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Friday, May 13, 2011

2011 VFR1200... Niche market boutique bike?

Someone may eventually write a textbook for marketing students on "how not to launch a new product" and base its tenets on Honda's mishandling of the VFR1200.

Yes it's a great motorcycle and all, but Honda gave loyal fans unrealistic expectations, and then stoked the fire for over a year with outrageous statements from an over-the-top web site.

I'm sure they learned their lesson...

Now Honda Canada has done something unusual. After the cocked up launch of the VFR, they allowed inventories (however small and exclusive) to rot in dealer showrooms for months without any real advertising and few opportunities for test rides. Eventually, they introduced a rebate of $1800 to the $18299 sticker price... which may or may not have worked. And now the strange part: they've released the 2011 VFR1200 (in dead sexy black and silver) and INCREASED the sticker price! It now lists at $18699 (plus freight and assembly) http://hondacanada.ca/MCPE/Motorcycle/Models/ModelOverview?L=E&Type=Sport&Year=2011&Model=VFR1200FA11

Is this a marketing move to position the VFR as more of a premium offering, or is it a general symptom of the global economy, with a high Yen and supply issues in tsunami-ravaged Japan? Both?

One thing I can say for certain is that Japanese manufacturers must be finding it more and more difficult to be the price leaders compared to their European competition. Building bikes for Euros and selling them for Dollars must be more favorable than building them for Yen and selling for Dollars. If the Jap4 can't be price leaders, I think it would do them well to position their products as superior, premium offerings.

On a completely unrelated topic, I have a question for the experts: Does the "A" in VFR1200FA identify it as a 2010 model, or identify it as an ABS-equipped model? I've been losing this argument on the UK VFR club board. I maintain that the A represents ABS. My opponents insist that the A designates 2010 model, and that a 2011 VFR1200F is known as a VFR1200FB. Here's where I get confused: Honda Canada refers to a 2011 VFR as a "2011 VFR1200FA" They also add the "A" suffix to other ABS-equipped models. They offer a CBR1000RR without ABS and a CBR1000RA with ABS.

Who can settle this?


  1. The only thing is, isn't ABS standard on the VFR1200? I noticed the 1200FA on my invoice when I bought my 2010, but haven't seen the 'A' used anywhere else.

  2. Sorry I have to "disappoint" you" a year after you made this post, I ordered my 2012 VFR1200F at the dealer and it was labelled a VFR1200FC, where the C = MY2012, so I'm pretty sure your "A" denotes the MY2010 rather than the (standard equipped) ABS.

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