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2012 Honda Crossrunner: MD First Ride


Powered by the same 782 cc V4 engine found in the European model  VFR 800, with VTEC, the new Honda Crossrunner features an easy-to-use, friendly engine full of torque, with a slight kick at 7000 RPM. The new Crossrunner is totally different from an ergonomic perspective, of course. The rider sits bolt upright, similar to an adventure bike, and generous passenger accommodations are available, as well. This is really a street bike, however, with comfortable ergonomics and the adventure look, without the large front wheel and knobby tires.

With the beautiful blue Mediterranean Sea as our backdrop, we set out to experience the new Honda Crossrunner. As I said, despite its ergonomics and general appearance, this is not really an off-road bike nor an aggressive supermoto.  It is a bike without a category, in effect, but it works. Enough for us.

The Crossrunner is a fun bike with 100 hp, and an easy, comfortable nature driven by the character of a V4. With or without a passenger (who would also be comfortable), the relaxed ergonomics and generous, easy- to-use power made this a surprising press introduction for us. We understand Honda is developing a more dirt oriented version of the Crossrunner, but for now we are happy with the street oriented compromises (you could take the bike on smooth fire roads, but that is about it).

We are immediately reminded of the special feel a V4 engine layout provides to the rider. The engine is cooled with radiators on the sides of the machine, something Honda has done before on several occasions.

Although the engine is derived from the VFR, and is very similar in many respects, with 782 cc, 16 valves, four cams and liquid cooling with VTEC, the engine does feature slight modifications. Changes to the fuel injection and the exhaust, and other minor tweaks, result in the VTEC (in reality, just a switch from two-valves to four-valves per cylinder at 7,000 rpm) working much better, and more seamlessly than in the VFR. The motor provides excellent, usable performance across an extremely broad range, from as low as 1,500 rpm.  Acceleration is not fierce down there, of course, but you could open the throttle in sixth gear at just above idle and the bike would respond with a smooth, linear pull, unlike most other bikes. Power builds smoothly until VTEC kicks in, but it does so in a nonviolent manner that provides an exciting change to the sound pitch together with a welcome surge of power.

The twin-beam aluminum frame is similar to that found on the VFR. The Crossrunner has a very balanced suspension system with 43 mm Showa forks adjustable for compression, rebound and preload, together with a somewhat less adjustable shock mounted on the attractive single-sided swingarm. Braking comes from Honda’s sophisticated Combined ABS system, which works extremely well.

The Pirelli tires developed for the Crossrunner combined good grip and stability at high speeds with a sporty profile that aided easy direction changes on twisty roads.

One of Honda’s goals with the Crossrunner was to provide a versatile bike that targeted a large group of potential customers. The seat height is low, and the passenger seat is at almost the same level as the rider, something passengers will appreciate. The passenger seat is generous in size, comfortable and accompanied by integrated grab handles.

Instrumentation is clear and thorough. Like most modern instrument clusters, it provides a huge amount of information. Only a gear-position indicator is missing. The buttons on the cluster are large enough to operate with gloves on.

Although the Crossrunner is generally comfortable, taller riders will find the footrests too high. Although we didn’t have an opportunity to test fuel consumption, Honda indicates the Crossrunner provides a range of approximately 210 miles from its nearly 6 gallon gas tank.

In addition to the stable handling at high speeds on the Highway, wind protection was good with only slight buffeting at my helmet. At 75 mph, the engine turns a comfortable 5,000 rpm, and very little vibration is evident.

Tackling the twisty roads just inland from the beautiful Mediterranean, although we had to dodge hundreds of bicycle riders, we were able to draw some conclusions about the cornering ability of the Crossrunner.

The relatively wide bars aided direction changes, although you were always aware that this is a relatively heavy motorcycle with a claimed weight of nearly 530 pounds. That torquey motor makes the bike quick between corners, but the Crossrunner is better at tackling sweeping, rather than tight, curves.

The engine impresses us throughout the ride with its strong, smooth powerband accompanied by that distinctive sound and feel of a V4.

The new Honda Crossrunner strikes us as a successful design that will indeed appeal to a large group of riders, providing comfort and practicality combined with a healthy dose of sporty handling and power. We do not know the official price yet, but the bike will become available in Europe in June in a choice of white, red or black color schemes. We don’t know if Honda has plans to bring the Cossrunner to the United States, but with the surge of interest in more upright, comfortable sporty bikes here, we can’t think of a reason Honda would keep it from U.S. riders.

MotorcycleDaily attended a manufacturer-sponsored event, to which selected members of the press were invited, to facilitate this report.


  1. Opinions vary, fair enough. Then again, some people bought Pontiac Azteks too.

  2. David says:

    This bike has no category? Yes it does, it is the modern version of the UJM or standard. The adventure look gives it the attitude, the upright ergos makes it comfortable, and the VFR engine provides some boost. Great marketing strategy, worked for the Multistrada.

  3. Vijay says:

    I love the looks, but the VTEC seems overkill and is a pain to tune properly. I would probably buy if it didn’t have the VTEC.

    I would buy the CBF1000 tomorrow if they brought it down to the States from Canada.

  4. Uncle Homey says:

    I’m still waiting on Suzuki to make a true dual sport, using the great SV650 engine.

    Steel tube frame, wire spoke rims, decent suspension and a 425 lb curb weight.

    Naked of course.

  5. Eric says:

    It’s a nice bike, but I would likely not buy it. My DL1000 is mo-fugly, and I catch a lot of abuse from my buddies – but it just plain works. Now, if Honda brought the CB1300 state-side… 🙂

  6. Mr. Mike says:

    The engine in this bike is way too complicated for the bike’s designed purpose. Suzuki got it right with their X-Strom line. Honda needs to fire their product planners ASAP.

  7. David says:

    Please Honda bring this bike to the USA!!!!!!! It looks about perfect for a slightly older rider 45, who used to get his knee down, and now wants a fun comfortable sporty all day everyday ride!

  8. MGNorge says:

    Looks are one thing (I happen to think its looks are fine enough) but there seems to be more disgruntlement toward Honda as a whole than just with the reviewed bike. I believe I’ve read that Honda’s sales are doing pretty well, especially on the world scene, so they must be finding a target audience. What it boils down to is if you don’t like what they dish out and everything they’ve brought to market in the past 10 years is junk..DON”T BUY THEM! I don’t understand the whining that goes on here. Some of you guys sound like it’s a personal affront and Honda as a whole should be taken out and shot. GO BUY SOMETHING ELSE!

    • Mach VIII says:

      Well golly gee, why even bother with having a comments section at all?! So then, buy or don’t buy, but whatever you do don’t comment on why you have chosen to do one or the other. Right then.

      A personal affront? No, but surely a big disappointment (to me) from a manufacturer who used to inspire and lead. Oh wait, I was commenting again, wasn’t I? Sorry ’bout that.

  9. jta says:

    Varadero, yes. This thing? No way. It’s disappointing.

  10. anon says:

    Throw a set of hard bags on it, and I can see this thing as a replacement for the Pacific Coast from years ago. That sort of became a cult bike after slow initial sales.

  11. J.T. says:

    Another yawner from Honda- good thing they sell cars, lawnmowers, and generators to keep the money coming in.

  12. Cyclemotorist says:

    I think the Crossrunner would make for a nice ride. But I just don’t see why I would sell my V-Strom to buy one. I bet my Vee gets better mpg, near equal handling, as much comfort, more torque and nearly as strong acceleration.

  13. bo_nos says:

    I like it! A little goofy looking maybe, but there’s a lot of that going around lately and it’s not the worst offender. I think its US success will have much to do with pricing. Under $10,000 and it should be fine, over $10,000 and it can join the unsold VFR1200’s and DN-01’s (which my dealer said stands for Do Not-Order 1) sitting on showroom floors. Honda can use that $10,000 price point for the CB1100 too! ABS?!? I hear a lot of typed in requests for ABS, but aside from BMW’s, I’d like to hear Honda’s and Suzuki’s sales percentages for ABS-vs-nonABS equipped bikes. I wouldn’t pay the premium myself, and I suspect most others won’t either…

  14. Dean says:

    I must admit, i thought the design and styling of it was odd, but looking at how the two different panels flow around each other in some ofthe pictures makes me think this bike may look pretty good in person. Some angles it does look kinda strange and forgettable, but then I bought and love my Vstrom 1000!

    I would ditch the single sided swingarm in hopes that it saves a lot of wieght and complexity. I don’t know why most new bikes are so heavy these days! If it is going to be over 500 pounds, might as well give me a bigger engine! Shave some weight and this bike seems about right!

    And Kudo’s to Honda for avoiding the cheap looking, flimsy clear plastic brake fluid reserviors! Looks better with the black aluminum units, even though it may add a few ounces of weight (I know… Hippocrit!)..

  15. Tom R says:

    The Crossrunner is pretty much another occasional attempt by a Japanese manufacturer to answer the cries of “We need another good STANDARD motorcycle on the market. If someone made it, I would buy one in a heartbeat!” Alas, another batch of motorcycle marketing types have entered the industry, heard this siren song, and have convinced the powers-that-be to produce one. Like almost all others of the past three decades, it will likely suffer a dearth of actual sales and will be gone from the company lineup by 2013.

    Many of us old farts often SAY that we want something that dates to our earliest riding experiences…but we don’t really mean it anymore. Since the end of the era of the true Universal Japanese Motorcycle in the early 1980s, consumers have consistently voted WITH THEIR DOLLARS not for practical all-around bikes, but instead for relatively specialized machines. There have been minor exceptions, and some bikes that are marketed toward a “niche” are actually quite universally competent, such as Adventure-segment models like the BMW GS. The catch is that those who buy them actually do so for other reasons.

    The problem with any motorcycle derived from the SBC (acronym for Standard Bike Concept) is that it is the automotive-equivalent of the minivan. Said vehicle is very practical, useful, and can do a lot of practical and useful things-but has the sex appeal of a cinder block wall. Upon having kids you buy the Grand Caravan while also figuratively surrendering your testicles, at least until the hoard are all in high school. But the gesture is accepted, no expected by spouse and society as you assume your role as Responsible and Involved Parent. You are heartily welcomed into the fold by your fellow gonad-less soccer dad brethren. Many wives and certain specialized cable network shows actually SAY that your uber-practical actions are “sexy”, but anecdotal evidence does not bear this out.

    The Crossrunner is a lot like the minivan. It may be very useful, but you get one based on NEED, not WANT. Few with even a drop of testosterone in their groin would willingly buy one if it weren’t for some pretty significant spousal influence. It just isn’t sexy. Even though some other brands/models are actually incredibly versatile, we riders buy what we buy because of the perceived specialist nature of our bikes. They fit our own specialized identity, or at least what we imagine that to be. The Crossrunner is just too practical, too much of a generalist for its own good.

  16. Mach VIII says:

    Honestly, screw you Honda for trying to repackage the old VFR as a “new” bike (albeit with hideous bodywork), without fixing the issues it suffered from for the last several years. If the old Viffer had weaknesses it was that it was overweight, underpowered, lacked much adjustability in the suspension, and was over-priced, compared to the competition. Anyone considering this model should save themselves several thousands of dollars (as well as avoiding the need to bleach their eyes) and go buy a previous generation VFR and add some Helibars or Convertibars. The only improvement I see here is the added range.

    This bike is emblematic of how Honda has lost it’s way over much of the last decade. There are plenty of other examples that easily come to mind – DN-01, Fury, Rune, 1200 VFR, Dullville, etc.

    • Tom R says:

      “Screw you Honda”? That seems a bit harsh. They have had some questionable products of late (mentioned at the end of your post), but I don’t think that they are guilty of doing anything misleading with this bike. Any prospective buyer can read the product brochure and moto-journo ride reports, and insist on a test ride before deciding for themselves if the package is worth buying.

      It may not be for everyone, but the accompanying article suggests that it is far from hideous. Also, I think that the buyer profile/demographics of a VFR800 rider and a prospective Crossrunner rider are quite different.

      • Mach VIII says:

        I don’t think it’s harsh at all. Far from the guiding light it once was, Honda has been a serious disappointment for several years now. They’re slow to update their models, and when they do, they’re often still rather milquetoast compared to the competition. The VFR itself languished for far too long with no new changes besides “bold new graphics.”

        Misleading? I’m not really suggesting outright dishonesty on their part. But they ARE repackaging an existing (and already outdated) model, and giving it pretend “adventure-bike inspired looks” (I believe that was the phrase they used when it was first introduced months back). Honda doesn’t even seem to have the stones to introduce a proper adventure bike (let alone a modern dual-sport), instead just trying to cheaply put out something that kinda-sorta looks like an adventure bike, albeit with no such actual capabilities. Yaaaay, it’s ugly for no reason.

        Far from hideous??? Opinions vary, fair enough. Then again, some people bought Pontiac Azteks too.

        I don’t think the demographics are THAT different either. If anything, this bike seems to be splitting the VFR800 target, ie. the older portion of that demographic wanting even more upright ergos (and who are likely less concerned with (aware of?) how ugly it might be).

        FWIW, I’m not some dyed in the wool Honda hater either. I own 3 Honda bikes currently and have had more Hondas over the years than any other make.

        • Tom R says:

          You make a lot of valid points. Come to think of it, it has been a very long time since I have felt any desire to even seek out a Honda showroom.

  17. Barry G says:

    Ok, so it’s not the best looking bike out there, however that V-4 engine is great. I would suggest a Crossrunner Touring Edition. . . in addition to hard bags, include: a 12 volt socket for accessories, larger adjustable windscreen, auxillary lights & a larger fuel tank. For now, I’ll hold on to my wee-strom.

  18. blackcayman says:

    I keep looking at it hoping I’ll “get” the design…Nothing. It’s just not attractive to me. I have a friend who rides a DL 1000 and even that bike grows on you. This Honda is also heavier than a Triumph Tiger 1050 or new Ninja 1000… 2 other sensible, comfy-ergo bikes for old guys in their 40s – 50s.

    I think this bike is a FAIL

  19. rojaws says:

    Most people ride bikes to get away from their cages, why would they bring the ‘crossover’ trend to the motorcycle division? My overall impression is that the bike is suffocating in weird shaped plastic, it doesn’t even have the courage to be ugly, it’s bland and neutered looking, not really what I think would attract new riders ‘crossing’ over from the car world. B-King and V-Strom are ugly to some, but they are memorable, I’ve already forgotten what this bike looks like after having just looked at it.

  20. Victor says:

    Looking at the Crossrunner, I’m reminded of a part of Honda’s history. The overall ergonomic package emulates the 1984 Honda Sabre I used to have, which had a 698cc V-four and shaft drive. The most obvious changes are the single-sided swingarm, chain drive, and the addition of bodywork that will provide good wind deflection and polarize opinions based on appearances.

    The V-four Sabre was an excellent machine, very comfortable and capable, and was my favorite ride that I would buy again in a heartbeat.
    It was also horribly unpopular, and a rare sight on the road.

    That’s probably all the summary the new Crossrunner needs to have. Would I buy it? Yes. Will it sell well enough to justify Honda’s decision to bring it here? No.
    History is a cruel teacher.

  21. Chris says:

    I’ll keep my V-strom.

  22. patrick o says:

    Good job Honda! a comfortable VFR with enough engine and fuel range to travel. Just needs hardbags and a blacked out exhaust.

  23. Steven S says:

    Honda really has a bike here that does not stand out, looks like a multistrada copy, it is really sad. I would think greater things would come out of such a fantastic company. probably a good bike but son is my 1985 Magna V65. Come on HOnda, get in front of the curve!

  24. graham says:

    looks like a nice bike. i’m still waiting for the cb1100f.

    • ko0616 says:

      Amen! I think there’s as much of a market here in the US for the new CB1100f as there is for the Crossrunner.

  25. EGS says:

    I like the concept of a mid-displacement ‘standard’ motorcycle and truely enjoy such bikes as the Triumph Tiger, Moto Guzzi Griso and BMW R1200R. Honda had a good idea to repackage the VFR engine but danm, what an ugly bike! It looks like a beach ball was sucked into the airbox and inflated – kind of like a giant guppy. Other than a few technological innovations, I think Honda has really lost their mojo. They either copy other’s style or lay turds (DN-01 anyone?). Are they at risk of becoming the next GM?

  26. Jay says:

    530 lbs. isn’t too heavy. In fact, it’s just right for some stability on the road. It isn’t a race bike, and does not have the built in compromises a race bike has.
    It could use a set of hard luggage, though but, with ounlyu 750 ccs, I doubt it will get any.

    • Hugh says:

      Hard bags and top case (color matched) are available as an option as well as a taller screen and center stand.

  27. uconnapharm says:

    if the price tag is $10,000 ,
    HONDA will sell big numbers of this bike.
    with a price any higher ,
    other companies now offer greater “bang” for your buck.
    *what I like the most about it is ;
    it’s a NON-cruiser that comfortably allows you ,
    to take the wife or gf on somewhat long rides ,
    with no sacrifices.

  28. timbo813 says:

    I think it’s cool. The only thing is it weighs to much. If they could have dropped 50 lbs I would be much more interested. Does it have ABS?

    It could also be a pretty sweet adventure bike if they add a bigger front wheel and protect those plastics from the inevitable drops. Here again, the weight is the biggest problem.

  29. Matt says:

    It looks like an upright, but they forgot to move the foot pegs down. In looking at the pics I kept thinking the rider had his feet on the passenger pegs. We used to do that in the old days to pull a wheelie on gutless dirtbikes..

    That leg origami would get old quick.

    Why this instead of the excellent (but also ugly) Vstrom? same (more?) weight, less power, goofy peg position. Sorry Honda, +1 on the not interested list..

    To part with constructive criticism, here is what I would be interested in. Lose 80lbs, use an updated version of the SuperHawk twin, put the pegs down where they’re supposed to be and make it look nice. In other words, make a Honda Multistrada and sell it for $10k.

    This is like a VFR for big and tall guys with short legs. Weird market niche to target..

  30. Louis says:

    I feel as samr does, as I have not seen a product from Honda in years I was interested in. I think this bike could have me interested as a buyer though. It’s like a VFR, but with upright seating. Since VFR owner love their bikes, I think this one would also find an audience as it’s got the same basic engine, single sided swingarm, and frame. So we will see how it reviews and looks in person. However, I am VERY interested in the CB1100 retro model that is sold in Japan. If that one came to the U.S., I would RUN to my Honda dealer and snatch one up quick!

    See the CB1100 here:

  31. fattkaw says:

    I haven’t liked Honda for a long time. Mr.Honda died and so did his company…….

  32. Bonnie limey says:

    YAWN !…and Fugly too….I thought they excused the Rune / Dullville designer years ago…maybe abducted by the Aliens..

  33. samr says:

    for years i was a diehard honda man and for a long time it’s been sad to watch the uninspiring products one after another. so here we go again, another below average, boring effort from the skirts and lawyers that i am convinced control honda.