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Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Honda VFR 1200 Review - 11,000 miles

March 23, 2014
On May 31, 2014 I bought my first Honda motorcycle.  A new 2012 VFR 1200 with less than 5 miles on it, even after Mac and I took test rides on it.  For reasons unknown to me the VFR 1200 does not sell that well here in the USA, so this brand new two year old bike was mine at a great price.

I wasn't looking at the VFR originally, but a friend and R1 rider at the time (now he has a 2014 VFR) suggested I consider it (Thanks Sergey).  After some research on my own I decided I should at least sit on a VFR. 

I had a Yamaha FJR 1300 for almost 4 years (60,000+ miles) and was considering another one along with the Aprilla Copone and VFR.  After sitting on all three, looking at options, features, maintenance, insurance and overall "gut" reaction I decided the VFR was for me.  (The price was a big "plus" along with the fact insurance priced it as a two year old bike.)
June 2014 ride to Nocona, Texas
The fit and finish is top of the line.  The sleek lines and curves gives the impression the bike is "fast" and the looks are not deceiving.  The 1237cc V4 produces smooth consistent power.  The stock seat is plenty comfortable for me.

I was not confident with the stock tires, but once I mounted the Michelin Pilot Road 2, and later the PR 3's, confidence in the curves increased greatly.

I ordered the saddlebags for the bike, they do not come stock. The only customization included Zero Gravity windshield, Two Brothers slip-on exhaust, T-Rex Racing sliders and Grip Buddies
Zero Gravity tinted windshield is about 2 inches taller than stock and works great.
The exhaust exchanged reduced the weight approx. 15 lbs and improved the look and sound of the bike (compare 2nd photo and last photo).  The Zero Gravity windshield reduced buffeting considerably and added to the eye appeal.  The Grip Buddies were added because I like the comfort of the bigger grip and the vibration reducing neoprene.
 June 2014 on US129 a.k.a The Tail of the Dragon - photo by Killboy.com
I have commuted, ridden back roads with twisties, ridden in Dallas traffic, taken weekend trips and extended trips.  The VFR has taken me on the windy roads in the Smokey Mountains, including the Tail of the Dragon, and over many mountain passes of the Rocky Mountains in Colorado and New Mexico.  I have ridden a few miles in a day up to 650 miles in a day.  I have travel without saddlebags, with saddlebags and even fully loaded for camping.  I have put the bike to the test and I have found myself always smiling.


Loaded for camping in Colorado
This the first bike I have owned with traction control and/or a slipper clutch.  I like the both features; however, the first time the traction control engaged was a little surprising and at the same time comforting.  I was glad to feel it work so much quicker than I could react.  The slipper clutch works great and makes downshifting smooth.  The single-side swingarm not only looks sharp it makes changing the tire very convenient.  I love that feature!
Enjoy the view from the Pikes Peak Veterans Memorial outside of Cripple Creek, CO
The seating position is slightly more aggressive than the FJR which took a little getting use to.  I like the lighter weight (589 lbs - wet - although I know that is heavy compared to some bikes) when it comes to backing up or moving around in the garage.  The detachable saddlebags are a great feature requiring just unlock the bag and lift the handle - very convenient.  I have not added the trunk, but a friend who has it on his VFR is a big fan.
Very easy to remove saddlebags
The VFR's handling is solid and breeds confidence in the twisties.  There is plenty of ground clearance for leaning hard.  The levers are adjustable and operate smoothly.  Breaking is the best I have had (6 bikes so far).

I love the bike.  I can not stop smiling when riding (except when a distracted cager makes a bad move).  It is more "sport" than "tourer".  MPG for me has been consistently 39.5 with a mixture of city and hwy. 

If I were to retire and tour for weeks at a time year round I have to admit I would go back with the FJR due to comfort, storage, fuel economy (40mpg vs 44mpg) and sitting position.  But, for now I am loving every mile on the VFR!
Taking the VFR on the track!


15 comments:

  1. I lean towards the larger tourers. I have a 2006 1800 Goldwing that I bought mid January of this year with 11,500 miles on it, I have added 5,000 miles to that total already. I know it's a big heavy bike, I weigh 230. It does everything well, I believe I can hang with the sport bikes pretty much. Jack from Greenville.

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  2. Sounds like although you didn't know it at the time, you picked the perfect bike for you.

    Good to know you are enjoying it so much.

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  3. Trobairitz, I am loving it and it does seem to fit my riding preference.

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  4. is this a good beginner bike?

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  5. I would not recommend this as a beginner bike. Way too much power and a little heavy for a new rider unless they were 6ft or taller so they had good leverage. A new rider could get in trouble with this much power (144 HP).

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  6. It is the weight of larger bikes that gets newbies in trouble, not so much the power, unless you are a true novice. Anyone riding a 300 or a mid size 500 for the first year would actually be able to ride a VFR, but the weight issue could see them in real trouble and it would be very hard fro them to get the problem sorted before disaster.

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  7. I have one just like it and it's been a great bike. I took it to Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia this summer and it did great for the week. I have the trunk option which helps. How was the Tail of the Dragon on this bike? I've done it before on another bike, but I'm itching to do it on the VFR. I get a lot of comments on it since you don't see too many of these around.

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    1. You are right - there are not a lot of VFRs around. The bike performed great on the Tail of the Dragon. I want to go again now that I have more miles on the bike and the ECU reflash. You will not be disappointed with the VFR on the Dragon.

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  8. Gorgeous looking bike, have been on the market shopping around for a new bike. Definitely need to check out this particular model.
    Kylie

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    1. It is a great bike. Shame is Honda stopped making it after 2014. My understanding is Honda is not producing the 1200 anymore.

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  9. Fine review, thank you. I own a vfr1200 f too, a 2010 model now 7 years old that I modified as I like, 68.000km and some. A pity honda discontinued such a wonderful machine.
    Ciao
    Alessandro

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    1. Ciao, I was disappointed when I read Honda decided to stop production. You have put a lot miles on it. Great job. I am up to 31,000+miles (about 50,000km).

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  10. I have A 2010 and for a small guy who likes to tour this bike is perfect! Honda hasn't discontinued the bike it just may be special order for North America. Europe has a black and white 2017 version.

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