After months of anticipation, rumours and false hopes, Big Red has finally released an epoch-making model, the VFR1200, to replace the iconic but aging VRF800. We had a short ride on the new machine in true Canadian autumn weather, sunny and 6oC, pending a much longer test ride early in 2010.
All new drivetrain
|The VFR1200 does look and feel compact, with a unique looking front fairing and the unmistakable large exhaust can.
Happily for the eyes and ears, the VFR1200 keeps the V4 configuration, adding a few twists of its own. For starters, the two front cylinders are on the outside of the rear pair, making for a narrowed engine at the rear, and thus a narrower chassis and overall feel of the bike.
The Boys in Red did not stop there in their quest for efficiency, going away from a DOHC to the UNICAM single camshaft in each cylinder head, acting directly on the heavier intake valves and through a simple rocker assembly for the exhaust valves. This means smaller, lighter and lower cylinder heads, good for mass centralisation and for moving the engine forward in the chassis for better front wheel traction on corner entry.
The engine's 76 degree V design is also aimed at producing a lighter, more compact engine. Honda engineers also wanted to avoid using a heavy and power-sapping balance shaft to eliminate vibrations. They did this by offsetting the crank pins, effectively turning the engine into two perfectly balanced twins, with only a little hum transmitted to the grips to let you know it is working hard down there.
Power transmission was not forgotten, with the VFR1200 available with a normal 6-speed gearbox or the new "Automatic" box. Go to article : (Honda Announces Dual Clutch Transmission)
for more information on how it works.
We rode with the six-speed manual gearbox, which performed up to the usual Honda standard - easy shifting, short throws, intelligent ratios and smooth clutch action.
As you would expect, the powerful ECU takes good care of ignition and fuel injection functions, with no issues to report on that front, and excellent cold riding characteristics, as we were forced to find out last week!
|You can spot the aerodynamic work on this shot, with the double layered airing side panels and the sophisticated shape or the nose and windshield.