Compared to the 750, the 800 is let down by its VVTI (Or VTEC?) engine, which only really delivers at high revs. Not what you really want on what is supposed to be a tourer.
Will you like it? I am sure you will. As my father says about cheese, there is no such thing as a bad bike.
I'm going to base it at a relatives' house in Wales and use it to blast around he countryside - It has full touring kit but I have the GS which will do that better so this is for fast bendy roads in Wales and the odd dash to the Lakes. (after dark when the Brunstrom Cyclops is snoozing of course)
I had one as a loan bike for a week - 08 reg - and hated it.
Reason? It was January, the roads were either icy or slimy, and I commute in urban traffic daily. Add to that my preference for a more upright riding position, and I was glad to hand the keys back!
In other words - for what you're going to use it for, it'll likely be brilliant. However, this bike is NOT the all-rounder the mags would have you believe - and if you normally ride a GS you'll know what an all-rounder is.
Fun in the right place, and what I love about the VFR is that it's unique - just a bit too much at the sports end of the so-called 'sports-tourer' class (whatever that is - it just seems to me to be a home for retired sportsbikes... :-) )
Pre VTEC were widely regarded as being much superior to the later VTEC bikes.
One of the major bike mags relegated the VFR from a 5 star to a 3 solely on this engine "upgrade" reckoning it completely destroyed the rideability, and overall performance of what had always been a very, very good bike.
The Triumph Sprint ST 955i and later 1050 are worth a look as well. The build quality won't match the Honda, but it's a brilliant bike to ride. My old instructor had an early 955i for training work, and raved about it.
I'd agree with DP - Honda really lost the plot with the 800 VTEC. The 16K service can be incredibly expensive, and the bike can be surprisingly slow when cold.
The OP probably won't love it as much as the older 750 - especially when compared against a 1200 GS.
Honda really do seem to be losing their ability to judge their markets.
Well it arrived today - owner will fly off to an uncertain future at the weekend. Took it for a test ride - 40 miles on duals a bit of town and country stuff. Initial impression was how small it was compared to the GS (then I guess most things are). As with every Honda I've ridden it has an instinctively easy way about it - everything falls to hand ( most unlike the BMW with its silly switchgear) - the bike is well screwed together with very nice panniers. The bike ticks over very oddly sounding almost like a CG125 at walking to 30 speeds - open the throttle though and you know its a V4, beautiful sound through that incredibly complex exhaust set up. Onto a Dual its predictably very, very quick and smooth - everything is so well built that the bike feels almost sterile. Its very solid though. Mirrors are rubbish - silly oblong shapes- style over function, may ditch them in favour of sensible round ones.
Vibes are not uncomfortable but totally at odds with the BMW - at M/way speeds totally smooth and solid ride. The seat is a Baglux re-upholstered model and dead comfy. Brakes are ABS and not powered, rather discouraging after the excellently balanced kit on the BMW (despite being horribly complex)
What this bike does is good fast and efficient - I can feel the VTEC kick in.....delightful sounds and sensations. Nothing stands out - what this bike has done is prove what a superb job BMW have done with the GS - It has German efficiency and engineering values but it also has a something the VFR hasn't; character. The other thing with the VFR it feels a little vulnerable around town - the GS dominates the urban roadscene - the Honda seems to blend flatly into it which makes it a little more "dangerous" I feel.
Just come back from a 200 mile blast. Feel a lot more "at home" on it by the time I got to my house. Difficult to asses speed on it - the digital speedo is crap, but have worked out the top gear values on the easily visible old fashioned rev counter - 5000 rpm = 75ish - the VTEC thing is pretty awesome - instant acceleration and above 7000 rpm it howls like banshee almost like a mini BMW M5 - I found a tunnel changed down through the box before the entrance and then let rip - oh yes I like that. The acceleration is unbelievable - on an exit from a roundabout, the slightest twitch took it to warp factor 3 - apart from the hugely sensational speed this highlighted what a cracking job BMW have done with front forks - I thought this beast was going to pull a wheelie at one point - similar antics on a Beemer won't provoke such unseemly behaviour. At the other end of the continuum - braking the Honda provokes dive when the Beemer is rock steady - look and learn Japan. On well surfaced A roads (yes there are a few) the bike is typically Honda sports - tight and childishly easy to steer - totally predictable. Switch gear, as mentioned above, is beautifully instinctive - warning lights appear in peripheral vision as if by magic. Sum up - fast, well engineered and put together - predictable safe handling and stopping. Nice bike - my comments about the BMW remain the same.
Flies ! - don't get them on the BMW - must be due to screen aerodynamics......!
Travelled to Harrogate via North Wales - loaded to the gunnals with two weeks worth of clothes and other items including a large (not the Apple) laptop It went well - handling seemed unaffected by the baggage and performance was ok. Enjoyable ride but surprisingly cold for June - nice run from Junction 31 of the M6 across to Harrogate along the A59 - speed limits are painful these days - linked to monumentally poor repeater signs in the 40s - some missing some hidden by overgrowth, be heading off towards Whitby (sans luggage) this weekend - otherwise pottering around Harrogate for he next couple of weeks - weather reasonable at the moment.
Just rode from Arrowgate to Whitby via York and back via Scarborough. Well impressed with the roads especially as I later found out that there are no speed cameras or scamera vans in North Yorks. Epic storm spoilt things a mite but all in all a cracking day - bike was unloaded and good. I love bikes.
Having had an 'off' a few weeks ago in which my 750FS was written off, I am looking to replace it with another VFR. The 750s are now getting on a bit so was looking at the later ones but some of the comments about the VTEC system are putting me off.
Can you think of any problems or issues you have had with yours? owners can be very partisan and each one likes his own model more than the others.
Any advice would be appreciated.
PS I had a 1100 mile run around Southern Scotland in May and, despite the rain, was the most fun I've had in a long time.
Lack of torque is my biggest moan - its big girl's blouse in that respect - a little peaky for what's meant to be tourer. All the weight is on your wrists at some speeds....The BMW for keeps for me I'm afraid.
You're right about the torque thing - I was spoil by a venerable CBR1000 - very comfy and torque aplenty. The wrist thing is a very minor complaint - rode two hundred mile son it yesterday, no ill-effects today. Its worse at town speeds, no problem at normal road speeds. Again spoilt by the GS' excellence - far better touring machine, doesn't stop me loving the VFR though. Very quick even when fully loaded.
>> Lack of torque is my biggest moan - its big girl's blouse in that
>> - a little peaky for what's meant to be tourer.
You'll probably find that with most Japanese fours. The CBR600 I ride is no ball
of fire below 9000rpm.
Well a 600 is a 600, you don't expect torque out of something tuned to produce around 200bhp per litre! There are plenty of torquey Jap 4s, even the occasional superbike delivers tree stump pulling torque such as the GSXR1000, early R1s, Yamaha ThunderAce. Then you've got torque monsters like the Bandit 1200/1250, GSX1400, CB1300 ZXR1200, Hayabusa, Gen1 Fazer. Although it does always amaze me how Kawasaki manage to stick a big engine in a bike and still you have to rev it like a two stroke! (see ZX9,ZX10, ZZR1400, ZX12)
I rode a VFR800 VTEC for a long journey on familiar roads, and compared to my normal bike (a Triumph Sprint ST 955i) it was not so good. Handled well, pretty comfortable, but down on power and *way* down on torque. The VTEC thing kicked in at about 70 in top gear, which was quite annoying, and the difference between with and without VTEC was quite noticeable. To keep it in the VTEC band meant riding up the rev range. Out of the VTEC band the bike felt underpowered and generally pretty ordinary.
Get a Sprint ST 955. Some great bargains out there currently. The 03 an 04 models are the best - nicely debugged, and usually with stacks of extras (Triumph included them to shift models).
Think the VTEC cuts in at around 100mph in top gear which should not be a problem for most of us! The 2006 onwards model have a revised VTEC transition point which eliminates the hesitancy around this point in the rev range, i.e the vtec cuts in at 6600rpm on the way up and cuts out at 6100rpm on the way down.
Would also say that of all Honda's the VFR has more character than the majority of their other models. Because they sell a shedload of VFR's does not mean they are bland.
The Sprint is a good bike with a storming engine, but they have their own foibles, check out the owners forums!
I love my VFR as you can guess! (a later 2007 model)
Very over-rated fairly heavy and the engine, although nice sounding, is gutless, in gear roll-ons a Triumph Sprint will leave a VFR for dead. The original VFR was a cracking bike, it got fatter and less effective with every iteration. Obviously there's no such thing as a bad bike these days but the current VFR does not deserve its reputation. Buy a Sprint, much better on fuel, faster, cheaper to service and cheaper to buy.
The Sprint is fine but if you want a decent quality finish that will stand up to the rigours of winter then Honda take some beating. I had a '99 VFR800Fi (pre VTEC). An extremely competent bike in most situations, although a bit heavy on the wrists in city traffic where it can also get a bit hot and bothered. I swopped it for a CB1300S which at first glance is probably dismissed by many as just another street bike. Not so, this has to be one of the best kept secrets of the bike business. In real world operating conditions it's smooth and very quick and surprisingly nimble despite its size. Suspension and brakes are excellent and that 1300cc motor's torque output, particularly at lower revs makes the VTEC VFR feel somewhat lacking in comparison. The 'S' version fairing is surprisingly effective and even better with an MRA Vario screen and perhaps the only downside is the headlight, which whilst not bad, is eclipsed by the VFR and the pantomime necessary to change the bulb doesn't bear thinking about on a dark night. Irrespective of the label you put on it if you want a well finished, comfortable, versatile long range bike with serious oomph on tap in any gear, any time, the CB1300S takes some beating.
I've ridden a friends CB1300S, it was good fun, a bit wheezy up the rev range perhaps but it had bags of character which is rare for a Honda! As for build quality some Hondas are excellent - not all of them - The VTR1000 firestorm for instance is awful - thin paint and cheap running gear. Newer Triumphs are finished very well, the new paint factory is one of the best in the business. Another friend of mine's Sprint is used everyday for commuting - it has done 120,000 and is still fine. My Sprint hasn't covered very many miles so I can't use that as an example - I use my other bike much more.
Given that you have a GS, surely the ultimate all rounder, i would get something more purposefull and full of charachter. For sheer enjoyment you can't beat torque. Changing down to get power soon becomes tiresome, especially on an 800cc V4.
I had a shot on a Ducati 999 recently and it was sheer heaven. Single minded sure, but I've never experienced the way the bike just seemed to disappear, leaving just me and the road and the speed. They are becoming pretty affordable now and later ones are relatively low maintenance. Brakes astounding and lovely to use, suspension supple, perfect steering and tracking, explosive acceleration and beautiful roar. If you can afford a second bike as a plaything for bendy roads you would love one. I've had 3 VFRs, ridden the BMW 11150 RS for a long time and GS too.
The V-Tech VFR800 I've not ridden, but it does not seem to be a coherent motorcycle, they've played about with it too much. Or get yerself a wee single cylinder thumper. There's a great deal of satisfaction to be had from riding a bike closer to its limits , rather than just hanging on, knowing the engine is faster than you will ever be.
i have owned a VFR 800 Fi on a W plate, so not the VTEC.
I can not fault the bike, i like to try the new bikes but as yet can not find one that i would prefer to own. it has enough power for the real world, it has a great blemd of tallents for the twisty back roads or for touring. With the gear driven cams, the engine is almost bullet proof. i have heard of the V4 engines getting well over 100'000 miles with only normal maintainence.
Totally agree with you Mike, just back from 200 miles in the mountains north of Madrid ( we live here) , and the now 12 year old FiX 99 bike i've had for the last seven years goes as well, is as comfortable, and as reliable, as ever. I've thought about changing it for a few years for the new Sprint - but I can't think of a reason to get rid of it. Wish I could - I may be stuck with it forever!
Good stuff: built like a tank, very reliable, comfortable all day long, sporty without being painful, and tours just as well ( it really is a sports- tourer!). Bad stuff : the regulator rectifier usually gives up but it's a DIY doddle to replace, my main exhaust rotted through so now have stainless steel high level system which looks and sounds much better. Advice : fit a scottoiler. Oh, and do take a couple of weeks in Spain - the roads are fabulous and there is no traffic - may/june and september are best times to come - summer peak is just too hot! The Spanish love bikes - and if your viffer is red ( everyone knows they go faster than other colours), then you will stand out from the black which seems to be the colour of virtually every bike here. A pre-vtec 800 is a happy thing.
I've had two VFRs, the first was a 95 750 fs (in red) which was a fantastic bike. Would still have it except for a driver trying to occupy the same space as i was in.
As that was written off I treated myself to a Vtec 06' on which I've just completed a 1500 mile tour of Scotland - fantastic time and the bike performed faultlessly. As Refred commented - I can't think what I might replace it with.
Incidently the Vtec is a black one and isn't much slower than the red!
Following his excellent performance at Le Mans and the Goodwood Festival of Speed in a Nissan GT-R, up and coming racer Jann Mardenborough won the GP3 support race at the Grand Prix weekend at Hockenheim.