‘You’ve been served’

Ever since the VFR1200F has landed, certain questions have been raised and tried to be answered. BIKE India’s Adhish Alawani spent some time in the saddle of Honda’s road tourer. Three days, 1,000 km and almost 100 litres of fuel later, he tries to answer the salient among those questions

Ever since the VFR1200F has landed, certain questions have been raised and tried to be answered. BIKE India’s
Adhish Alawani spent some time in the saddle of Honda’s road tourer. Three days, 1,000 km and almost 100 litres of fuel later, he tries to answer the salient among those questions


1. How many miles can one go comfortably on the VFR before the fatigue factor comes into play?
2. How does a track day figure out on the VFR1200F?
3. How is the VFR to live with?
4. Rs 5 lakh more than the world’s most beloved sports tourer. Is it worth it?
5. How cool is the automatic transmission?
6. I have the money, should I buy it?

How many miles can one go comfortably on the VFR before the fatigue factor comes into play?
The VFR1200F is targeted at those who love to spend a considerable part of their lives on the highways. Put on the tank bag, saddlebags, hook on the camelback, tank up and keep riding on the highways until you need to refuel. This is what a tourer astride a VFR is expected to be doing.

The VFR1200F has abilities to do that and how! To start with, the Veefer offers good comfort with an upright seating geometry. The rider’s seat is wide and so is the pillion’s. That ensures either good support for your luggage on the rear seat or to the pillion. A pretty much flat and not so hard seat also makes sure that the tourer can ride for a long distance without complaining of an aching bottom. As for myself, I was ready for hundreds more after clocking close to 600 km in a day without grumbling about the fatigue.

Coming to the performance, there is a lot to be talked of. The 1,247-cc engine has enough power to get you to the triple digit speed figure from standstill in as less as 4.3 seconds. Further, if you keep the throttle wide open, you will attain 200 km/h in 11.7 seconds. Though it is impossible to hold on to those speeds on highways in a country like India, it is no big deal to cruise at 130-140 km/h. The wide screen in the front is undoubtedly a superb aid to aerodynamics and you are not required to slouch to keep yourself from wind blast even at speeds in the region of 200 km/h.

Now that comfort and speed are taken care of, let us take a look at another very important question: how far will I ride before I need to tank up the bike again? Of course, being a 1.2-litre engine, it is not expected to deliver staggering fuel efficiency. However, the range of the fuel tank is something that we need to think about seriously. From my first reserve to next reserve, the bike went for about 200 km. Pretty bad, I’d say! However, this was when I was enthusiastically riding anywhere between 60 km/h and 190 km/h. Later on, I made it a point to observe the bike fuel efficiency while riding at 110 km/h constantly (more or less) and refuelling became necessary after almost 300 km, which is decent enough for a bike of this size.

How does a track day figure out on the VFR1200F?
Honda call the VFR1200F their road tourer and yet they launched it on a racetrack. Rather funny, I thought, when I heard about it. Presumptions can turn wrong and the VFR proved it. Its bulky look with an automatic gearbox and no clutch to play with did leave me wondering about its performance around a track. It’s got a relaxed posture and lacks aggression to a considerable extent. It isn’t a machine that anyone would think of for an outing on the track. What if I own one and want to take it there, around the corners and score my name on the time-sheets?
You can, without disappointment. All you have to do is shift to the sport mode and blast open the throttle. The bulk of the VFR seems to disappear as you get moving. Throwing it round the corners and getting a knee down seems tough at first, but it’s not terrifying. The spot-on handling of the bike doesn’t let you down. All you might need to do at track is stiffen up the suspension. A couple of clicks towards the harder side on the rear suspension spruced up the ride drastically for me. Another thing that might have to be kept in mind is the transmission. Being an automatic one, the D mode is a little lethargic and can feel boring. The S mode lets the engine rev all the way until the red line before shifting into the next cog. A hint of deceleration shifts down a gear or two and makes sure that you stay in the power band all the time. If you want to add more fun to the riding, the manual mode is perfect with gear shifts that can be facilitated through two buttons on the right hand side switchgear on the clip-on handlebar.
Though the VFR cannot practically take part in any competitive action and isn’t as spot-on as any supersports offering, it undoubtedly is enough to give you the kicks once in a while on track.

How is the VFR to live with?
The VFR is made for the highways, to munch miles and gallop ahead. Nonetheless, we cannot forget that in a country like India, the wealthy enthusiast buying the bike might hardly find any time from his busy schedule to venture out on, say, a thousand-mile run. He might just end up using the bike around city when he goes out to play tennis in the morning or to catch up with his friends at the club in the evening. The hustle and bustle of the city is where the VFR might spend most of its life in such a case.

This is where the bulk of the Veefer might pose a problem initially. Getting used to it through the chaotic traffic and parking in the tight spots is a matter of concern. However, at the same time, the automatic box of the bike brings a lot of convenience – neither the worry of clutch nor the gearshifts. On this note, I remember someone asking me if the auto box gives a feeling of a scooter to this bike. My simple counter-question is, ‘Does an automatic BMW or Audi give you the feeling of a go-kart?’ No, it doesn’t. Then why would this one feel like a scooter?
The Veefer is extremely convenient to ride once you get used to the size of the machine. The only concern about the auto box in the D mode is that it tries to be in a higher gear all the time. Hence, whenever the throttle is rolled off, the bike keeps coasting and engine braking is hardly achieved. The S mode, which improves the throttle response and always keeps the bike in the power band, feels a little jerky during city riding.

Another feature that Honda boast of is their patented twin fairing technology that offers best airflow management. However, it disappointed me a little as I felt the heat from the engine all the time while riding around the city. One more complaint comes in the form of the switchgear on the left-hand side clip-on. There are four switches stacked one above the other, all of which ask attention from the left thumb. Where you would expect the horn is the button to shift down a gear. Above that are the turn indicator switch, then the horn button and then the beam/dipper toggle that also integrates the pass flash. The place where you might expect the pass flash to be has the upshift button. It all gets confusing with the thumb inevitably hunting for the right button while riding.

How cool is the automatic transmission?
Honda are the first motorcycle manufacturers to have integrated a dual clutch automatic gearbox in a bike and it’s not been an easy task. Unlike cars, in which the dual clutch boxes are becoming common, there is less space available to house this kind of transmission. However, the working of this transmission is similar to what we see in cars. There are two clutches laid out in-line with the transmission, out of which one is for the odd-numbered gears (1st, 3rd, 5th) and the other for the even-numbered gears (2nd, 4th, 6th). The two clutches are operated alternately by a computer to effect gear changes. Since two clutches are doing the job alternately, there is seamless shift between cogs and negligible lag.

The automatic box delivers immense convenience in the city traffic, but, at the same time, takes away a bit of the connection that the rider has with his motorcycle through the clutch and gearshifts.

Rs 5 lakh more than the world’s most beloved sports tourer. Is it worth it?
The VFR1200F is a great motorcycle with its technological advancements. However, at Rs 17.5 lakh (ex-showroom) the bike is straightaway Rs 5 lakh more expensive than the extremely favourite and most established sports tourer of recent times – the Hayabusa. For that kind of price difference, what the bike really offers is nothing more than an automatic gearbox. Plus, if you look at it from the other perspective, you might just miss the clutch during those times when you wish to launch the bike or do a little bit of de-clutching for the added fun. VFR1200F might be the most advanced and alluring product of the day, but we still feel that it is far away from being able to convert a conventional bike owner into a VFR owner unless he is a less enthusiastic person preferring hassle-free transmission at an added cost of a small hatchback.


Bike India Team – who has written posts on Bike India.

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