The Honda Valkyre is a one-of-a-kind motorcycle.
A mashup between a muscle-bike and a full-powered medium cruise, Honda departed the Valkyre from its cruiser competition by equipping it with a 15,20 cubic-centimeter, liquid-cooled, horizontally opposed flat-six engine they designed for the Gold Wing, with updates turned up its power and torque.
Still, as reliable and noteworthy as the Valkyre is to everyday riders, bike collectors, and moto-enthusiasts alike, its record isn’t spotless.
There have been reports from riders with maintenance concerns, and we’ve come to examine some of the most common complaints.
Table of Contents
1) Rear Turn Signal-Loosens
IN the late 90s, Honda issued a recall for many Valkyries produced and stamped in 1997. The recall was issued in regards to the turn signal’s loosening.
Honda outlined the basic problem: the rear turn signal mount was susceptible to failure, and a failing mount allowed the rear turn signal to fall out of position.
A poor-mounted turn signal could fall so far as to be less visible by other drivers, creating an increase in the possibility of an accident.
Honda tends to act fast. The manufacturer sent a letter to the registered owners of Vakries they had reason to believe were affected, encouraging them to take their bike to their nearest Honda dealership to have their rear signal mount upgraded with a new design at no cost.
The repair is minor, taking less than an hour to conduct. If you’re the owner of a 1997 Honda Valkyrie that hadn’t been updated and you’ve experienced a dangling or less than an ideal turn signal, contact your local Honda dealership and see what replacement options they suggest.
2) Final Drive Spline Lubrication
The Honda Valkyries had a few issues with their Final Drive, mainly with its lubrication.
We’ve encountered multiple owner reports which claim that, when draining the drive oil from the Final Drive, they found that it was notably contaminated with dirt and low in volume.
Fortunately, this is an easy problem to solve. Apparently, the shop manual recommends changing the Final Drive oil at 24,000 miles. Seasoned riders took to the web to correct this, recommending a change in the final drive fluid at the first oil change.
The suggestions didn’t stop there.
Many riders also discovered that replacing the Final Drive’s fluid with a high-quality full-synthetic oil was beneficial. The final drive assembly runs cooler on synthetic than when utilizing regular oil.
If the final drive oil is dirty, change it when you do your next engine oil change, and, after that, change it every other oil change.
Other reports we discovered addressing the Final Drive have outlined instances of final drive spline failure due to lack of factory lubrication. This also implied a dealership failure, and the Honda dealer mechanics should lubricate the splines during tire replacement.
We’ll get into engine noises later on.
Still, any strange sounds coming from the final drive should prompt the rider to inspect it for proper lubrication, or, if you aren’t mechanically inclined, or have your local dealer do inspect the noise for you.
When disassembled, the mechanic should thoroughly clean the splines.
The shop manual also recommends applying Molly 60 paste to all parts, so anytime you or your mechanic does a rear-tire replacement, ensure this is performed.
3) Power Loss Issues
Although few and far between, there are a handful of Valkyrie owners who’ve reported a few different power issues, namely two; a dead starter switch and complete power loss.
Dead Starter Switch
We encountered some of the riders who reported that the bike had power but that their starter switch was stone-cold dead; pressing it did nothing: no spark, no stutter, nada.
If this happens, start with the basics, make sure the kill switch is in the right position, and be sure the bike is neutral. Once the dummy checks have been checked off, the troubleshooting list inspects the starter switch itself.
The Valkyrie’s starter switch has a bad habit of sticking in the “headlight kill” state. When this happens, your starter switch can’t activate the starter.
There is a hollow space under the switch. From that space, lightly pry the switch back out and retry.
This section assumes that you’ve already checked your fuses, battery, and terminals and that your bike’s charging system is in order.
According to some reports we read from Valkyrie owners, there have been numerous cases where the bike’s battery ground cable lost contact with the frame.
In a handful of cases, this was due to a repainted frame, but in most, it’s the result of the bolt not sitting adequately.
There are different fixes for a poorly seated bolt. Here are a few:
- Remove the bolt and secure that the threads are clean. If not, clean them.
- Reinstall the bolt to ensure it’s going all the way in. Clean the exterior to reinforce good contact with the ground cable.
- If it happens repeatedly, relocate the ground cable to the bolt on the left side that secures the seat lock.
4) Whining or Buzzing Engine Noise
Believe it or not, Engine Whine and Engine Buzz are two different sounds with different culprits behind them.
As the word implies, an engine whine is a higher pitch and wiry whirring sound, and the engine whine on the Honda Valkyrie isn’t a defect at all but a byproduct of its unique engine its straight cut gears.
While most conventional bike motors use helical-cut gears, the Honda Valkyrie features straight-cut gears, as straight-cuts increase both power and efficiency.
What’s the downside? You guessed it— the notorious engine whine.
Straight-cut gears are significantly noisier than their helical-cut counterparts, and complaints about an engine whine are generally due to an unfamiliarity with the Valkyrie’s motor, as it is unique to bikes in the cruiser class.
Now, let’s move on to an engine buzz. The word buzz in this context implies a vibration sound, but don’t worry. Unlike the whine, the buzz is rectifiable.
A bolt is straight behind the Valkyrie’s horn-mount-bolt that reaches the engine’s opposite side.
This bolt runs through a spacer tube and, when not truly tight, it’s this tube that vibrates while riding to generate that buzzing.
Crank that bolt down all the way, and don’t be shy. A bolt as high-grade as the one we’re referencing here takes extra torque.
The radiator covers can also clatter. If loose, heat the engine to running a temperature and remove the reflectors from the covers. With an Allen wrench, tighten the cover and stick your reflectors back on.
5) Bearings Deteriorate Early
Here’s another moment where we pick on the 97 Valkyries. The 97s had smaller bearings in their front wheels.
There have been a few cases of bearings degenerating way early on the 97s, but in all fairness, if you’re riding a 97, you’re hopefully riding on freshies by now.
Still, in case you’re on a bike that’s been sitting, let’s go over symptoms of deteriorating front bearing just in case:
- Clunking in the front end when popping over bumps
- Feeling a drag on your brakes
- Hearing grinding noises
- Experiencing a side-to-side movement in the affected wheel.
These bearings are sealed and can not be repacked. If your bearing is shot, it’s time for a replacement.
While this problem is most frequently reported having occurred around 25,000 miles, that figure changes depending on the quality of the bearing and the amount of grease originally packed into it.
Now the rear bearings were the same in all first-generation Valkyries.
Unfortunately, it’s not just the 97s that experienced early failure with the rears but also a variety of year-models. Again, there’s no repairing a deteriorating bearing; a replacement is required.
6) Loose Nuts and Bolts
The Valkyrie motor is a powerhouse, and generating that much force, of course, causes things to rattle loose.
While inspecting and tightening nuts and bolts is a part of the routine maintenance on any bike, these are the ones to look out for first on the Honda Valkyrie.
Loose Header Nuts
Header nuts use compression-type washers; it takes multiple tightenings to compress them fully, and using lock-tight is a no-go.
The torque is 7 ft pounds, so be vigilant not to overtighten. You can check them during oil changes. If left loose, they could cause a backfire. Air can fall back into the exhaust system.
Loose Muffler Hanger and Muffler Bolts
These are some of the first bolts to put your wrench on during routine maintenance, as they are some of the first to rattle loose.
General Pros and Cons of the Honda Valkyre
The Honda Valkyre has been the gem of the motorcycle community since its release, and for a good reason, it combines speed with comfort. Not only does it’s 1520cc 6-cylinder anomaly of an engine pack power, but it also runs smooth, making it easy to handle.
The Valkyre is notoriously easy to maintain, giving them a legendarily long life of clocking miles on the open roads and city streets. Valkyries’ first generation was as beautiful as a bike as any, stylistically and cheaper than other mid-sized cruisers to boot.
Despite a few production speed-bumps, the Valyre is widely considered one of the most dependable options for town and highway riding alike.
- Rear Turn Signal-Loosens
- Final Drive Spline Lubrication
- Power Loss Issues
- Whining or Buzzing Engine Noise
- Various Wheel Problems
- Loose Nuts and Bolts
What Do the Reviews Say?
“Balance. That is the word that best defines Honda’s Valkyrie flagship cruiser. Painstaking refinement that crafts wide-spectrum motorcycles is a Honda hallmark, but the Valkyrie motorcycle is exceptionally versatile. Although its roots in the full-boat Gold Wing Tourer lead many to anticipate a bloated, cumbersome motorcycle, the Valkyrie Valkyrie 1500 F6 belies its size. It handles more nimbly yet more steadily than most other brands’ cruiser-line leaders, but it retains the comfort and stateliness of the full-dress motorcycle out on the open road.”Source: motorcyclecruiser.com
“And, you know it’s smooth. The horizontal design cancels vibration before it gets started. Counterrotating components, such as the alternator, prevent any torque reaction when the throttle is blipped. The engine’s exhaust note definitely speaks of performance; not the low-key, lots-of-sound-little-fury cadence of a big twin but the quick-revving, hard-running rhythm of a high-performance engine.”Source: motorcyclecruiser.com
What’s the Resale Value of a Honda Valkyre
ⓘ The information in this article is based on data from National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recall reports, consumer complaints submitted to the NHTSA, reliability ratings from J.D. Power, auto review and rating sites such as Edmunds, specialist forums, etc. We analyzed this data to provide insights into the best and worst years for these vehicle models.