How the Honda VFR1200 should have looked says designer

Published: 06 January 2010

“It’s like a hippopotamus” says British bike designer John Keogh, deriding Honda’s new VFR1200 as “Pug-nosed, disappointing… the wrong direction – not a patch on the two bikes [Blackbird and VFR800] it replaces.”

The VFR1200’s designer Teofilo Plaza says the bike represents the “highest achievement” of Honda’s engineering and styling departments working in unity. But Keogh counters that the two forces have cancelled each other out. “What’s it for? It’s not sporty-looking or pretty enough to engage the original VFR-buying crowd. It’s not technological enough to speak to BMW buyers, and it’s possibly too mature-looking even for them”.  

Keogh says his VFR combines a sleeker look with a range of practical enhancements. Here he talks us through them:

1. Larger front mudguard
“Offers more protection for brakes and forks and potentially better aerodynamics.”
2. Re-profiled mirrors
“Ever since the NR750 Honda have incorporated indicators in the mirrors but also included a large and heavy ‘double-skin’ for mirror adjustment. Why? Make them light, sleeker, less complex!”
3. Adjustable windscreen
“One that looks almost as cool when in the raised position – and moves with the bars so when you’re cruising you can one position and another for high-speed.”
4. Raised tank-cover storage
“Spare gloves, map-holder, toll-coins/pass, GPS system?”

5. Retractable grab-handles
“Is this so hard?”

6. Hidden pannier attachment
“See above – why does it need ugly frames and fixings. Panniers should tightly hug the rear wheel and match the lines of the bike not look like cheap suitcases.”

7. Sleeker exhaust
“Honda designers got too clever here with more triangles than a Pharaoh.”

8. Lower fairing protection for exhaust headers
“Ever cleaned a sportsbikes exhaust system after a British winter? The downpipes will be filthy, and the exhaust valve and header bolts and rings will be so corroded that they are likely the first things to fail on your precious steed. Yes it might be nice to see some of the mechanicals but if it’s to the detriment of component life or appearance then think again.”