2010 Honda VFR1200F - MR. Sophisticated

Honda builds an automatic for the sportbike people

By Aaron Frank, Photography by Kevin Wing

2010 Honda VFR1200F
Hard Parts

Honda's high-tech hypersport, exposed

Engine
The heart of the VFR1200F is an all-new, 1237cc, 76-degree V4 with architecture inspired by Honda's RC212V MotoGP racer. The rear cylinder connecting rods ride side-by-side near the center of the crank, with the front con-rods mounted at either end. This makes the back of the motor narrower, to keep the bike as slim as possible between the rider's knees. A symmetrically coupled phase-shift crankshaft built with 28 degrees of crankpin offset negates primary engine vibration, eliminating the need for a balance shaft. A 104-256-104-256 firing order enhances the V4's distinctive cadence, and an asymmetrical exhaust system-the front headers are substantially longer than the rear-amplifies the traditional V4 torque while providing a more aggressive top-end rush. There is no VTEC or other valve or cylinder deactivation, as was rumored. Instead, the top end benefits from the first street application of Honda's compact, lightweight Unicam valve train developed for the CRF450R motocrosser. Instead of separate intake and exhaust cams, a single overhead camshaft directly actuates the intake valves, while roller rocker arms actuate the exhaust valves. For the first time on any Honda motorcycle, an all-electric, throttle-by-wire system controls the PGM-FI (Programmed Fuel Injection). Driven by an ECU processing throttle control input, engine speed, gear position, vehicle speed, engine temperature and more, throttle-by-wire meters fuel to the 44mm injectors more accurately than a manual system, with even greater sensitivity to rider inputs.

Transmission
Honda is offering the VFR with either a traditional six-speed manual transmission and conventional slipper clutch or its innovative, automatic Dual Clutch Transmission. Based on auto-shifting technology that has revolutionized Formula 1 racing, DCT employs two separate, computer-controlled, hydraulically actuated clutch units that operate in coordination to provide automatic shifts in either direction. A lever on the right switchgear toggles between three operating modes: fully automatic D-mode (regular operation), fully automatic S-Mode (sport riding) or a six-speed Manual mode. Semi-automatic is a more accurate description of the Manual mode, since there are no clutch and shift levers and clutch action remains computer-controlled. Manual mode simply allows the rider to choose shift points independently, utilizing forefinger and thumb triggers on the left switch cluster. DCT employs independent clutches for the odd gears (first, third and fifth) and the even gears (second, fourth and sixth). When the computer detects an upshift, it engages second gear and releases the first-gear clutch while simultaneously engaging the second-gear clutch to achieve a seamless, .5-second gear change. In addition to faster, smoother gear changes, Honda says DCT also improves fuel economy and reduces emissions. The company has 100 patents pending related to this design, including dual concentric input shafts (one runs inside the other hollow shaft), the exclusive inline clutch design and advanced hydraulic circuitry.

Brakes
Honda's Combined Anti-Lock Braking System (C-ABS) provides an added measure of safety and performance. The combined brakes use a novel combination of different-sized pistons engaging at different times to optimally balance front and rear braking forces. Squeezing the front lever activates all six pistons in the right front caliper and four pistons in the left front; the two remaining pistons in the left front are linked to the rear brake. Asymmetrical piston sizes maintain equal braking force when the front brake is applied-the right-side pistons measure 25mm, while the pistons in the left measure 27 and 30mm. It's not the latest electronic ABS like on the CBRs, because that would have raised the price another grand.

Suspension
Like all Honda sportbikes, the VFR features a Pro-Link rear suspension fitted with a single Showa gas-charged shock delivering 5.1 inches of plush rear-wheel travel. A remote spring-preload adjuster makes it easy to dial-in more or less spring pressure as passenger/luggage loads or riding conditions dictate. A 43mm Showa inverted cartridge fork provides 4.7 inches of front wheel travel. Only rebound damping is adjustable on both the fork and shock.

Chassis
A massive aluminum diamond frame, constructed from four separate pressed and welded sections, forms the rigid skeleton of this big, powerful bike. Like every VFR since 1990, the 1200 also features Honda's signature single-sided Pro-Arm swingarm, now for the first time utilizing shaft drive. Look closely and you'll see the output shaft is located below the transmission countershaft, allowing for a longer swingarm without further extending what is already a 60.8-inch wheelbase. The swingarm pivot is offset above the driveshaft, which accommodates a wider pivot for greater strength and rigidity. A sliding CV joint compensates for variations in driveshaft length as the rear wheel arcs through its travel. A braced subframe is built to support passengers and luggage, and integrated mounts allow saddlebags to install without any unsightly brackets.

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