Honda VFR 800 test

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Admirable vessel

The VFR is the essential icon of a category that has fallen a bit into disuse today. Too bad, because this sixth generation pushes the concept of Sport-GT to its climax, a brilliant Swiss army knife capable of doing everything (well).

The Sport GT category, it was a little Honda who invented it with its VFR 750. Not that there was no equivalent machine before its appearance in 1986, but never before had a machine succeeded in combining two qualities as diametrically opposed as making a Paris-Marseille 200 km / h on average, arriving as fresh as a flower and “breaking a beat” on a departmental road. Yes, at the time everyone didn’t give a damn about speed limits. Better, this VFR even allowed itself to show it to pure and hard sports cars thanks to its incredible ease of driving..

Honda VFR 800 in white

Subsequently, Honda did not wish to follow with its VFR the radicalization of sports and the eternal race to power that began in the 90s, preferring to entrust this role to its CBR family. This did not prevent the VFR from evolving every four years, each time refining the initial concept. In 1990, the VFR adopted a new V4 derived from that of the RC30 as well as a single-sided arm. The 94 version will be satisfied with a slimming treatment and a design inspired by the NR 750 with oval pistons. The fourth generation is entitled to a new 800cc V4 and inaugurates the first Dual CBS ABS. Finally, in 2002, the fifth VFR of the name, with a more sporty design, inaugurating an unprecedented V-TEC distribution, actuating only two of the four valves of each cylinder to gain torque at low speeds and reduce consumption. Despite proven commercial success, this latest iteration will reap the wrath of purists and a few magazines. Why ? The abandonment of the famous distribution by cascade of pinions (considered indestructible and unbreakable) was perceived as a sacrilege and the entry into action of the V-TEC was considered too brutal by some. A 12-year hiatus followed with a smooth-running V-TEC in 2005 as the only notable development. It must be said that in the meantime, the morphology of the market has evolved, notably with the explosion in demand for roadsters. In short, we imagined the VFR 800 peacefully ending its career, passing the baton to its big sister VFR 1200 before discreetly bowing out. At least until Honda unveiled this 2014 vintage last year…

Honda VFR 800

Discovery

In its specifications, Honda has set two priorities for the development of this sixth generation: improving the qualities at the heart of the VFR philosophy and updating its technological content. It goes through a V4 with optimized performance at low and medium revs via new camshafts and an in-depth reworked injection. As a side effect, the operation of the V-TEC is further softened in its transition between 2 and 4 valve modes. As a reminder, the VTEC switches to 4-valve mode from 6500 rpm. The return to “2 valves” when decelerating is done at 6200 rpm, in particular in order to avoid inadvertent switching from one mode to another when driving at constant speed. The abandonment of the 4 in 2 under the saddle in favor of a more classic 4 in 1 allows the weight to be reduced by 5 kilos while lowering the center of gravity. In figures, this translates into 106 horsepower at 10,250 rpm and a maximum torque of 75 Nm obtained at 8,500 rpm. The cooling system is also modified, passing from two side radiators to a single smaller model (-2 kg) positioned at the front. Finally, the electronic hardware now incorporates traction control. If it is not configurable as on some sports, it can be deactivated via a control on the handlebars. Finally, a Quickshifter (a first for Honda) allowing you to change gears on the fly without cutting the throttle is available as an option..

Honda VFR 800 from side

Regarding the chassis, the double aluminum beam frame is retained but the rear loop is redesigned and changes from steel to aluminum, all for a gain of 3 additional kilos, lowering the total to 239 kg all full. or -10 kg for those who did not follow. Honda also specifies that the swingarm is unique without announcing any gain in weight or stiffness. Why not … Another surprising choice, Honda did not consider it necessary to transplant an inverted fork but the cartridge element is serious with its 43 mm diameter and its adjustments in preload and compression. On the rear shock absorber mounted on a rod, there is a rebound adjustment complete with a preload adjustment knob transferred to the rear left footrest plate. And for the cosmetic aspect, this sixth generation inaugurates a dress as classy as it is original while incorporating design details from previous generations. The visual signature of the X-shaped optics inaugurated on the VFR 1200 is repeated here while integrating LED elements (another first).

Honda VFR 800 headlight

At the other end, the one-piece unit integrates LED brake light and indicators.

Honda VFR 800 rear light

Another innovation inaugurated on this VFR, the automatic stop of the indicators. This system, coupled to the ABS sensors is able to detect the rotation differential between the front and rear wheel in a bend, cutting off the turn signals when the differential returns to zero (vertical). In the phases where the machine takes little angle (overtaking), the cut is made after 120 meters when driving at less than 50 km / h or after 7 seconds if driving beyond. Among the original equipment, we will also note the presence of a central stand as well as heated handles embellished with a reminder on the dashboard of the chosen intensity..

In the saddle

No revolution when stepping over this VFR, the driving position is still typical Sport-GT with the bust slightly less leaning forward than the previous generation. The half-handlebars are in fact raised by 13 mm and brought together by 6.5 mm. If necessary, optional plates make it possible to obtain an even more relaxed position (+ 13.5 mm in height and 6.5 mm closer). The saddle height is also adjustable on two levels, 789 or 809 mm. The low position allows a driver of 1.70 m to pose, legs outstretched, both heels on the ground. To switch from one to the other, it will be necessary to mechanize a little and especially to equip oneself with BTR keys not provided in the tool kit. Without going into details, the operation takes a little over five minutes and requires the manipulation of six screws after removing the passenger seat. High-end requires, we have the right to a hydraulic clutch and adjustable levers by wheel on 5 notches.

The instrument panel consists of a huge central tachometer surrounded by two backlit LCD screens. On the left, speed and fuel gauge. On the right, a gear indicator engaged, an odometer or two partial, the outside temperature, the time and the average consumption as well as the intensity level of the heated grips.

Honda VFR 800 speedometer

The overall finish is of a very high level: pearly paint (on the white version), hidden cables, perfect welds, bronze finish of the handlebars and engine casings … By quibbling, we may find that the exhaust is a bit too basic for a machine stamped with the brand’s Premium badge, but there is what is needed in the options catalog to repair this “oversight”. One press on the starter and the V4 immediately distills its inimitable sound. A real happiness compared to the banal sound of the multiples 4 online on the market! Without tearing your eardrums, the vocalizations are very present from the lowest revs, punctuated by flatulence at each gas cut. Better, a valve in the air box is activated past the 7500 rpm cap, increasing the sound level while giving the V4 racing tones. Rhaaaa! But let’s not anticipate, let’s first see how Miss VFR 800 fulfills the urban component.

Honda VFR 800

In the city

Let’s start right away with the annoying stuff. The V4 is much less flexible than a 4 cylinder in line, accepting to resume correctly from 3000 rpm, see 3500 rpm on the last report (approx. 70 km / h). After this, we take advantage of a very round character and times equivalent to those of a roadster of equivalent displacement despite a transmission pulling much longer. No particular comment to make on the driving position, soft enough to preserve forearms and necks. The controls are sweet with a special mention on the box, just perfect, whether or not you help yourself to the Quickshifter. And for handling, it’s the usual Honda cut-and-paste. The grip is done in a snap and the overall behavior is of benevolent neutrality. Our urban journey was unfortunately too short to comment on any heat build-up from the V4 encapsulated in the fairing….

Honda VFR 800

Motorway and expressways

While waiting to fully test the travel skills of the VFR on a Paris-Marseille, the few fast portions appearing on our Spanish road-book (the presentation was in Alicante, in parallel with the CB 650 F) highlighted a compromise more focused on stability at high speed than on agility in small corners, logical for a Sport-GT. Suddenly, we can not find fault with the course, regardless of the angle or speed. Despite a fairing narrower than in the past, no eddies to report at the level of the legs and the bubble correctly deflects the air up to 150/160 km / h without requiring to lie on the tank. At 130 km / h, the V4 purrs at 5500 rpm, or below the V-TEC engagement threshold and should therefore benefit from the reduced consumption of its "2-valve" mode (see consumption section).

Honda VFR 800

Departmental

At each presentation it is the same, the smallest portion of departmental sounds the beginning of the colonial quarter of an hour. Or almost. Those who have read the test of the CB 650 F know that the varying conditions of grip did not systematically encourage gaudriole. But even in these tricky conditions, the VFR 800 was particularly reassuring with a stable, precise front end offering excellent feedback on the grip available. And as long as you ride at 75% of your possibilities (those of the pilot, not the bike) everything goes smoothly and easily. The stiffness / comfort compromise of the suspensions and the front / rear agreement are irreproachable and the V4 is as round at mid-speed as it is angry in the turns, all enhanced by a connection between the accelerator and the transparent rear wheel. Vocalises, pleasure AND character, this V4 has it all. By forcing the pace, however, the choice of a geometry favoring stability will require a little physical commitment. Pressing the half-handlebars is not enough and to switch quickly from one angle to another, you have to play with the supports on the footrests, or even move your body in full arsouille mode. A small price to pay for a machine that separates two categories…

Honda VFR 800 test

Braking

At the front, the traditional fork is fitted with a 310mm twin disc clamped by radial four-piston calipers. For the rear, it is a simple 256 mm disc lined with a caliper with two superimposed pistons, all coupled to a two-way ABS with transparent operation and perfectly calibrated for sporting use. Note that the coupled braking of the old generation is not repeated here. Power and endurance call for no complaints and the whole is distinguished by an excellent feeling, both on the lever and on the pedal.

Honda VFR 800 test

Duo and practical aspects

Long journeys with a passenger are more than possible with a thick seat – although a little narrow in its rear part – and ideally placed grab handles. And if the height adjustment is tedious and the tool kit starved, the VFR makes up for it on many points. The space under the seat can accommodate a specific U and the rear frame loop and passenger footrests act as plates to accommodate optional 29-liter side cases. Let us quote (again) the wealth of the equipment: central stand, ABS, disconnectable traction control, heated grips adjustable on 5 levels, damper preload knob. And then there are the options. In addition to the Quickshifter and the handlebar riser mentioned above, we also find in the options catalog an Akrapovic silencer (which manufacturer does not have one today?), Tank protections, a specific tank bag, top -cases (31 or 45 liters), an alarm, an anti-theft device, a 12V power socket and even interior or exterior protective covers !

Honda VFR 800 seat

Consumption

The average consumption in WMTC cycle is announced for 5.8 L / 100km. A figure close to reality since in the context of our test (carried out at a good pace), the on-board computers of our machines indicated values ​​between 6.2 and 6.8 liters. If we comply with official figures, the 21.5 liters of the tank can exceed the 370 km of total autonomy..

Honda VFR 800

Conclusion

Honda is doing strong with this sixth generation of its iconic VFR. The cocktail does not change radically but the sum of all the small improvements made (general lightening, increased engine approval, equipment, technological content …) makes it a devilishly homogeneous machine and almost flawless. More subjectively, the whole exudes an unusual charm thanks to its “unique” engine. Those who criticize the lack of character of Honda engines must imperatively try this VFR 800. Last good news, the 2014 VFR 800 appears in concessions at 12 599 €, that is to say only 100 € of increase compared to the 2013 vintage. , a little hungry it is true, we can oppose it the Triumph Sprint ST, sold € 13,535 with a pair of side cases. The Honda, once optioned at the same level of equipment, is billed at € 13,490. We can also mention the Z 1000 SX hybrid (13,499 € with ABS), current segment leader in Europe, more sporty but less well off in terms of protection.

Strong points

  • Character and approval of the V4
  • Equipment
  • Finishing
  • Handling

Weak points

  • Lack of flexibility at low revs
  • Disappearance of CBS

The technical sheet of the VFR 800

Official sales figures

  • 22550 VFR750 from 86 to 97
  • 15851 VFR800 from 98 to 2013

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14 thoughts on “Honda VFR 800 test

  1. Or how to regress in design … really unfortunate this aesthetic aspect of the front and sides. With more daring she would have been attractive.

    Mention mega minus for this hideous pot. A compact element barely protruding in front of the rear rim would also have contributed to a little more appeal…..

    disagree

  2. Philippe, if you want to put "cool" in French in the text, it would translate rather to "Geil" in German wink

  3. Maybe, Julbadi, but since the Germans, unlike the French, speak fluent English when they leave school, we can keep "cool" !!

  4. Thanks for that clarification, but again, I was really bad at German. I was already more interested in girls and motorcycles than in school, and my German teacher was kind of a plant monster with legs. A few decades later, I must have three vocabularies left, and a deep and sincere interest in the Nьrburgring and the Porsche 911. Like what, I have not lost everything !

    Philippe

  5. Geil for cool interesting personal I would rather have said naugthy for geil…

    For the rest I like the report, not the motorcycle …

  6. Some photos, the 2,3,4,5 and the last one in particular, do not correspond to the last GS. Too bad they did not improve the layout of the exhaust to have a real suitcase on the left instead of a storage compartment.

  7. Quotejakboregar
    Some photos, the 2,3,4,5 and the last one in particular, do not correspond to the last GS.

    Hu?

    It seems impossible to me, but I would like to know more. These photos were taken during the presentation of this model.

  8. Without wanting to get angry with friends who have it, I’ve never been a fan, yet I like big trails.

    I find it rather ugly, too expensive and of questionable reliability.

    I tried it several times without being really convinced.

    This is only my personal opinion.

  9. Personally, I’ve always had trouble with the aesthetics of the GS … Besides that, it’s clear that it’s a great bike, and in a pass, for those who know how to ride, it’s practically the absolute weapon…

    For those who have trouble with the GS look, almost equally effective (and still a little more expensive …) there is the RT. Same chassis with ready deflections, almost as easy to handle, same engine and top protection … After 40 years of Japanese, I tested … approved and … bought …

  10. I’m not surprised (:)), it’s still an interesting and enjoyable article to read.

    I understand the interest of BMW in providing full option test motorcycles … But the consequence is that articles on the fully equipped GS are found full of them while I cannot find a single article on a basic GS. However it would be interesting to know what the chassis is worth without ESA and if it is really essential to ruin yourself by taking all the packs…

    And it would also be nice to know more about the reliability of motorcycles … I think that in a comparison 1200 gs / xtz 1200 super T or in a choice between an africatwin and a ktm 1090 adventure it is a criterion one not very essential.

    Biker greetings

  11. Yes I agree.

    I have been driving in gs 1200 air since 2010 and more widely in Bm for 15 years.

    I prefer not to open the discussion, because as much I love this bike, it brings a lot of satisfaction, and as much as I hate it for the unreliability, it must be said, it is not shameful, it is a fact !

    I tried to buy something else, trying the competitors and each time I stayed Bm. They have a lot of lead in the balance of their machine.

    I do not know what gives the reliability to the competitors, but personally, I would tend to think that Bm is of the planned obsolescence.

    In 15 years, I don’t go a year without going to have something repaired or corrected. It’s annoying.

    A good hearer.

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