Long stints in the nice and supportive saddle aren't much of a problem, with the VFR's unorthodox fairing doing a good job of wind protection; the mid-level windscreen deflects most of the windblast away from the rider's chest and there's little turbulence buffeting the helmet. Ergos are sport-touring comfy with a little bit of supersport aggression mixed in; the rider's torso is canted forward and the pegs set back just enough to provide the right positioning for carving canyons at a spirited pace without unduly punishing the rider during long superslab stints. With a 4.9-gallon fuel tank and an average fuel economy of 34 mpg though, you won't be traveling too far between fill-ups; the fuel reserve warning on the dash usually comes on at about the 135-mile mark, and at 160 miles, you'd better find a gas station quick.
The VFR's saddle is nicely...
The VFR's saddle is nicely shaped, with a narrow front portion to enable easy foot planting at a stop, while broad and supportive to the rear. Long riding stints are not a problem.
The radial-mount Nissin six-piston...
The radial-mount Nissin six-piston calipers and 320mm discs with the latest generation of Honda's linked ABS system do an excellent job of slowing the VFR. Front/rear brake link is reduced, and very subtle in operation.
We couldn't determine what...
We couldn't determine what function this bodywork scoop under the clutch was for, although we surmise that it is probably for cooling components used with the DCT version.
The V-four powerplant is smooth as silk, with what little vibration there is only being of the low frequency variety that is hardly bothersome. Mirrors are spaced wide enough to be effective, and the dash with its centerpiece analog tachometer is easy to read at a glance. The handlebar controls and switches are well laid out and easy to reach, although the turn signal actuator is curiously positioned below the horn button, leading to a few unintentional honks until the rider acclimates.
As you'd expect, the big V-four has an impressively wide spread of power, with ample torque virtually right off idle that builds in a mostly linear fashion as the engine sails along to a 142-horsepower at 10,000-rpm power peak, right before the redline 250 rpm later. The torque curve is an impressive plateau that starts around 4000 rpm and literally rides an 80 ft-lb train all the way to almost 9500 rpm. This gives the rider plenty of options for gear selection with the VFR, and shifting in many cases while slicing through a canyon is optional.
And yet the Honda's not all about torque, either. The VFR is just as much a revver as it is a torquer, and it has plenty of steam in the upper half of its rev range, exemplified by the Honda's 10.23-second, 136.82-mph quarter-mile numbers. While acceleration certainly isn't in CBR1000RR territory, there's more than enough thrust to support any situation within the VFR's intended scope.
Remote hydraulic spring preload...
Remote hydraulic spring preload adjuster is a nice touch, although turning the adjuster is high-effort, and despite having clicks to signal adjustment points, the clicks are very difficult to discern.
The VFR's dash is well laid...
The VFR's dash is well laid out and easy to read, with the analog tachometer in the center. Turn signal actuator is curiously mounted below the horn button.
The only flaw in an otherwise nearly-perfect powerband is an annoying flat spot from 4250-5500 rpm that stands out all the more due to the V-four's otherwise impressively linear power curve. On tighter canyon roads where you're doing a lot of cornering in the lower gears, this issue becomes more pronounced; let the rpm drop into that zone, and there's a surprising lack of steam when you make the call to the engine room. It also negatively affected top gear roll-ons, and highway passes usually required a downshift for best results.
A near-600-pound motorcycle usually can't be mentioned in the same breath with the word "sportbike", but the VFR manages to accomplish that feat-and actually do it quite well. Overall handling is surprisingly nimble for a bike with that heft and a 60.8-inch wheelbase, and the Honda can be hustled through a twisty road much quicker and with greater ease than you'd expect. Turn inputs require little effort, and steering is fairly precise, with the OEM-spec Dunlop Sportmax Roadsmart rubber offering nice, neutral handling characteristics at everything from a leisurely stroll to a pace that would be far outside its intended environment (the world press launch was held at a racing circuit with little complaints, as further proof). Overall grip and stability were excellent, although feedback was a tad numb, probably a by-product of their nice ride quality and bump absorption (it should be noted that these are OEM-spec Dunlops, which differ from the off-the-shelf verions). The pace must be ratcheted up quite a bit for the pegs to touch down, yet there's a decent amount of legroom.
Keeping almost 600 pounds of motorcycle from coming unwound during a spirited run down a canyon road is no small feat, yet the Honda's suspension is well up to the task. Despite its outwardly simplistic build-only spring preload and rebound damping are adjustable-the 43mm inverted cartridge fork and single rear shock do an excellent job of keeping everything under control, providing a good balance of compliance over small bumps and stability during aggressive cornering. And there was literally no perceptible "jacking" effect from throttle inputs on the VFR's shaft drive system.