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words - Rod Chapman
Can the big Viffer cut it as a everyday bike? We have subjected it to the daily commute to give you some answers

When the Bikesales Network crew pitched Honda’s VFR1200F against BMW’s K 1300 S back in May of 2010 (click here to read that review), I was impressed with the big Viffer’s comfort, brawn and all-round mile-eating ability. However, when it comes to bikes many of us want more than a weekend warrior, so I was pretty darn pleased to stick Bikesales’ long-term VFR in the shed for a couple of weeks, to see how it would handle the daily grind.

It’s only when you live with a bike day in, day out that you really get a good sense of its strengths and weaknesses. After a couple of weeks all those little niggly things come out of hiding – the things you just don’t have the time to pick up on during a carefully-prepped motorcycle press launch, or even perhaps when you grab a bike for day or two and go for a longer test ride.

One thing that stood out whenever I went to wheel the VFR out of my garage was its weight. With a claimed kerb weight of 267kg this ain’t no stick-thin supermodel, and even though that bulk is carried low and melts away when you’re off and rolling, it does require a fair bit of muscle to push around in the drive – something that’s worth bearing in mind if you have limited garage space.

Now I don’t want a short list of niggles to overshadow what is an otherwise spectacular package, so I’ll get them off my chest in short order. The design of the front screen means it’s really difficult to clean the Perspex right down near the top of the headlight. That’s a problem on a lot of modern bikes, and although I understand the importance of air intakes here to equalize pressure and reduce buffeting, it irks me to see two little patches of dirty screen on an otherwise spotless bike.

Flying in the face of convention, the Viffer has its horn button above its indicator switch. Why? Any new VFR owner will quickly adjust, but if you own multiple bikes it’s bloody annoying to give some errant tin top intent on your destruction an angry blast of your indicators, or scare the bejezus out of the driver in front when you go to take a turn.

The rear preload is accessed by a remote wheel. Now that in itself is a good thing – I’d much rather simply turn a wheel than skin multiple knuckles while messing around with a C-spanner and a stepped preload collar – but in this instance the wheel is still quite recessed and positioned hard up against some bodywork, which needlessly negates its convenience, especially if you’re wearing bike gloves.

Okay, last gripe. This is one bike in desperate need of a trip computer, or at the very least a ‘range to empty’ readout. Trip computers are rapidly becoming par for the course on anything with some touring ability these days, and as Honda’s next-gen sportstouring flagship, this feature is prominent in its absence.

That’s the annoying stuff out of the way, and believe me the VFR1200F has a whole heap of motorcycling goodness on offer. The engine is an absolute gem – the best word I can think of to describe it is ‘effortless’. Smooth yet gruff, wonderfully refined yet with something of an edge, it’s a superb donk by any measure – you’ll need to keep a close eye on that speedo, because the numbers can creep up awfully high, awfully quickly!

I can’t fault its comfort, either – the ergonomics and bodywork combine to produce a bike that feels like it’s been tailor-made to suit my 188cm frame, and pillions get a good deal too. The quality of finish is also beyond reproach. When the VFR1200F first burst onto the scene its styling polarised opinion, but I have to say I quite like it – its bull nose lends it a purposeful, ‘I mean business’ sort of a stance.

The Metzeler Sportec M5 Interact tyres that were fitted to the Viffer a couple of months back have been doing an outstanding job of getting the bike’s impressive horsepower to the ground. Billed as a hypersports tyre, it’ll be interesting to see what sort of total mileage the Bikesales Network crew can squeeze out of them, but so far they appear to be wearing well and they certainly deliver a confidence-inspiring ride, rain or shine.

Finally, a word on economy and range. In work-a-day hack mode, which for me represents a roughly 50/50 split between highway miles and city traffic, I’ve been getting 6.67lt per 100km. That’s good enough for 277.5km on a full tank, or a working range of 250km. That’s fine for around-town use, but the 18.5lt tank is on the small side for extended tours – if you like pushing on with limited stops, the range may be an issue.

It’s been brilliant to experience the VFR1200F under ‘normal’ conditions, away from the glitz and glamour of launches, or the time pressures of focused road tests. Could I live with the Viffer as my one and only bike? Yes, I think I could – although whether my licence could take the strain is another matter entirely…

SECOND OPINION
You know how you become accustomed to the little idiosyncrasies of a bike after a short time, and things that used to stand out just become commonplace? Well, that’s where I’m at with the VFR except for one characteristic -- that seemingly endless mountain of torque available just about everywhere in the rev range.

Wherever I am, whatever I’m doing, however I’m riding, when I open the throttle the bike just leaps forward and suddenly I’m cackling away inside my helmet.  It’s not all beer and skittles though. That torque has the potential to make Melbourne’s tricky tram track-laced intersections a bit special, particularly when there’s precipitation around.

So I often find myself riding a gear higher than normal to make sure none of Sir Isaacs metric yards escape too quickly out the back and have the rear wheel trying to overtake the front.

All in all though, I’m enjoying the big gal during my intermittent rides. Perhaps if I paint it black and plead ignorance I can keep it a bit longer...
-- Simon Gould
SPECS: HONDA VFR1200F
ENGINE

Type: Liquid-cooled, SOHC, 16-valve, V-four
Capacity: 1237cc
Bore x stroke: 81.0mm x 60.0mm
Compression ratio: 12.0:1
Fuel system: Fuel injection

TRANSMISSION
Type: Six-speed manual
Final drive: Shaft
Clutch: Wet, slipper

CHASSIS AND RUNNING GEAR
Frame type: Cast
Front suspension: 43mm cartridge-type telescopic, oil-dampened
Rear suspension: Pro-link, gas-dampened (adjustable)
Front brakes: 320mm dual discs, dual six-piston calipers, ABS
Rear brakes: 276mm disc, single two-piston caliper, ABS
Tyres: Front 120/70-17, rear 190/55-17

DIMENSIONS AND CAPACITIES
Rake: 25.5 degrees
Trail: 101mm
Claimed kerb weight: 267kg
Seat height: 815mm
Wheelbase: 1545mm
Fuel capacity: 18.5lt

PERFORMANCE
Claimed maximum power: 173hp (127kW) at 10,000rpm
Claimed maximum torque: 129Nm at 8750rpm

OTHER STUFF
Price: $24,990
Options: None fitted
Colour: Candy Prominence Red, Seal Silver Metallic (as tested)
Bike supplied by: Honda Australia (www.hondamotorcycles.com.au)
Warranty: 24 months, unlimited kilometres

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To comment on this article click here Published : Thursday, 11 November 2010
Disclaimer:
In most cases, the Carsales Network attends new vehicle launches at the invitation and expense of vehicle manufacturers and/or distributors.

Editorial prices shown are a "price guide" only, based on information provided to us by the manufacturer. Pricing current at the time of writing editorial. Pricing prior to editorial dated 25 May 2009 may refer to RRP. Due to Clarity on Pricing legislation, RRP for those editorials now means "price guide". When purchasing a bike, always confirm the single figure price with the seller of an actual motorbike or accessory. Click here for further information about our Terms & Conditions.