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BIKELAND > FORUMS > > Thread: Canadian "National Post" claims VFR 1200 1st Ride as well NEW TOPIC POST REPLY

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posted October 18, 2009 12:40 PM        Edited By: fish_antlers on 19 Oct 2009 03:45
Canadian "National Post" claims VFR 1200 1st Ride as well

Looks like by the timestamp these guys have it by a day!

Exclusive Road Test: 2010 Honda VFR1200

David Booth, National Post Published: Friday, October 16, 2009
HONDA VFR1200 Handout HONDA VFR1200

I have to give you this warning prior to your continuing on with this road test: This is not a complete road test. Although I did drive Honda's all-new (and semi-revolutionary) VFR1200, my evaluation lacks the one ingredient necessary to deliver a definitive objective opinion as to where the big Honda fits in to the modern motorcycling world. That missing ingredient is the VFR's price, more crucial to evaluating this Honda compared with any other because the big sport tourer is the thin wedge of Honda Canada's objective to start penetrating into the upper echelon of the market currently occupied by Harley-Davidson and, more specific to this test, BMW.

Where this becomes problematic regarding a final judgment on the VFR1200's worth is that it is being targeted at BMW's K1300S, BMW's flagship premiere sport bike/sometimes sport tourer. Even Honda Canada, still waiting for American Honda to price the VFR south of the border, doesn't know whether the VFR will be less or, more problematically, more expensive than the $16,850 Beemer. And while the reality of how well the new VFR performs is important, we still need to reserve final judgment because motorcycle consumers may not be ready for a Honda that is more expensive than the BMW equivalent.

What is without question, however, is that the new VFR1200 is a more than worthy competitor to the big Beemer, though, in some surprising cases, not all that similar. Take the engine for instance. The Honda's is a 1,237-cubic-centimetre vee-four (with an unusual 76 degrees between the banks of cylinders), while the BMW's is a 1,293-cc in-line four. In the end, despite the technical differences and the small discrepancy in claimed horsepower (172 for the Honda versus 175 for the BMW), they are remarkably similar in performance. The smaller Honda actually has a slight advantage at low speed, torquing impressively through the gears, while the big BMW sprints a little harder as the revs near redline. But the differences are negligible.

How the motors feel, however, is completely different and in surprising ways. The BMW, for instance, sounds a little thrashy - much like a modern Triumph - yet it is remarkably smooth at all speeds. The VFR, on the other hand, sounds like a sophisticated turbine with nary a rough edge, but it quakes a little more than the BMW. It's hardly offensive, but the differences are distinct.

Honda will be making much of its new six-speed transmission, which, contrary to what you've read, is not an automatic transmission but one of the automatic-shifting, dual-clutch manual transmissions that are taking the automotive industry by storm. The BMW's gearbox - equipped on the tester with the optional Gear Shift Assistant speed-shifting system - is not as high-tech, but it's almost as effective. Essentially, for any gear above first, you simply pull/push on the foot-operated gearshift and the BMW does the rest, cuts the ignition, operates the clutch and shifts the gears all by itself. It's smooth enough that Honda's technological advantage in the tranny department is somewhat muted.

Ergonomically, the new VFR1200 is very reminiscent of the 800 it supercedes. The handlebar angle and rise are almost identical and there's a similar distance from the seat to the footpegs. Even the view from the saddle - i.e., the dash and the windscreen height - is similar in concept if not exact execution.

BMW's K1300S has a much more aggressive or sporty riding position with a lower handlebar and higher footpegs. The windscreen also rides lower, though, surprisingly, the difference in wind protection is not as great as the difference in fairings would suggest.

The equipment level of both bikes is also remarkably similar. Both are shaft-driven (BMW with its torque effect-reducing Paralever system; the VFR with a unique offset pivot system that Honda claims does the same thing), both are fuel injected and both benefit from the addition of anti-lock brakes. Saddlebags are available for both, though the Honda's are of a more substantial hard case variety.

If Honda is looking for an attribute to elevate the VFR to BMW's perceived place in motorcycling's pecking order, it is in the fit and finish department. The VFR is simply the best-built motorcycle I have ever seen. Panel gaps are automotive industry even, there are no exposed bolts or clamps and the materials used throughout the bike render VFR the Audi equivalent (by far the automotive industry standard bearer in this regard) of the motorcycle industry.

So, from a pure performance perspective, the VFR1200 is a certifiable player in the upper-level sport/sport touring segment, equal in execution to anything from Europe. Only time will tell whether Honda Canada is able to price it competitively enough to attract (normally very loyal) buyers away from BMW.

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