When Honda introduced the long-awaited 2011 VFR1200F its reception was nothing if not controversial. Rumors ran abound about what the new bike would be, but not many were expecting a radical machine built to shred miles in comfort - miles that preferably come by way of the road less traveled, the one filled with twists and turns. On the technology front, the new VFR comes loaded with the kind of tech we've come to expect from Honda. We've covered many of these features in past issues, starting with Associate Editor Siahaan's first ride impressions from the bike's introduction in Japan in the March issue ("Paradigm Shift") and El Jefe's full test of the standard transmission model in the May issue ("The Other Half"), but to rehash some key points, despite the 1237cc V4 engine, the rider's legs aren't spread across the fuel tank thanks to the VFR's rear cylinders set inward of the front. Honda's latest linked braking system finds its way to this bike with ABS also coming to join the party. A first for Honda, the new VFR utilizes ride-by-wire throttle technology. The main reason for this is to work in conjunction with the most important feature of this bike: the dual clutch transmission. Similar to the systems seen in many high-end sports cars, the DCT allows true push-button shifting. The Geek covers the details of Honda's dual clutch transmission and the added challenge of packaging it for motorcycle use in the following sidebar. Troy was gushing about the bike after its introduction in Japan and all of us were impressed with the standard transmission model we rode a few months ago. But we've been waiting anxiously to get the DCT model stateside to put it through the SR gauntlet.
Redefining the Rules
So what, exactly, is the new VFR? Sport bike? Sport tourer? If Honda could write the rules it would say both. But let's be real; judging by the optional saddlebags and top case fitted to our test unit, it would seem that eating up the open road was always going to be this bike's destiny. In essence, this model's basic architecture is not much different than the standard model we rode earlier this year, save for a few items from Honda's accessories catalog such as the hard luggage. Other bits include the reshaped saddle that lowers seat height by 0.8 inch. While it may not seem like much, that was the difference between tip-toeing and flat-footing for our 30-something inseams. The cockpit area remains largely the same as the standard model also, with large tachometer taking center stage and digital speedometer off to the left. The obvious difference being the right switchgrip toggles for the DCT's different drive modes and the left grip's two buttons; one for upshifts, the other for downshifts.
By now you've seen the scuttlebutt on Internet forums regarding the VFR and the dual clutch transmission. And you've no doubt noticed that public reaction has been negative - heck, you may even be one of the critics yourself. If Psychology 101 taught us anything, it's that people generally think negatively of that which they don't understand. Honda is seemingly facing the same problem with the VFR. It doesn't help that other motorcycles with automatic or semi-automatic transmissions have all flopped. Fear not reader; while the DCT on this machine does feature an automatic mode, for once the riding experience is enhanced with the omission of the clutch lever.