maschinenbau GRM+ Memberand UberDork
7/27/22 10:44 a.m.

I brought home yet another broken Honda motorcycle. This makes three, including my trusty '79 CB650 cafe/brat beater and a '74 MT250 Elsinore basket case I haven't even touched yet. This one needs much less work than either, and that's the point of it. The CB is great for bombing around town, but it's old, still needs a lot of work, not particularly fast, and not very good on the highway at all. I'm interested in taking longer touring trips. I was inspired by the "What's the best $3000 touring bike?" thread, and that's where I found out about and fell in love with the shape of the ST1100. I can't explain why but I just love the way it looks - the upright/slightly forward sporty seat position (as opposed to a laid-back cruiser), the fairings and integrated luggage, the correct amount of wheel spokes, and that deep red paint. 

The ST1100, known as the Pan-European overseas, was a great big 700 lb sport touring bike with a heavy steel frame, longitudinal water-cooled cam-belt V4 making about 100hp, 5-speed trans, and shaft drive. They have a good reputation for reliability and appetite for mileage. Supposedly they can go 100k miles and beyond with basic maintenance. Mine is the final year 2002 before it grew to the even heavier, more car-like ST1300. Some models even had ABS, but not mine.

I was watching this one listed for $3,200 on FBMP by the original owner. It only had 24,000 miles (lowest I've seen for this model locally). The owner had developed a disability and couldn't ride anymore. Unfortunately it sold before I could convince myself to do it. A month or two later, it's back for $1000 less. The frustrated new seller spent too much money trying to catch up deferred maintenance, since the bike sat for a few years. The clutch starts slipping after 30 minutes or so of riding, so he had a new clutch installed. He also had the old gas drained out of the tank, spark plugs replaced, and a new front tire. After all that, the clutch still slips so he got mad and listed it for sale for $2200. That's where I come in. Seller was very forthcoming with the clutch issue, but was tired of spending money. He said you can fix it temporarily by cracking the bleeder screw to relieve the built-up clutch pressure. Sounds like a master cylinder problem, which are still available new but pricey. 

I had a friend drive me an hour away to meet the seller. I test rode it and everything operated fine, so I paid the man. He had already ridden it to the meet up location, so by the time I got the nearest gas station, the clutch issue started happening. It was slipping so bad I literally couldn't make it to the freeway, so I parked it and came back later with a trailer. By the time I returned to the bike, the clutch was working fine again. So the issue seems to be usage or heat related like the seller thought.

Man I love this truck!

Stablemates - both have carbureted 4-cylinders! 

I love that the model is printed on the key. 

Also came with original tool kit, owner's manual, an extra rack without sissy bar, a rear-mount luggage bag, and a nice storage cover.

Two Brothers exhaust. Sounds pretty decent.

The gas tank is NOT where you think!

It's under the seat for lower center of gravity - neat!

Plans? Fix that clutch issue, flush all hydraulics with new fluid, catch up on any deferred maintenance, maybe some LED lighting upgrades, and ride the heck out of it.

maschinenbau GRM+ Memberand UberDork
7/27/22 10:53 a.m.

Let's see what that clutch master looks like. Oof, that's nasty.

See that divot next to the big shrouded hole? I think that's a relief vent clogged with sediment. I found an old ST1100 forum post describing my exact problem, and the source of their problem was a clogged vent orifice. Hopefully mine is that simple too.

After digging around with some pointy objects, I finally cleared the orifice.

Here is a piece of wire sticking through to the bore.

Refilled and bled the hydraulics, which forced me to see the seller's mechanic's handiwork. I guess he didn't want to wait on a new gasket lol.

Bleeding the clutch was difficult since I had completely drained the system. I found it best to pressurize from the slave bleeder with the MC hose loose. Then I tightend the MC hose and bled the normal way. Eventually I got pressure back. I went ahead and bled the brake MC's too. All fluid was whiskey colored. It was getting late so I'm saving the test ride for this afternoon. Fingers crossed...

AngryCorvair (Forum Supporter)
AngryCorvair (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
7/27/22 11:04 a.m.

that's a fine looking motorcycle.  i hope cleaning out the hydraulics takes care of the clutch issues.

pres589 (djronnebaum)
pres589 (djronnebaum) UltimaDork
7/27/22 11:15 a.m.

Curious what it sounds like with that Two Bros. exhaust setup.  Post a video!  Seems like you bought right enough that there's no way to lose on this deal.  

Your driveway contents are a touch on the wild side.  I keep forgetting all of the different irons you have in the fire.

maschinenbau GRM+ Memberand UberDork
7/27/22 11:37 a.m.

In reply to pres589 (djronnebaum) :

My thoughts exactly on buying in. Worst case I replace every part of the clutch hydraulic system with new Honda parts and still not feel like I overspent. I'll post some videos soon.

And yeah, too many projects, not enough time! 

dculberson MegaDork
7/27/22 2:30 p.m.

That was a really good buy! Hope the clutch problems are solved. Sucks he spent $$ to replace it and the problem wasn't solved. 

golfduke Dork
7/27/22 2:55 p.m.

Beautiful bike, I love V4 Hondas...  

Mark L (Forum Supporter)
Mark L (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand Reader
7/28/22 8:27 a.m.


My next bike will be this, or a ST1300.

Keep us updated. 

maschinenbau GRM+ Memberand UberDork
7/28/22 8:55 a.m.

Last night I rode around as much as I could to replicate the clutch problem. Hot weather, all urban surface street stop-and-go, hard pulls, hard braking, lots of idling at stop lights with the clutch pulled in 1st, basically doing everything I could to exercise the clutch and get the bike as hot as possible. I did this for two 30 minute rides, before and after dinner, and I could not perceive any drop-off in clutch performance. It seems to be grabbing hard in every gear. I'm not calling it fixed until I can go over an hour straight, but I'm like 90% sure it is fixed. Compare this to when I first bought the bike: in the time the seller rode to the meet-up spot (down the street from him), plus me test-driving around the parking lot, then driving to the gas station across the street, the clutch was slipping so bad I almost couldn't pull out of the gas station. So this seems like an improvement!

I made sure to hit as many urban murals as possible:

I especially like that last one with the toy Z-car :) That's the site of the old General Motors Lakewood Assembly plant.

hobiercr GRM+ Memberand UltraDork
7/28/22 11:46 a.m.

Great buy, and looks like a pretty simple fix. Win, Win!

I've always loved these bikes and the Yamaha FJ1100 equivalent. They just look like a sport touring motorcycle should! You are going to love this thing on the highway. With the tall windshield and luggage rack, it looks set up for big trips. Swapping to a shorter windscreen will give you more airflow in warmer months.

Looking for some road trip pictures soon!

03Panther UberDork
7/29/22 2:27 p.m.

Love the color on that. 

maschinenbau GRM+ Memberand UberDork
7/29/22 4:21 p.m.

Tagged, registered, and insured! Once the new rear tire arrives, I'll take it on a longer ride to the north Georgia mountains. The seller had put a new front on, but the rear is dated 2014 with a bit of dry rot. I had to order it special because I wanted them to match.

maschinenbau GRM+ Memberand UberDork
8/7/22 4:28 p.m.

New rear tire. With that, I took it for a hot afternoon 1 hour + ride through surface streets, interstates, and even some stop-and-go traffic. I am calling the clutch issue solved! And after this morning I have put over 100 miles on it.

With everything nice and hot yesterday, I changed the shaft drive oil. Honda calls for SAE 80 but everyone uses 75W90 full synthetic so that's what I put in. 

Seems healthy I suppose. The amount that went in is the same as what came out. 

One small nagging issue: the engine takes quite a long while to get up to temperature, so I have to keep using the choke (actually it's a fuel enrichment, so it increases idle). I am thinking a stuck open thermostat, or perhaps it just needs the idle adjusted up and probably a carb cleaning/balancing. Or possibly these bikes are just cold-blooded. When the temp needle gets just past 1/2 way in traffic or while parked, I confirmed the electric radiator fan kicks on and the needle moves down, so I'm not worried about overheating. It seems to idle at the correct speed when fully hot (1/2 needle). But on the highway the temp gauge drops down to 1/4 or even less, so when I come to a stop the idle is a couple hundred lower than it should be, sometimes even low enough to shut off without giving it a little enrichment. I may look at it more in-depth this winter when I do a more complete service, such as timing belt, fork fluid, etc.

Regardless it rides great and I'm really liking the big bike experience! Looking forward to a mountain ride in the next weekend or two.

maschinenbau GRM+ Memberand UberDork
8/13/22 3:41 p.m.

Mechanically nothing to report. It runs great. Turning up idle seems to have helped a bit.

I rode about 6 hours this morning through my favorite north Georgia mountain roads. Same roads I drive my Miata on when I need some zen. It was fun honing my very amateur riding skills on the same curves I can confidently toss the Miata into. I'm definitely better at 4 wheels than 2, mainly from lack of practice. The really tight technical stuff that the Miata excels at feels too scary for me on this big bike. The curvy mountain highway with passing lanes feels more satisfying in the bike to power out of each corner. It's not as tossable as my CB cafe racer, but it'll surprise me with a boot drag here and there. The Two Brothers exhaust was wearing me out after a while, even with ear plugs. It drones pretty bad. I might look for a stock set of mufflers.

Did over 250 miles today and got about 40 mpg. It's hard to keep it under 80. It wants to go faster than I do!

maschinenbau GRM+ Memberand UberDork
9/14/22 8:46 a.m.

Weather is finally sub-90's so I rode in early this morning hoping to leave early and avoid rush hour tonight. Parked next to another old 100hp Honda...

pinchvalve (Forum Supporter)
pinchvalve (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
9/14/22 8:56 a.m.

My neighbor and riding buddy has one and I have ridden it a few times. My experience has always been on heavy cruisers with 50hp, this thing was a rocketship to me. I giggled every time I cracked the throttle! 

maschinenbau GRM+ Memberand UberDork
9/14/22 9:42 a.m.

In reply to pinchvalve (Forum Supporter) :

It's hard to stay out of it! With the windshield, fairings, and wall of torque, it loves to cruise comfortably at 85-90 mph. 

maschinenbau GRM+ Memberand UberDork
9/25/22 11:00 a.m.

One of these bikes is not like the others... though the Tracer seems similar enough. Someone even complimented me on my "Pacific Coast" and I was too flattered to correct them.

donalson GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
4/25/23 1:47 p.m.
maschinenbau said:

In reply to pinchvalve (Forum Supporter) :

It's hard to stay out of it! With the windshield, fairings, and wall of torque, it loves to cruise comfortably at 85-90 mph. 

how is she for more traffic laden interstate type stuff?

I commute 60-110 miles a day across houston now on a motorcycle (lets me use the HOV)... I've been thinking of picking up an older sport touring type ride... and this is one that keeps popping up and seems to be fairly ideal... also wanting to look 90-2ks goldwings... I know i'll miss some of the quick response of my Versys if I do but something a little less high strung at 75+ would be nice.

stuart in mn
stuart in mn MegaDork
4/25/23 5:52 p.m.

I think one of these or a Kawasaki Concours would be an excellent all around bike.

maschinenbau GRM+ Memberand UberDork
5/4/23 1:18 p.m.

In reply to donalson :

Sorry for late response. It's a nice ride in interstate traffic. It's geared so the engine is pretty mellow even at 80 mph. I'm getting between 30 and 35 mpg since my commute is very short and suburban nowadays. It gets 40 mpg with more highway usage. The center of gravity is pretty low so it doesn't handle as heavy as it is, but it the mass gives it comfortable ride quality. It is very heavy though. The great big mirrors combined with the seating position give you excellent visibility and the turn signals are so big that even the most ignorant drivers can see you. I feel well-seen on it. That safety stuff may be lame on a sport bike but nice to have in the real world. Brakes are very powerful for panic stops.  In stop-and-go traffic you definitely feel the heat from the engine, but the fans keep it from overheating. Admittedly I don't have a ton of riding experience so I can't compare it to much else, but it's a great highway cruiser with a slightly sporty personality.

BoxheadTim GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
5/4/23 9:28 p.m.
donalson said:
maschinenbau said:

In reply to pinchvalve (Forum Supporter) :

It's hard to stay out of it! With the windshield, fairings, and wall of torque, it loves to cruise comfortably at 85-90 mph. 

how is she for more traffic laden interstate type stuff?

I commute 60-110 miles a day across houston now on a motorcycle (lets me use the HOV)... I've been thinking of picking up an older sport touring type ride... and this is one that keeps popping up and seems to be fairly ideal... also wanting to look 90-2ks goldwings... I know i'll miss some of the quick response of my Versys if I do but something a little less high strung at 75+ would be nice.

I've owned an ST1100 in the UK that I used as a mid-to-long distance commuter (120 mile daily round trip into Centrail London) plus for trips to the Continent. I've also owned a Goldwing of the vintage you mentioned, and for anything that would involved commuting through traffic, my vote would go to the ST1100. It's a lot more nimble, and it is physically smaller while still being comfortable long distance. Of course in the UK, the size of the bike probably matters more as filtering (lane splitting) is legal and necessary in a place like London.

maschinenbau GRM+ Memberand UberDork
5/5/23 9:20 a.m.

In reply to BoxheadTim :

Commuting and traveling the UK and Europe on a 'Pan' sounds like an awesome experience! Random thread update below. It is mostly a fairweather commuter for me, which is only 10 miles and no intersate since I moved earlier this year. I still plan to take it on longer trips, and I'm still catching up on deferred maintenance, but with the $2000 Challenge and moving into a new house I've been too busy.

Speaking of the new house, it fits exactly one (1) ST1100. With a little luck and some carefully maneuvering, I might just be able to squeeze one other bike in.

Dad just had to take it for a spin around the block. He's a fan of it. Now he has started fixing up my (now his) '74 MT250. I'll update that thread too.

Some recent maintenance: oil change, coolant flush, thermostat swap. The bike still seems to warm up very slowly, as if the t-stat is stuck open, when it's mild weather out. It rarely gets fully hot (mid-point of temp gauge, when fans kick on), unless I've been idling in traffic on a hot day. Once moving again the temp goes back down to the lower 1/4 of the temp gauge. This seems to be a normal ST1100 thing from my research. I swapped the t-stat anyway just to make sure it's not stuck open. Basically no change in behavior since doing that. What's annoying is if you set the idle for fully hot, you will mostly be riding with the choke on. If you set the idle for the lower temp, then it will idle high when it gets hot. 

The thermostat is a very common Stant 13868, which is for a variety of older Honda cars. I also adjusted the throttle cable, which was a bit loose. 

There is still a random high-idle issue, usually when the bike gets fully hot on a warm day. The engine speed will suddenly surge to 2 or 3k RPM with no warning. I think it's a carb boot leak, so I have those on hand once I'm ready to tackle bike work again. I also bought a timing belt since I don't know if it's original, so it may be 20+ years old. It could also use a carb balance to smooth out the idle and response. For now it's riding fine enough until I have more spare time. 

With the fairings off you can see the magic of the ST. The tank isn't up high, it's way down low mostly under your butt. This keeps the CG relatively low. The carbs and intake are where the gas tank appears to be.

Our Preferred Partners