Video: Honda Crossrunner v mountain passFri, 01 Apr 2011
This road (the one in the video) was a previously unseen, super-steep mountain pass which needed first gear for the hairpins and second between them with an occasional grab at third on the quicker sections. It was the sort of road that pumps up your forearms and makes you crane your neck to see what's coming next (mainly cyclists).
The surface was rubbish. Polished-smooth stone chippings, buffed shiny by decades of heavy use, really tested the Pirelli tyres to the max.
Only one complaint. Like the VFR800, the gap between first and second gears is ridiculously vast. First is like a crawler gear. If you're getting a bit of a move on, to make a smooth downshift it takes a massive blip of throttle and then a lot of manual clutch slipping to smooth the transition and stop the rear wheel a-locking and a-hopping.
Even with so little grip available form the knackered road surface, that newly re-mapped and re-tweaked VFR800 engine makes your task easy. You can be really aggressive with the gas without any nasty surprises and there's plenty of feedback. There may be a bit too much wind noise on this video but you still get a bit of an idea how quickly the engine responds through the mid-range. In the fat mid-range, it grunts like a litre bike. Mega.
What you're not getting in this video, though (because there was nowhere to mount the camera on the curved tank and curved fairing panels) is the induction bark. Shame, really. This noise is the Crossrunner's most endearing quality. From the rider's seat, it sounds nuts. Or The Nuts, depending on your leaning.
By mark forsyth
See also: Press Launches - the ugly truth. Part 1, MotoGP 2011: 'Expert' Predictions, Japan Needs Your Help.