Why would Honda go to so much trouble to, at best, match the peak numbers from the previous engine? Well, the company makes a big stink out of the engine not stinking, that it meets California's '08 emission rules right now. This squeaky-clean engine is made possible by a new, more dense catalyst (for all states, not just California), a revised fuel-injection scheme with Honda's new 12-orifice injectors, iridium-tipped spark plugs fired by cap-style coils, an air-injection system and VTEC. You don't pollute much if the engine is run extremely lean, and the swirl effect VTEC provides-by ingesting air through one of the two intake valves per cylinder, the mixture circles the bowl before it's fired off-permits more reliable combustion at very lean mixtures. The increased cooling capacity (33 percent for the oil, 7 percent for coolant) better rejects the BTUs from this hotter-running engine. And be warned, it does: On a 62-degree day, the engine would top 220 degrees in stop-and-go traffic. Imagine that in Phoenix in July. Here's the deal, though; as enthusiasts, we're less concerned with meeting future smog regulations than having fun now, particularly in light of the fact that modern, catalyst-equipped bikes are already quite eco-friendly. We suspect Power Commanders and dohickeys to work around the VTEC nonsense will be popular aftermarket items for the VFR.