Used Bike

Niall's Spin: Honda VFR800 (2002-2005)

Arguably the original sports tourer and certainly the best - or at least that was the case before Honda monkeyed with the formula when it relaunched the VFR with VTEC in 2002..

I love the looks of the VFR with its mix of clean lines and angular bits, and the techno dash and ergonomics are spot-on too. And it's got a single-sided swingarm, which always does it for me. The VFR looks like a sports bike, and goes like one of five years ago or so. But there's one thing spoiling the package for me: the VTEC motor. I can't get my head around it. Below 7000rpm only two valves per cylinder are working; above that all four kick in.

The intention is to boost torque at low revs while offering the surge of multivalve power at the top end, but the reality is that the system gives the impression of boosting top end power at the expense of bottom end. The other issue, and it's a big one for me, is that every time it switches from two valves to four there's this hesitant flat spot, and that takes the edge of everything else for me.

I end up obsessing about it, to the detriment of enjoying the rest of the bike. You're always going to have to rev the motor to get anywhere, especially if you're loaded up and carrying a pillion, and personally I think the bike would be better off without the VTEC gimmick.

In all other respects it's the perfect sports tourer. I love the handling - it's nimble and quick steering and can be ridden like a sports bike if the mood takes you - and the riding position is nice. Comfort isn't a problem either, although the fuel range isn't all that great if you're in the company of faster bikes and have to keep the motor spinning in order to keep up.

Take it steady and at your own pace though and it's possible to strtetch nearly 200 miles from a tankful - but you'll need to keep the motor running below 7000rpm in two-valve only mode. Build quality is another bonus, equal or a close second to BMW's. So keep your VFR clean and a few years down the line it'll should still look like new.

H

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