Over the course of my trip, I managed to share time between the traditional manual and the 6-speed DCT model. I’ll admit that I initially approached the DCT with little interest or enthusiasm. I’ve never purchased a car that didn’t have a manual transmission let alone a motorcycle, so needless to say I have always resisted to anything that dilutes the purity of the riding experience.
My opinion on this changed for two reasons that day. Firstly, a fellow journalist who is no spring chicken and has had his fair share of sports and motorcycling injuries, explained that he has recently considered an auto box because the arthritis and tendonitis in his left hand make it uncomfortable to ride for long periods of time. The second reason was that the bike itself immediately calmed any remaining reservations I had. I expected the tranny to whine incessantly as rev rose up and the engine to bog right down during low speed turns - but it was smooth, intuitive and predictable.
|Regardless of your stance on the exterior styling of the VFR, the view gets a whole lot better from behind the handlebars and I felt more enamoured with it the longer I rode. (Photo: Honda)
In fact, the strangest part of the experience was getting used to not engaging a clutch, as my left hand continued to grab air where a lever normally resides. The rider can select from three different modes of DCT operation: standard or sporty automatic, and manual shifting using the paddle-style shifters on the left grip, to suit a variety of preferences and riding styles.
The new shaft-driven engine's performance is linear with a torque curve focused in the low-end and midrange. The throttle-by-wire system replaces a traditional throttle cable, making it easy to negotiate aggressive turns and power the 278 kg (613 lb) bike’s running weight through the bendy bits of The Trail.
Regardless of your stance on the exterior styling of the VFR, the view gets a whole lot better from behind the handlebars and I felt more enamoured with it the longer I rode. I would personally still opt for the manual version, but after a full two days of riding the Candy Red Honda VFR 1200FA DCT, I wouldn’t judge or think poorly of anyone who decided to shell out their hard-earned dollars for the DCT version. To each their own.
During an informal presentation prior to our ride, Honda Canada brass Warren Milner explained how Big Red would be altering its business strategy to eliminate aggressive rebates intended to undercut the competition in favour of the bikes selling themselves on their own merit. Milner acknowledged that the Japanese brands in particular are reducing their own profit margins in order to sell bikes, a practice he says, is not sustainable. The current MSRP of the VFR is $19,999, but it is unclear how that will change over the course of its lifecycle given this new initiative. Getting a penny change from 20 G’s for the venerable VFR is excellent value.
Option of Manual and DCT transmission
Multiple DCT modes for various riding styles/conditions
Compact, well-balanced powerplant with oodles of torque
Thirsty when riding in Sport mode
Exterior styling may not appeal to everyone
No clutch lever takes some getting used to