VFR1200 long termer
It’s not often I get the excuse on a weekend to go for a 400 mile blast just for the sake of it. But today (Sunday) I did and it’ll go down in my rapidly depleting memory banks as one of those legendary rides to be treasured forever.
That’s as long as no speeding tickets drop through the post next week…
I fitted an Akrapovic end can and an R+G hugger to my VFR1200 yesterday. It took a couple of hours. Panniers off, seat and sidepanel off (hidden fasteners - nice touch), rear wheel out (five bolts) and a bit of head scratching and jig-saw and Dremmel grinding tool work. The exquisitely made Slovenian stainless steel pipework has saved about three and a half tonnes in weight, improved the aesthetics and aural pleasure.
That’s aural, with an a.
Despite having to monkey with the exhaust quietening flap servo and cable (after what I’d heard about it confusing the ECU) the job was well instructed with captioned pictures and the fit and finish made installing it if not a joy, at least bearable. The ECU appears to be fine despite my best ham-fisted efforts. The inbuilt noise damping flap still keeps shut until six thousand rpm is reached. The exhaust note is now deep and raspy without pissing off my easily piss-offable neighbours and other motorists. Nice balance, actually. Slightly noisier but not oh-my-god noisy.
The Hugger was a different story. It’s OK now but to get the clearances between tyre and hugger right involved lots of rear wheel in, wheel out, wheel in (you get the picture) and judicial trimming and filing to make it fit sweetly. Thankfully I’ve got a garage and a jig saw and Dremmel. It would have been a nightmare if your only garage was the pavement. The hugger will now keep all the road crud off the shock but I think I’ll have to make myself and extra dangly piece (technical term) to cover the vulnerable bottom suspension linkage. Seems odd protecting one and not the other...
My ride was to a place called Kington on the Welsh border and back. It involved some fairly tight deadlines, some rubbish (but quick) motorway work and then some fantastic A and B road stuff towards the Welsh borders through Worcester and Leominster. That’s ‘Wooster’ and ‘Lemster’ for any foreigners reading.
The more I ride the VFR the more I realise I have to ride it how it wants to be ridden to get the best out of both it and me. It punished cack-handed throttle response quite cruelly and it also delivers a fairly swift kick in the ‘nads if you’re anything but smooth with your other inputs be that brakes, gearshifts or even the way you coax her into and through a bend. It’s easy to ride (as most Hondas seem to be) but that last few percent rewards finesse and a delicate hand.
Super fat mid range power (er, 1200cc V4) starts to happen just before 6,000rpm and, to be honest, what happens above this point is pretty irrelevant unless you like the idea of some enforced back door action in prison. Just ride-the-tide around six and you’re making seriously rapid progress. She’s a big girl, granted, but plan ahead, keep strirring the gears (smoothly) and keep in that purple patch-rhythm of 5,800, 6,800 and once you slice those lines together and you’re super sharp on the throttle applications (she’s lively) I didn’t find anyone all day that could or would party with me. Not even close. Seen hundreds of bikes too.
You just ride it at 80% and it’s stupidly quick from point to point. None of this crass hanging off (looks really contrived and pretentious on the road anyway), no loose or squirelly moments, just fast ‘n’ smooth. Like age and treachery fosters. It’s no surprise that Ben (in his late twenties) hates the VFR. Bloody children.
My case rests.
The Dunlop SportSmart tyres I fitted have really, really impressed me, too. By the time I got to Kington they’d puckered their edges up like ten laps at Brands Hatch would do. As a graphic illustration of how sticky they were, when I parked up there were two cigarette butts stuck to the centre tread. I had a bit of drizzly rain today but once they’re up to temp they lock down onto the tarmac like limpets – haven’t ridden a better road tyre in the drizzle ever before. Where were these tyres when I was eighteen and crashing in the rain all the time? They have changed my bike. For the much, much better.
Allegedly, the VFR gets a bit weavy at 135mph plus with its panniers fitted but I couldn’t possibly comment on this. Leave the panniers at home if that’s how you want to ride, I say.
I’m sat here in a room next to my garage with the door open. I can smell the VFR's heat and hear it ticking and pinging its way back down to a normal temperature. It’s front look like a flies’ graveyard with all that yellow-gut pus splattered all over the nose cone. Hello summer.
Apparently there are better road bikes. No one seemed to have one today. I’ll go looking again next weekend if circumstances allow...
Posted: 19/07/2010 at 09:45
Wales has been off my list of "fun places to ride" since most of the welsh police force took to targeting real any motorcyclist instead of real crime detection.
Or have things improved ???
Posted: 19/07/2010 at 11:36
I'll answer both at once: My trip read 154 miles (fast motorway cruise), 149 miles (more motorway) and 105 miles and 110 miles (er, spirited riding). I was ready for a drink and a tab by that point anyway.
Welsh police? Didn't see one all day and that's not just poetic licence. I can therefore deduce from this in-depth scientific research that Welsh police are the best. Ever. The A44 from Worcester to Leominster is stunning but has lots of deceptive corners to catch out the unwary...
Posted: 19/07/2010 at 19:25
Posted: 13/08/2011 at 00:38
Posted: 21/03/2012 at 19:46
Posted: 18/11/2012 at 20:06
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