A Look Back: 1991-2002 Honda ST1100

1997 Honda ST1100
The auxiliary gas tank, removable trunk, custom saddle and tall windscreen on this 1997 Honda ST1100 project bike from the February 2004 issue make 400-mile days fly by.

When Honda introduced the V45 Sabre in 1982, everyone thought the V-4 revolution was at hand. Everyone at Honda, that is. With a few exceptions nobody else jumped on that bandwagon, though Honda continued cranking out sportbikes and cruisers with V4 engines. In 1991, maybe looking for another way to demonstrate its faith in the layout, Honda rotated the engine 90 degrees, put it in an all-new sport-touring chassis with all-enveloping bodywork and a huge underseat gas tank, and the ST1100 was born.

Though big and heavy—61.2 inches between the axles, and depending on the model anywhere from 679 to 737 pounds wet—the ST1100 worked well enough on smooth back roads to keep riders entertained. The 1,085cc “flying” four had the same kind of low-end grunt as its cousins, cranking out a claimed 79 lb-ft of torque and about 100 horsepower. A quartet of carbs nestled between the cylinder banks provided glitch-free fueling, and the 7.4-gallon gas tank kept them fed for up to 300 miles between stops.

As was standard on factory sport tourers of the day, a pair of locking hard cases blended seamlessly into the flanks of the bike, and could be removed and replaced with extra body panels. The OE windscreen kicked up a lot of turbulence, and was often shelved in favor of an aftermarket unit that produced less buffeting. For many riders the stock seat wasn’t up to the range provided by the big tank, and the low handlebar was often replaced with something higher; the conventional tubular-bar design made that an easy swap.

Rider-cover-July-1990
The new Honda ST1100 graced the cover of our July 1990 issue.

About the only other feature that came in for criticism was the 28-amp alternator on the pre-1996 models. It wasn’t up to powering all the auxiliary lights, heated clothing and other gadgets riders added, and some failed outright. In ’96 a 40-amp unit replaced the old one. It can be retrofitted to older bikes, but it’s not a simple job, to some extent resulting in the higher prices you’ll find for later ST1100s.

ABS and traction control were options, and in 1996 the ABS models also came with linked brakes. The twin front discs worked fine under all but the most extreme use, where they tended to overheat and fade; a brake pad upgrade and fresh fluid generally solved the problem. The driveshaft produced some hop in response to ham-handed throttle use but otherwise performed without complaint.

Many used ST1100s show fairly high mileage—few ended up as garage queens—but the model’s reliability is legendary. Valves, once adjusted, stay that way for a very long time, and with regular oil changes most bikes will glide past the 100,000-mile mark with no fuss at all. One thing you don’t want to skip is timing-belt replacement, set by Honda at 90,000-mile intervals; push your luck there and you risk bent valves.

On used ST1100s check the rear brake caliper for corrosion caused by water thrown up in the rain, and look under the bike for rusting exhaust components. If the bike has been down it’ll be obvious—there’s hardly a square inch of it that isn’t covered with plastic—and inspect the covers on the tipover bars for evidence of, well, tipovers. The hard cases that came stock on the bike should be included in the deal, too.

Expect to pay somewhere between $2,400 and $3,500 for a good used ST1100. Post-’96 models are typically at the higher end of the price scale, as are those with ABS and traction control, which came as a package. Most examples you find will have at least a few accessories like a taller screen, a custom seat or a passenger backrest; these add to the appeal of a bike but not necessarily to its price unless they’re accessories you’d add anyway.

17 COMMENTS

  1. I owned a couple of ST1100s. They were fabulous bikes. Great handling despite their weight and comfortable for both pilot and passenger.

    Interestingly, Honda of Germany had a great amount of influence on their original design and it shows. They seemed like they were meant as the ultimate autobahn blasters, capable of hour after hour cruising at 100mph plus speeds. The underseat gas tank dropped the center of gravity and helped give it a very planted feel at such high speeds.

    Too bad that it’s successor, the ST1300, didn’t live up to the reputation of its predecessor

  2. Had two ST1100’s also, still have a ’96 and agree with all John F said. I liken it to the feel of riding a locomotive, when at speed. Rock solid and it can go more than fast enough to scare me! Great in the twisties, with a potential lean angle that leaves little room on the tires for chicken strips. With a new Russell Day Long saddle, a Canada coast to coast and back again trip was a real pleasure, 5,000 km of that with the missus aboard. The weather protection provided by the fairing really is phenomenal, with a slightly higher non OEM screen, of course.

  3. I’m a 6’4” first owner on a 2000 ST100. I’ve never found a motorcycle that fit me quite so well. I rode a GS 1200 BMW in Europe this summer & expected that would ruin the appeal of my ST. They come from two different technological eras but when it comes right down to it the ST remains intensely satisfying.

  4. A ’99 ST was my first bike when I started riding in ’07. As a 5’8″ first-time rider, I dropped it so many times I lost count, but it was 100% reliable and smooth. Eventually, of course, I learned how to handle it under any normal conditions and the dropping stopped. Since then, I had a brief stint on a VFR800 and lately have been enjoying an FJR1300. It feels light, low, and easy to handle, but I’ve a sneaking suspicion the ST would be more comfortable.

  5. I currently own a runner, and am building a second 91 St1100’s. Had a low mileage garage bike and ran it for years. Don’t like the 1300. Different feel. Best unknown bike for the money. Worth the parts you put in, the miles you drive. Not much else. Accord on two wheels, ok except the bike handles. With the new LED lights you can add lights without having to buy the expensive upgrade altantor. Upgraded the front forks springs for two up touring for cheep as well.

  6. After riding Goldwings for 20 years I had a chance to try a 2000 ST1100.
    I ended up buying it the same day, wish I had rode one years ago.

  7. scored a 98 st1100 for $2500 a few years back, put a sargent seat on it, had the rear shock spring replaced, pair of Michelin PR’s, stuffed an escort bird dog into the faring with a dash mount LED indicator, ram mounted go pro required a slick handle bar adapter and a coupla of clamps bolted together, but works great and gets around the windshield. Will be taking it back to Denver where I keep it stored ( $9/15 min off the plane) .Shakedown run after winter maintenance was this week on the dragon, very few bikes up there, but should be a pic on 3/14 of the only black ST up there.
    I owned an 02 rt1150, put over 100k on it b4 harley in my lane took me out on skyway….paid cash for a 1290 SA when the settlement paid out, it’s amazing, but something about this ST has filled the hole my RT left, i was ready to ride it forever, and riding the ST reminds me so much of that RT, and the ST is, i will confess, a better value, hands down, to own. put 3 final drives in that RT, and the insurance alone on the KTM is $1200/yr vs $300 for the ST…i could have 3 st’s spread out x-country if i could bring myself to sell the 1290 SA…never touch a 1290 SA, it truly amazing and worse than a crack habit to support, very addictive, i’ll never be able to sell it, but it’s the ST that charms me, a worthy long sword superslab
    transporter with surprising handling once you correct worn suspension and put Pilot Roads on it..

  8. I’ve had my 98 ST1100 for a few years now. Ridden it around a fair bit. Never saw any 300 miles on a single tank of gas!

    That said, it’s a good bike when the fuel pump doesn’t quit on you.

  9. I’ve a 2007 ST1300. My wife had a massive stroke in August of that year and spent months in the hospital and rehab. I put 8300 miles on it before that. It became my daily ride. However, it sat and the fuel pump seized due to gas separation. This past May while pushing it out the shop I sat on it and I wondered if it would run. The local dealer said it wouldn’t. Long story short, I pushed it back in the shop. After a fuel pump replacement, fuel line cleaning, injector cleaning, battery replacement, and fluids change I fired it up. I’ve put 2K on it thus far and remember why I loved this bike.

  10. My 99 ST had 24k when I purchased it, two years ago. In the last three weeks I have added about 4k with a single day (14 hours) 790 mile jaunt. That is a 56mph average. I 🖤 my ST. It isn’t the city commuter that my other cycles have been but it has carried my BMX bike and even another bike or two with zero complaints.

  11. i purchased a 1993 st1100a acouple months ago. better than any harley i ever owned. it goes plces you wouldn’t think a bike like that would go. i don’t know about the 300 miles yet. getting ready to go to arizona on it. thats how dependable it feels.

  12. Have had my ST1100 for five years bought at 53k now has 67k love this bike since day one. On the freeways it’s like Dream. Solid at high speeds. Cutting curves on the Northern California mountain roads is a pleasure at ease. Smooth yet throaty sound. At 70yrs old the day I dump it, it will have to go. I’ll have to go to a Strom or a FJ-09. Not looking forward to that day.

  13. Bought my 2000 ST new and covered 185,400 miles to date——-the finest bike that I’ve owned in over 55 yrs of riding.
    Never any problems but things are beginning to wear out ——-obviously.

  14. I like the numerous pleasant testimonies I’ve heard about this ST1100 Honda bike and would really love to own one as am a bike enthusiast…
    Am from Ghana in West Africa…who will sell one to me please?…

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