ELTON HAMMOND'S PERSONAL COMPARISON OF HONDA ST1100ABS vs. PC800
Many people have asked me to compare my two favorite motorcycles, the Honda ST1100 and Honda PC800 (Pacific Coast). I purchased my 1997 PC800 in March 1998 when it was still brand new from Jaff Motors, a New York State Honda dealer. I purchased the 2002 Honda ST1100ABS brand new in July 2002. I like both motorcycles so much I would like to keep both of them. Some of what is written below is an excerpt from e-mails written to the PC800 chat group on Yahoo ( www.pc800.net ) during the first 4 months after I purchased the ST1100.
Better is definitely NOT the right word to use when comparing the ST1100 and PC800 for me personally. I was referring to Gregory's strong affection for the PC800 in spite of his former BMW K1200LT's obvious luxury and exceptional performance features.
When I purchased the ST1100 in July 2002 I had fully expected it would cause a major mind shift for me in my attitude towards my 4 year old Honda PC800. After my first week of daily riding on the ST1100 I made a point of riding the PC800 and the ST1100 back to back to see what I really felt. I was very pleasantly surprised to see that my positive feelings and attitude about the PC800's great features and handling had not really changed at ALL. This was what went through my mind as I rode the PC800 for an hour immediately after a one hour outing on the ST1100 and on many more subsequent rides this summer. Just the opposite, I have grown to appreciate the PC800 even more. Not to say I like the ST any less either. I am addicted to both of them!!
I took the ST1100 on Tim Davies Finger Lakes, NY tour in August 2002 because it was still new to me and needed a good highway ride. I enjoyed every minute of the trip except during the Saturday ride with all the other PC800s when I wished I had my PC800 which is MUCH better for the group rides. Group rides tend to be much slower paced and a top heavy bike is not as much fun as the PC800's lower center of gravity and great low speed handling. I did enjoy the ST1100 very much on the way home on the Interstates in New York state and on the 4 lanes in Canada. It "wants" to cruise at very high speeds!! Not good for tickets I expect to find out eventually!!
I took my PC800 on the Chrisoffer Carstanjen fall colors memorial ride in Massachusetts in September 2002 and came to realize even more how great the PC800 is, especially when I had to follow Francois and Tim Davies down the Interstate at obscene speeds. I did 1200+ miles that weekend without a single problem except for 4 hours of riding in the rain following my buddy Francois home who doesn't seem to even notice major downpours it turns out!! I think he has a little "Sunshine Guard" around his bike that he doesn't share as we zip down the highway. This would not have been the time to have a bike that is trouble prone!! The PC800 never skips a beat and I just had to concentrate on the rain problems, NOT bike problems.
They are both really beautiful bikes, both aesthetically and handling-wise, and serve fairly different purposes, which I happen to REALLY appreciate! I think the PC800 is going to be a long term classic that is going to start taking on some real serious collector's value as we get further away from the final 1998 production models. This will be due to it's VERY unique looks and functionality (e.g. The storage trunk) and the incredible reliability and durability.
The PC800 is fun, practical and super reliable for me with very modest maintenance costs. The ST1100 is exciting, fast and a real adrenaline rush when you hit the throttle, particularly around fast cars!! I also like the ST's linked, ABS brakes and traction control a LOT, but I don't miss it on my PC800 either, so go figure!! Even though the 2 bikes are similar in size and weight, the PC800 handles like a feather when I get on it after the ST1100, MUCH less top heavy and the 1" lower seat makes it feel like I am a foot closer to the ground psychologically. We had some very funny, competitive games at my Ottawa PC800 gathering in August, 2002. Two events made the PC800 seem far superior; one where we rode with a passenger who dropped a ball in a sloped pipe and then we had to pick it up at the other end. The 2nd game was the slow race down my driveway. I had tried both in advance with the ST and the PC. The ST had no chance against the PC in these slow speed maneuvering skills.
I have not yet fully decided whether I want to sell my PC800 and will probably cry IF and when I do.
I have ridden both great bikes all summer in 2002 and they both satisfy two very unique needs for me with motorcycling. I have also been thrilled over the 4 years of owning the PC800 with the quality of the friends I have made through the PC800 ownership and the www.pc800.net list. This great circle of friends was truly unexpected when I bought it new in March 1998 and has been TRULY one of the greatest benefits of PC800 ownership!!
If life was only made up of practical, boring, unemotional issues and decisions I would keep the PC800 and sell the ST, but then IF I really did things that way I wouldn't have any motorcycle!! Just stay at home and look after the property! I need a lawnmower attachment for one of them :-) ....... NOT!!!
Elton Keith Hammond P.Eng.
Greely, (Ottawa) Ontario
Tel. (613) 822-6935
e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org http://www.ekho.com/elton/PC800/Motorcycling.html
1997 PC800 17,000 miles
2002 ST1100 6,600 Kms.