Steering is slow, as you'd expect from a bike weighing 267kg, but it tracks smoothly in the turns and feels stable. The sow seat is comfy and the riding position fairly neutral. You could easily ride for a full day without succumbing to sore wrists or arse.
The V4 engine is the centrepiece of the VFR. It has masses of grunt - more than the previous version and retains the characterful V4 bark from the exhaust. You barely need to take the engine above 4000rpm, but when you do its takes off, howling just like an RC30. The gearbox is among the slickest out there.
The finish on the VFR1200 is excellent - exactly what you'd expect from Honda. It comes with the usual, solid Honda reliability.
Honda VFR1200F used buyers' guide
First published 10 June 2016 by Phil West
Oddly enough the VFR12 is better as a used buy than it was a new one. I tested the eagerly awaited 1200 for MCN at the press launch in late 2009 (it went on sale in spring 2010) and wrote those cutting words above. I stand by them now. And riding this minty, slightly updated 2012 version from Balderston brings it all flooding back.
Don’t get me wrong, the VFR12 is not a bad bike. Quite the opposite in fact: it’s a very good one. The natural ergonomics are typically Honda; the big V4 deliciously tractable and charismatic; the suspension and brakes good without dazzling and the whole plot, though undeniably big and heavy, is stable, predictable and classy.
This is a big-mileage motorway eater par excellence, very much in the K1300S mould, but with a uniquely-slick Honda gloss. The only thing that disappoints, slightly, is that the VFR has never been, not even when new, bang up to date. Oh sure, there’s the clever, semi-automatic DCT version, but this one doesn’t have that. There’s no fancy rider modes, no Ducati-style colour screens and no BMW electric suspension. And for a much-hyped, all-new, flagship grand tourer in 2010, there simply should have been.
How about this one?
The above example, in the rarer but somehow more handsome and timeless metallic black option, has clearly been pampered and well looked-after. With just 14k-odd miles it’s still young and tight with no discernible wear and tear and only the faintest sign of corrosion on the mainstand. There are no marks worth mentioning in the glossy paint, no blueing on the discs and, what’s more, being the slightly improved 2012 model, it benefits from the 0.5-litre bigger fuel tank, improved seat and fuelling, plus switchable traction control.
Lots. This VFR’s about as loaded as they come, and mostly with top quality goodies such as genuine Honda panniers and topbox, heated grips, aftermarket can and Vario screen so you’re unlikely to need to shell out any more to get it up to full touring spec. It’s also well-protected with R&G crash mushrooms, a sensible move considering the complexity and price of the VFR’s fairing panels, although the protectors themselves aren’t to everyone’s taste.
There’s no denying that the VFR1200 wasn’t the success Honda hoped for when the big V4 was launched in 2010, being under-equipped, over-priced and having too short a fuel range. As a used buy today, however, especially when it’s the 2012-on version with improved range and specification, it’s a tempting proposition. Used prices have plummeted far more than most Hondas with the consequence that 2012-reg bikes, which were £14k new can be under half that today, fully loaded ones (like this) cost a little more and 2010s, shockingly, can be under £5000.
And for a classy, effective, well-built Honda sports-tourer with a largely unblemished reliability record and a unique V4 power delivery, that’s tempting indeed.
Thanks to: Balderston, Peterborough.
At over £12,000 the VFR1200F is hardly cheap and has been universally criticised. At this price it needs something which sets it quite apart from the rest of the competition, which the Honda lacks. More capable tourers can be had for a similar price.
Rival bikes include the BMW K1300S and K1300GT, or Kawasaki's ZZR1400 and GTR1400.
For 2012 the big VFR gets Honda's Traction Control System, which is reassuring in tricky conditions with the grunty motor. Comes with ABS which gives a bit more confidence on the brakes and is a welcome safety net. For some strange reason Honda decided to switch the indicator toggle and horn round.