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Honda VTR 1000 SP-1 test

What am I?

She was supposed to become the ultimate Ducati killer. Then rumors spoke of a rather moderate overall construction. Honda VTR 1000 SP-1: tough super sports car or everyday all-rounder? MOTORRAD looked into the question.

Rarely has an order been so clearly defined: Win, win, win ?? take away the Superbike crown from the Italians. The first official results from Slight and Edwards at the official preseason tests of the Superbike World Championship give hope. Honda is back. With this hope, the anticipation increases among us ordinary people. To a super sporty offshoot of these racing machines for road traffic: Japanese perfect, powerful, uncompromising and yet affordable.
Imola, February 2, 9:30 a.m. It is to despair. Thick rain clouds above, ground fog all around, larger areas of ice and snow on the slopes and in the box a delicacy named VTR 1000 SP-1. The first test machine in Europe. 11.30 a.m., it is clear to the greatest optimist: The planned race track test will no longer work. So, plan B ?? out on the country road. Always heading south, looking for the sun.
The Honda welcomes its rider according to the motto "get on and feel good". The seating position is quite relaxed, the handlebars are not too deep, the seat is wide and well padded. With the upper body only moderately bent, the driver feels more likely to be on the VTR 1000 F than on a super sports car. But not only the seating position, but also the size of this Honda is astonishing. With a full tank of 225 kilograms, it is over 25 heavier than a CBR 900 RR from the same company. And it has four cylinders and a catalytic converter.
The conditions are adverse. Wet, polluted streets lead from Imola towards Florence. First straight through the plain, then more and more curvy into the hilly landscape of Tuscany. The SP-1 surprises again. This time, however, positive. Because despite the poor external conditions, the slim VTR weighs its driver in the greatest safety. It takes its course on the greasy ground as if it were a matter of course, announcing the limit area directly and reliably. Not the slightest feeling of insecurity creeps in, no worries about being surprised by the power delivery of the two-cylinder. Everything goes smoothly and harmoniously by hand. Slowly brake, turn in, apply gas? a driving school motorcycle couldn’t do better.
The extremely short-stroke V2 drive presses a whopping 126 hp on the test stand roller ?? measured on the rear wheel, of course. But no trace of brutal outbursts of strength. From 2000 rpm, the two-cylinder pulls through almost gentleman-like. Without jerking and with steady acceleration up to the red area at 10,000 rpm. Both its acceleration and pulling potential are on the same high level as a Ducati 996 PLC. The Honda engine just seems tamer. Few vibrations, low mechanical noises and a rather subdued, compared to a Ducati downright shy sound also contribute to the unspectacular appearance.
Finally the weather is improving, the roads are getting dry, the speed is faster. And the VTR? She drives, this Honda. Without a fuss. The clutch runs smoothly, the gears almost slip by themselves. The fork and strut iron out any unevenness, ensure pleasant comfort and yet leave nothing to be desired in terms of direct feedback and precise wheel guidance. Even when braking hard on a couple of tight hairpin bends, there is no tendency to stamp. Only when you downshift quite harshly into first gear while simultaneously pressing the rear brake does the tail begin to jump slightly.
The special Metzeler ME Z 3 tires, with the additional identifier X, developed especially for the SP-1, also do a good job. The rubbers impress with their high rolling comfort, good damping and neutral steering behavior. The Metzeler tires are also considered to be a tried and tested remedy for handlebar slap. However, despite its enormous engine power and rear-heavy weight distribution, the SP-1 only lifts the front wheel when it is strongly animated and thus rarely confronts its pilot with this problem.
The narrow bar chart of the digital rev counter is more annoying because it is difficult to read. It’s good that the V2 provides a relatively wide usable speed range. On the other hand, the eye quickly gets used to the digital speedometer.
M.ith every kilometer to the south the weather improves, the temperature rises to a wholesome 16 degrees, you feel good. And somehow this rather harmless looking SP-1 managed to distract from its real purpose. Shouldn’t it be the ultimate hit, the answer to the Ducati 996 or Aprilia Mille R? The Honda pretends to be a "good buddy", has a calming effect instead of aggressive, surprises with comfort instead of sporty toughness and is more cautious than nimble or even nervous when changing lean angles quickly. She is a great sports tourer, even if her performance is in the super sporty range. It is a real all-rounder, even if the VTR 1000 F or VFR is already available. It remains to be seen whether the SP-1 can hold its own against the direct competition Ducati 996 SPS and Aprilia Mille R without a sinfully expensive racing kit. This exciting test is currently in full swing in sunny Spain and clarifies the question: Does the SP-1 master life at the limit as confidently as everyday life? In any case, everything is to be expected of this motorcycle.

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