2010 Honda Furys

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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.

2010 Honda VT1300CR
2010 Honda VT1300CR

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.

2010 Honda VT1300CS
2010 Honda VT1300CS

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.

2010 Honda VFR1200F

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 vacuum-molded, cast aluminum chassis.

And if you want to add a little more weight, there are several accessories for the VFR.  There are fairing extenders to get your hands out of the wind.  Windshield extenders to do the same for your head.  There’s full luggage–albeit somewhat smaller than the usual run of touring bike luggage–for long trips.  There’s even a navigator, so you wont get lost.  For a brand new bike, Honda seems to have really gone all out to provide lots of farkles for it.

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.

y 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.

Honda VFR1200F Interview

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.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M61ylXHrHME

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.

The Mysterious V-4 and the Return of the UJM

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.

2010 Honda CB1100
2010(?) Honda CB1100

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.

New Honda V-4 Seen In the Wild

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 Unveils the VFR Transmission

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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.

New 2010 Hondas

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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.

2010 Honda Shadow Phantom.
2010 Honda Shadow Phantom.

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.

2010 Honda NT700V
2010 Honda NT700V

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.

2010 Honda CBR1000RR
2010 Honda CBR1000RR

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.

2010 Honda CBR600RR
2010 Honda CBR600RR

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.

More V-4 Goodness?

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New Honda V-4 Adventure Bike
XLV1200: New Honda V-4 Adventure Bike

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.

Japan Outsources Motorcycle Production

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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.

MCN: S1000RR Kicks the Fireblade’s Butt

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MCN's Aug 19th Cover Story. Click to enlarge.
MCN's Aug 19th Cover Story. Click to enlarge.

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.

Motorcycle.Com’s Best of 2009

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The annual march of media bike choices continues, with Motorcycle.com weighing in with thir top picks of the year.  Their choices are interesting, and a bit different than I would have expected.

Triumph Street Triple R: Motorcycle.Com's Bike of the year for 2009.
Triumph Street Triple R: Motorcycle.Com's Bike of the year for 2009.

For the overall bike of the year, they picked the Triumph Street Triple R.

Best Sportbike honors go to the Kawasaki ZX-6R, with the runner-up being the Honda CBR1000RR.

The Ducati Monster 1100 gets the nod for best standard motorcycle, with second place going to the Harley-Davidson XR1200.

The best cruiser pick is the all new Triumph Thunderbird 1600, with the Suzuki Boulevard M90 taking an honorable mention.

The award for best touring bike goes to the BMW R1200RT, closely followed by the Honda Gold Wing.

BMW also take both first and second place spots for sport-touring, with the K1300GT winning, and the F800ST getting the honorable mention.

BMW stays in the winner’s circle for best off-road bike, with the top honors going to the F800GS, and the second spot going to the Aprilia SXV/RXV 5.5.

They also have picks for best eccentrics, scooters, technology, and more, so why not go there and read them?

More on the New Honda VFR

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Our cousins in the UK at Motorcycle news report that the new Honda V-4 bike has a lot more to it that previously thought.  There’s apparently a lot of innovation in this new bike.

First up is the variable cylinder use.  Instead of running in a V-4 and V-Twin profiles, the engine can also run as a triple.  The ECU will select the use of two, three or four cylinders based on engine demand, and throttle input. So, the rider will get smoother transitions between the different cylinder use profiles, which should translate out to a broader range of usable power for the rider.

When in two or three-cylinder mode, instead of the non-working pistons being air springs, they will actually be running in vacuum. So, instead of losing power on the upstroke of the dead cylinder, the empty cylinder will actually serve as a vacuum assist for expanding the active cylinder during its power stroke. So, on net, you get a power increase for the working cylinders.

In addition, the engine, being a V-4, will inherently have the same crossplane effect that Yamaha has used to such rave reviews in its R1 sportbike.

Moving from the engine to the gearbox, the new bike will utilize a double clutch system, similar to the ones used by Porsche.  The rider will be able to select three modes: Drive, Manual and Sport.

Drive mode will put the bike in charge of all the shifting.  It’s essentially an automatic transmission for the motorcycle, and the emphasis will be on economy, with the ECU doing short-shifting to keep the bike in two- or three-cylinder mode.

Manual mode will put the rider in charge of shifting, but the twin-clutch set up will be used to anticipate the next gear change, so the rider can shift as smoothly and quickly as a race bike with a quickshifter.

Sport mode will once again put the ECU in charge of shifting.  But this mode is designed to run to the redline in every gear, giving you peak HP–which is rumored to approach 200HP–and torque as much as possible, and allowing you to concentrate on steering the bike, cranking the throttle, and moving your butt cheeks back and forth to hang off as necessary.

And this new bike is just the beginning.  Apparently, Honda has plans to build a whole new series of bikes based on this technology.  This first bike will replace the VFR and, apparently, the ST1300/Pan-European.  But beyond that, Honda is going to give us lots of biking goodness based on the new V-4 platform.

The only remaining question is whether or not we will see this bike in the 2010 model year or not.  If we are, we’ll probably learn about it in the next 60 days.  If it performs as Honda expects, then something like like this has the potential to be a game-changer in terms of what a rider should expect from a motorcycle.

I am really interested in taking a look at this bike.