Circumnavigating Australia on a Honda VFR1200F

By Trevor Hedge, Photography by Trevor Hedge

VFR vs. Oz

Honda’s Latest V-4 Is One Very Favorable Ride

After 15 days and 10,000 miles on a VFR1200F, I’ve got a few observations about Honda’s newest sport-tourer.

The outstanding highlights are the VFR’s comfort and balance. With the optional screen extension there is absolutely zero turbulence at any speed. Likewise, my posterior judged the seat as one of the best in motorcycling.

Balance and feel are superb. The VFR shrinks around you and has great front-end feel, combined with steering precision unmatched by any other bike close to its size. Little effort is required to change direction, and despite its heft the VFR steers better than many sportbikes of only a few years ago.

I can’t heap the same praise on the rear suspension, though. I had no complaints on smooth roads, but the shock struggles to control the too-soft spring once the roads turn bumpy. Like most sporting motorcycles, the VFR is better suited for one-person duty sans luggage.

The brakes offer great stopping power with good feel. But I think the ABS mapping leaves a little to be desired. The intervention starts too early, and could actually increase your stopping distance on an uneven surface. Honda needs to poach BMW’s software!

The V-4 motor seemed to get stronger as the odometer rolled on. My seat-of-the-pants dyno reckons there’s an honest 150 bhp at the rear tire, and that the bike will crack 10-second quarter-miles with ease. Dial up 8500 rpm on the tach, feed in the progressive clutch and the VFR gets off the line extremely well.

The VFR1200F is not an ST1300 replacement. It’s much more sporting, and can’t match its big brother for two-up touring comfort. The VFR should be seen as more of a CBR1100XX successor—a well-rounded sport-tourer straddling those two classes more evenly than most.

By Trevor Hedge
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