Clutchless and classy
The VFR automatic is a glimpse into the future, writes Craig Duff
ATRICK V4 engine and dual-clutch automatic transmission push the envelope for Honda’s VFR 1200 and show where technology can take two wheels.
That’s not to say this is the ultimate clutchless motorbike, it’s not. It is an engineering marvel but the machine can be tricky in slowspeed manoeuvres – there’s no clutch to feather – and owners need to prepare for the ‘‘it’s a bored-out scooter’’ jokes.
The automatic has two maps, D for drive and S for sport. But you don’t buy a 1237cc machine to run it in economy mode.
The thing’s in third gear before riders can cross an intersection and will romp into sixth as early as 70km/h. Great for fuel use but it doesn’t come close to showing owners what the VFR is capable of.
And this is a capable machine. There are few bikes that combine technology with touring capability to produce a machine that will hap- pily cover a thousand kilometres a day.
Technology aside, the shaftdriven VFR is a delight to ride. The fit and finish is as classy as you expect from a top-end Honda. It still looks chunky at the front end, but the side and rear views are much more sculpted.
It hooks into and holds its line through turns like a sportsbike and the combined ABS brakes means it slows down as fast as it accelerates.
Stick with S, or play with the manual shifters mounted on the left switch-block if you want to explore the performance potential of the bike.
I spent the first day playing with the manual changes, then opted for the S mode every time I fired up the bike. Changing up and down the cogs is jolt-free, which holds with Honda’s intent of leaving the rider free to focus on the road.
The VFR is a glimpse at the future of two-wheeled motoring.
Easy riding: the Honda VFR 1200 comes with drive and sport settings.