The engine is more tractable in the mid- range than ever and there's a definite kick in the pants at 7000rpm when the VTEC system alters key valvetrain parameters to change the engine’s state of tune from favourable for mid- range torque to favourable for top end power.They noted that the handy remote rear preload adjusting knob only comes as standard on the £500-more-expensive ABS version of the bike. Non-ABS owners have to risk skinning their knuckles. There is also video footage added to the article.
The handling has also been improved without compromising the old model’s user-friendliness, the styling has been brought bang up to date and the linked brake system has been revised for the better too.
If you like the current VFR, you’ll like the new one even more. Even the briefest of rides shows Honda has addressed what it needed to with the VFR without upsetting the qualities thousands of riders love.
The new model is much tauter and sportier than the previous bike. It's a much more involving ride than the old bike. The steering is still neutral, it turns with the slightest of bar pressure and requires no body English histrionics to encourage the turn but it feels stable and secure. The front end provides enough feedback to let you know what is going on, and in this respect it's much better. This improvement has been achieved without having to make any significant compromises in the plush ride quality for which VFRs are renowned.The Telegraph newspaper's correspondent commented on its features but failed to pass a verdict:
Honda's VFRs have always been capable of producing astonishing performance and the new bike is no exception. Riders of 'proper' sportsbikes might look down their noses, but the fact is that 95 percent of the time they could ride the VFR faster and better than the bikes they are on now. The new bike is, in a sense, a return to the form of the last of the 750s, with a broader spread of power and more sporting bias. It offers 155mph performance, neutral handling and reassuring feel along with a centrestand, pillion seat and all day comfort. We don't deserve it.
The old bike handled well enough to keep up with sportier machines, but at high speeds the steering became rather vague. We're talking autobahn velocities here, but the opposition, including Triumph's Sprint ST, Ducati's ST4S and the Aprilia Futura, were superior. But the VFR now tracks true even on derestricted motorways. In itself that's not especially useful, perhaps, but it means that on British motorways the VFR feels solidly planted on the road.
On more sinuous and stimulating roads, the VFR's cornering is in the Ducati mould. Changing direction takes a bit of a heave on the bars, but the bike holds its line reassuringly and the firm (but compliant) suspension gets on with its job without troubling the rider.
Despite the sportier credentials, the ride quality and comfort have also improved, while the fairing create less wind noise and turbulence than before, too.
The new VFR isn't a significant leap forward from the older bike. It isn't more comfy, it isn't faster and some people might say it only handles as well as the old VFR. The VTEC gives it a different engine character,which you'll either like or not, the brakes are better, as are the headlights. For us, the old bike has the edge in riding position and it somehow feels and looks better built.It seems the old VFR has not been entirely eclipsed. Some argue there wasn't much wrong with the old VFR750, and the improvements we were given in 1998 weren't a quantum leap. At least those who already own VFR800s shouldn't see their pride and joy lose its much envied resale value.
Truth is, both VFRs are fabulous bikes and you'd be hard put to find serious fault with either of them.
As an A-road scratcher it loses the plot. The suspension doesn't have the immediacy of the Hondas, and the bike's bulk means it's too ponderous to take liberties. If we weren't pushing on so hard or it was two-up to Italy, the Triumph would fare a lot better.Mind you, "pushing on" was within the context of British Autumn - temperatures in single figures when tyres and suspension don't always work in perfect harmony (we're talking ° Celsius, mid-40s Farenheit for those of you still working in old money). The finish and headlight performance come in for some serious criticism, and on a bike in this market sector, and with a new price of £8699 versus £8345 for the VFR, one is allowed to expect better.
The engine is mostly the same......only the chain-driven cams and VTEC valve control have given it an entirely different character! I guess they mean its capacity, dozy journos. But what about this character?
Up to 6,000rpm we think the old bike feels stronger. At 6,800rpm the new bike clicks onto four-valve mode and, frankly, goes crazy. It's as if someone flicks a switch inside the motor and the revs spiral. It feels more potent at the top end, and the sharp rise in power at 6,800rpm isn't vicious, but a few times - especially tip-toeing in the wet - it catches you off guard and delivers more power than you really want. The old bike is definitely better at finding grip.Another vote for the old VFR. But does that mean the new bike isn't desirable? Definitely not. The changes in the new VFR is likely to have greater appeal for those who would previously have bought a sportsbike. Echoing the market spot occupied by the original VFR750 back in 1986, it is sharper, sportier and more fun to ride, but still manages to fulfill the all-rounder role the VFR has made its own.
The changes have turned it into a comfortable superbike. It isn't a race rep, but it's fast enough and smart enough to take on a track or on holiday. The old bike is a better all-rounder. It's still a belter. Fast, agile, comfortable, beautifully built and still desirable. How many superseded bikes can you say that about?Any more compliments for the old hack? After a wet run on an English A-road in the dark, they said:
It combines sports and touring without seriously compromising either. You can get a shift on, kept in touch with the road aond conditions by classy suspension feedback, or sit back in comfort and let the bike do the work.Experienced racer and '99 VFR owner Dez Chand expresse similar feelings after he took a VTEC out for an extended ride. He reports his opinions on this web page. While I disagree with his rejection of the VTEC's digital speedo (I thought it was much easier to use than a traditional dial), he has made some good arguments in favour of keeping his current bike.
The 1999 VFR is perfection - a better all-rounder, and still one of the best bikes in the world.
If you drive off from cold it won't let the four-valve system work. If the ECU says it's not up to temperature it doesn't kick the solenoids in.
How you sit on the bike is almost the same as the 2001 model, but I believe the fuel tank is not as large, and looks really good. The seat is definitely too firm. The windscreen is taller than its predecessor, over 120Km/h the wind blast is MUCH higher than the previous VFR.Thanks to Jean-Yves for these coments. He is a contributor to the VFR800 e-group. * The manual recommends you do not exceed 7,000rpm for the first 1,000km/600 miles.
The bike is 5kg more, but I haven't been able to notice it. In fact, the bike looks smaller than its predecessor. The engine is extremely quiet. Very smooth, you feel the torque difference. There's definitely more torque in low and mid-range. I wonder if I will ever try the engine with 16 valves! I hardly ever felt the need of going over 6,000rpm *.
I love the new gear box, and I'm sure your pillion will like it even more. Changing gear is much smoother. Overall handling of the bike is nicer, smoother. The bike is responsive even brand-new. You can feel this bike will go faster too. Perfect handling, easy to turn. Riding the 2002 is definitely another experience from the 2001. You just want to open the throttle and go for a long distance.
There's no doubt the latest VFR is the best yet. It has all the usual refinements, with the bonus of a sportier look and feel which will help rid it of the dull and boring image it has with many bikers.Read the rest of the article, with specifications etc at Inside Bikes.
There's something about VFRs. They sit there all smug and pleased with themselves for being the best all-round bike the world has yet seen. You certainly don't want to like them, least of all if you happen to be under 40. Trouble is, ride one and you can't fail to be impressed, and with the latest version the best just got better. The VFR's suspension and chassis are enough to let it (in the right hands) show up some far more serious tackle should it feel like it. The bike feels secure, planted and gives you the feedback and neutral handling to muck about all the way until the hero blobs are worn out and the tyres shagged to the edges.
Conclusion: A great all-rounder, the VFR now has more fun built into it than ever before, some added poke up-top thanks to the new V4 VTEC and it'll gladly take you, the missus and the kitchen sink to the south of Spain. It's a whole heap of fun to mess about on and - and this is the clincher here - the easiest to get on with day after day, mile after mile. Frankly, it's the most complete package here and that sort of behaviour needs rewarding, so first place it is.
2005 update: further analysis of the fuelling/throttle control problem experienced by a large number of VFR owners is in this extensive discussion at the VFR club forum.
Further update: this subject won't die! More discussion, including the swapping of Oxygen sensors and balancing of Starter Valves in this thread.
Frequent battery discharge or the starter's inability to crank the engine may occur if the high beam and radiator fan are both in operation when riding at low engine speeds or idling for an extended period of time. To improve charging system performance under these conditions, a new, higher output alternator is now available.Honda UK have no plans to provide a similar service, though apparently all UK 2003 models will have the upgrade kit fitted as standard. Why Honda UK thinks this is unnecessary while quietly fitting them to ex-factory bikes I don't know.
I am not taken with the looks, especially the twin exhausts. It does not strike me as pretty, or even as merely functional. The styling has taken a few more steps down the road first trod by the VFR800 - away from curves and towards an angular, even triangular goal. The only good view was from the rider's seat. The pillion didn't look too inviting either. What happens to the pillion's legs when those shiny exhausts get hot?
It's tall. I'm only a little 'un, and the seat was quite high and wide. This made manoevuring at low speed tricky. Also, it is a substantial weight to heave onto the centrestand, and at a standstill I'd say the bike is less manageable than its predecessor.
The dash is clear and the digital speedo unambiguous. It is so much easier than a traditional needle type to glance down and see your speed without any calculation. There is no switch for the rather unattractive headlights. From 2003 all UK bikes will have the headlights permanently switched on while the ignition is on. This is stupid and unnecessary and a pathetic attempt to kow-tow to the law-makers. Just as when driving my car, I am perfectly capable of deciding when it is a good idea to ride with dip headlights. This idea must have been dreamt up either by some crazed civil servant with an eye on an OBE or the marketing team at the bulb manufacturer. Sheer lunacy, and on its own, good enough reason not to buy a UK market 2003 spec bike.
The reach to the bars was fine, though a little further than I liked (again, I'm a shortie so bear this in mind). In fact, comfort wasn't as good as the older VFR models. Honda seem to have altered the riding position to make the bars lower relative to the seat - or the seat higher. It reminded me of the 1998 Fireblade; not radical bum-up, but not all day touring comfort either.
On the move
The handling reinforced this impression. This bike really likes to turn. The amount of effort required to peel it into bends was far less than I expected, and almost took me by suprise onee or twice. The old cliche of the weight disappearing once on the move applied here as much as anywhere. The forks communicated all the changes in road surface and many holes and bumps in the Shropshire roads we negotiated, but never did it feel even remotely bothered. Unlike some sportier models, it took them all in its stride. Just as I found with the VFR800, I could take this down the local B roads without any fear of it shaking its head at me.
This was what interested me most, and unfortunately the bit that excited me the least. The engine lacked the whine that I associated with gear-driven V4s, but I admit it is not important. The power delivery was excellent, with useful acceleration even from 3,000rpm, building smoothly as the revs increased. At no time did I encounter the step in power at 7,000rpm described in magazine reviews. The power certainly increased and there was an urgency one would expect at higher revs, but no way is this a feature. The VTEC probably works well, but from this brief ride, I cannot see that it is anything special.
However, two things bothered me about the engine. Firstly, was a lack of interest, call it character if you will, in the way the engine delivered the power. It was almost like a washing machine increasing the spin speed. Stuff happened, but I felt uninvolved. Secondly, the power pulses at lower revs really bothered me. I know you're not supposed to ride a VFR around at 3k, but it was a really unpleasant kind of knocking, or pulsing. This was most unlike the VFR800 I had ridden before, and it seemed to decrease as the revs rose. I suspect it is a byproduct of the VTEC engine using only 2 valves on each cylinder. This, combined with the previous observation, led me to conclude that the VTEC VFR's engine does not represent a significant improvement.
Linked brakes: love 'em or hate 'em, say the journalists. Hate 'em, say I. Well, OK, hate is too strong a word, but I see no benefit in having them. I have adequate co-ordination to apply the brakes as I wish. While some application of the rear brake when I pull on the front lever is acceptable, the biting of front pads on the twin discs when I dab the rear pedal is altogether too much. An open message to Honda:
if I use the rear brake I only want to slow the rear wheel. Thankyou.
In summary, I'll have to say it only gets 7/10. A fine, competent machine I don't doubt. But a real improvement on its predecessor? I think not.
Compared with the perennial class benchmark, Honda's VFR800, the British bike's engine is stronger at every level and more consistent, especially now the VFR's variable valve timing has added a seductive but ultimately irritating step in the power at 7,000rpm.Is this enough motivation for Honda to make changes to a model unchanged since 2002?
The Sprint handles better too, as stable as Ducati's ST4S right up to its top speed and more precise than the Honda at finding its way through uncharted corners. The steering is too slow to match a pure sports bike, but it's still honed enough for fun. Ironically, this and the compliant suspension give the Sprint ST an advantage over sportier tackle when it comes to dealing with badly-surfaced backroads. It canvasses confidence and makes for a relaxing, unstressed ride almost at odds with the speeds it's capable of reaching.
The threshold when the second pair of valves on each cylinder begin to work during acceleration has been dropped from 6800 to 6600rpm. Similarly, when the revs drop the switch back to 2-valve operation has been moved from 6600rpm to 6100. This, along with tweaks to the ECU and injectors, is intended to make a smoother transition between two- and four-valve operation. In a brief review (10 May 2006) MCN says "the transition back to two-valve operation is smoother and less discernible, especially at high cruising speeds" On small throttle openings the difference was barely discernible.
Other changes include a brushed rather than chrome finish to the exhaust cans, clear indicator lenses, a half-white tacho, a graduated tinted screen and a colour co-ordinated panel between the headlights (on the previous model it was black). ABS brakes are now standard, instead of being offered as an option.
"a possibility that water contaminated by de-icing rock salt can penetrate between the oil cooler pipe and its rubber protector. In the worst case, galvanic corrosion of the oil pipe may be generated which could lead to a perforation of the pipe resulting in oil leakage. The possibility of this occurring is extremely low on any machine, especially those that have not been used during such road conditions."Few riders will use their machines in such conditions, but it is important that you get your machine checked. For anyone concerned whether their UK-spec machine is affected you can use the owner pages on Honda's website (which will require you to fill in your address etc) or telephone the Honda UK motorcycle helpline on 01753 590510. If you visit the VOSA recall website make sure you select 'Honda Motorcycles' in the drop-down list.
|Bore & Stroke
|72 x 48mm|
Digital Silver Metallic,
Pearl Heron Blue
Black, Burgundy, Silver
Candy Glory Red,
Sword Silver Metallic,
Pearl White / Black