Honda’s latest VFR 800 goes back to its roots, will the faithful return?
by Mark DT with consultation by my good friend Mikey S.
Before writing this article I consulted with my good friend Mikey. Mike is a lover of all things Honda, and more importantly he loves the VFR 800, and has owned several over the years. Ask him what’s in his garage and he’ll show you his farkled out VFR 800.
Ask Mike why he loves his VFR and stand back. He starts with a little history. The first incarnation of the VFR was the 1986 VFR 750. In 1990 Honda introduced a single side arm to the design. In 1997 big improvements came with the introduction of linked brakes, fuel injection, and another 50 cc’s making it the VFR 800. When looking at what other manufacturers were doing in 1997 it is clear that this motorcycle was ahead of its time.
In 2002, things got really interesting. We got the introduction of the VTEC engine to the design. What VTEC did was have one pair of valves operating at low RPM, with the second set kicking in @6500RPM. The net result was riding a motorcycle that accelerated like it had a supercharger bolted on. For those that have heard of VTEC engines, just not on motorcycles, check out the same vintage Acura NSX which was a true supercar in its day.
Why does Mike love his VFR 800 so much? The VTEC engine gives a turbo like response. The linked ABS works like a charm and helps you ride the bike to its limits with an increased safety margin. The light weight of the machine (249 kg), really made it stand apart from its peers. Most importantly, it was a bike that performed like a race bike, but had comfortable ergonomics. This is important to Mike as he loves to ride all day and tour while still hitting the twisties hard.
When asking Mike about the VFR 1200 we got the first frown of the day. Too big, too heavy, too expensive, and what the heck does a sport rider want with an automatic transmission? The introduction of the 1200 lead Mike who was without a motorcycle, having recently starting a family, go out and find a great deal on a lightly used 2005 VFR 800 before the used market on VFR 800’s tightened up. His thoughts were Honda was looking for a showcase for new technology, but they picked the wrong bike to change/mess with. The VFR 800 crowd was largely unimpressed with the big changes in design. Those that wanted a VFR 1200 were not the same riders who wanted the 800.
Now it’s a new year, and Honda looks like they’ve listened to riders like Mike who share an almost evangelical belief in the VFR 800 as the best in its class.
[pullquote align=”left|center|right” textalign=”left|center|right” width=”30%”]Honda looks like they’ve listened to riders like Mike who share an almost evangelical belief in the VFR 800 as the best in its class[/pullquote]
When I asked Mike what his thoughts were on the new design, he replied “I like the look, especially getting away from the ugly exhaust of the VFR 1200. 22 pounds lighter is a big step too. I believe this act of contrition on Honda’s part to placate the VFR 800 lovers out there may just win them back.”
The new 2014 Honda VFR 800 looks like it is bringing the motorcycle that the purists wanted all along. A true “Goldilocks” motorcycle that is; not too heavy, exciting with the VTEC V4 800cc providing strong predictable power, corners with the best of them, and is all day comfortable. The final question is pricing. It is a Honda so we know the build quality and paint will be excellent, but have they priced it competitively enough to bring new riders into the church of VFR 800? My hunch is that they will do really well with this motorcycle that goes back to its roots as the perfect mid-sized sport touring motorcycle.
[important]What do you think? Please share your comments below or visit us on Facebook.[/important]