What's happened to the VFR1200 tourer?

Honda's missing bike that never was, but has it been replaced? The mystery continues

BACK in 2009 you couldn't move for news and rumours about Honda's forthcoming VFR1200, and the message was clear: three bikes were under development.

First up there was the VFR1200F, which duly appeared at the end of the year as a 2010 model. But it was due to be joined by a touring bike, effectively replacing the Pan European and tentatively named the VFR1200T. The third model was an adventure bike – originally said to be somewhat behind the other two machines in its development.

Since then, the adventure bike – or at least a concept that shows how it's likely to look – has appeared in the form of the Crosstourer that did the bike show rounds last year. But the tourer has yet to raise its head above the parapet.

Drawings of the bike were leaked before even the VFR1200F had officially appeared. Now the same images have been published via the US Patent office and its European equivalent. Intriguingly, in Europe the patents, which were filed back in 2009 at the same time as the VFR1200F designs were copyrighted, had their publication withheld until last week. That's something designers have the option of doing to make sure patent images don't get into the public domain before a product's official launch.

Which suggests that back in 2009, when the drawings were given to the patent office, Honda intended to officially release the VFR tourer before last week. Certainly all the rumours originally suggested it would appear long before the adventure bike version was ready, and it seems likely that machine – the VFR1200X Crosstourer – will become a production machine in 2012.

What's happened to the VFR1200T? Your guess is as good as ours, but with huge amounts of technology rumoured for the bike, including a “next-generation”airbag system, it's more than possible that development is taking longer than originally anticipated.