Long term update: Quickshifter can't cope with big feet
It has felt like a very long time waiting for my 2015 long term test bike to arrive, which might have something to do with the fact I have been riding my 1991 Royal Enfield 350 Bullet each day to work – let’s face it, everything takes a long time when you only have 18bhp to play with.
When my very bright and shiny Honda VFR800X Crossrunner arrived at MCN headquarters I was looking forward to almost six times as much power as my faithful old single
First impressions were that Honda’s latest makeover for the Crossrunner was a vast improvement; its predecessor had a small beaked duck look – one that had overdone it on the birdseed and had a tiny head with an enormous body. The new bike has definitely lost its ugly duckling traits and become a bit of a swan
My first ride on the Crossrunner was going home that evening, and it was the polar opposite to my snail’s pace ride on the Enfield. After giving myself a quick induction course on the finer points of the controls, I was ready to go and chose the longer of my many routes home so I had plenty of time to acclimatise to the new bike.
The V4 is silky smooth, then at around 6500rpm the engine surges slightly as the VTEC valve system comes in. It’s a bit like a little kick down in an automatic car as the exhaust note and revs go up almost simultaneously as an extra four inlet valves join in.
As I settled into my new riding experience, still using the clutch to change up through the six-speed box, I was ready to test one of the optional extras I noticed Honda had kindly fitted – a quickshifter. And that’s exactly what it does – shift quickly! It worked really well, the only problem was my big feet and the fact the gear lever was too low for me (requiring a small adjustment for when I get home), as I went to change up my boot would hit the gear lever a little prematurely, cutting the ignition before I was quite ready to fully engage the next gear.
Quick shifting and VTEC humming away, the acclimatisation period had gone right out of the window. Sod it, I was already enjoying myself too much. I felt so at home, with just the gear change to adjust, and to learn to press the very low-down indicator switch rather than the horn, (oops sorry, I didn’t mean to beep at you!).
From the big trail bike upright riding position and wide handlebars it felt really good, taking command of the road ahead as I whistled effortlessly through the rolling countryside, taking in bend after bend. The suspension felt good, maybe a tad on the soft side at the rear, which means another little adjustment for later.
The front brake felt reassuringly powerful, but still had plenty of feel about it. I’d not had to apply the brakes in anger so far – until I arrived at one of my favourite bends on a route I only use sporadically. Well I thought it was one of my favourite bends. It was in fact a similar looking one that turned into a tight right-hander (I should come this way more often). This called for immediate action as the field was beckoning. Front and rear brakes fully applied, the Honda came almost to an immediate halt and allowed me to take the corner as if nothing had happened. Phew! Suitably impressed, I carried on my way home… a little more sedately.