2010 Honda VFR1200F | Doin' Time

Staffers' Rides

By Marty Estes, Photography by Kevin Wing

I've been a VFR aficionado for more than a decade. All it took was one ride on a friend's yellow 2000 model and I was hooked. Precious few motorcycles are as aurally stimulating, thanks to the V4 engine configuration and geardriven cams. And it wasn't just a neat bike to listen to, but highly competent all around. When the opportunity arose to secure my first-ever long-term testbike for Motorcyclist in '06, I quickly chose a VFR800 Interceptor. The VTEC-equipped, sixth-generation model was a great companion for 12 months; every bit as versatile as the previous generation. Fast-forward five years and Honda's new technological flagship, the VFR1200F with Dual Clutch Transmission, emerges. Unless you've been living under a rock, you know all about it. And as the VFR guy here, I had to have it!

Except I'm not sure what it is. Honda lists the newest VFR under the Sport tab on its website, but it might be happier with the Sport-Tourers. Still, this thing is a monster compared to my previous Kawasaki Versys 650, and an extremely sophisticated one. It will be a big bike to muscle around L.A. and on the Santa Monica Mountains roads that make up part of my daily commute, but I'll "take one for the team." This is about as exotic as a Japanese motorcycle gets, after all. As I have yet to take delivery of the bike, there is some uncertainty whether to go down the path of extreme technological innovation with DCT or not. Frankly, I like clutch levers, and I like to shift. And so the standard VFR is more likely to get the nod.

I was able to sample a VFR1200F while we had one here for our Supersport- Tourer Comparison (MC, May). It is indeed a very fast, very big bike; a completely different experience than the VFR800. I was impressed with its acceleration and high-speed cornering. However, I didn't much care for the neutered response in first and second gears; you don't get full beans until the tach swings past 6000 rpm. Is Honda protecting us from it-or perhaps it from us? Inquiring minds want to know. The inquiring minds at www.vfrdiscussion.com have found a way around, while the aftermarket sleeps. But this requires hacking into the wiring harness, so I will hope and pray for a plug-and-play solution.

By Marty Estes
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