There’s no doubt in our collective minds that Honda will be releasing an all-new VFR replacement this fall. But what such a bike might look like, or the details of its technical nitty-gritty, is currently unknown. Well, at least until today.
This week’s issue of England’s weekly moto-tabloid MCN promises an all-new model, the VFR1200, with a “variable-cylinder” feature that will shut down the rear bank of cylinders to improve fuel economy at steady speeds. It will have conventional wheels and beam-type frame, in contrast to the concept V4 shown in Milan last year, which sported hubless wheels and a frameless design. The photo on the MCN web site is a colorized black-and-white image MCN dug up from somewhere on the Web. It shows a bike that definitely shares styling cues with the show bike, but with more believable proportions and details.
MCN’s been known to lead us on a wild goose chase or two over the years, but automotive blog LeftLaneNews has erased all doubt. It posted pictures of what is undoubtedly the new VFR undergoing testing, presumably somewhere near the Honda Proving Grounds in the Mojave desert of California. The bike is finished in black, but still gives up a lot of secrets. It has a single-sided swingarm, shaft drive, inverted front end with radial-mount calipers, and the same futuristic styling seen in the MCN artwork. Wind protection looks ample, with a big fairing and windscreen – or maybe it just looks big because of the bike’s skinny rider! Other details include a long shift linkage (hinting at stacked transmission shafts), an ample tailsection with passenger grabhandles, and a muffler resembling a spittoon from The Jetsons. Overall, the bike looks very ready for production, with lights, mirrors, license-plate bracket and reflectors.
MD Readers Respond:
- Import it. I’ve ridden dirt bikes since I was 8 years old and am just getting into street riding now. Seems an ideal entry level machine to me. And while you’re at it Honda, import the Transalp so I’ll have something to move up to in a year or two, besides a V-strom…or a used 599, if I can find one. Larry
- The test rider is under-dressed in these photos, but it’s possible he was doing some low-speed, quick calibration-type things that required constant mounting/dismounting of th ebike. Sure, it’s best to be properly attired every time you ride, but most of us here have been similarly – if not less -protected in similar situations. Gabe
- Geez, I didn’t realize that 800 cc was too small. 1200? David
- The front of the bike seems to have been designed for function and not
for looks. The air that hits the lower third of the fairing,
including the air hitting the headlight, will be deflected laterally
and into those scoops, as opposed to up and over the lip of the
fairing. Turbulence will be further reduced by air flowing through
the air tunnel just below the clear screen. Based on what I learned
with my various experiments with the front fairings on different
bikes, I think that Honda has designed a front fairing the way that
front fairings on sport bikes should have been designed all along.
The shape of the single-sided swingarm suggests that it is articulated
at the rear and uses a control arm, similar to BMW’s Paralever and
Kawasaki’s Tetralever. If so, the control arm is contained inside the
swingarm, at least at the midpoint of the swingarm. The control arm
has to exit from the swingarm toward the front in order to mount via a
pivot on the main chassis. Rather than use a flexible rubber boot at
the point where the swingarm bends toward its rear (where the rear U-
joint in the drive shaft is located), Honda appears to be using a
plastic or rubber enclosure that slides against the surface of the
swingarm to accommodate the bending. Tom
- Ugly ugly ugly. Maybe that bike interests the knickers-and slipper wearing
crowd (as seen in those test photos) but it leaves me cold. Particularly the
strange headlight configuration. That squished reflector says nothing to me
Congratulations to Honda for dropping the muffler-under-the-seat design.
What’s missing is belt drive: No maintenance, long life, quiet running,
clean operation, easy replacement. Progress in the same two-sprocket
package. The technology is out there Honda.
It also appears that Honda has crammed another engine that generates lots of
heat into a nearly service-inaccessible frame. Among service technicians the
Interceptor is legend for having poor access to adjustable parts. That same
engine design has also suffers a long history of stator overheating and
failure. Honda’s ST1300 V-4 is renown for a hot riding environment. This VFR
is nearly the same displacement in a smaller-tighter (therefore hotter) V-4
package. Modern motorcycle engines make more heat than ever. Cramming more
power into a tighter space only exacerbates the problem.
If a new VFR owner rides that bike 10,000 miles in 3 years then sells it, no
problem. But somebody planning on a long-term relationship with lots of
miles may live to regret buying it. One valve adjustment with shim changes
on the present Interceptor’s V-TEC engine is an
all-day job costing nearly a thousand dollars with parts and labor.
Is that the way this Honda is headed? I hope not. That’s not progress. Frank
- Now I am excited again for a new Honda…after 40+ years of riding and owning mostly Hondas, I was forced to turn away to own/ride other brands including Suzuki and BMW (I even briefly considered buying a HD…) because Honda simply wasn’t offering anything to capture my heart. Now it looks like they have. I’m in the market for a new sport tourer and this definitely could be the one. Please Honda, it’s not too late to include adjustable footpegs, handlebars, seat and windscreen!
Don’t forget to include locking hard luggage when the bike is ready for release (not many months later as was the case with the previous VFR)…and finally, go easy on the overall weight… Signed, Not quite ready for a Goldwing just yet!
- Why do they stick with that “punched in the nose” look? The back end looks great, but the front looks like a different bike altogether. I hope they change that before the release date. Yuck. Paul
- Looks like it’s shaft drive, eh? I’d say it’s better looking than the current VFR….
BTW – it’s interesting that you (and other media outlets) treat that Honda V4 concept as if it were a concept for a functional motorcycle. It’s not. It’s a styling exercise – a prototype that was designed to elicit response on styling details and aesthetic lines. Analyzing elements such as “it has a frameless design” is attempting to analyze detail that just isn’t there. The thing doesn’t even have a steering from wheel for crying out loud!
Trek did a similar exercise for bicycles a while back – and it didnt’ even have wheels! Jesse
- Love it! Thanks very much for the news & the links. Pleasure to meet the new crowned king (probably by a HUGE margin) of sport-touring motorcycles. Great to see the long overdue change from chain to shaft final drive.
- From the company who coined “Stupid Hurts” comes a test rider in jeans, T-shirt and tennies. He’ll be fine as long as he skids on his head and hands. Arden
- Wooof – ugliest bike I’ve seen in sometime. Sad. Disappointing. Obviously designed by a committee; wanted a horse and got a camel. Ron
- Interesting that on the Left Lane News site, one of the guys loading the
bike into the trailer is wearing a T-shirt with a familiar looking “Triumph”
logo on the back.
And that sure was one skinny little b*****d riding that thing. David