What we said then
‘Honda’s new VFR1200F is a good bike – but not a great one. And after all the hype and expectation that is not good enough.
‘Although the basic powertrain, complete with V4 character, stability and build quality impress, there are simply too many niggly faults or omissions to be ignored.
‘The tank is too small, the switchgear baffling, the instrumentation too basic, the touring accessories not good enough. It shouldn’t be that easy to find fault with a flagship machine.
‘Though the V4 drone and torquey drive is present and the glossy finish alluring, in most other respects Honda’s new 1200 leaves me cold.’
MCN launch report | November 30, ’09
But what is it like now?
Oddly enough the VFR12 is better – as a used buy that is. 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.
Interested in purchasing a VFR1200F, see all of them on sale here.
Thanks to: Balderston, Peterborough. This 2012, 14,900-mile Honda with heated grips is for sale for £8695 at www.balderston.net
For more new and used bikes visit MCNbikesforsale.com