It’s the tale of a
massive corporation trying to build the perfect motorcycle for its perennially
picky customers. It’s a story of irresistible force
and immovable object, acted out by massive R&D funding colliding
with obstinate, impossible-to-please middle-class suburbanites.
Anyway, here’s the current last word in viffer-osity. It has a
lot going for it, if you ask me. It’s simple, compared to its European
competition, light—compared to the Incredible Hulk it’s replacing—yet very refined and sophisticated.
Build quality is indistinguishable from other Honda's you’ll see in
this price range, despite the motorcycle’s Thai origins
is very low, the tank is almost comically bulbous, yet the ergonomics are more
than tolerable. The foot pegs are high and the bars are low.
The position did get tiring after a long day on the road, but I could have kept riding. Our tester had non-adjustable suspension and lacked grip heaters, traction control and ABS, all available on the $13,499 DLX model.
Does that matter? Maybe
not, on the evidence of this otherwise comprehensively updated VFR. Many bikes,
including Honda's own VFR1200F, are more powerful than the 104bhp V4; some are
also more sophisticated. That doesn't
stop the VFR from being a very capable all-rounder with the unique character
and high-quality feels for which its ancestors were renowned.
Equally importantly it's
every last millimeter a Honda, and even more than that a VFR – complete
with the V4 character, heritage and build quality that those three letters have
long implied. If the VFR800R is no longer a two-wheeled demonstration of
Honda's engineering prowess, this latest in the illustrious line is still a
very rewarding machine.