2012 Honda VFR 1200 F test

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Road bike 173 horses

Presented in early 2010 as the synthesis of Honda know-how, both mechanically, qualitatively and technologically, the VFR 1200 did not achieve the expected success. Only 1,070 vehicles found buyers in 2010 instead of the 1,500 units planned and only 583 in 2011. In question: a not very expressive engine in its one hundred horsepower version and a range as well as a saddle comfort a little tight for the category.

Honda therefore made several changes in 2012 to its high-end road, including the latest version of its robotic DCT clutch, as an option. Always richly equipped as standard, the VFR intends to win back the hearts of aesthetic riders put off by the trails and other GTs with a less sporty physique..

Honda VFR 1200 F

Discovery

Prestigious, the Honda certainly is. Its dynamic and harmonious line is a superb success to which the Japanese manufacturer does not touch anything. The road has not aged a bit since its launch. Between aero and nautical, flying fish type, the general style gives pride of place to fluidity, effectively reducing a massive front end. Housing a 1200 cc V4 necessarily induces a consequent template. But far from a pinnacle, it’s a slender athletic body that contains those guts. The now familiar X-shaped optic stretches its upper part towards the top of the cockpit. The silver gray trailing edges framing the bubble form an eight aesthetic and highlight the top of the sidewalls with the multi-layered fairings. Their almost flat surface, underlined by a metallic comma at the bottom, runs towards the tank. This one, metallic, sees its capacity increase by … 0.5 liters without modifying the external volumes.

Honda VFR 1200 F stationary

The rear part of the VFR seems even more dynamic. The carefully designed long monobloc saddle with complex shapes is framed by profiled passenger handles. The seat rests on a perfectly sheathed buckle, with sharp angles, whose new LED light completes the sporty aesthetic. This shell receives the suitcase fixing system. There are discreet passenger footrest plates fitted with a long luggage support lug. Functional integration is excellent.

Lug and grip on Honda VFR 1200 F

We then admire, on the left side, the large single-sided swingarm without a strut, receiving the final drive shaft. This architecture highlights, on the right side, the superb 6-spoke rim adorned with a new coating, barely concealed by a short streamlined exhaust silencer. This has two asymmetrical outputs, one of which receives a valve responsible for boosting the vocals of the V4.

Honda VFR 1200 F rear view

The famous Japanese bloc adopts new injection and ignition maps as well as a larger diameter rear manifold. These slight modifications should improve low revs and contribute to lower fuel consumption. The maximum torque values ​​are slightly lower (113 daNm at 4000 rpm in 2012 instead of 115 daNm in 2010) but availability should be much better from 3000 rpm. Especially outside our borders, where the machine delivers 12.9 daNm at 8,750 rpm…

The Hamamatsu firm is therefore making simple peripheral developments. The mechanics remain the same. Thus, within the imposing double aluminum beam frame, we find an unchanged engine. As a reminder, it incorporates many technical solutions in order to limit its size and increase its performance. The V-shaped boiler is thus distinguished by its closely spaced rear cylinders which make the engine more compact in its rear part, optimizing the smoothness of the machine..

Honda VFR 1200 F engine

The integration of Unicam technology, using a simple overhead camshaft, reduces the weight and size of the cylinder heads and optimizes the shape of the combustion chambers. Finally, the angle reduced to 76 ° (90 ° on the 800cc V4) between the front and rear cylinders makes the engine even more compact. Vibration generator, this arrangement requires the use of a crankshaft with 28 ° out of phase crank pins avoiding the need for a power-hungry balance shaft.

The road V4 is very different from its cousin equipping the brand’s new wader. The Crosstourer 1200 indeed has a very specific high engine: larger valve lift, shorter intake ducts with larger diameter … The dynamic profile sought on post touring is aimed much more at performance. So, 173 hp (127 kw) at 10,000 rpm come out of the mechanical viscera of the VFR! Except for us who will have to "appreciate" the 83 Kw authorized by our municipal officials.

Exhaust Honda VFR 1200 F

To regulate this cavalry, even reduced, the GT-sport is equipped with a disconnectable anti-skating (TCS) series. First appearing as standard in 1992, on the Pan-European, this first-generation technology worked by switching off or delaying the ignition. In its current version, it now relies on electronic throttle control and differential speed calculation between front and rear wheel. The system then controls the partial or total closure of the intake throttles.

While the acceleration is under control, the braking is not to be outdone. We find of course the combined system, dear to the Japanese brand, to which ABS is added. And all this in the basic endowment! Up front, 6-piston radial calipers immediately provide information on the potential power applied to the 320mm-diameter rotors, while the 2-piston rear element grips a 276mm disc. The ground connection uses a 43 mm inverted telescopic fork with preload and adjustable rebound turn like the gas monoshock Prolink type. Adjustable by a dial on the left side (in 25 positions).

The road Naïade offers above all, in its latest version, its double clutch gearbox Optional Limited Slip (DCT), now available on four other machines: Integra, NC700X, NC700S, and Crosstourer. Endowed with two automatic AT modes (S: Sport and D: Drive) and a semi automatic manual MT mode, this 2012 version is faster and more flexible. One clutch controls 1/3/5 and the other 2/4/6. These two clutches work alternately. When changing gear, the electronic control unit detects the movement of the control and engages the next gear. It then releases the clutch from the previous gear while engaging the clutch from the gear engaged.

Screen Honda VFR 1200 F

Engine housings, quality of plastics, covers and adjustment of elements, coating of the frame plates, small extractors facing the knees. The finish is of high quality. From the superb mirrors incorporating the turn signals to the shoe surrounding the collectors, not a detail detracts from the exterior appearance of the VFR.

In the saddle

As welcoming as it is attractive, the GT-sport of Hamamatsu is easy to step over. Its new seat, more comfortable and with a less slippery coating, is located 815 mm from the ground on which my legs rest in flexion when seated (1.80m pilot). The lower limbs fit easily under the ridges of the reservoir. Switched to the half-handlebars, the atmosphere becomes more sporty but the space available, even for the older ones, is generous. We then dominate a dynamic dashboard with remarkable ergonomics. The large central tachometer is surrounded by two digital windows offering a lot of new information. The one on the left indicates the speed, the average consumption and the fuel level per bargraph. Same diagram on the right side for the engine temperature. Also displayed next to it are gear indicator, odometer or partial, clock and exterior temperature. Complete and readable, the on-board instruments follow the elegance sought by this model. Even the fork shaft reveals no unsightly wires or spaces.

Speedometer and dashboard Honda VFR 1200 F

However, one would have appreciated anodized hydraulic adjusters or a less nondescript top yoke. More importantly, the functions of the LCD screens are not controlled from the handlebars. It is true that in a robotic box, the controls are already well supplied with buttons. Upshift and downshift triggers replace the clutch lever. Automatic control or manual mode selection controls alongside the throttle grip. What to occupy the hands.

Commodos Honda VFR 1200 F

The passenger is celebrating. Its sheathed footrests and their low position offer comfort and ease. Well-designed, its saddle section will limit forward movements. Below it, the space is measured. A disk block will fit there but not much more. Too bad, we would have appreciated the possibility of placing a U-shaped lock there. Also note the absence of an empty pocket.

Large displacement V4 engine, cardan shaft … gravity recalls the good / bad memories of the VFR 1200 F during maneuvers with the engine off. 277 Kg (10 less with mechanical gearbox), certainly very stylish, do not deceive elementary physics. Although placed rather low, the masses remain important and the caution of setting during these displacements. The rather slender side stand keeps the bike fairly straight, not allowing the weight to be perceived when handling. But the slightest slope will lift all illusion.

In the city: ease at low speed

One turn of the key in the coded switch HISS illuminates the dashboard. The V4 snorts with a low, metallic growl. A brief hesitation to look for the missing left lever, another to engage an automatic mode and the VFR suddenly turns into a slight midsize! From the first turns of the wheel, the balance is amazing. Ok, this is a Honda, connoisseurs will understand. But all the same. What ease at low speed! The Honda sneaks around and places itself precisely in traffic.

Honda VFR 1200 F on highways

Still a little noisy on the first reports, the DCT is quickly forgotten. Much more than upshifting, it’s the automatic downshifting that surprises when taking the laps. It is therefore surprising to start off first at a roundabout without even having thought about it. In addition, the shaft transmission is transparent in urban areas and its smoothness comparable to the very best European systems, BMW and Moto Guzzi..

Smooth and flexible, motorization is also a pleasure in the cramped and dense daily life of cities where traffic is at walking pace. If you force it, the block accepts, in 6th on the last gear, to go at 50 km / h and 1,500 laps! However, the liter two hundred equipping the road needs to be expressed more broadly.

Motorways and expressways: stability

On the intermediates, the thrust is instantaneous and ample from 3,500 laps and on the following … 3,000. The breaker set at 10,500 revolutions seems a long way off when the breath of the V4 is already smoothing out under the painful effect of unnecessary Franchouillarde legislation. Let’s relativize all the same. On the last report, the relaunches remain correct at 90 km / h, precisely at the speed where the engine lets go. And at legal motorway speed, the unit purrs at 4,500 revolutions, ready to orbit the crew at around 200 km / h. Then comes the electronic bridle. We then enter a more linear acceleration phase than one would imagine to encounter on a machine of this displacement. And for good reason, in the honest and free world, the VFR 1200 continues with conviction its demonstration of mechanical force. In addition, the automation improves engine performance. The traditional mechanical box brings a slight improvement on this point.

Stability at high speeds is excellent on any type of road. Even in steep curves with a bumpy surface, the GT-sport keeps its course without parasitic movement. The default tuning of suspensions is particularly fine. The more athletic will prefer less flexibility but the VFR clearly shows great comfort capabilities, in line with its profile of traveler..

Honda VFR 1200 F driving on motorway

By default, the air flows press the top of the helmet and the shoulders from 140 km / h. For long journeys, the crew will decorate the bubble with an optional deflector. The addition of this element guarantees much greater comfort at speeds that are largely prohibited. Now informed of long-term services, let’s discover the sport side of this GT.

Departmental: cycle part and bluffing agility

The secondary network leaves full latitude to appreciate, or not, the double clutch gearbox and its 3 modes. Let’s start with the Drive. The speeds increase quickly, giving rise to fears, over the course of the first kilometers, of a too tight layout, putting a strain on the pleasure. This would be forgetting an important component of on-board electronics. This has, in D mode, the ability to gauge the driver’s handling and adapt his intervention and the gear ratio accordingly. Which is surprisingly effective. Under steady state at the start, there is a clear evolution and alignment of the automation with the current driving style. The V4 thus takes more revs before shifting up a gear or, on the contrary, downshifting for more recovery or, to a lesser extent, engine braking..

Honda VFR 1200 F on departmental

As long as the pace does not panic, the performance is fine. Beyond that, the S mode will bring more efficiency and relevance to the responses of the Honda twin-cylinder. Adjusted in this way, the selection best defines a profile suited to a more committed piloting. In addition, the triggers can be pulled at any time to fine tune the ride. The automation will take over later.

For less intrusion, you should switch to Manual mode. The pilot then chooses his reports as he would with a mechanical gearbox. However, this method requires getting used to the selection by these handlebar controls. Raising the index finger, lowering the thumb … your best bet will be to invest in an electronic foot switch that works as a shifter. The loop is then almost complete, the sensations being close to that of a traditional box.

Honda VFR 1200 F on national

But whatever your choice. Either way, the VFR 1200 F will give you the best of its chassis. Which is saying a lot. Its agility, for a machine of this size, is astounding. The machine enters naturally into a turn and will not depart from its course unless ordered by you. The road allows steering corrections but much less corner braking. The steering then locks and the front axle tends to straighten up. Slowing down or stopping this machine is a formality for the combined ABS braking system. Enduring and incisive, the calipers show a rather marked attack when taking the lever, allowing powerful decelerations. The rear element calls for no criticism, effectively playing its role as a retarder.

Twirling from turn to turn, the VFR is piloted as much on the handlebars as it does on the footrests. Its geometry makes it very light and does not require any particular effort to go from one angle to another. Quick, the Honda sport-touring also owes its qualities to the tires that equip it. Dunlop Roadsmart or Bridgestone BT021 R suit its capabilities well and give it flawless grip. The rear wrap would probably deserve a size smaller than the 190 in place, to optimize its liveliness. This does not prevent attacking the footrest nipples on the roads of Var. The GT gives way to an undeniably overweight "sports car" but with extremely healthy reactions. There is hardly anything except in the pins where the bulkiness becomes more noticeable.

After 4,500 revs, the exhaust valve gives a hoarse sound to the exhaust. The noise level is less noticeable to the pilot than to the people around. A good point for long journeys or a paradoxically noisy silencer, harms hearing comfort.

Honda VFR 1200 F

Part-cycle

Honda magic is focused on this point. Heavy, the VFR 1200 F annihilates this parameter as soon as the wheels turn. Obvious to drive, the general ergonomics give it an unusual naturalness. Whatever the roads, the Japanese woman absorbs small and large inequalities with equal happiness.
By default, the damping is high level and the suspension tuning finely studied. However, the available settings will allow to give even more rigor in more sporty use..

Braking / Anti-slip

Really in phase with the performance and size of the VFR 1200 F, the front and rear elements give a very good feeling during deceleration phases. The rear brake effectively sits the road on a curve, but the fairly straightforward attack from the front calipers may be surprising on slippery roads. Don’t panic, ABS is watching, as is the TCS traction control when accelerating. Its implementation is progressive and immediately regulates the drifts of the rear axle..

Brakes Honda VFR 1200 F

Comfort / Duo

The welcoming saddle leaves the passenger in a more upright position than that of the rider. Slightly higher, the seat does not outrageously expose the accompanying airflow, unless you are carrying a mannequin. The bump in the reservoir will allow it to find support when braking, in addition to the good support offered by the ergonomic side handles. After 300 kilometers traveled, my august foundation would have seen no objection to continuing the ride. Only a few tingling in my feet, due to slight vibrations at 7000 rpm, was starting to annoy me.

Honda VFR 1200 F seat

In order to optimize its GT capabilities, the VFR has a good selection of luggage. Top case of 31 or 45 liters (the latter accommodates two full-face helmets) and 29-liter suitcases (the one on the left accommodates a full-face) will improve the daily life of further trips.

Duo and Honda VFR 1200 F

Consumption

V4 engine, high weight and performance, the VFR 1200 F requires an average of 7.7 liters per 100 km of leaded liquid during the test, carried out at a very sustained pace. More objectively, consumption varies from 6.3 to 8.5 liters depending on the mood of the pilot and the load of the crew, or 170 to 250 km of autonomy before reserve. The extra 500 cl from the 19-liter can and the optimization of the injection will hardly do much more of a miracle. Not so bad, but not extraordinary for a long-distance GT either..

Equipment Honda VFR 1200 F

Conclusion

The 2012 vintage discreetly improves an already globally successful VFR 1200 F. If it is difficult to blame him for his restraint, we will still regret a heavy weight. However, apart from consumption and maneuvering level, the high-tech Sport-Touring knows how to forget its main flaw. Sensual, dynamic, its plastic attracts attention. Quality of manufacture, style and finishes place this machine in front of the rare direct competition. Comfort and ergonomics make it possible, without fatigue, to add up the kilometers in increments of 100, but it is essentially the geometry of the Hamamatsu road, with its proverbial balance, which appeals the most. And its price, in view of the standard offer, is rather attractive: 14,990 €, 1,000 more for the double clutch version. But without luggage … then count 1,700 € more.

And the market is changing. The sport-GT segment hardly has any challengers. The high-performance Kawasaki Z 1000 SX ABS available against € 13,099 does not have the same qualitative advantages and its fixed luggage racks are intrusive. As for the BMW K 1300 S, a real outsider against the VFR, its price of € 16,490, excluding the long option list like a German top model leg, also excellent performance strike..

The indirect enemies are elsewhere: pure GTs and road trails. The latter have seen their segment explode this year. Among the Greens, Versys 1000 ABS and 1400 GTR ABS at € 12,500 and € 17,499 play placed. Yamaha and its FJR 1300 ABS exchangeable for € 17,999, suitcases included, may appeal to fans of the brand in tuning forks.

Remains the ultimate competitor. As usual, the danger comes from relatives and has for name: Honda Crosstourer 1200. Electronically and mechanically very close, the sisters will join forces to win the votes of the customers. Will the more accessible trail performance overshadow the aesthetics and efficiency of the road? Response at the end of the year, when Honda hopes to have sold 500 copies of its 2012 sport-GT opus.

Strong points

  • style, comfort and finishes
  • cycle part
  • quality of standard electronic assistance
  • Optional robotic box

Weak points

  • weight
  • consumption
  • reduced engine operating range.

available in red, black and white

The technical sheet of the VFR 1200 F

To remember

New injection and ignition mapping, new dashboard information. New rim surface treatment. Redesigned saddle and less slippery surface. LED taillights. Latest generation TCS and DCT. 0.5 liter more capacity for the tank.

  • 2 versions: Manual Transmission – Double Clutch Transmission
  • 3 colors: Titanium Metallic Blade, Candy Tahitian Blue, Metallic Black Darkness.
  • € 14,990 (€ +1,000 for the Double Clutch version)
  • Guarantee and assistance 24/24 for 3 years (unlimited mileage)

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2 thoughts on “2012 Honda VFR 1200 F test

  1. ___

    THANK YOU Dear Philippe.

    I only discovered your answer right away, and so I responded very late with my apologies … Some major turbulence in my life has been spoiling it for me for eight months now! (My Daughter was taken from me by her Mother)…

    Anyway if BMW Motorrad does NOT release the K 1600 GT at the end of 2018 with the CONNECTED Dashboard, (no more possible improvements):

    I am leaving BMW to take the last KTM 1290 SUPER ADVENTURE S, which will also be better suited to the roads of New Caledonia !

    Sincerely,

    Claude, Biker for Life, Biker 4 Ever!

    [www.facebook.com]

  2. I wouldn’t want to disappoint you, but "kalt" in German means "cold". Like "cool" in English … "Cool" in German is "cool". 🙁

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