Honda UK bans VFR800 owners from testing Shamu

Dailies -


VFR1200_tank.jpgApparently fearing unflattering comparisons, Honda UK has effectively banned owners of the VFR800 and other previous VFRs from riding the 2010 Honda VFR1200. MCN, England’s largest bike publication, had scheduled a loan of Shamu post media launch in order to get real riders’ opinions of the new bike. So far so good, that’s standard operating procedure for the paper with Hondas and most other mainstream bikes. But, when Honda got wind of MCN’s plans to put VFR owners on the bike and then publish their opinions it balked, ordering the paper not to allow anyone but editorial staff on the heavyweight V4. MCN‘s response? Take it back then, we don’t want it. Respect.
Ignoring the sycophantic domestic press here in the land of the first
amendment, European journalists have come over distinctly nonplussed by
Honda’s new flagship, complaining about everything from its 591lbs
weight to the expected price of repair following a low-speed spill to
much more serious criticisms like the 160-mile tank range and the
uncomfortable seat. Following that coverage, Honda’s refusal to allow
consumers on to the bike before it reaches showrooms is damning,
demonstrating a shocking lack of faith in their own product’s ability
to weather criticism. Things are not shaping up well for the new VFR.

via Ash On Bikes and @GuyProcter

  • Cameron Baum

    Honda doesn’t even seem to be the same company it was 10 or so years ago. What is happening over in Japan? Toyota is also suffering. Did Detroit/Milwaukee somehow infect the formerly great Japanese auto and moto manufacturers?

    There is a reason I won’t buy or own any vehicle made in the 21st century…

  • Cameron Baum

    Honda doesn’t even seem to be the same company it was 10 or so years ago. What is happening over in Japan? Toyota is also suffering. Did Detroit/Milwaukee somehow infect the formerly great Japanese auto and moto manufacturers?

    There is a reason I won’t buy or own any vehicle made in the 21st century…

  • betarace

    A clear case of a bike that was designed around a customer that never existed. It’s not a tourer, its not a sport bike, nobody wants all of that crap technology, automatic transmissions are for geezers, nobody ever wanted VTEC, its too heavy. And $16K ? for that money you can have a ducati, mv agusta, aprilia or any other capable jap bike and still have tons left over to buy a real VFR.

    Can we just have a softer CBR1000RR with a V4 motor like the 1990 – 1997 VFRs?

    • Isaac

      + 1 on that ‘B’. All they would of had to do was give a CBR1000 RR new rearsets, seat and bar risers. Of course change the fairings a little an add luggaeg capability. Then just bring back the old V-4 and re-tool it for better feul economy. That would have cost way less than making this beast that can only go as far as my R6?

  • Isaac

    + 1 on that ‘B’. All they would of had to do was give a CBR1000 RR new rearsets, seat and bar risers. Of course change the fairings a little an add luggaeg capability. Then just bring back the old V-4 and re-tool it for better feul economy. That would have cost way less than making this beast that can only go as far as my R6?

  • Isaac

    + 1 on that ‘B’. All they would of had to do was give a CBR1000 RR new rearsets, seat and bar risers. Of course change the fairings a little an add luggage capability. Then just bring back the old V-4 and re-tool it for better feul economy. That would have cost way less than making this beast that can only go as far as my R6?

  • Isaac

    Wes, please delete my triple post.

  • Jimmy S.

    Hello! WTF is going on at Honda?????They took one of the greatest engines/bikes (5th Gen VFR) and from 02 just started trashing it!

    And now this Fugly 1200cc turd is all they have to show for Pioneering the most fantastic engine of all time! Even the duc’s had to go V4 to really dominate!

    I’ll just need to stock up on 5th gens!

  • teejay

    When was the point when Honda went insane?
    Such act and re-action from MCN could kill the UK sales. In other countries there will be tests (initial test was already done in Spain), with such behaviour it is very easy to loose customer interest, specially in UK.
    Except some stuff for the geekz, there is nothing really special of this bike. Ok, V4, but I mean in this power range what makes this bike special? Busa, ZX14, K1300S/R can do same or even more poweroutput, even at low revs, have similar riding position (their are comfortable for comparision) and smaller price tag. Never thought, but after trying the K1300R I doubt that I would choose the new VFR (I am not very keen on BMW, but the new K’s are quite impressive).

    Big ‘H’ killing itself.

    PS. betarace,
    The best VFR’s are the RC46/1, the ’00-’01 – revised injector map no VTEC, best fairing.

  • Greg

    Heh. Way to go Honda! VFR owners (myself included), have been clamoring for an updated, bigger displacement, more powerful VFR for years. The release of this monstrosity has been a huge letdown to the Viffer community and Honda knows it! I couldn’t possibly imagine trading my 800 for that thing! I would venture to say that most current VFR owners wouldn’t either. It seems to me the ST1300 already fills the space that this new VFR is trying to step into. Honda should have been more faithful to the original concept behind the VFR line.

  • Ken

    The screwed up thing here is that this actually supposed to be a bike for real riders on real roads. So the most flattering press should actually come from real riders, not journos high on Desmosedici fumes. And it seems Honda has no confidence that that will occur. Bloody hell.

  • vic

    that happened because the new vfr has NOTHING in common with the old vfr

    the old vfr started it’s conceptual life as a sportsbike(see the highly complex v4),but because development time was longer than expected[ the engine wasn't reliable enough for road use at it's intended rpm/hp] soon they realized that they we’re going to make a unreliable heavy sportsbike that nobody wanted so they switched gear and produced a cheap&cheerful mid-sized tourer with a sweet engine that in later alterations proved very reliable which truly was both sporty and could eat up miles in a comfortable it was as good as it gets in the city as a tourer.

    the new vfr is exactly the opposite of the old vfr.i don’t know how they managed to take everything vfr and turn it up side down..jeez

  • vic

    now i have a question.

    is there anything on the market that has the old vfr attributes? remember it must be well priced,decent quality,fast{for it’s category},reliable,carry luggage, and maneuvrable and easy on the eyes
    the triumph tiger comes to mind .any other?

    • vic

      i meant sprint ST

    • Wes Siler

      Light, all-day comfortable, fast, can carry luggage (underseat pipe), easy maintenance: CBR600RR, not kidding, it’s a wonderful bike.

    • wyatterp

      You’re right about the Sprint ST. That’s about the only bike I can think of that is light, powerful and comfortable in the same way the pre 2001 VFR was.

      Now we’re stuck with slightly less painful but highly capable supersports i.e. cbr1000rr, gsxr750. Or we have to go with more standard options like the Tiger or Multistrada.

      Personally, I’m looking forward to the Multistrada. Powerful, light, comfy, decent amount of tech and kinda weird looking. It’s got a lot to like.

  • todd

    Honda made one major mistake with this bike – they branded it a VFR. Had they called it a “GT1200i” or the like, this tempest in a teapot would have never happened.

    • shinigami

      Precisely correct. We VFR owners as a group are an odd, rabid bunch. Hell, there’s been considerable infighting in the VFR community for the past eight years on the merits of the (whiny) 5th generation bike vs the (more heat than light) VTEC 6th gen model (I own a 6th gen for the record, along with a stable of CBR’s).

      So when Honda brough Shamu to the party there’s no surprise at all that this rabid little community would go at it, fangs bared.

      I suggest normal people simply ignore us VFR maniacs and try this new bike without much regard as to its VFR roots.

      The VFR is well and truly dead. Life goes on.

      (And I still have mine!!)

  • Skipper

    This bike has the absolute ugliest muffler in motorcycle history. It is not a sport touring bike with a small fuel tank, small side and top cases, poor riding position and small windscreen. It is not a sport bike either. The automatic trans is of no interest and Honda has this prices like a Harley, way to high. The rear fender looks terrible. Honda has this priced like the DNO1. I still haven’t figured out what the purpose of that bike is either.

  • sburns2421

    Honda lost their mojo more than a decade ago. During the 1990′s they produced the NR750, flyweight CBR900RR, the awesomely refined CBR1100XX, and aluminum-framed CR250. With cars don’t forget the original Insight which could get 60 mpg, and the rest of their conventional trouble-free cars could run for 400,000 miles and cost less than a comparable Toyota. Their engines dominated Formula 1 until they got bored and quit.

    In the last decade they have replaced peerless engineering with gizmos few want or need. The first CBR1000RR was overweight, and the CBR600RR has always been somehwat boring. Aside from looks, the second-generation VFR800 offered little improvement over the cam-drive version it replaced. Their new whizbang wonderbike in 2009 was the DN-01, and incredibly ugly oversized scooter that cost nearly as much as their base model cars and possibly returns worse gas mileage.

    The VFR1200 is merely a continuation of this fumbling around trying to be novel rather than innovative. I predict it fails miserably. Only the true Honda faithful with the need and considerable disposable income will even consider it.

    Today I would say Yamaha has replaced Honda as the leader in innovation within the Big Four.

  • General Apathy

    Between this, the Toyota recall, and other events, the legend of superior Japanese quality is fading quickly.

  • Skipper

    Look at Harley Davidson. They sell the same overpriced crap every year only with a new paint job and more or less chrome. People are gullible enough to think a Harley is a great motorcycle and HD is laughing there ass off. HD spends more R&D money designing new belt buckles, clocks and ash trays than they do on there motorcycles. Honda is taking a similar tack here. Honda thinks just because it is a Honda the buying public will flock to dealers in droves to buy the VFR. Who knows? Harley seems to be able to sell out of date overweight stuff so maybe Honda will be able to sell the new VFR. I know for sure I will not be on the list. The BMW K1300GT is a far superior bike that is truly set up for touring or if you do not need tons of horsepower the R1200RT is great.

    • Wes Siler

      Remember that the VFR1200 is a competitor for bikes like the K1300S, it’s expected that a K1300GT-rivaling ST1200 will be coming soon.

    • Gus Porterhouse

      The Harley customer is a completely different animal from the Honda customer. The great majority of HD riders just care about looking like outlaws on their way down to Red Lobster, while the great majority of Honda (and other Japanese make) owners actually look at performance, technology, and value. If Honda wants to turn into HD and become, as my dad calls them, “The Mower Company” (because of their lack of focus in the past decade), well…I’m not a highly paid and infallible marketing executive, but I understand what “target market” means. :)

  • GasBreather09

    sounds like some communists acts of business and defiance.

  • Skipper

    Very good point Gus. You are right about the Harley riders – “Hey everybody look at me on my loud motorcycle in my pirate outfit”. I think HD makes more money selling the ridiculous clothes, belt buckles and such than they do selling the out of date bikes. I really do not understand what Honda is up to. Last year they gave us the DNO1 and now the “new” VFR. Why didn’t they spend that time and money making the ST1300 into a real sport touring bike like the BMW K1300GT or R1200RT? I could care less about the automatic transmission. In fact, I would not buy a motorcycle with an automatic transmission. Well, maybe if I wanted a Honda Leadwing the auto would be nice because they are just super slab bikes anyway.

    • Stacy

      Don’t forget the Rune!

  • Skipper

    The Rune, DN01 and Pacific Coast were all over priced and did not sell. I think Honda can add the VFR to that list.

  • pdub

    As one who normally enjoys Honda’s koolaide I do have to say that it seems from the outside that their motorcycle division’s a bit directionless lately. Apart from the current CBR1000RR (which is awesome by any standard) I can’t recall them doing anything exciting since about 2003. The first 600rr was a revelation. the Valkyrie Rune was a concept bike for the street. The RC51 was at the height of it’s development causing big twins racers to only go Italian for national or brand loyalties. Hell, they had Rossi & a bike that made MotoGP practically boring by their dominance. Maybe that’s it. Maybe Rossi found the corporate talisman late one night at Honda headquarters Japan then stole it knowing he was taking more than just their race winning ways with them. I could believe it from the NYC bike show. The Honda exhibit did seem like something of a scooter & lawnmower show. They also had a Rossi/gatorade yellow carpet that looked like it had been around since they had #46 while across the aisle Yamaha had the #46 bike aimed right at them. Poor Honda. What’s a V4 loving rider to do? Hello? Aprillia?

    • hoyt

      The Honda Fury is a good example of reaction instead of innovation, even if it is highly regarded for its intended purpose.

      “What’s a V4 loving rider to do?”

      A few comments suggest there is technology in the VFR that no one wants. I’m very interested in what Motus is working on… Steel trellis frame, longitudinal V4, chain-driven (read: light weight wheels). Interesting engine internals.

      Not for everyone, but it is just what the sport tourer market needs (a bit of hotrod to go with hard bags)

      • Darren

        “Whats a V4 loving rider to do?” –
        Easy, keep your 4th, 5th or 6th Gen and upgrade components. Currently in our riding group we have a 4th gen with R1 front end and Wilbers shock, a couple of 5th gen with SP2 fronts, Ohlins shock with catless headers and a VTEC, also SP2 front, Wilbers rear, catless headers. All these bikes are more than capable of mixing it with litre bikes in the corners only losing out on straight line speed.
        And you can still ride 1000km in a day.


  • pdub

    BTW I would keep on eye on Aprilia if you’re looking for the true VFR successor. They said they invested a lot into their V4 project and we will see more examples of it in their line other than their superbike. A V4 Aprilia sport tourer?

  • Cliff

    Another current VFR owner (get over your vtec paranoia incidentally, after a few thousand miles that 6800rpm spot is sweet not hiccuppy), I am also underthunderstruck by the VFR1200. $16K, when $8k will (still) buy you a brand new ’07 800 off a showroom floor? What we wanted was that perfect V-5, instead we get a fine bike that has no market, or as “Bike” puts it, a good all round bike, and nothing more. Once you get to $16k for a bike, there is a lot of competition with fancier nameplates. And, lets be honest, after the fixed bags and heated grips get added, $18k. Sigh, I guess next year when I pass 30+k miles on my current VFR, I will look for a low mileage used 800, or just go the Triumph route.

    • JohnA in LA, CA USA

      Save your gen 5 VFR if you have only hit 30k miles. Mine is at 125k miles and doing just fine.

      That said, I sat on the new VFR and rather like it. Don’t need to get another bike for a while but it felt pretty good. Fit and finish were top notch too.

  • David

    I love Brit’s sense of humor and their Bollocks here
    thumbs up !

  • Ninjah

    Count the VFR1200 as Honda’s third strike in the US market, after the DN01 and Fury stunk up our showroom floors.

  • JupiterIsBig

    We’re all harping over something we haven’t tried.
    Since when does anyone know what they want. If Honday actually released something which you expected, it’s be called a Camry !

    That said, give me a V4, fuel injected, belt or shaft drive, similar in size to the VFR750FS, modern suspension and materials so it weighs 10kg less than the Gen 4. I’d buy one … up to about US$10K. Oh, I left out gear driven cams :-).

  • powermatic

    An uncomfortable seat is hardly a “serious problem”, at least in my book-the seats on both my 1100RT and 1150GS sucked, but that’s why Sargent has a good business, and I love both those bikes. What is wrong with ‘Shamu’ is that it’s not a replacement for either the 800 or the Blackbird, and in fact it seems to be slotted into some sort of weird motorcycle nether region that no one can can quite fathom. Plus, as one poster previously mentioned, calling it a VFR has done nothing but generate a lot of negative press from 800 owners, like myself. A wise consumer would buy two disparate, but used, motorcycles for the same money as a new ‘Shamu’, and you would be focused and fun for each ride.

    Agree with Wes’ suggestion for the CBR600-a great bike.

  • Jeff

    I had a ’90 VFR and like you waited for the better VFR to materialize (the carb’ed 800 seems to be the pinnacle.)

    I gave up. Bikes like the Triumph Tiger (sprint if you want to crouch) and KTM 950 Supermoto made me never look back. (Or the Buell Ulysses–RIP.) They’re all-day comfortable and wicked fast without the complexity and pork of Honda’s new GT. I’d go so far as a BMW R1200GS if you really feel the need to spend that much $$.

    Finally, I’m hoping against hope that Aprilia puts that sweet engine in something with touring aspirations.

  • LADucSP

    wtf?!?! fuck you, honda. your product is garbage, and it has been for years. clearly you know it, too.

    hiding under a friggin tree won’t save your pathetic asses

  • Stubby

    Behold! The new V65 Sabre. Hondaline bags optional.

  • powermatic

    Here’s a link to the post from MCN-guy to a UK VFR forum explaining the Honda bailout. I’ve seen nothing on the MCN site about this.

  • HondaMatic

    The guy that designed the muffler should get a good spanking. This is the first bike that I can not figure out what the hell it is. It sure isn’t a sport bike at 600lbs and it sure isn’t a sport touring bike with the poor windscreen, small tank, poor riding position and small side cases and tiny top case. No rear fender either. What the hell is this thing anyway????? Also, Honda can stick the automatic trans and put that on there scooters. Wait-I know what this bike is – its the new test bed for the next Silverwing……

  • Jon

    Wes, it’s like you guys want this bike to fail by spreading FUD before it is released. This website is turning more tabloid-like than MCN. Even worse when you quote MCN.

    Even Ash makes a reference at your B.S. headline in a post on his comments area (post #95) on ashes website. I’m sure he’s referring to your site as one “places” making this claim:

    “Just to clarify the VFR test bike position, as it’s being claimed in various places now that Honda UK took the bike back from MCN because it was afraid of the public testing the bike, and this thread is being cited as a source. That’s not true, and I don’t say so above. And it’s also rather improbable if you think about it. The problem was only with the timing, Honda UK did not want the public riding the bike before the official dealer day because they decided it would spoil the marketing campaign.”

    Get your facts straight, douche. Now to delete the HFL bookmark on my browser…..

    • Wes Siler

      Don’t drink too much of the corporate Kool Aid Jon.

      Honda UK has contacted us about this story and we’ve offered to print any statement they’d like in it, but they’ve so far failed to share one with us. We’re essentially the only widely-read motorcycle publication that exists outside of the corporate advertising/publishing paradigm, so it shouldn’t come as a shock that what you read here sometimes differs from the sponsored opinions of others.

  • telekom

    If MCN are having a moan about not giving the bike to UK riders for testing, then it is definitely out of line with their over-excitement about the VFR for the last 3-6 months (maybe longer).

    I know the new VFR is “eagerly anticipated” but MCN devoted their whole 2010 calendar to “Celebrating 30 Years of Honda V4″ and centred it all on the VFR launch.

    I don’t like it. It’s fugly and overpriced and obviously isn’t very interesting to the majority of bikers. I predict they will have to slash the price to get them out of showrooms.

  • RBen

    Well all I can say is Honda Better look out because Kawasaki and BMW ARE COMING on real strong..

  • Rainbow7

    I can’t understand the bias against this bike. – I think Shinigami and Todd are right: if it didn’t have “VFR” on it, there wouldn’t be all this fuss.

    It’s clear that the 1200F is not aimed at the VFR 750/800-owning segment of the market. I’m bloody certain that Honda is trying to take some sales off BMW…after all, the 1200F looks a lot like a K-series, yeah?

    Although, I’ll admit that the muffler is the fugliest thing ever. But Yoshi will come to the rescue.

    There are a lot of guys out there who are buying Hayabusas and using them for touring. I think the VFR1200F will prove to be far better suited to that task.

  • AlexFF

    “The best VFR’s are…”
    NO, gentelmen!
    The best VFR’s WAS Aprilia RST 1000 Futura!
    But today in the motorcycle industry we can see only a cemetery of our hopes.

  • Roger

    I have an 05 VFR (A5 – VTEC), usual Honda reliability, remember the dream and applaud the innovative. I enjoy looking at the progress made by Hondas as a whole, they take risks from which come bikes like the VFR800 originally deplored as a donkey under current sporting prowess and if you own both the top and bottom of the market you have your competition under control. The Japanese have declared improvement on everything to such an extent that a recall or improvement is seen as a part of the equation (Toyota 2010), we think nothing of an update from Microsft in fact its seen as a benefit but an update or change from a vehicle supplier is met with suspicion. Well Done i say to Honda for trying the 1200 option and no doubt it will fit the halls of history well but the mark 2 will no doubt reflect all of teh above comments. Risk and mistakes are lessons learnt!!

  • Natalie

    I like the new 1200 a lot. Rode it and felt like one with the bike. I love the look as well. But yes what a price tagged. And no where to put your stuff. At this price pannys should be included.

    I am still looking but for that tagged is rather a high one I think.