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HONDA VFR800X CROSSRUNNER (2015-on)

Published: 07 May 2020

Updated: 07 May 2020

Classy, capable and cheap, it’s the underrated bargain of the adventure sports world

Phil West on the launch of the VFR800X Crossrunner in 2014

Classy, capable and cheap, it’s the underrated bargain of the adventure sports world

Overall Rating 5 out of 5

Honda introduced the second-generation VFR800X Crossrunner in 2015. The previous model (on sale from 2011) struggled to make much of an impression – its VFR800F sports-tourer base was too obvious, the duck-billed platypus styling wasn’t very compelling, and it didn’t offer the all-round appeal of rival adventure and adventure-sport machinery.

The first bike’s so-so reputation tarnished this second Crossrunner variant before anyone had even ridden it, and so it’s never been a big seller. And as it’s been around a while the Honda’s specification now lacks the wow of newer alternatives, further reducing popularity.

Overlook the Crossrunner at your peril, though. This is a great bike. Every time we test it we’re wooed by light-yet-secure handling, a soulful and engaging V4 engine, fabulous quality and refinement.

The Honda isn’t quite as fast as Yamaha’s Tracer 900, nor does it have the on-trend colour dash and must-have options of BMW’s F900XR. But neither matters. Performance, ride, finish, character, and the just-so balance of involvement and usability mean the Honda holds its own. It’s a true all-rounder, with wide-reaching skills, impressive dynamic, the ability to shrink long trips... plus a unique Honda feel. The 'matt ballistic black' doesn’t do the bike any favours, but it’s classy in glossy 'candy prominence red'.

At £9999 on the road (2020 pricing) it’s well priced too, though the Crossrunner’s extended incisors mean you can actually get one for under £9k. Forget fashion, this is serious value.

Watch our 2015 Honda VFR800X Crossrunner first ride video below:

Ride Quality & Brakes 5 out of 5

Honda describe the Crossrunner as having 'taut long-travel suspension' and it’s a bloody good description. The forks and shock might not have the option of high-tech semi-active damping and automatic electric preload, but the VFR800X doesn’t miss such embellishments.

The suspension is firm, composed and lets the bike scurry through corners with impressive pace and composure, yet has deliciously plush damping and generous wheel travel that hide potholes and deliver a sumptuous ride. The riding position is great too, with a wide, deep, soft seat that’s got a pleasing '90s feel to it. You’ll happily perch in it all day.

Cornering right on the Honda VFR800X Crossrunner

At 242kg wet the Crossrunner is hefty old thing (it’s 23 kilos heavier than a BMW F900XR), but you can’t tell. Honda have made the 800 feel chunky and reassuring, yet nimble and effortless at the same time; handling is neutral, the chassis flowing wherever you place your gaze, while feeling accurate. Clever.

The four-piston front brake calipers don’t have the initial grab of newer big-brand fitments on some rivals, but in normal riding offer more than you need. And with a big panicky grab the Crossrunner stops as swiftly as the opposition.

Engine 4 out of 5

There’s a unique character to Honda’s VTEC-equipped 782cc engine. Though VFRs haven’t used gear-driven cams for a while (boo) there’s still a whirring clock-like sound to the V4, backed up with a glorious exhaust sound.

VTEC isn’t actually variable valve timing. Timing is fixed; what the system does is change from two valves per cylinder at lower revs to four valves per cylinder at higher revs. It gives the V4 a distinct powerband, and with more top-end revs than a rival twin the Honda feels urgent and engaging.

A static view of the Honda VFR800X Crossrunner

This isn’t to say it’s not tractable lower down. Crack the throttle at 30mph in third gear and the Crossrunner falls behind a Yamaha Tracer or BMW F900XR in side-by-side tests, but in real life riding the Honda has plenty of flexibility, with clean low-rev drive and midrange thrust. There’s a slight off/on fuelling step but it’s no worse than any alternative bikes.

Quick, clean gearshift action too – old fashioned clutchless up-shifts are slicker on the Honda than using the quickshifter on most rival bikes.

Build Quality & Reliability 5 out of 5

It’s easy to be distracted by buttons, black boxes and flashing lights these days. The Honda is a brilliant reminder of the appeal of solid engineering, that the core of a machine is more important than its trinkets and baubles.

The Honda is reassuringly Honda; from the extruded aluminium frame spars, machined finish on the fork legs and single-sided swingarm, to the high-quality switchgear, classy hand levers and perfectly fitted bodywork. You sense the bike’s ancestry – models like the CBR900RR, Super Blackbird and, of course, VFR750.

The VFR800X is also a perfect example of why Honda have such a good reputation for quality. The V4 will do massive miles without bother and finishes are superb. VTEC means the 16,000-mile valve check service can be pricey, though.

Honda VFR800X Crossrunner badge

There may be reg/rec issues when you reach massive mileages, and the chain adjuster on the single-sided hub will seize if it doesn’t get a regular squirt of GT85 where the pinch bolt goes. There’s lots of metal that can fur up in winter too (and exhaust headers tend to corrode with winter abuse), though component quality is high.

Insurance, running costs & value 5 out of 5

The Crossrunner is group 12 insurance. That’s a group lower than a Yamaha Tracer 900 or BMW F900XR, and two groups lower than a Ducati Multistrada 950.

Its V4 engine shows its age a little when it comes to fuel economy – an average of 44mpg is worse than rivals (Tracer does 48mpg, F900XR does 50mpg) although the Honda’s pleasingly generous 20.8-litre fuel tank still means a useful 200-mile range.

Value? On like-for-like spec the Crossrunner is priced nose-to-nose with its opposition, though you don’t get the Honda’s quality feel and sense of engineering elsewhere. Ten grand feels like exceptional value for a bike of this standard.

Insurance group: 12 of 17 – compare motorcycle insurance quotes now.

Equipment 4 out of 5

Don’t be put off by the lack of riding modes, semi-active ride or infinitely variable traction control. The Crossrunner may not have the very latest blingy extras but the base specification is loaded with useful standard-fit toys. There’s three-level traction control (easily adjusted on the move), ABS, five-level heated grips, power socket, self-cancelling indicators and LED lights.

Honda VFR800X Crossrunner switchgear

There also are plenty of features that boost practicality too. The VFR800X has proper bungee points on solid pillion grab handles, adjustable seat height (815 or 835mm), adjustable (and effective) screen, integral pannier mounts, excellent mirrors – plus the peace of mind that the Crossrunner will feel as slick and together after 100,000 miles.

Indicator and horn switches are the opposite way around to convention. Though it makes sense for the winker control to be closer to your thumb (you use indicators far more than the horn) it needs some acclimatisation. The LCD dash also feels a bit cluttered next to the latest widescreen offerings, the heated grips aren’t as hot as a BMWs, and the headlight throw is a tad curious.

Facts & Figures

Model info
Year introduced 2015
Year discontinued -
New price £9,999
Used price £5,800 to £10,000
Warranty term Two years
Running costs
Insurance group 12 of 17
Annual road tax £93
Annual service cost £100
Performance
Max power 98 bhp
Max torque 54 ft-lb
Top speed -
1/4-mile acceleration -
Average fuel consumption 44 mpg
Tank range 201 miles
Specification
Engine size 782cc
Engine type 16v Vtec, DoHc, liquid-cooled parallel V4
Frame type Aluminium twin-spar
Fuel capacity 20.8 litres
Seat height 815mm
Bike weight 242kg
Front suspension 43mm forks, preload and rebound adjustable
Rear suspension Monoshock, preload and rebound adjustable
Front brake 2 x 310mm discs, four- piston calipers. ABS
Rear brake 256mm disc. ABS
Front tyre size 120/70 x 17
Rear tyre size 180/55 x 17

History & Versions

Model history

2015: Honda release the second-generation VFR800X Crossrunner. It’s based on the engine and chassis of the VFR800F sports-tourer, but with bespoke suspension, altered geometry, upright riding position and other significant changes to create an adventure-sports all-rounder. The first UK bikes are offered with Akrapovic exhaust, top-box, sat-nav and centrestand thrown in for £10,299.

2017: Very light update for Euro4 emission regs, including a new exhaust, plus the arrival of an adjustable screen and a 12v power socket. Fork legs are bare aluminium rather than painted black.

Other versions

Erm… there aren’t any, although the VFR800F offers the same performance and quality in a traditional sports-tourer package.

Owners' Reviews

1 owner has reviewed their HONDA CROSSRUNNER 800 (2015-on) and rated it in a number of areas. Read what they have to say and what they like and dislike about the bike below.

Review your HONDA CROSSRUNNER 800 (2015-on)
Summary of Owners' Reviews
Overall Rating 5 out of 5
Ride Quality & Brakes 4 out of 5
Engine 5 out of 5
Build Quality & Reliability 5 out of 5
Value & Running Costs 5 out of 5
Equipment 5 out of 5
5 out of 5

One bike fits all.

08 May 2020 by Ellis of Portobello

Honda V4’s are sublime Smooth torque a fantastic engine. Riding position very comfortable bags of room, plush suspension the Build quality is excellent. I looked at the tracer GT but it wasn’t a Honda.

Ride Quality & Brakes
4 out of 5
Brakes are as good as any however it can get a bit squirrely when pushed but if you want to have your cake and eat it buy a multistrada and suffer all the extra expense that goes with it. You can go all day no problem.
Engine
5 out of 5
Shame it’s not got gear driven cams otherwise outstanding 100bhp is quite adequate I like my licence intact thanks.
Build Quality & Reliability
5 out of 5
Regulators are not a problem on the cross runner it’s up front behind the fairing. As with anything ABS change your brake fluid every two years. Never missed a beat.
Value & Running Costs
5 out of 5
Self serviced Use genuine parts all ways I switched to 10w40 but that’s my preference. Motor seems to run sweetest on that grade. I don’t think a dealer service will be cheap it takes an hour to remove and refit the tank
Equipment
5 out of 5
Basic electronics keeps the bike reliable the more gizmos you have the more there are to go wrong.
Buying experience

One year old from a dealer 300 miles on the clock Honda UK first owner £8300 delivered.

Photo Gallery

  • Phil West on the launch of the VFR800X Crossrunner in 2014
  • Honda VFR800X Crossrunner badging
  • Honda VFR800X Crossrunner LCD dash
  • Cornering on the Honda VFR800X Crossrunner
  • A side view of the Honda VFR800X Crossrunner
  • A static view of the Honda VFR800X Crossrunner
  • Honda VFR800X Crossrunner switchgear
  • Cornering left on the Honda VFR800X Crossrunner
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