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Honda VFR1200F First Impressions

Fri, 23 Oct 2009

Honda’s new VFR1200F in action at Sugo in Japan.

UPDATE: 2010 Honda VFR1200F Review - First Ride Article

I’m here at the Sugo Sportsland racetrack in Japan, an odd place for what seems to be a sport-touring machine like the new VFR1200F. But my time at Sugo today was one of the most incredible riding experiences of my career.

First off, lets dispel the notion the VFR is a direct competitor to sports tourers like Yamaha’s FJR1300 or the Honda ST1300. It’s lighter and more nimble, with racier ergonomics. It’s also smaller in the flesh than it appears in photographs. More attractive, too.

Duke was mightily impressed with the VFR’s new dual-clutch transmission.

But what blew me away today is the VFR’s dual-clutch transmission. If you’re thinking it might be something akin to the FJR1300AE’s auto transmission, you’d be badly mistaken. The FJR-AE’s shortcoming is its initial response when pulling away from a stop, as a rider is never sure how the auto clutch will come on. No such issue with the VFR. In comparative terms, the FJR-AE’s transmission/clutch is a carburetor to the VFR’s fuel injection.

More amazing, though, is how well the dual-clutch gearbox works in automatic mode. There are hundreds of ways a racetrack can trip up such a system, and I’m thrilled to report no such issues. Leave it in the Sport setting of the automatic mode, and it is both smooth and cooperative, blipping the throttle on downshifts and upshifting near redline.

Check back with us on Monday for a more comprehensive report!

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By Kevin Duke

See also: Best Helmet Designs from the 2009 MotoGP Season, Honda VFR1200F Launch: Tokyo (no) Show, Is this Honda's inspiration for mass-centralisation.