2010 Honda VFR1200F: First road test

Visordown notches up 200 miles on new V4 sports-tourer

JUST BACK from 200 rain-soaked miles on the 2010 Honda VFR1200F - one of the most eagerly-awaited bikes of the last decade.

It's the second time we've tested the 160bhp V4; Visordown's latest signing - ex-Performance Bikes Editor Mark Forsyth - was invited to Honda's exclusive premier of the 1200cc sports-tourer at Sugo racetrack, Japan, just over a month ago. Forsyth gave the new VFR the thumbs up after leathering the V4 around Sugo's challenging twists and turns, giving a special nod to the auto gearbox DVT model. Read his full sushi-inspired Honda VFR1200 first ride launch report here

This time, Honda have brought us to Southern Spain for more of a real-world experience of the all-new machine. The 200-mile route comprised of around 60 miles of motorway, 100 or so miles of fast A-roads and a healthy dose of the region's finest mountain switchbacks: all ideal stomping ground for Honda's 2010 sports-tourer. Sadly, we were not given the option to test the fully automatic DCT model; Honda has planned a separate launch for sometime in 2010.

So, first impressions: Thanks to a low, super-slim seat, even a 5ft 8 shortarse like me can get both feet flat on the floor. The VFR weighs 267kgs fully gassed but feels nowhere near as heavy; pushing the bike in and out of the hotel garage was totally unintimidating, thanks to the bike's low C of G. Slow speed stuff's also a doddle, giving the rider confidence from the off. It's far less bulky than Honda's Pan European. Think slightly beefed up VFR800 and you're almost there.

The new bike's 160bhp motor is a huge depature from its rather flat 800cc sibling. Whack open the throttle in virtually any gear at any speed and the VFR surges forward with relentless shove. Instant power is found throughout the rev range; something the 800cc bike simply couldn't offer. It doesn't feel Blackbird fast but it's still bloody quick through the gears. Top gear roll on feels pretty impressive, too.

The new V4 still feels every inch a true VFR: easy to ride and reassuringly predictable on the greasy, wet roads we encountered in Spain. It's a typical Honda.

But, and there are quite a few of them, has Honda overpriced the new V4? The company are remaining tight-lipped about the bike's official retail price, but a source told me last night the standard version will cost around £12,000. That's an awful lot of wedge for a bike with no panniers, no electronic suspension, no traction control and a 150-mile tank range - yes, one rider managed just 150 miles to bone dry on yesterday's 200-mile blast. In Honda's defense, most other riders eeked out around 200 miles before needing a refill, which adds up to around 40mpg. If you're hanging out for the fully auto DCT version, expect to shell out around £14,000, when the bike goes on sale sometime next year...

Look out for the full story of Honda's latest V4 in Issue Six of Visordown Magazine, where we'll give you the highs, lows and expert opinion on the all-new VFR.