Texas Style Fury
Honda pencilled in Bike Week to introduce its 2010 Fury to press. And what better venue than Daytona Beach, Florida, the ultimate spiritual and physical celebration of the American motorcycle lifestyle, to launch an interpretation of American motorcycling’s most iconic design? The first of its kind from any Japanese manufacturer, even more aggressively Texas chopper-esque than Yamaha’s Raider, the Fury enters a realm that has been until now dominated by a handful of niche companies—albeit some that produce several thousand bikes annually. Choppers are the sphere of American Chopper, $100,000-plus machines built for corporations or celebrities. But suddenly Honda has arrived with a bike that is going to change the landscape and allow countless riders to walk into a showroom and depart with something different. And something different is essentially what a lot of riders are always looking for: Daytona being a case in point.
All the essential cues of chopper design are present. The long raked front end, the stretched tank and bobbed rear fender, the deep saddle and the key feature, the open space between the front cylinder head and the top frame rail. Modern aspects such as a very wide (but not the widest) rear tire are visible while other important operational components stay hidden.
It is the most charismatic new motorcycle to be introduced by Honda in years, and one with no true direct competitor. It’s an enigmatic offer ing—even the marginal badging obscures its parental influences. Corporate identification is limited to a few small nameplates and “Honda Fury” in script across the back of the r ear fender. A chopper rider is supposed to be an individual, or at least want to be, aloof and far removed from corporate identity. Perhaps this is why Honda put distance between its nameplate and the Fury. “You meet the nicest people on a Honda chopper” just doesn’t have much of a ring to it, especially if the bike is called Fury.
The heart of any chopper is its motor, nestled, but still plainly in view, in an uncluttered frame. While the Fury’s motor is not new it is visible. It’s the same liquid-cooled 52- degree 1312cc V-Twin that has been powering other “middleweight” bikes in the VTX line. Interesting that Honda chose not to install the larger 1800cc VTX motor in the Fury. Certainly the bigger motor would have added both weight and cost, but it might have also pointed the new motorcycle in a direction that emphasizes power, rather than a combined package of many styling elements, as the bike’s key character istic. Anyone who has ridden the VTX 1800 is aware of its celebrated arm-yanking acceleration.
And while the larger engine might have made for bragging rights, you’d still have to tell everyone what you’re running because displacement, like the company identifier, is not visually prominent. Fear not. Mated to a five-speed transmission the fuel-injected motor moves the 302-kg (666-lb.) shaft-driven motorcycle briskly while still providing a relaxed cruising lope. Moreover, this is a bike that will only rarely be burdened with a pillion passenger or luggage; consequently, there’s plenty of motor. Choppers are often compromised things in which design trump functions. Especially suspension functions. And while it’s great to look good on your bike, it’s so much the better if you can look good longer. To that end, the Fury features a rear monoshock with 3.7 inches (93.98mm) of travel and five-way preload adjustability. At the other end of the bike 45mm forks with four inches (101.6mm) of travel straddle a 21-inch wheel.
Braking consists of a single 336mm front disc gripped by a twin piston caliper, and a smaller 296mm rear disc with a single piston caliper. As with most single-disc-equipped customs, the rider is left with the sense of wanting more stopping power. But unlike most choppers, the ergonomics of the Fury are mild. The bike may be long, low and stretched with a 1803mm (71-inch) wheelbase but fortunately the rider doesn’t have to be. Riding around all day in the stop-and-go traffic of Daytona was a relaxed, comfortable experience, while maintaining 120-kmh highway speeds was effortless. Cornering clearance is limited by the design, and you can scrape the pegs quite quickly, but thankfully, Honda resisted the chopper trend of 300-series rubber which would certainly have detracted from the ride quality.
Not exactly lending itself to trips of a long duration, the sculpted tank is limited in capacity to 12.8 litres (3.4 gallons) which allowed for 165 km in Daytona’s busy Bike Week traffic, where the engine note rumbled through two long integrated pipes with a strong bass note—although the sound was more slightly annoyed than furious. Some of the more impressive aspects of the Fury are ones that could go unnoticed. The motor, for example, could be mistaken for being air-cooled as the radiator is extraordinarily narrow and virtually invisible behind the frame down tubes when viewed from the side.The rad lines are difficult to pinpoint until you know where to look for them and all the electrical components have been hidden. Likewise, the single shock rear suspension is hidden and the shaft drive disguised. Unfestooned with bits and pieces the bike retains the elemental character of seminal chopper efforts when production motorcycles weren’t added to, but subtracted from, for a sleeker look.
The Fury will be pr iced at $15,999 which is far below any similarly styled motorcycle. So what defi nitive chopper-like extrasare you not getting for that price? Extreme paint for one thing.For the new Honda, there are only four available factory colours:black, silver, red, and matte grey, which is turning up as a colour option on more and more models when ideally it should be left as a primer for ‘73 Buicks. Why subdue an otherwise pretty cool chopper, the very symbol of radical individualism? There will likely be many custom painted Furies at Daytona next year, but for now, just the four colours.On balance, the Fury is in itself a starting point for customizersWhile the number of accessories available in the Honda catalogue is limited, the specs have been provided to major aftermarket suppliers. Anyone familiar with American Chopper will know what a set of polished billet wheels can do for a bike.
Obviously, considering the Fury’s modest price point, corners have been cut: the plastic head and air cleaner covers for instance. But for the minimum $15,000 you are saving buy the Honda you could go out and get something nice from the aftermarket, where, rest assured, there will soon be radical accessories allowing for individual expression in the finest chopper tradition. Mind you, it seems unlikely there’ll be two Furies ona ny given block—unless that block also hosts one of Honda’s recently created brand-exclusive Powerhouse dealers.
Is the new Honda going to light a fi re of desire in the hardcore chopper guy’s heart? Probably not. Contrary to it s name,it’s friendly not furious.
By John Molony
Rob O’Brien photos