Honda VFR1200


At the Tokyo motorcle show in October 2009 Honda finally unveiled the long-awaited VFR1200. Its 1243cc engine is a 76-degree V-Four with a number of unusual features. The rear cylinders are positioned side-by-side while the front pair of cylinders are more widely spaced. The the UNICAM single overhead camshaft cylinder head design has been taken from the motocross models. Apparently utilises a single cam which directly actuates the intake valves while a separate lobe drives a forked roller rocker arm to open the exhaust valves. This design allows for extremely compact cylinder heads and less parasitic losses.

A sealed crankcase and a sump separated from the crankcase, and aeed valve is employed to release the pressures of combustion and ventilate them to the sump. Offset crank pins are phased to reduce vibration and the firing order is also different from most V-Four engines. Cylinders 1 and 3 have previously been at the front with 2 and 4 as the rearward pair. For the VFR1200F Honda engineers have put cylinders 1 and 4 at the front. The combined effect is like a paired set of parallel twins that share a common crank. Instead of trying to match exhaust header length Honda have tuned the front cylinders, with their longer exhaust headers, to provide ample bottom-end torque while the rear pair, with much shorter headers, add top-end punch.

On Honda's first road-going bike with fly-by-wire throttle control the 44mm throttle bodies are controlled by servo motors controlled by the ECU, while at the other end the shaft drive features an offset prop shaft & CV joint that compensates for rear suspension movement.

Magazine impressions - first test

UK weekly newspaper Motorcycle News was once again first to the newsstands with a test ride of the new machine.
Itís been a long time coming, but the new Honda VFR1200F is fast enough to keep Super Blackbird owners happy and makes the VFR800 look as old as the hills.

The 1137cc V4 motor is a real peach of a powerplant combining lovely smooth running with a wheelbarrow full of torque yet will still scream around to 10,500rpm and a soft rev limiter.

Later versions will have the Dual Clutch Transmission available at extra cost.
This indicates the semi-auto box will be an optional extra, just as ABS was in the 1990s. More in the MCN report. To get an idea of its size an MCN staffer with more time on his hands than I'd expect, overlaid the VFR1200 on the VTEC VFR's profile. THe result, a small jpeg, is here. To my eye there's not much in it.

Cycle World has posted a 'first ride' report from the launch as well as the new VFR's unveiling at the Tokyo show.
"Revolutionary" is a buzzword that is thrown around far too frequently, but I have to say that after riding Honda's brand-new 2010 VFR1200F around the Sugo Circuit outside of Sendai, Japan, as well as on public roads nearby, this bike truly defines that expression.
Read the rest of their comprehensive report.

Aussie website has loads of detailed photos, including engine and accessories in its VFR1200 section.

Honda has also produced a Youtube demo video (4mins).

January 2010

MCN published the views of eminent design critic Stephen Bayley after Honda's new VFR1200 attracted criticism from some in the bike industry. "The VFR1200 is the future now", he says. Read the article here.

February 2010

The VFR1200 was unveiled at dealers across the UK on 12th February. MCN featured a brief test ride now that the bike is offically launched in the UK. The brief write-up is favourable.

This VFR is neither a sports bike nor a tourer. It wasn't until I had had an hour of varied conditions that I felt confident enough to properly open her up.

She corners like a dream. My pillion only complained at twice the speed limit so Europe will be a doddle.

donít believe the bad reviews. Take one out for a two hour-plus test ride. You wonít regret it, and you may just fall in love.
Meanwhile, USA magazine Motorcyclist strapped one to a dyno. 142.1 American horses @ 10,000 rpm and 81.4 ft-lb of torque at 8,750 (I calculate this as 110 Nm, which is a lot!).

First hand owner's impression - April 2010

It is a quiet Sunday morning and I'm on my way to the local Co-Op store. As I walk across the car park I spot a red VFR1200 parked in front of the store. The owner is having a smoke so I stop to admire the bike and take the liberty of asking him his impressions. Briefly, in bullet points: Overall he was very happy with the new bike, it fulfilled all his requirements admirably. I'm hoping to bump into him again to get an update.

MCN review of the VFR'a DCT auto transmission - video

Phil West of Motorcylce News went to Honda's Frankfurt HQ and has produced a 4 minute video discussing the DCT transmission system and showing the bike on the road. He is very impressed, the two modes of the automatic clutch/gearchange system appears to work very well - he describes it as "typically Honda - . For V4 fans the video allows you to hear the great V4 growl. Watch the video here. If that doesn't work try this link.

More video - Youtube user zeocen from New Zealand says during a 4 minute video from a test ride:

Everything I said about this bike being boring is f***ing wrong. This is, oh my god, this is awesome! It feels like a 600, I'm not kidding. Man, I cannot believe how light this feels.

The paint is remarkable. Where does the money go? The paint.

Even taking off is buttery smooth.
Plenty more observations during the ride here: He walks around the bike during a second video, 6 minutes long:

Another Kiwi has posted photos and impressions of his new silver VFR1200 on the forum. See his comprehensive post here.

Motoreview compares the VFRs 1200 and 800 (en FranÁais)

VFR1200 Factory Recall - June 2010

Honda is recalling a batch of 392 VFR1200Fs sold in the UK due to the possible presence of metal shavings inside the engine causing engine failure. VFR1200 owners should contact their dealer or ring the Recall Line on 0845 200 8002, which is open 8am to 6pm Monday to Friday.

2010 VFR1200
Engine Capacity
Front wheel
Rear wheel
Fuel capacity
Kerb weight
1237 cc
160 bhp (127 kW) @ 10,000
129Nm (95 ft/lb) @ 8,750
120/70 ZR17
190/55 ZR17
18.5 litres
Pearl Sunbeam White
Seal Silver
Candy Prominence Red

Relevant links
Feel VFR - Honda Europe promotional website. Note: Flash animation and audio.
Powersports Honda VFR page (USA), lots of images in the gallery.
MCN VFR1200 info centre
The excellent Honda VFR Club's VFR1200 forum category
Wikipedia: VFR1200F