I said I wanted a powerful high-tech bike that handled well 2-up, looked good with or without luggage, and could do short Sunday blasts or long trips. ABS is nice, and shaft drive would be preferred. The VFR price still isn't released in Canada, but it will be likely upwards of 20 grand with puts it in competition with some very good alternatives:
This is the most obvious competitor, and clearly the bike whose market Honda were targeting when they planned the VFR1200. The K rocket has a bunch of obvious similarities... Big powerful motor, long wheelbase, shaft drive. It's horsepower and weight specs are very similar, though it does have a slight edge on paper. It also offers more value for the dollar in terms of comfort and convenience features. The $16990 base model comes standard with heated grips. For another $1665 you can add electronic suspension adjustment, an onboard computer, and a safety package with tire pressure monitors and skid control. To top that off, BMW Motorrad Canada are offering 3.95% financing for 60 months, and new BMWs come with a 3 year warranty, as opposed to Honda's 1 year warranty. (though it is rumored that the VFR will have 3 years of coverage)
The K1300 seems to have an obvious edge and meets all of my criteria but I just don't see myself being as happy with it as I would with the VFR. Its 1293cc inline 4 motor puts out a titanic amount of horsepower and torque, making the K bike one of the fastest motorcycles in the World; but inline-4 engines just can't offer the character of V4s. (with the possible exception of Yamaha's "cross-plane" inline motor in the R1) There are some reliability concerns with the BMW as well. Their final-drive mechanisms are known to fail and their fuel injection is glitchy, with a stalling problem that BMW refuses to acknowledge. And though I will do all of my own service, the cost of ownership would likely be higher on the BMW, with pricey parts that are harder to find. Though the K1300s can certainly be categorized as "high-tech" it doesn't occupy the "cutting edge" that the all-new VFR does. It's just not as cool, and it doesn't "move" me in the same way. And it's not a Honda. (hey I never said I wasn't biased)
Ducati Multistrada 1200
This bike was just announced for 2010 and appears to offer sport-touring riders a hell of a value. It's light-weight, (claimed 440lbs wet) has lots of power (with a de-tuned 1198 superbike motor) it has exclusivity, desirability and certainly plenty of character. The price (about on par with the VFR) is surprisingly affordable considering its pedigree. It meets most of my requirements... I'm still not sure on the "good looking" part. It looks... um... special. I like that it has its own unique appearance while being unmistakeably Ducati. But that fucking nose! It's got an olfactory unit like a basset hound. Looks aside, it's probably a fantastic motorcycle but I've got a couple of hangups... It's chain-driven. While this is a credit on the performance side of the ledger, I just don't want to maintain a chain on my fast road bike. Cost of ownership is also a concern. The Desmodromic valvetrain is maintenance-intensive and what maintenance I can't do myself will be spendy. All things considered, it is an exciting bike with plenty of character. The maintenance I could probably get used to and if it had a slick shaft drive like the VFR this might be the MTS1200 owners blog instead of the VFR1200FA owners blog. Even if it isn't a Honda.
Kawasaki Concours 1400
Lots of power, lots of gadgets for the money. Too big, too ugly, too Kawasaki.
Too big. Old man bike that I wouldn't be excited to take out for a spin by myself. Overdue for a redesign... getting a bit obsolete.
Awesomely capable touring bike. Heated seat! Wife would probably love it. More money than VFR. Too big, too ugly. Fast but not sporty or exciting.
Have I missed any? The VFR1200F has not been universally well-received in the online motorcycle community. I'll address the common objections in my next entry.