I can remember gazing at pictures of the predecessor of the 2008 Honda ST1300 Pan European as a teenager, probably thinking 'old man's motorcycle.' I had to gaze at the 2008 Honda ST1300 Pan European with ABS for a while, but not to pour scorn on its character, simply its design. It took a few minutes for me to realize this was a new machine; it just looks so dated. Flat, single color paint job, swathes of sensible impact resistant Bordeaux-red plastic and those strange Micky Mouse ear-like mirrors left me completely uninspired.
The old-school feel carries on through the instruments as well, strange layout and even stranger the 80s enlightened digital readout what looked very similar to what I could remember from 30 years ago... The mirrors also did not provide me with much info on what was behind me, they offered me an excelled view of my underarm area (probably with some more adjusting you could get them decently setup).
Nonetheless, I felt instantly at home on the Honda ST Pan European. The low seat height does a lot to help combat its immense mass, the riding position it a little less rod-in-back than the average BMW tourer. Unlike other touring motorcycles, the Honda ST1300 Pan European bulk still feels a little evident when it's up and running, with slow wallowy steering and the strange, not quite firm, not quite soft, suspension which tricks you into thinking you can poke it into bends like a sport motorcycle, but then reminds you that's not what you're riding.
Engine wise, I was neither impressed nor disappointed. There's not as much low-down grunt as I would've liked, but a good mid-range means 95 to 160km/h goes by quickly, through the lack of proper bottom end meant I was up and down the gears a little more than I would've liked.
Braking caused me no problems; others have mentioned the strange linked thingy messing with their mid-corner braking, but I'm not brave enough for stuff like that, so I never noticed it; just smooth, progressive stopping. The Honda ST1300 Pan European can be a excellent touring motorcycle for Thailand. Currently Red Baron in Bangkok has a used Honda Pan European in excellent condition...