Honda VFR800 VTEC (2002 - 2005) review

Very easy to ride and very unthreatening in her power delivery but as capable of picking up her skirts and tearing into the distance when she feels like it as she is of getting you and your chick on hols

Ben Cope's picture
By Visordown on Thu, 14 Aug 2003 - 12:08

Details
Manufacturer:
Honda
Category:
Sports Tourers
Price:
£ 7849
Overall
4
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Hop aboard the VFR and despite that 213kg dry weight you’ll be at home right away
Sharp styling for this excellent all-rounder that has pretensions to sports performance
Slightly budget suspension can be upset if pushed hard.

I have to admit I fell in love with this little beauty just wheeling her out of Honda’s workshop before this test. Especially in that red, she’s on the verge of giving me a trouser tent all the time.

Opinions seem to be split on the new VFR’s styling with people either falling into the ‘love it and want to marry it’ camp, or the ‘I’d rather be seen wearing a dress than riding that’ faction. I’m in the former group and reckon the thing looks cool as you like – all futuristic, sharp and angular. It almost puts the new Blade to shame because where that doesn’t look aggressive enough for what it is, this takes the cake. Those pipes under the seat and single-sided swingarm are just the icing on the cake and those rear lights, ooh yeah…

Hop aboard the VFR and despite that 213kg dry weight you’ll be at home right away. Everything is just so – seat height, bar reach, the lot, and even those of you challenged in the inside leg department like my stumpy self should happily be able to plonk both yer plates on the floor. If I’m searching for a gripe I’ll have a go at the levers – set too high as they always seem to be on new bikes, but then as you can sort that in about two seconds flat with the toolkit it’s hardly a worry.

The mirrors are bang on, until you head over 50mph and then the vibes mean you won’t be able to tell the difference between a police car or a sales rep until it’s too late. Up in that cockpit you’ve more info than the average NASA launch pad with umpteen temperature gauges (air temp is handy for ice warnings in winter, or in the summer we’ve been having come to think of it), clocks, trips and a fuel gauge (expect to see about 120 miles before the light rears its head).

There’s also that massive preload adjuster under the seat – very BMW – so’s you can easily switch between solo or two-up settings for those pillion moments without resorting to an ungainly roadside fumble with a C-spanner.

Thrashing around the makeshift circuit at Bruntingthorpe between speed testing runs, the suspension did show up its budget nature by overheating and then starting to squirm about after just one lap, even if it was a very fast and bumpy one. Put a sportsbike through the same punishment and it’ll stay the same lap after lap. Anyway, it was cool, the VFR still gave you the feedback to know the suspension was slightly losing the plot..

But then if you want supersports handling, buy a supersports bike not an all-rounder like the VFR, and even despite these limitations the Honda still turns easily and predictably and can be held on a line
well – the only real problem comes if you want to change line when you’re well-committed but again, if you ride on the ragged edge all the time, perhaps a VFR ain’t for you.

Engine-wise I love the way that V-four motor makes its power. It’s torquey and revvy all at once and best of all, it is smooth. It’s not the fastest thing off the blocks thanks to its mediocre 100bhp but it’s still fast enough to give you what you need for everything from motorway to fast backroads, as long as you’re prepared to thrash it.

And if you thrash it you’ll find the VTEC coming on song from 7,000rpm and the extra two valves per cylinder burst into life giving the VFR some very welcome added top end poke and excitement. It’s dead handy for punting past cars on the motorway too without having to dance on the gearshift.

The only downer is the snappy on/off throttle response from the fuel injection and the way the motor stutters if you try cruising around that VTEC watershed. 105mph in top is 7,000rpm and it ain’t a good place to be – best bet is to stay above or below.

So she’s fun to ride, good looking and useful too. It looks as if that ‘ideal all-rounder’ crown could be safe in the VFR’s sweaty grasp for another year. After all, on top of everything I’ve already been babbling about this bike scoops the pillion honours here with the most relaxed and comfortable perch of the lot.

It is supremely comfortable, only marred slightly by those twin grabrails – they’re not bad but not a patch on a single bar affair as seen on the Fazer.

The VFR may now be more sports bike than sports tourer, but she’s no redlining demon and really is a placid pussycat of a thing most of the time. That said, you could happily put in the odd trackday on your VFR and show up a few R1s. Which gets me thinking – imagine one of these all tricked-up for the track, with wheels, titanium exhaust and what have you. Now that would be a tool...

I have to admit I fell in love with this little beauty just wheeling her out of Honda’s workshop before this test. Especially in that red, she’s on the verge of giving me a trouser tent all the time.

Opinions seem to be split on the new VFR’s styling with people either falling into the ‘love it and want to marry it’ camp, or the ‘I’d rather be seen wearing a dress than riding that’ faction. I’m in the former group and reckon the thing looks cool as you like – all futuristic, sharp and angular. It almost puts the new Blade to shame because where that doesn’t look aggressive enough for what it is, this takes the cake. Those pipes under the seat and single-sided swingarm are just the icing on the cake and those rear lights, ooh yeah…

Hop aboard the VFR and despite that 213kg dry weight you’ll be at home right away. Everything is just so – seat height, bar reach, the lot, and even those of you challenged in the inside leg department like my stumpy self should happily be able to plonk both yer plates on the floor. If I’m searching for a gripe I’ll have a go at the levers – set too high as they always seem to be on new bikes, but then as you can sort that in about two seconds flat with the toolkit it’s hardly a worry.

The mirrors are bang on, until you head over 50mph and then the vibes mean you won’t be able to tell the difference between a police car or a sales rep until it’s too late. Up in that cockpit you’ve more info than the average NASA launch pad with umpteen temperature gauges (air temp is handy for ice warnings in winter, or in the summer we’ve been having come to think of it), clocks, trips and a fuel gauge (expect to see about 120 miles before the light rears its head).

There’s also that massive preload adjuster under the seat – very BMW – so’s you can easily switch between solo or two-up settings for those pillion moments without resorting to an ungainly roadside fumble with a C-spanner.

Thrashing around the makeshift circuit at Bruntingthorpe between speed testing runs, the suspension did show up its budget nature by overheating and then starting to squirm about after just one lap, even if it was a very fast and bumpy one. Put a sportsbike through the same punishment and it’ll stay the same lap after lap. Anyway, it was cool, the VFR still gave you the feedback to know the suspension was slightly losing the plot..

But then if you want supersports handling, buy a supersports bike not an all-rounder like the VFR, and even despite these limitations the Honda still turns easily and predictably and can be held on a line
well – the only real problem comes if you want to change line when you’re well-committed but again, if you ride on the ragged edge all the time, perhaps a VFR ain’t for you.

Engine-wise I love the way that V-four motor makes its power. It’s torquey and revvy all at once and best of all, it is smooth. It’s not the fastest thing off the blocks thanks to its mediocre 100bhp but it’s still fast enough to give you what you need for everything from motorway to fast backroads, as long as you’re prepared to thrash it.

And if you thrash it you’ll find the VTEC coming on song from 7,000rpm and the extra two valves per cylinder burst into life giving the VFR some very welcome added top end poke and excitement. It’s dead handy for punting past cars on the motorway too without having to dance on the gearshift.

The only downer is the snappy on/off throttle response from the fuel injection and the way the motor stutters if you try cruising around that VTEC watershed. 105mph in top is 7,000rpm and it ain’t a good place to be – best bet is to stay above or below.

So she’s fun to ride, good looking and useful too. It looks as if that ‘ideal all-rounder’ crown could be safe in the VFR’s sweaty grasp for another year. After all, on top of everything I’ve already been babbling about this bike scoops the pillion honours here with the most relaxed and comfortable perch of the lot.

It is supremely comfortable, only marred slightly by those twin grabrails – they’re not bad but not a patch on a single bar affair as seen on the Fazer.

The VFR may now be more sports bike than sports tourer, but she’s no redlining demon and really is a placid pussycat of a thing most of the time. That said, you could happily put in the odd trackday on your VFR and show up a few R1s. Which gets me thinking – imagine one of these all tricked-up for the track, with wheels, titanium exhaust and what have you. Now that would be a tool...

Length (mm) 2120
Width (mm) 735
Height (mm) 1195
Dryweight (kg) 213
Seats 0
Seat Height (mm) 805
Suspension Front 43mm HMAS cartridge-type telescopic fork, 109mm axle travel
Suspension Rear Pro-link with gas-charged HMAS damper, 120mm axle travel
Adjustability Front Stepless pre-load adjustment
Adjustability Rear 7-step preload and stepless rebound adjustment
Wheels Front 17 x MT3.50
Wheels Rear 17 x MT5.50
Wheels Made Of 'U'-section 6-spoke cast aluminium
Tyres Front 120/70 ZR17
Tyres Rear 180/55 ZR17
Brakes Front 296mm x 4.5mm dual floating hydraulic disc with Co
Brakes Rear 256 x 6mm hydraulic disc with Combined 3-piston ca
Tank Capacity (litres) 22
Wheelbase (mm) 1460
Ground Clearance (mm) 125
Trail (mm) 95
Chassis Diamond; triple-box-section aluminium twin-spar
Cubic Capacity (cc) 782
Valves 16
Max Power (bhp) 107
Max Power Peak (rpm) 10500
Torque (ft/lb) 59
Torque Peak (rpm) 8750
Bore (mm) 72
Stroke (mm) 48
Valve Gear DOHC
Compression Ratio 11.6
Ignition Computer controled digital transistorised with ele
Cooling Liquid cooled
Fuel Delivery PGM-FI electronic fuel injection
Stroke Type Four Stroke
Drive Chain
Max Power 97.8
Max Power Revs 10500
Max Torque 54.2
Max Torque Revs 8800
Standing Quarter Mile - Terminal Speed MPH 119.64
Standing Quarter Mile - Time 11.62
Top Speed 146.01
Score Breakdown
Overall
4

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