable spring for the rear suspension and 39mm Telescopic forks at the front.

The Steed 600 is effectively a derivative of the Honda Shadow VT 600C VLX. VLX stands for V Twin Lowered eXtended rake, and this model was available on the American market for much of the total period of production. Many of the Steeds in Thailand feature bored out cylinders. There have been many imports of Honda Shadows as well into the Thai market over the years.

For power, the bike has a 583cc engine that is liquid cooled and is set as a 52-degree V Twin. The bore is 75mm and the stroke is 66mm. This is connected to the wheels via a four-speed or five-speed transmission and chain drive. The engine can produce 39 hp at 6500 rpm and has a max torque of 49Nm at 3500 rpm. A three-valve cylinder head design uses two spark plugs per cylinder for high power output and superb overall combustion efficiency. Some Honda Steeds have been modified for greater power. Regardless, they all seem to have a trademark throaty running sound thanks to the dual exhaust system that makes them a joy to ride.

The fuel capacity of the tank is 11 litres, and the bike can provide up to 70 km per gallon (43 miles), comfortably ensuring that even long journeys require fewer breaks for refueling. For ignition the bike features a reliable electric starting system as well as solid-state continuous ignition with electronic advance. This allows the bike to be maintenance free in that regard and it remains a dependable system.

For braking, the bike comes with a single 296mm disc brake on the front wheel and a 160mm drum brake on the rear wheel. Front tyre size for production models is 100/90 x 19 and the rear tyre size is 170/80 x 15.

The Steed has distinctive indicator lights on the front and rear that emanate on stalks, and a rear brake light is set into the rear fender. The front headlamp is a mid-sized round affair making a good statement about the bikes overall shape and style.

In Pattaya you can rent a Honda Steed for anything from 400 baht per day for a longer-term rental to 1,200 baht per day for a short-term period of just a day or two. It is worth getting insurance if you can so you are fully covered. Some rental places do have insurance but not many do, so it is wise to check. It could be worth renting a bike before you buy one so as to try it out and ensure it provides you with all the comfort you are expecting.

Steeds can be bought for as little as 60,000 baht but it is worth ensuring that the maintenance history is intact as the bike is becoming a bit of a classic these days. You may find bikes in perfect condition selling for closer to 100,000 baht but they will still be a good deal if they have been well kept. They keep their value too and since they are a common sight on the roads of Thailand, especially Bangkok and Pattaya, spare parts are relatively easy to find and service centres are typically familiar with the model.

If you are looking for a starter chopper that handles quite well and has a low slung laid back riding feel to it then the Honda Steed is well worth a look.