Well I got to spend an hour on the new VFR today.
After literally jumping off my 5th gen VFR and onto the new one I felt surprisingly at home with the seating position, feeling a tad more upright with the pegs just slightly further back. But importantly over the hour I spent in the saddle no issues at all.
Pulling out of the Honda dealership, grinning from ear to ear I didn't feel overly excited about the noise this thing makes, having been used to the growl and racy V4 whine of my 5th gen. Especially when pulling hard from 4k or so it doesn't pulsate and snarl at you as much. However, once you get her past that magic 5500rpm the bike changes character; very much like the VTEC coming on song (but without the jolt) and she just roars and howls just like a V4 engine should sounding 'beefier' than the 800.
Of course the bike feels more powerful and torquey, which is most evident when cruising in 4 or 5th (even 6th) when she just pulls, very cleanly and with authority - very useful for pillion work. BUT I've got to say it didn't feel as strong as I thought it would. No Blackbird power rush here, it's all in the mid-range.
Talking of pillion duties after my 1st 20 minutes I went to pick up my girlfriend so I could test how the bike felt. Sarah said the seat felt smaller and not quite as soft (same for me) but the grab handles were excellent and overall seating position felt the same - in fact she actually said, aside from the power difference, it felt very similar to the 800.
When jumping from bike to bike I initially could feel the extra weight, particularly at the front oddly but this really doesn't translate to sloppy agility on the road. I picked some of my favourite twisty sections and with pillion, I could really flick the bike from side to side with relative ease - but for sporty sport touring duties I'd say the VFR800 will win hands down on a tight twisting road.
Brakes are confident, strong and predictable. Wind protection for me, didn't feel as good (particularly my legs started to feel the cold). The bike is STABLE - and at silly speeds no issues at all, it's now too easy to go well over 100+ without realising it, and Sarah couldn't believe how quickly this thing can gain speed.
Suspension felt incredibly stiff - to the point where it felt uncomfortable on certain roads my back started complaining slightly (probably for me one of the bikes negatives but with a quick tune up I’m sure it’s easily fixed)
When riding home on my bike it's amazing how similar the engine characteristics are between my 5th gen and this new 1200. Very smooth, linear with hardly any vibration.
But for me, at least - I shall certainly be in the market for one in a year or so - which brings me to my only main negative, it’s overpriced