So, every year, you hear the rumors: “There’s a new VFR on the way.” “It’ll have five cylinders.” “It’ll be a 1,000cc V-4 superbike.” Et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.
There’s something about the venerable Honda VFR that provokes fanatical loyalty from it’s fan base. And, for years, they’ve lived on rumors that the VFR will be upgraded in some fantastic way, and that the 782cc V-Tec equipped V-4 would get a new, massive power injection. Or another cylinder. Or something. whatever it is, it would be wonderful. Sadly, they’ve never gotten it.
It appears that Honda is lining up a 1200cc V-Tec bike,, not only as a replacement for the VFR, but perhaps, according to some high-ranking Honda officials, a new line of bikes.
There’s only a few spy shots of it so far, but it seems to have gotten the VFR fans into an absolute tizzy, despite the fact that the headlight looks like the head of some sort of South American jungle toad.
Anyway, it sounds impressive.
The new bike is said to be a sport-touring mount powered by a V4 engine with displacement around 1200cc. It is claimed to have variable cylinder technology, allowing it to “turn off” two cylinders (presumably the rear bank) while cruising in order to save fuel. European publications are claiming that the engine will have power “approaching 200 horsepower”, but considering Honda’s corporate philosophy and the intended market, we seriously doubt it.
Snarky asides about Honda aside–true or not–this is an interesting development. Not only does it call into question just how powerful the new VFR will be, it also calls into question the future of the venerable ST1300, with its 125HP V-4 (but non V-Tec) powerplant.
The ST1300 could certainly use a more powerful engine to push its massive weight down the road, and for touring purposes, variable cylinder technology implies the possibility of 50MPG at 70MPH. Combine that with the ST1300′s 7.8 gallon tank, and you have a highway cruising distance of 390 miles between fill-ups. A lighter, more powerful ST1200 V-Tec would seem to be the perfect reply from Honda to Kawasaki’s Concours14 and Yamaha’s FJR1300.
And, it doesn’t need to have 200HP. 165 is enough to make all the C14 riders green with envy.
So, now that a day or two has gone by, I find myself having some second thoughts about the R1200RT test ride I took. But, not second thoughts in the way you might expect. What I keep remembering about the K1300GT is that when I went back into the dealership after my test ride, my first word to the salesman was, “Ick.”
I really can’t get over how much I didn’t like that bike compared to the RT. I came back from the RT test ride with a huge grin on my face.
And, keep in mind, I was the first person to take that bike on a ride. It had 7 miles on the odometer, and brand new tires. BMW hadn’t even given the clearance for that bike to be used as a test bike, though the dealer had submitted the paperwork. The sales guy had to call the owner to get permission for me to take it out, which he graciously granted.
So, I didn’t really get to wind the bike up to see what it would do. I kept the RPMs down below 5k (though my understanding is that is where the bike really takes off)m and I had to keep it very restrained in the twisty segment I took it on, because of the new tires.
And I still came back with this big, old, stupid grin on my face.
So, my second thoughts have really been on the order of:
1. I don’t need the crappy 30-watt BMW stereo for $2,000. For $400-$500, I can get an audio shop to stick in some marine speakers, a hefty amp, and hookups for my portable XM unit and iPod.
2. The dyno results for the stock RTs I’ve seen show that they have about 102HP at the rear wheel, and about 80 lb/ft of torque. So, let’s say I put a high capacity K&N filter and a Remus or Staintune full exhaust. What will that get me? Maybe 107HP and 83 lb/ft of torque? Is it worth the 1300 bucks? I dunno.
3. What would the bike feel like if I could ride out with my regular FJR style? Would it feel wimpy in comparison? Again, I dunno, but I’d like to find out.
Still, even with the relatively sedate paces I put it through, I really liked it far better than the GT.
I’m thinking black would be the best color…