Staff bikes - Honda Crossrunner: You never stop learning
First rides & tests
31 August 2011 15:33
Two thousand, three hundred and forty-seven miles can reveal a lot about a bike. Even about one you thought you already knew.
Such has been my first couple of months with the Crossrunner. I picked it up in May having already sampled Honda's new VFR800-based crossover machine (their description, not mine) at the world press launch and at the time thought I had the bike sussed. Instead, my biggest problem would be convincing the office sceptics how good a real world bike it is.
Of course, it's never quite as simple as that. So, while slowly but surely I think my crusade for converting others to the Crossrunner cause is progressing, with colleagues John Westlake and Dan Aspel already impressed with the Honda's all-round, day-to-day user-friendliness, at the same time I'm also slowly discovering things about the Honda I'm less happy with.
So, for example, with the benefit of 2000-odd miles racked up, I can now reveal that the Crossrunner's supposedly passenger-friendly pillion seat isn't actually as good as originally thought. Wide, low and flat it may be but it's also, by significant other's accounts, a bit slippy and with the grab handles too close to the seat you end up sliding around on your arse like a nine-year-old with a tin tray on a winter's morn.
It's revealed that the snubby little screen ain't really big enough for my blend of 6ft3in framed and 70-mile total daily commute either. OK, so most of that's very enjoyable twisting country roads where you don't notice, but the five miles of dual carriageway after that have become, quite literally, a pain in the neck.
Honda advertise a higher screen as an accessory. I'll be trying either it, or an aftermarket version, as soon as possible.
It's revealed that the Pirelli Scorpions aren't that great either. The semi off-road tread may look the part and encourage you to venture down the odd gravel track but on the whole they're not particularly a happy compromise. Some pure street tyres, when these get past their sell-by, are next on the list.
And finally, and most disappointingly, those miles have also revealed that Honda's build quality and panel fit isn't quite what I'd hoped for either. I had noticed earlier, but kept forgetting about it until it was pointed out by a colleague the other day.
Basically it's this: the inner fairings don't meet up properly and, arguably worse, the right-hand side of the nose fairing doesn't sit flush with the tank, either.
I'm sure, with a bit of judicious loosening/wiggling/retightening it's all fixable, but it's not quite what we've a right to expect from a brand new, £9000 machine. I'll let you know the outcome of my adjustments next time round.
It's not all bad, of course. During that time I've also been converted to Honda's new-style switchgear with its indicator under the horn button on the left-hand bar. Yes, it feels odd and unnecessary at first. But after some use it becomes very natural and intuitive. Once I've fixed those other gripes it should be pretty much perfect.
Honda VFR800X Crossrunner, £9075
Value now: £8200
Power (claimed): 101bhp
Torque (claimed): 53.6ftlb
Kerb weight: 240.4kg