HONDA VFR1200F (2012 - 2015) Review
- Wonderful V4 motor
- Stable, planted handling
- Fantastic used buy
At a glance
|Owners' reliability rating:|
|Annual servicing cost:||£200|
Overall ratingNext up: Ride & brakes
The Honda VFR 1200 F is everything Honda learned over 35 years of building sweet V4s, expanded to 1237cc and packed up in big, slippery bodywork, with a ride-by-wire throttle, ABS and, as an option, Honda’s Dual Clutch Transmission. Traction control standard from 2012 onwards, along with a less slippy seat and a few tweaks.
- Related: Designers rally behind 'ugly' VFR
But it's not stunning, hasn't 'moved the game on' like an all-new Honda V4 probably should have done and it does have a few niggly faults. For 2012 the VFR gets updated styling, traction control, more torque, improved comfort and improved fuel rangem replacing the 2010-2011 Honda VFR 1200 F.
Between 2010-2016 you could also order an automatic version of this bike called the Honda VFR1200F DCT.
There's a thriving online community at the VFR World forum.
Honda VFR 1200 F 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.
Ride quality & brakesNext up: Engine
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 biggest source of complaint from owners (although not all owners – a significant majority were perfectly happy with the standard set-up). There’s not much adjustment, and standard settings are too soft for many, especially two-up. Add to that a penchant for the rear remote preload adjuster to seize and/or leak (some owners have had three or four replaced under warranty) and an aftermarket shock looks like a good option.
EngineNext up: Reliability
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.
There have been reports of valves burning out - it’s vital to not neglect the valve clearance checks every 16,000 miles, which may give some warning of looming problems. Whatever the reason, there have been a few unlucky owners who’ve suffered complete engine seizures. So far Honda have been pretty good at covering or contributing to costs, but it highlights the importance of a service record and a helpful dealer.
Reliability & build qualityNext up: Value
The finish on the VFR1200 is excellent - exactly what you'd expect from Honda. It comes with the usual, solid Honda reliability.
Our Honda VFR1200 owners' reviews show a lot of love for this bike. It only loses marks for its lack of kit relative to rival bikes.
Several owners said they’d noticed an increase in oil consumption and/or smoke from the exhaust after a 16,000-mile valve clearance check. In most cases it was later traced to the workshop having left out or incorrectly fitted some rubber O-rings when replacing valve covers
Value vs rivalsNext up: Equipment
At more than £12,000 it was about the same price as a base-model BMW R1200RT. But the RT came with panniers (£725 on the VFR), and a comprehensive list of add-ons including a sat nav, traction control and electronic suspension, where the Honda’s catalogue included little more than luggage, heated grips and a centrestand.
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.
Honda VFR 1200 F running costs
Unusually, the VFR1200F has an 8000-mile interim service interval (most Hondas are 4000 miles), which is good. However, it’s due a valve clearance check every 16,000 miles, which isn’t so good. Exhaust valves are screw and locknut adjustment – hence the short interval – while intake valves are by shim and rarely actually need adjusting. Surprisingly, you’re only supposed to change the spark plugs every 32,000 miles. Few owners do all their own maintenance, but those who do say it’s OK if you’re used to V4s and their lack of access, but you really need to be careful when removing and replacing the bodywork – there are lots of fiddly fasteners and easy-to-damage lugs.
New and used parts prices
Genuine service parts are reasonable – £12 for an oil filter, £33.59 for an air filter and £33.59 per caliper for front brake pads (the VFR uses two pairs of pads per front caliper). Predictably, crash damage parts are more pricey – a fairing mid-section is £340, for example. The VFR isn’t particularly well served by the aftermarket, but Wemoto offer plenty of service parts including an oil filter at £5.28, and a K&N washable air filter for £53.58, as well as a YSS replacement rear shock for £289. There aren’t many VFR12s in breakers so far, and those you do find tend to have been comprehensively smashed. So bodywork and other crash damage parts can be hard to find – bear that in mind if you’re looking at a used bike with cosmetic damage. Good low-mileage rear diffs also attract a premium.
For 2012 the big VFR got 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.
Bike also got a grippier seat (the 2010-2011 VFR 1200's was really slippery), LED lights, body-coloured rear panels and a slightly larger fuel capacity.
|Engine type||16v V4, six gears|
|Frame type||Aluminium twin spar|
|Fuel capacity||19 litres|
|Front suspension||43mm with preload adjustment|
|Rear suspension||Pro-Link, adjustable preload and rebound|
|Front brake||320mm twin disc C-ABS|
|Rear brake||276mm disc|
|Front tyre size||120/70/17|
|Rear tyre size||190/55/17|
Mpg, costs & insurance
|Average fuel consumption||43 mpg|
|Annual road tax||£96|
|Annual service cost||£200|
|Used price||£5,000 - £7,500|
How much to insure?
|Warranty term||Three year unlimited mileage|
Top speed & performance
|Max power||160 bhp|
|Max torque||95 ft-lb|
|Top speed||155 mph|
|1/4 mile acceleration||-|
|Tank range||180 miles|
Model history & versions
- 2010 - model introduced
- 2012 - revised version with grippier seat, LED lights, larger fuel tank and coloured rear panels
Owners' reviews for the HONDA VFR1200F (2012 - 2015)
15 owners have reviewed their HONDA VFR1200F (2012 - 2015) and rated it in a number of areas. Read what they have to say and what they like and dislike about the bike below.
Summary of owners' reviews
|Ride quality & brakes:|
|Reliability & build quality:|
|Value vs rivals:|
|Annual servicing cost:||£200|
Annual servicing cost: £200
Comfortable to ride. A good few hours before a break required. Great all round bike
Love the instant power even at high speed
Never fails and always feels the same
No mechanical issues. Tyres are the only thing that needs changing
Good windscreen and seat. Need decent panniers with waterproof bags (givi)
Buying experience: Dealer who recommended it
Version: 2014 traditional clutch traction control ABS
Annual servicing cost: £300
Superb build quality. Grunty V4 with as much speed as you need. Shaft drive makes for easier life. Riding position fine for me. I'm 6ft2ins and 100kg. Brakes are excellent when you get the hang of Honda linked system. Tank range is fine - who doesn't stretch their legs after 150 miles? Suspension works well and is Not over complicated! Only minor criticism is weight. It should be lighter. Shaft probably guilty here. You can save 5kg with aftermarket exhaust but I haven't bothered... The stocker fits with the overall lines. GT4's are good on it
Smooth and locked on in fast sweepers. Need to guide her in to bends with nice flowing counter steering but it is a big sport tourer. Not super pacey through alpine twisties but low vibes and comfortable from takful to thankful. Excellent for pillion with plenty room, well placed handles and doesn't notice additional weight
The best feature. Creative engineering, thin waist, torqey, quick, relentless power and lovely sound when asked - what more do ya want?
No corrosion. Looks new. Great paintwork and love the double skin fairing. Some don't like the nose on view. I like it's modernity and slight break with tradition. Does not look like 2010 design. Completely reliable. Engineering is fault free. When you ride another bike then get back on your Viffer it just oozes quality
Low costs for me. I do about 8000 miles a year now having stopped working. Commuted until 2018 and did 15000 pa. It never missed a beat
Only gers 4 because the 'market' gives more. For me though I don't care for millions of gizmos. How many bikers do you know that actually mess with their suspension fir a B road rather than a motorway? Anyway, it has everything you need
Buying experience: Private purchase very low miler with full matching panniers, top box and centre stand. A real beauty in rare bronze silver. Paid top dollar for top bike.
Annual servicing cost: £80
Beautifully engineered finish of paint work and that fantastically smooth v4 make this a gem. Glaringly obvious ommission of cruise control and Hondas unnecessary hype and the expense of the bike new have killed resale values.
Excellent brakes the best I’ve owned sharp good feel and have never faded. It’s a lovely bike to ride and gets lots of admiring looks and comments. Have done 500+ mile days and been relarively ok at the end. Doesn’t particularly like bumpy roads but good A roads etc it just devours distance.
If I could score 6 I would as it’s marvellous and effortless. The centre piece of a very good bike.
Beautifully built and ease of keeping clean as no exposed oil pipes and casings, compared to 800 vtec, make corrosion problems with simple cleaning schedule a thing of the past. Rear shaft drive replaced under factory recall. Otherwise faultless.
After three year warranty I serviced myself. So costs excluding replacing tyres £80 however the 16000 service is looming and although I will not use Honda (silly money) a good independent will still be expensive. Fuel costs not unreasonable as long as not ridden hard. Due to the sheer power and sumptuous delivery of that power I have never seen the need to thrash it as it’s very fast.
I bought mine with less than 600 miles for £3500 off what the first owner paid and it had full luggage heated grips and centre stand. Clocks are very well shielded I never get glare but omission of cruise control and traction control only being an after thought two years into production was a big own goal for what was an expensive bike. I changed the small 31litre top box for a 45litre added Honda wind deflectors for my hands and a better screen. Tyres the Dunlop’s it came with were done 3500, the metzler z8 nearly five but Michelin Pilot 4s are at at 4000 and look fantastic plus feel more confident inspiring in the wet. The Dunlop’s definitely didn’t.
Buying experience: Bought from a dealer and basically knew it was falling 8n value like a stone. This is Hondas own fault as developed a beautiful bike made it very expensive but with none of the toys a BMW K1300s came with for the same money. Therefor £3500 off and a straight conversation with the dealer about the fact sell or sit there. He kindly bit also allowing me 900 pound less for my trade in than I paid for it knew 5years earlier. Says a lot for the depreciation of the vfr.
Annual servicing cost: £200
Ignore all reviews like i did, take the bike out for a mixed blast of carriageways and B roads, whatever you will be mainly riding. I've done 2k miles on mine, rode like crap when i got it at 29k miles and noticed it needed new tyres and head bearings, changed fork fluid to 15W and took time adjusting the suspension and voila! Handling is great for a bike of this size and weight. Most of the so-called professional reviews are from people who have just got off a 170kg supersport bike so obviously this VFR is going to seem like a bloody tank! I have a Z1000SX and a 2000 Hayabusa and this VFR will out handle both once set up right. The riding position on this bike is more sporty than a Z1000SX and more inline with my Hayabusa.
The dual-linked ABS Brakes on this beast are phenomenal! have had over 50 bikes and this is better than the brilliant blue spot calliper brakes from Yamaha! The rear is just as good as the front grab wise and very little fade no matter what your speed.
Takes some getting used to coming from an inline 4, but what a peach! Smooth and 'grunty' torque throughout the rev range, all of these people I read about wanting to do the timing retard mod in 1st and 2nd, and also derestrict the top end??? You have to be a track queen to want more from this bike day-to-day unless it is for bragging rights. You get to triple digits on the speedo with a simple twist of the wrist from 50mph and comments from guys behind me (on an H2 Kawasaki, Fazer 1000 and a K1300S): "Bloody hell, the VFR goes well mate!!!" enough said!
lovely quality Honda finish, 29k miles on the clock and the bike (in red) looks as clean as it did 6 years ago.
I do my own servicing so get your manual out and get to know your bike, even if it is oil and filter you will save yourself £100 each time.
Mine came with touring kit from PO, luggage quality and fitting is fantastic but a tad small for real touring as top box is 31 litres and panniers 29 litres, so you have to get creative for a 2 week run. Heated grips are really good and the seat is really nice and comfy too, the screen is a vario and works well, but at 29k miles is looking tired (and boring) so ordered a Puig jet stream in black.
Version: FF GT
Annual servicing cost: £200
The last and possibly best of its kind. A true sports tourer, with the popularity of adventure bikes (with the exception of the H2 SX) will we ever see the kind again?
Suspension may be a little soft for some, steering a tad heavy & slow if your used to a sportsbike. The upside to this is a plush ride that soaks up all the bumps - effortless high speed mile munching. Brakes 9 tenths as good as any current Brembos. Leg position slightly cramped, but hours in the saddle a lush experience overall.
Lovely low down torque with an addictive to end rush, a licence loser in the right hands. Tank range is sport bike territory. Gearbox is slightly geared high for the tight twisties , upside relaxed ride & carries speed remarkably well - akin to the ZZR1400. Gearchange is like a well oiled rifle bolt.
Quality is almost up to the standard of Honda's of old, a few year old bike can still look new. No problems to date after 8000 miles.
With current electronics & gadgets comes the price tag, the VFR is largely old school engineering & could well outlast modern bikes in terms of durability. Would be 5 stars but best to buy 2/3 year old low miler to avoid the worst depreciation.
This bike didn't break new ground in terms of active suspension, gadgets & gizmos but the fact is when the package works this well - do you really need them?
Buying experience: Purchased from main dealer, experience good. DCT version is a masterpiece of engineering but hard to sell at resale time.
Annual servicing cost: £300
Excellent bike, a little heavy, good finishing, fast.
Neutral position for 178 cm/90 kg, long rides are suitable for it. Good ride stability, not very nimble on twisty roads, some effort is needed. Exceptional combined brakes, far much better than many other sport-bikes. Both front and rear brake should be used for heavy breaking (watch carefully for others behind you).
Flawless! High low grunt, fast enough, combined with traction control you have everything you need on tarmac, outside the track.
Over 55000 km, no faults so far.
Little thirsty for dynamic riders (about 7 l/100 km).
ABS, traction control, good instrumentation. However the suspensions are a little at the soft end, without electronic control. Traction control and throttle response are not configurable (not a must, but other sport-tourers offers nowadays).
I have had my 2013 VFR just over a year and bought it used (2300) miles, but a minter. Full GT pack (panniers etc). First litre plus bike and love it. I use it for commuting (60 miles round trip) and 2 up days out - perfect. I have DCT version which is basically the same as a quickshifter/autoblipper but unstallable and no clutch lever. It is heavy but on the move agile. Usually fill up around 150 miles and get just under 10 miles per litre (40 ish mpg) - but doing 80 + on motorway would be better (45 - 50 MPG).
Annual servicing cost: £160
Doesn't spend an inordinate amount of time in the workshop, like the previous bike.
Those radial brakes are awesome. They do need a annual clean though. But don't they all.
Power is higher up the rev range than BMW, but that typical of many Japanese engines, but that bark is addictive when the top section of the exhaust flap opens
Having swapped from a k1300s to the VFR the weight difference was immediately noticeable. Whilst this has benefits in its stability, it's hard work doing the car park/garage shuffle
So far, other than the shafts recall it has been totally reliable. I have done a couple of jobs on it and once you watch the you tube video on how to remove the fairing it's all been fairly straight forward .. ?.😘
Self canceling indicators would have been nice. The shock and forks need winding up, but good when set up right. I have also had a replacement rear shock fitted under warranty. Turn the adjuster knob regularly or it seizes. I fitted a charger plug into the inner fairing this powers the sat navigation and gives me a charging point. Changed the OEM tyres to Michelin Pilot Road 4s, what a difference.
Buying experience: Got a good deal on a 11 month old hardly used example with heated grips and centre stand with full factory luggage
A joy to ride, very easy, very fast, very comfortable bike. A little heavy for this type of bike, but still a great confidence builder.
Rode from San Diego to Seattle and never ever felt uncomfortable or tired. No back pain either.
smooth shifting DCT and Fast when you need it
could use an adjustable higher windshield
I like to try out the new bikes every year and keep finding that I love my VFR1200F more than any I have ridden. This includes a wide range of BMW, Ducati, and other major brands and types of motorcycles. It may not have all the bells and whistles, but it consistently keeps me coming back and saying wow - this is just a great all round bike. Sporty, yet refined.
Braking is hardcore compared to most other bikes I have ridden.
Strength of the platform - smooth at lower end and hardcore at higher end - it can go...
No issues outside of the recall... and that was smooth.
Costs are very reasonable - outside of some of the additions like Honda OEM accessories.
It is just average in this area - missing keyless, missing cruse control and other niceties - you can add most of these items - but standard could have been better (the 2013 was much better than the pre 2012 items)
Buying experience: Bought from the dealer - good experience
Its a dependable bike. I wish it had a bigger tank
nice bike except for after comments below
had bike now for 3 years,no problem with bike,but after small scrape in garage left hand pannier lid needed replacing. Haitain blue cost £100 . o e m item on honda site. after three years honda don't do a replacement lid .every other bit of bike is done. they don't even do a replacement pannier in the colour, i find this unacceptable in a three year old model,been with honda over forty years,whats up with their after sales spares?
Buying experience: dealer
Annual servicing cost: £200
3 years and 35,000 miles and I'm happy to say that this is probably the best bike I've ever owned. Yes, it could do with a little more tank range but who honestly travels for more than 150 miles between stops anyway? Besides, the K1300s has the same sort of range and this has never been criticised! The first thing to say is that the british bike press have an insistence on placing bikes in categories and true all rounders therefore suffer. This bike is not a tourer. It is not a sports bike. And if you place it in either of these categories it will suffer. However, I have very successfully used it for touring. And it has done pretty well on the track as well. It is also a very good commuter and despite being fairly heavy and long does pretty well in the twisties as well. Fuel economy can vary quite a lot. For commuting and short trips I tend to get around 35mpg whereas touring in Scotland or similar (few junctions and fast roads) I have seen 50mpg. Also the manual recommends using high octane (97-98) fuel and it does need it at Swiss Alp altitudes. 35,000 miles and it has proven to be ultra-reliable, never having a single issue other than wear and tear. Sorry, I lie; the headlight bulb blew at around 25k. As to be expected the suspension started to feel slightly soggy after about 30k and so I had decided to swap it for a new one. But then I changed my mind; I still love riding this bike, it does everything I want and more and why lose lots of money swapping it for the same bike? So instead I threw a grand at it in the way of Maxton suspension front and rear and now it's even better than it was before! The biggest issue this bike has had has been Honda's marketing before it was released. After all the send-up the world was expecting some form of huge evolution in motorcycle design and instead "all" we got was an extremely good motorcycle. I do a lot of miles and I've ridden / owned a lot of bikes and I'm going to keep this for another couple of years after which I'll probably swap it for a new VFR12. Are there better bikes for touring? Yes. Are there better bikes for skinny roads? Yes. Are there better bikes for quick B-road riding? Yes. But how many bikes are there that do it all as well as this one does whilst still remaining very reliable? MCN is correct, it isn't a great bike. It's a superb bike.
Superb brakes and very good ride quality from the off. After 30k starting to go a little soggy. £1,000 of Maxton suspension and it handles superbly.
Awesome, awesome, awesome. Definitely the best bit about this bike. When it comes to overtaking I've developed a little catchphrase ... "There's always room on the VFR!"
35k, nothing has gone wrong and it still looks virtually new.
£200 at up to 5k a year; more like £300 at the miles I do. A bit expensive to buy, but then again, quality costs!
Very good for what I want. Does it have tyre pressure sensors ... no, but I believe you should check them at least once a week anyway. Does it have "riding modes" ... no, but everyone I know who's bike does, doesn't use them anyway. I've got a perfectly good right hand thank you.
Buying experience: Excellent. Castle Motorcycles; known them a very long time and they always do their best to get me what I want.
Had a fjr1300 for the last 3 yrs,saw a fvr in carpark and was intrigued,booked a test drive,ordered a blue one and a week later delivered and out riding. Been riding for 40years and this bike is now top of my favourite list,goes where you point it(drops into corners nicely balanced etc),brakes progressive and ride comfortable short and long distance. As for fuel consumption,ive allways stopped aprox about every 150 miles,in experience driving many times from Plymouth to Dundee in a day(over22yrs) its the best way, The bikes not heavy,you should have tried kwaki 1300,felt like somebody had taken the wheels of the outriggers,the vfr is light,responsive answers all my riding habits(good and bad)without a grumble. I,m enjoying my riding again,after ten years of indeferent bikes Thanks Honda.
Only had the VFR12 for a few weeks and only covered about 800 miles so far so still early days, but absolutely loving the bike. The riding position is spot on (for me), the high speed stability is fantastic and I love the torque and sound of the engine. After reading many reviews abut the 'poor tank range' I'm not sure what the fuss is about. Fuel light comes on around 130 miles (depending on grin factor) and then there's still a 4.5 litres left, another 40 miles ? My bike came with the panniers/top box, h/grips and centre stand. If I had a moan, I did suffer numb bum the other day, but that was after a 240 mile day out. So at the moment it really does seem the best compromise bike I've ever owned and falls the sport side of it's sports/tourer tag. For the first time in many many years of biking, I believe this could be a 'keeper' for me.