Motorcycle.Com has the results of their shootout between the BMW K1300S and the Honda VFR1200F. On paper the bikes are a really close match with the Beemer putting out 146.8HP and the Honda throwing out 146.4 HP. BMW has the edge in torque, though, with higher torque all along the rev line, except at the tippy top, and maxing out at 89.6 ft-lb compared to the VFR’s 82 ft-lb. The BMW hit max torque 700RPM shorter, too.
On the other hand, they write that the Honda is easier to ride, more maneuverable, more comfortable, and carries its weight better than the BMW. Both bikes sport about 5-gallon tanks, so neither one is all that impressive when it comes to touring range.
So, what’s the bottom line?
“Although the BMW may not have the utter refinement of the Honda, I wouldn’t be ashamed or regretful of having a K1300S in my garage if I’d purchased one and then later had the chance to ride a VFR1200F,” says Pete. “Furthermore, the practical techy options like anti-spin control, ESA II, etc, that have real-world application raise the K13’s’s price by only $1,800 more than the Honda’s, making a case for the BMW being the better value. Frankly, the BMW’s Premium Package option is simply worth the added cost over base MSRP, especially so if you amortize that $1,800 across the term of a loan.”
The price on the Honda is the kicker. For what you get for the money, I’d agree that the BMW is probably a better deal. You really do have to ride a BMW to really get how good the ESA is. And the BMW cruise control really is excellent.
I really wanted to like the new VFR a lot, but this 1st-gen model doesn’t seem to quite have “it” at the price Honda’s asking you to shell out.
Motorcycle USA Motorcycle.Com has posted their 2010 Literbike shootout, comparing the newest European bikes to the top Japanese 1,000cc rockets. From Europe, they test the Aprilia RSV4 R, and the BMW S1000RR. From the Land of the Rising Sun comes the Honda CBR1000RR and the Kawasaki ZX-10R. Like nearly everyone else who’s riddewn it, they give the top marks to the BMW.
BMW S1000RR. If you want the literbike with the most power, best brakes, a wonderfully compliant chassis and best available options in 2010, these are the only letters and numbers you need to know.
Everybody loves this bike, it seems, in the sportbike set.
And yet, in World Superbike, where the S1000RR is in its second season of competition, its riders have been on the podium…um…not a single time.
Honda USA has announced the pricing for the manual-transmission version of the VFR1200F as $15,999. Still no pricing for the dual-clutch model, but we can expect it to be significantly higher, I suppose.
I guess I still don’t get it. Who is this bike for? Certainly not touring people, who will hate its “fuel-suckery +_small tank = limited range/no standard luggage” equation. Not sport-bikers, who’ll hate dragging around it’s lardy bulk. Honda had the chance to bring out a really game-changing sport-tourer or hyperbike. People who’ve rode it say it’s nice, but not spectacular.
Even the old VFR fans I’ve talked to seem disappointed by the specs for the 1200.
And, for 16 grand–probably 17 grand for the duel clutch version…well, that’s almost in BMW territory.
Somehow, I don’t see K13GT riders making a switch to the VFR any time soon.
Since Motorcycle-USA’s Ken Hutchison was already in Japan for the Tokyo Motor Show, he was conveniently available to go out to the Sugo racetrack and hop aboard the new VFR1200F at the press demo. In return, he’s provided us with a nice first ride review that’s pretty comprehensive.
I’m not going to steal his thunder by quoting extensively from his review, but I was interested to read this bit about the new Dual Clutch Transmission (DCT):
When riding the DCT bike it’s clear that the system is dialed in. There are two modes to can select from while on the fly, D-mode for regular or street riding and S-mode for sport riding. In D-mode the bike shifts well-before it starts making real power. Instead, it just chugs along, shifting gears and accelerating in a mellow manner in order to maximum fuel efficiency and minimize strain on the rider. Don’t be misled into thinking the auto clutch is a snoozer. In S-mode the motorcycle is as fun as the standard version. To my surprise the bike shifts in a very intuitive manner, making both up- and downshifts precisely and effectively on the track to the point where I was comfortable letting the bike do the work while I focused on enjoying myself on the winding, twisty Sugo race track. The VFR never initiated an unwanted shift, and yet if you don’t agree with the gear it chooses then simply select a different gear with the paddle shifter. The bike reverts to manual mode as soon as you intervene.
It’s interesting to see this, personally, because I ride a Yamaha FJR1300AE, the one with the YCC-S electric clutch system. It operates similarly to the Manual” mode of the Honda DCT, but I’ve really developed a love/hate relationship with it, and I’m ready to go back to a standard transmission bike.
The YCC-S has its positive points. Upshifts are generally speedy and so seamless you don’t even have to let up on the gas to shift. It’s also nice in city commuting traffic. But, it also has its problems. Downshifts are slow, and require attention, because kicking the shift lever, or flicking the handlebar shifter doesn’t necessarily result in an instant downshift. Or, sometimes, any downshift at all.
And the YCC-S really does want to try and kill you in parking lots. The clutch engages/disengages at around 2500 RPM. Or 2700. Or 2300. Whatever. So, you often find yourself at slow speed, maneuvering into a parking lot when the clutch engages, and you lose all power to the rear wheel–which is not something you’re keen to happen when you’re leaning over at 5 MPH.
So, I’m curious about Honda’s DCT system. It appears to work fine on the track, but I’m wondering how easy it is to live with when pulling into the local Albertson’s or Safeway. My experience with the YCC-S makes me wonder if it’s really all that great.
Yes, I know that the plural of “fury” is “furies”, but I’m referring to the model name, not the state of rage, so the title is OK. But, it is still plural, because Honda has added two new Fury models to accompany the original VT1300.
The VT1300CR is a more relaxed version of the Fury. The handlebars are swept back more for a more relaxed rider stance. The front of the frame has been lowered as well, so that, while the extreme rake angle still juts that front tire way out in front, it’s got a less extreme chopper look than the high neck that the original Fury sports. The fenders are bigger, and more sculpted, but the tires are smaller (and wider), moving from a 21″ front and 18″ rear to a 17″ front and 15″ rear. They’ve also moved the speedometer onto the tank, instead of mounting it between the bars.
The VT1300CS is a shorter, thinner bike than the CR, with 4.72″ shaved off the wheelbase, and 5.8″ off the width. It also has smaller, less flashy fenders, but, while it keeps the 15″ tire out back, it goes to a 21″ tire in front. It still has the low neck of the CR model, but narrower, less pulled back handlebars.
I’m not a big fan of the Fury, in general, but I know a lot of people like them. And my chick thinks they’re cute. It’s also one of the few big-boy bikes she can actually pick up off the stand, and flatfoot when she gets it up.
But that boring old 1300cc VTX mill just doesn’t do it for me. This really seems like a bike that screams for one of the Big Twins.
After months of anticipation, Honda released the images, specifications, and availability details of the new VFR replacement, the VFR1200F.
Let’s start with the pictures. Shown below is the only version that will appear in the US,with its red livery. Why the euros get multiple color choices, and we have to be satisfied with a single color is beyond me, but here it is. Click the thumbnails to enlarge.
I have to say right up front that the looks don’t grab me. The blunt nose with the odd-shaped headlight just don’t do it for me. Maybe the look will grow on me, but the first impression doesn’t…impress.
The specs for the bike are more to my liking, and pretty interesting.
First up, it’s a serious step up in power from the current generation VFR. Honda claims an output of 170HP at 10,000RPM and 95lb-ft of torque at 8,750RPM from the 1237cc V-4 power plant. However you slice it, those are very respectable numbers, and a big leap from the current VFR. The engine also sports variable cylinder technology that uses two, three, or four cylinders, depending on throttle input. The four cylinders are set at different angles, with the rear two cylinders located innermost on the crankshaft and the front cylinders located outboard in order to narrow the rider’s seating position.
The buyer will have a choice of transmissions. You can choose a standard 6-speed transmission, or spring for the dual-clutch 6-speed transmission, with a manual mode that shifts via a finger paddle on the handlebars, a la the FJR1300AE, and two automatic options: one for sport, which takes each gear to the redline before shifting, or a short-shifting economy mode. Power gets from the tranny to the rear wheel via a brand new shaft drive system that sports an offset pivot point and sliding constant-velocity joint to eliminate driveline lash.
Rear suspension for the VFR is a Honda Pro Arm® single-sided swingarm with single gas-charged shock with a remote spring preload adjuster, adjustable rebound damping and 5.1 inches of travel. Front suspension is provided by a 43mm inverted cartridge fork with adjustable spring preload and 4.7 inches of travel. But not, apparently, rebound damping. The latter may be a consideration for some.
You may have already noticed the two-tone fairing. That’s part of Honda’s new air management system. Honda calls this “layered fairing technology”, and explains it as follows:
By effectively increasing the speed of the air by channelling it through smaller apertures before it reaches the radiators, engine cooling is optimized and the hot, exhausted air is channelled away from the rider and passenger for a cooler, more comfortable ride. The heat generated by the powerful, enclosed V4 engine is also channelled away to keep hot air away from the rider.
Apparently, Honda gave some thought to heat management in precisely the way that Yamaha and Kawasaki did not when creating the first gen FJR and Concours14.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t appear they gave as much thought to travel range, with the VFR1200F having only a 4.9 gal tank. This is a serious deficiency if the VFR is supposed to do any serious touring. Even worse is the claimed 36.5 MPG fuel efficiency. Taking Honda’s claims at face value give the VFR1200F a maximum fuel range of 179 miles. Both the efficiency and range seem a bit low for a bike that uses variable cylinder technology for economy. In fact, that’s just plain low, no matter what. This is the biggest disappointment I can see from the claimed specs. It’s a gas hog with a small tank. Great.
It’s also a pretty big bike–though significantly smaller than the ST1300–with a curb weight (full of gas and ready to ride) of 591lbs for the standard transmission model and 613 lbs for the super-tranny version. It’s still lighter than an FJR or Connie, but significantly heavier than most sport bikes.
Bringing all that weight to a stop comes from dual full-floating 320mm discs with CBS six-piston calipers with ABS in front, and a single 276mm disc with CBS two-piston caliper with ABS out back. Supporting it all is a
So, now we’ve seen the pics, and we’ve read the specs. And I have just one question about the VFR1200F.
What is it?
Is it a sport bike? if so it seems awfully big for it. Hustling a 600 lb bike through the twisties can be done, of course, but all that extra weight has inertia to match, which limits its canyon-carving ability.
Is it a touring bike? Then why is the tank so small, fuel range so compromised, and the luggage so downsized?
Is it a ‘Busa-style superbike? Then why only 170 horses? Ultimately, a ‘Busa or ZX-14 will be admiring it in their rear-views.
The more I look at it, the more it seems like a niche bike without a…niche.
I really wanted to be impressed with this bike. I thought that with all the new technology we’d be getting…I dunno…more. What it is, though, seems like a bastardized compromise between a sportbike and a sport-tourer that does neither of those things very well. For a sportbike, I’d want it lighter, with a shorter wheelbase. For a tourer, I’d want better mileage and range.
Of course, if you want a compromise bike, it seems like the VFR1200F will deliver that in spades.
Honda UK’s test rider Dave Hancock has done some extensive riding of the new VFR1200F. He seems to like the new bike a lot. He’s positively glowing about it.
It sounds like a wonderful machine, doesn’t it? The thing is, while he’s talking about the bike in such glowing terms, I can’t help noticing that he’s wearing a red shirt. And it has a big ol’ white wing on the left breast. That says “Honda” right beneath it. So, I gotta wonder if he’s, you know, the most objective source of information.
I’m just saying.
Honda has been hinting about it. They’ve been dropping tantalizing videos about it. They’ve issued technical white papers on it. They’ve even had it out in semi-public places where the overly-inquisitive could take spy shots of its pre-production form. But today, Honda officially confirmed that the new 1200cc V-4, V-Tec motorcycle will be a part of the 2010 Honda Line-up, and will unveil it to the world at the Tokyo Motorcycle Show in three weeks. Named the VFR1200F, Honda says the new motorcycle is a dedicated sport-touring bike. We still can’t see it yet, because Honda is keeping the final appearance under wraps until the Tokyo unveiling, but I’m sure all the VFR fanatics–and are there any other kind of VFR riders?–are now thinking seriously about getting hold of one as soon as their finances allow.
But that’s not all they confirmed today. Big Red will also be bringing the CB1100 to the Tokyo show as well. It harks back to the iconic UJM bikes of the 1970s, like the 750Four or the Kawasaki Z900. It even has the throwback chrome fenders.
Interestingly, it’s not water-cooled, but rather obviously an air/oil-cooled inline-4.
This is what motorcycles were like when I was a kid. Naked bikes, ready to accept whatever customization you wanted to provide.
The only down side is that Honda hasn’t specifically said that this is a 2010 production bike. Just that they will be unveiling it in Tokyo. But I suspect they wouldn’t unveil it for no other reason that to say, “Glad you liked it. We aren’t going to do anything with it.” I suspect this is, in fact, an upcoming model, especially since it looks almost exactly like the CB1100F concept bike they showed off two years ago.
We’ve seen pre-production spy shots. We’ve had technical details released. Now, motoblog.it has captured what looks like a production version of the motorcycle tooling around in the wild. Click the thumbnails below to enlarge.
It looks nice, and has interesting tech. So, how much torque and horsepower? Inquiring minds want to know.
The front headlight still looks like a mutant frog, though.
Honda Motorcycles gave us a much more detailed look at the multi-function transmission that they’ll be putting into the the new VFR1200 today. As mentioned previously, the new transmission will operate in three modes: a 6-speed manual mode, which works like a standard motorcyle transmission, and two automatic modes–one for regular and one for sport riding.
The tranmission is also a duel-clutch transmission, i.e., it has two independent clutches, one of which operates on the even gears, with the other operating on odd gears. Honda says that the two clutches provide seamless gear changes, and, unlike previous dual-clutch transmissions, avoids the usual bulk penalties by using dual input shafts, an in-line clutch design, and concentrating the hydraulic circuitry under the engine cover.
And the VFR isn’t the only place you’ll be seeing it. Honda states that it “intends to gradually expand the deployment of the new transmission to more and more of its large-displacement motorcycles, particularly sports models destined for use in developed countries.”
In addition to the technical details, Honda has released a number of crawings to go along with them, which I append below, and which you can click to enlarge.
Honda has announced four motorcycles–two of them completely new for the US market–for the 2010 model year. The other two are the 2010 updates for the Fireblade and CBR600. But it’s the new bikes that should grab some attention.
First up is the Shadow Phantom. Just as the Fury gives Honda a factory chopper, the new Phantom is a factory “dark custom” bobber. Powered by a 754cc V-Twin with Honda’s new sophisticated Programmed Fuel Injection under the hood, the exterior is all old-school, down to the black wire wheels, and fat front tire.
Most of the engine and body work is blacked out, leaving some chrome on the forks, pipes and rear brackets for a nice accent. I’ve always thought the Honda air cleaner looked like a chrome tumor on their bikes, but this blacked out version is far more acceptable.
I’m not generally a big fan of Honda cruisers, but this new dark custom is not a bad-looking bike at all. I guess with Harley-Davidson making a mint on the whole dark custom look, Honda decided to get in on the act, too. They’ve done a great job with this bike in doing it.
Oh, I guess I’d quibble a bit about doing it on a 750cc bike instead of one of the big twins, but other than that, I give this one a thumbs up.
The next bike is another sub-1000cc bike aimed for the commuter and light-tourer. The NT700V is the little brother of the big ST1300 touring bike. Everything on the NT700V is cut down in size from it’s big brother..but it still has the tip-over wings that the ST guys love so much.
Unlike the ST, the NT has an interesting feature to its saddlebags: There’s a pass-through space between them, which allows you to put some fairly large items inside the luggage area. That’s kind of a neat idea.
This is not, by the way, actually a new motorcycle, it’s just new to the US market. European riders have had access to the NT for a decade now, but Honda has decided to bring the bike to this side of the pond.
It’s powered by a 680cc V-Twin, so it might be a little anemic for two-up riding, but it would probably make a great light tourer for a single rider. And, coming in at just under$ 10k for the base model, the price is pretty good, too. ABS brakes are available for another grand.
The remaining two bikes are updates of Honda’s CBR-series sportbikes. New for 2010 is a black and orange paint scheme for the Fireblade. It’s also got the Honda Electronic Steering Damper that increases damping as speed and acceleration increases. It’s also available with Honda’s racing ABS braking system as well.
The CBR100RR is a top-flight sport-bike, and Honda is carrying on the Fireblade’s venerable tradition in the 2010 model year.
The CBR600RR also gets a bit of a facelift for 2010, with some of the Fireblade’s color schemes also available for the 600cc model.
Like the CBR1000RR, the 600 also has an available option for Honda’s racing ABS system.
The pricing and availability for the two CBR models has not yet been announced by Honda.
Honda seems to have more in mind from its new V-4 V-Tec engine than just a new version of the VFR/Interceptor, or ST1300 replacement. Word from BMW Motorrad is that Honda is also working on a new motorcycle, using that engine to power an adventure bike aimed squarely as a competitor to the R1200GS.
The current model name for the bike is the XLV1200. Like the GS, it will be a shaft-drive bike, capable of both on- and off-road operation, with a lot of suspension travel.
Honda is apparently still looking at fuel capacity, trying to ensure that they can put a fairly large fuel supply onboard to increase the range.
The new Honda engine is capable of 200 horsepower, so it should be capable of eating up miles like nobody’s business, whether the road is paved or unpaved. One presumes that Honda will tune this bike more towards torque than speed, however.
The target date for this bike is said to be for the 2011 model year.
According to Bloomberg, Kawasaki will be switching motorcycle production out of Japan, to Thailand. The first production shift will be medium and large motorcycles as early as this year.. It seems that Kawasaki may also be joined there by Honda, which is also considering shifting production of medium-sized motorcycles to that country.
This will mark the first time a Japanese manufacturer has begun production for export in a developing country. The company cites lower labor costs for the move.
Motorcycle News, in the UK, has just released their 19 August print issue, in which the BMW S1000RR goes head to head against Honda’s venerable CBR1000RR, and smacks it down like a red-headed stepchild. Indeed, they say that their tester could do a 3-second faster lap in the test at the track in Brno. They breathlessly report:
In this week’s issue of MCN, on sale August 19, we have a world exclusive track test of the BMW S1000RR. According to our tester, it feels more powerful than a Yamaha R1 and makes the Honda Fireblade’s suspension feel rubbish in comparison…
World exclusive riding impressions of the new BMW sports bike shows it can lap Brno 3 secs faster than a Fireblade.
Man, that sounds like a super hot bike, doesn’t it? Three seconds per lap faster than the CBR1000RR! Wow!
The thing is, that in World Superbike, where actual, professional racers do actual, professional racing, the S1000RR’s best result to date has been Troy Corser’s 5th place finish at Brno in Race 1. He was 10th place in Race 2. He was beaten by two Fireblades in race 1 and three in race 2.
And, of the top 10 riders in WSB after 10 of 14 rounds, four of them ride Fireblades. None of them ride BMWs.
I’m just saying.