Honda  ST1100  Pan-European

Honda ST1100 Pan-European Virgin limo bike

Note: the upgraded 1300cc Pan European is discussed further down the page

Honda's big 1100cc tourer is, like many other models from the big H, one of the best around. While BMW afficiandos like to claim the high ground in this area, there are too many professional riders as well as individuals who choose to ride the Pan that they can't all be wrong. It has been around for some time now, and is available in standard and ABS-kitted versions. It's a sizeable beast, but the low centre of gravity and practical riding position have led many to claim it felt much smaller than looks might suggest.

The 1990 Press Pack trumpeted the new bike as
"a machine designed for specific demands of the discerning, touring minded British and continental rider.

It blends everyday practicality and low maintenance with manouevrability and comfort to dismiss the challenge mounted by Europe's widely varying public highways.
It continues to describe the benefits of integrated protectors for the lower fairing, the 35-litre panniers and its 29 litre tank. The transverse V4 engine has
belt-driven primary drive, a balancer to reduce torque roll, 360 degree crank and a spring damper between clutch and cassette type gearbox.

The final-drive shaft also boasts a damper to reduce shock load during gearchanges and a cush-drive damper in the rear wheel promotes even smoother operation.

Other features include:

- Anti-dive mechanism on left front fork leg
- Single rear suspension unit with rebound damping adjustment
- Easy clean aero-design wheels
- Disc brakes with sintered metal pad
- Low maintenance shaft final drive
- Owner can easily change spark plugs, oil filter and top up oil level
- Ram-air windscreen system
- Clock
- Powerful twin light headlamp
- Headlight adjuster
The kind of rider who gravitates to the Pan European is, in the words of journalist Giles Chapman,
"doesn't need to read any sales pitch sanctimony. A powerful and swift cross-country touring bike, the ST1100 packs 100bhp and fallons of torque from its 1084cc V4, with optional anti-lock brakes and traction control.
He is taken for a run around London on a Virgin Limo bike (see pic below), complete with pillion microphone for those "Mind that bus!" moments. Asking his chauffeur Russ whether the Pan is a bit of an old man's bike gets this response:
"They do say this is a merchant-banker machine - you know, the sort of bloke who doesn't exactly have fun. But actually they're wrong: it's a tourer that performs like a sports bike. Honda's taken that concept to the 'nth' degree, so it's perfect for what we do."
As Russ points, out the Pan European is popular as a working machine, not with pizza delivery boys, but hard-working mileage-eaters. The Police Force traffic division use any number of them at the Metropolitan Police's Hendon training centre. Training tutor Les Brown says:
"We teach the four S's: safety, system (bike control), smoothness and finally, and least importantly, speed. This is a course for people who really want to be on it" (there's a waiting list for the intensive two-week course) "And they all use Hondas because, well, that's probably what they'll be riding in real-life situations".
Virgin limo bike
Uncredited photo in 'Honda Rider' magazine
The AA's mobile reporters and roadside patrol find it the best tool for the job. Paramedics also value its qualities. Motorcycles can get to incidents in a city far quicker than an ambulance. The London Ambulance Service have 10 Pans to cover 620 square miles. Budgest are tight in the NHS, so the bikes have a long, hard life with frequent rebuilds. The padded panniers carry everything from defibrulators to tubes of livesaving fluid for allergic reactions. Bonds, a London-based courier company, relies on its fleet of 45 Pan-Europeans. Director Shaz Ahmed explains:
"We have them because they're smooth and comfortable for the rider; we don't expect him to use his own bike. They're also reliable - and we can't have packages being delayed because the bike's broken."
You can read Motorcycle Online's review of the Limobike service.

In the UK Honda runs MAC (Motorcycle Appreciation Course) for buyers of a new Honda of 600cc and over. Riders are accompanied on the road by an instructor who rides, naturally, a Honda Pan-European.stunt riding a Pan-European. Is nothing sacred? The Pan is ideal for the job, allowing the instructor to ride while concentrating on the pupil's roadcraft. The ability of the ST1100 to cover the miles with ease has led to some intriguing aftermarket extras. No, not race pipes and sticky tyres, but things like an auxiliary fuel cell, holding 3.6 US gallons.

However, not all ST1100 riders have the same ideas. French stunt rider and James Bond stunt double Jean-Pierre Goy decided to ride it up a 20-degree ramp at 25mph. They jumped 4 metres! The impact on return to earth must have been unsightly, to say the least. Photographed for recently-launched (pun?) French magazine L'Integrale.

The ST1100 scored top in a MCN comparison against Triumph's two Trophy tourers and the BMW R1100RT (July 5th 2000). The featured Triumphs couldn't match the Honda. The combination of the silky V4 engine, top marks for comfort and unmatched reliability mean the others, all good bikes, don't come near it as a package.

Overall scores:

Model Rating Comments
1998 Triumph Trophy 1200   88% Torque is everything
1998 Honda ST1100 96% 145mph sofa
1998 Triumph Trophy 900 90% More versatile than the 1200
BMW R1100RT 94% Grand tourer


The Pan European came top (again) of the serious sports-tourer category in a shootout for Ride magazine's March 2001 issue. While some consider it a rather heavy, ponderous sort of beast, this in now way prevents it still being the most comfortable and sorted long-range beast around. The announcement of Yamaha's FJR1300 sports-tourer might shake things up, but that bike is in a slightly different category - alongside Honda's Blackbird and the Kawasaki ZX-12R. There is a review of the Pan at the Unofficial HUKRC site (Honda UK Riders Club) at http://www.hukrc.freeserve.co.uk/pan.html

Pan European tops survey again

Motorworld.com mentions Honda UK's reaction to the "Rider Power" 2000 survey, also from Ride magazine , where the Pan European came first and got a resounding thumbs-up. Read the response. The ST1100 repeated this feat in 2001, and I'm sure Honda UK are very happy about that.

Buying secondhand

The ST1100 was highlighted in the Bike magazine buyer's guide in the March 2001 issue. It offers a good idea of secondhand prices, as well as listing the colours and significant changes since 1991. Their verdict:
The blend of agility, protection, speed and ergonomic excellence mean it's the weapon of choice for anyone who simply needs a rapid travelling tool. Sensations such as excitement and involvement can be alien to the Pan pilot. Despite such comment, it's enjoyable to ride in a detached sort of a way, and is far more agile than the dimensions would suggest. A combination of intuitive riding controls and low centre of gravity make it very manageable
They recommend choosing a later model (96-on), with linked ABS and traction control. While the TC is not terribly successful, the brakes are good enough for most people, most of the time. It can stop the bike quicker and with less fuss than the standard model. The Pan is "the very essence of reliability", and when choosing a secondhand model there are no serious problems to check for. The nearest the Pan gets to a black mark are the brakes, which need regular attention. Isolated final drive failures (due to lack of lubrication) and front wheel bearings (also due to lack of grease) are about it.

See the books page for a link to the Haynes manual for the ST1100.

Some ST1100 web sites
UK ST1100 Owners' Club
Steinar Fremme's site
ST1100 OC USA
Dutch Club Pan-European
Motorcycle Online 1998 sports-tourer shootout

2002 model Pan-European (STX1300)

Honda Pan European STX1300 in silver

Honda have revised the big tourer for 2002. The engine is the same block, but bored out to 1260cc. The frame is totally new. However, all information suggests that this is a refinement of the existing machine's capabilities. Honda claims "even sportier performance, better ergonomics, more carrying capacity, improved fuel economy, greater care of the world's environment"

Honda have changed virtually everything on the Pan European. They consulted owners and, while generally very satisfied with the current ST1100, they asked Honda to make it: "A bit lighter and a bit sportier, a bit more comfortable, a bit more powerful".

To their credit Honda have addressed all these areas. The new motor is now 1261cc, and produces 125bhp, compared to around 100bhp for the old one. It retains the silky smoothness that makes the Pan European the envy of owners of other sports-tourers. It can pull effortlessly from below 2,000rpm in top (fifth) gear. Project leader Hiroshi Okazaki said:
Many customers love the old bike. They loved the V4 power, no-one else can make a V4 like this.
The engines are bench tested by running them at maximum revs for 24 hours, as well as an endurance run of 50,000 miles. They already meet the EU2 emissions levels which are due to come into effect in 2004.

Honda have improved the comfort, while incorporating a neat trick. The seat is adjustable between three settings, and pivots down and forward (or up and back) at the same time. 'Up' means a height increase of 15mm, while you are moved back 12.5mm. The rear shock has adjustment for preload and rebound damping, while the bigger forks and shorter wheelbase (reduced by 65mm) help it get through the corners better.

Weight has been reduced by 5kg on the standard model, and 9kg on the ABS version, which costs 1,000 more in the UK. The standard model does not have an electronically adjustable screen, which may or may not be a problem. The improvements will surely mean it is still be the No.1 motorcycle for long-distance use.

Changes in detail

STX1300
Bore & Stroke
Compression Ratio  
Power (claimed)
Torque (claimed)
Front wheel
Rear wheel
Wheelbase
Rake/trail
Fuel capacity
Weight (ABS model)  
UK Colours (2002)
For 2004:
78 x 66mm
11.6:1
125bhp
92ft/lb
120/70 ZR18
170/60 ZR17
1490mm
n/a
29 litres
281kg [289kg]
Green, Silver, Red.
Candy red, Silver,
Pearl blue

MCN gives top rating to STX

The UK newspaper rode the new STX1300 Pan European to the Champagne region of France, alongside the BMW R1150RT and Yamaha FJR1300. Despite some misgivings the STX won the overall vote. MCN claimed the new Pan and created more interest from readers than any other bike they could remember. In the conclusion they wrote:
"In this company, and this arena, it is the best bike, just as the outgoing ST1100 was."
Highlights were its smooth V4 engine, superb ABS brakes, the adjustable screen and superb comfort for both rider and pillion. However, there were some complaints:

  • High speed weave, accentuated when a pillion is on board
  • Blind spots in both mirrors
  • Panniers were harder to fit and remove than those on the BMW
  • Fuel consumption was 42mpg at legal speeds, worse than the other two
  • Another very positive magazine review, this time Kevin Ash in The Telegraph, April 2002. Read it here.

    STX gets a recall

    In October 2002 Honda UK recalled its new Pan European after a few issues came to light. The most pressing was the sump pan, which could crack if it caught on a kerb. Other work done included:
    - checking torque settings on engine hanger bolts, after owners reported a weave at high speed
    - Heat shields and modified airflow past the rider's legs
    - redesigned seat to avoid staples scratching the panels

    For anyone concerned whether their UK-spec machine is affected you can use the owner pages on Honda's website (which will require you to fill in your address etc) or telephone the Honda UK motorcycle helpline on 01753 590510. If you visit the VOSA recall website make sure you select 'Honda Motorcycles' in the drop-down list.

    STX Police Bike

    After extensive consultation with the emergency services teams a Pan European for Police and Paramedics was announced in December 2002. Below is an extract from the Honda UK newsletter, which suggests the Big H have worked hard to impress the hard working people in the emergency services.
    Following an overwhelmingly positive reaction at the launch of the new Pan European during last year's NEC Motorcycle Show, Honda UK has been working closely with fleet buyers from Britain's police and other emergency services.

    The result is a Pan European that retains all the performance, design features and aerodynamic lines of the original machine, within which all emergency services equipment requirements have been fully integrated. The conversion has also taken into account resale values of the ST1300, keeping mechanical modifications to a minimum and allowing conversion back to standard specification to be carried out at minimal cost.

    Blue strobes replace the two side-lamps in the front headlight assembly and alternate with repeater strobes - available as an optional extra - on the fairing side. Meanwhile, for full 'blues and twos' operation, siren speakers are hidden beneath the left and right sides of the fairing.

    Although the rider's seat remains adjustable, the pillion section is removed from the standard Pan European and replaced with a rear pod assembly housing specialist equipment such as strobe and siren drivers and the communications radio.

    A purpose-made, fibreglass housing fits over this assembly and is waterproof to protect the electronic equipment. It can also be taken out without having to remove the rear lighting assembly, as required on the ST1100.

    Behind the rear pod assembly, a rear-facing, eight-character matrix display is flanked by two red and two blue lights, all using high-intensity LEDs. The lights can be displayed continuously, flash or alternate red to blue, while the display of pre- programmed matrix messages may be continuous, flashing or, for longer messages, scrolled.

    Mounted above the left handlebar and operated by the rider's thumb, the Handlebar Remote Control Unit (HRCU) provides a unique ability to control all additional equipment via a six-button control pad with a high-visibility LCD panel.

    The ST1300 conversion is ready to accept all radio equipment including TETRA terminals, with the transeiver pack mounted within the rear pod enclosure. The forward-mounted control unit can be positioned in the specially-adapted front left fairing pocket or above the instrument panel. A 'flexistalk' helmet connecter is provided, along with a left handlebar-mounted push-to-transmit button.
    Later in 2003 Strathclyde Police Force became the first Force in Scotland to use the ST1300. The Transport department spokesman said:
    "We now have 21 ST1300s with ABS that are being operationally used. They have been extremely well received by the motorcycle section of the Strathclyde Police traffic department. We had previously used the Honda ST1100s, which were excellent bikes. The new ST1300 machines are even better!"
    Since late 2003 the Pan now has electric screen on the standard bike. Nigel Cockayne writes an occasional weblog about his experiences with a Pan-European (see link below), and in Feb 2004 took delivery of a new STX1300. Here are his comments on the adjustable screen, which is now included on the standard Pan as well as the ABS version:
    "The electric screen is amazing. I knew it would be fun to play with but neither of us were ready for the effect it has. Winding the screen up at motorway speeds is like closing a window in a car. All the wind noise vanishes as if you'd slowed down by at least 20 mph.".

    ST1300 Police Bikes at the Tour of Britain

    I have never seen so many cop bikes in one place! A dedicated escort team of around 30 to 40 motorcycles surrounded the Tour of Britain pro cycling race in September 2007. I saw the riders near Ironbridge, Shropshire. Out of the many (40?) bikes all but a few were ST1300s. The rest were BMWs and a lone Triumph.

    ST1300 for London Ambulance Service

    March 2009: Twelve Pan European motorcycles have been acquired to cover the London Ambulance Service's expansion to its two-wheeled paramedic fleet. There are about 50 paramedics in the service, the largest emergency ambulance service of its type in the world. Honda UK press release here.

    Related sites:

    Pan European weblog - an owner's experiences
    The Pan Clan - UK based owners' club
    ST Owners forum
    Wikipedia: ST1300
    Bike-Quip - Pan European ST1300 & ST1100 Accessories
    Motorcycle Daily review
    ST1300 US - a MSN user group
    Pan-Euro accessories - upgrades and add-ons

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