Fuelly Badge


Thursday, December 3, 2009

Percieved Shortcomings

Honda built up to the launch of the VFR1200F with a lot of hype. VFR sites were buzzing with anticipation... they had waited 8 years for it. When the photos and specs hit the web, they were met with derision and disappointment for some who had often unreasonable expectations.

Though the initial ride reports and reviews from the press unversally heaped praise on the new bike, the armchair experts and keyboard gladiators still seem to harbor 3 main objections:

1. Weight

Honda list the "curb weight" of the VFR1200FA as 591lbs. In Honda vernacular, curb weight means "full of fuel and all required fluids, ready to ride". In years past, motorcycle manufacturers have listed "dry weights" for their machines. Dry weights included no fuel, no oil, no coolant, no fork or shock oil, no brake fluid, no battery and sometimes no spark plugs, tires, or brake pads. It was a completely unrealistic representation of the weight of a motorcycle. And because different manufacturers had different interpretations of "dry weight" there was no consistency and no reasonable way to compare. It was a useless figure. Honda swam against the tide a couple of years ago when they announced their new curb weight spec. Other manufacturers appear to be following their lead but buyers may still have dry weight figures stuck in their heads. For example, when the CBR954RR was introduced in 2002, Honda listed the dry weight as 370 lbs. When the revolutionary 2008 CBR1000RR was released, Honda listed the curb weight as 439 lbs. Does the 1000rr weigh 69 lbs more than the 954? No, it weighs about 4 lbs more. The 954 weighed 435lbs full of fuel and ready to ride. My point is that I think a lot of armchair experts expect sporty motorcycles to weigh around 440 lbs full of fuel. It isn't realistic for anything but a no-compromise supersports bike like a CBR. GIven the comfort, size, features and capabilities of the VFR1200, the 150 lbs it has on the CBR is not unreasonable. It will weigh a bit more than a K1300s (which should be expected with the added bulk and complexity of a V4 VS an inline) but it will weigh a lot less than other bikes that it will be shopped against. It's about 100lbs lighter than the ST1300, Concours, K1300GT or FJR1300. And it only weighs about 40lbs more than the VFR800ABS that it replaces, while adding shaft drive, better wind protection, better passenger accomodations, better suspension, better brakes and about 65% more power.

BTW, I'm 170lbs and I'll bet a lot of the guys whinging about the weight are 250+ lb lardos.

2. Styling

It looks like an alien, it looks like a cylon (whatever the fuck that is) it looks like a whale...

I love the way it looks. It looks like it came from about 20 years in the future. I've only seen photos but the paint looks exquisite, and the fit and finish sets a new standard. The fairings fit together seamlessly, with no visible screws, and "air spaces" that add visual lightness. (especially around the "chin" where the gorgeous stainless headers can be seen snaking around the oil cooler)

Everyone who has seen the bike in person has come around to it, and reported that it looks svelter and more pretty in person. I'm sure that a lot of the internet critics will come around to it just the same once they see one. I still haven't seen one but I love it already.

Love it or hate it, the styling is nothing if not controversial... and I enjoy controversy.

3. Price

UK: about 12.5K Pounds, Europe: about 15k euros. USA: 16 grand. Canada: ?????

It's priced right below the ST1300 in all markets, which is about what I would have expected. Honda is positioning it as a premium motorcycle. It won't be mass-marketed like your average CBR or Shadow. Of course there are cheaper bikes, even some really nice ones. But for the money you get a whole library of new patented technology, astonishing build quality and likely excellent performance in a unique and exclusive bike.

I've been told to expect a price just under 20 grand here in Canada. Centre stand, hard luggage and top trunk will probably tack on 2k more. The DCT transmission is rumored to cost about $2000 as an option. I love the technology and I'd like to buy one equipped with the DCT, but as of yet I'm not 100% decided. I'll elaborate in my next entry.

No comments:

Post a Comment