What do you get for your money?
Heated grips as standard! Now that may not be as sexy as some of the plethora of electronic gizmos available from BMW (to name but one competitor) but when they’re five-stage grips like these, and when they work this well, they’re worth shouting about. Two-channel ABS is reasonably smooth in action — no big lurches unless you’re deliberately provoking it by grabbing a huge handful on wet roads — and the traction-control system is similarly unobtrusive. Honda made a big thing at launch of the optional quickshifter system, but very few owners even mentioned it, so we’d guess most original buyers didn’t bother stumping up the extra. That’s about it for gadgets, except for Honda’s fancy self-cancelling indicators. These work on front/rear wheel-speed difference rather than a timer but annoyingly, they still often turn themselves off just when you really don’t want them to…
At a more fundamental level, the main frame is unchanged from the previous VFR but a lighter cast-aluminium subframe and all-new single-sided swingarm saved 7kg over the older bike’s kerb weight. The engine’s fundamentally unchanged but revised cam timing and valve overlap increases low and midrange torque. The VTEC system (which uses two out of the four valves in each cylinder below 7000rpm and then brings the other two into play at higher revs) is mechanically unchanged but the control system has been revised for smoother operation.
On a used bike, look for sensible modifications — a hugger is good, and panniers and topbox even better if you’re planning on any touring. A neatly fitted chain oiler is a good sign of a sensible, caring owner too.
Restrained styling belies the VFR800’S exceptional abilities