Shamu 2, the revenge of the whale

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Honda-V4-Trail

Assuming that Shamu was the biggest whale hiding in the ocean was our fatal mistake. Mock it and that’ll be the end of bloated bikes, right? Wrong, because Shamu has a mom and she’s pissed. This official teaser sketch shows a new “adventure” touring bike, presumably based around the 1200cc V4, that will first be shown in concept form at the EICMA show next month.

What’s our beef with the Honda VFR1200? Well, it’s super expensive, super heavy, terrifying to ride on a race track and only mediocre at riding on the road. It’s also overhyped and fawned over by sycophants. That’s not its real problem though, after all there’s plenty of other bad bikes out there. No, Shamu’s real problem is that it’s the physical embodiment of a general malaise at the once great Honda. That company captured the hearts of enthusiasts everywhere when it spent the first six decades of its existence producing light, fast, fun, well-engineered motorcycles. Then 2010 rolled around and it seemed like the focus shifted to something less tangible, something less Soichiro.

Want to read more about why we’re getting such a large crop of unusually large, unusually expensive, unusually underwhelming motorcycles? Check out Michael Uhlarik’s article, Bred Obsolescence.

So what does this teaser sketch show us? Well, like Shamu, this “adventure” touring bike will use a complicated layered fairing intended to make the bike look very upmarket to buyers more used to spending that kind of money on cars. Of course, that same setup, with very large panels all interconnected, should also make dropping it cost as much as crashing a car too. The sketch clearly shows a bike with adventure touring pretensions — the tall suspension and abbreviated front mudguard — but it also shows a bike that looks large in all the wrong ways. In profile in this sketch, the bike looks like an F650GS with chronic obesity.

Like the slow, painful unveiling of the VFR1200, it looks like this bike will be shown first in “concept” form at EICMA. Man, we’re using a lot of quotes around words to describe this bike.

In addition to being an “adventure” touring bike that likely won’t have any off-road ability, one that you’d never, ever, ever want to drop and presumably featuring a weight problem, this new bike has one other giant problem: the engine. The 1200cc V4 just isn’t very good. When we rode the VFR1200, we found it to have significant fueling problems, very little in the way of low down grunt and not much in the way of top end power. Sure, there’s some mid range, but less than you’d expect. The bike just doesn’t feel very fast, certainly not anywhere near rivals like the Hayabusa, ZX-14 and K1300S. Outright power won’t be such an issue in a tall, heavy “adventure” tourer, but that terrible fueling, if it hasn’t been fixed, will be. Can you imagine trying to negotiate an off-road obstacle at low speed on a bike that it’d cost a fortune to drop while the engine surges on constant throttle at low revs? Starting to understand why this new bike sends shivers down our spines?

  • betarace

    another aweful idea… DN-01, VFR1200F, VFR1200AT

    please Mr. Honda – a VFR1000RR, no gizmos unless optional

    • JimSmiffy

      I’m affraid Honda just isn’t relavent anymore. Their bike programs just seem adrift. Aimless.

  • MTGR

    Shamu II , Revenge of the V4

    Sequels are always much bigger and much worse than the original, but usually they at least pick a good original to rip off.

    I don’t know why you guys are so worried? From the way you guys described the track day on Shamu it sounds like adding long-travel super-soft suspension to get the cg up high and moving even more would make this like just like riding a roller coaster. Like one of the new, big, fast roller coasters – only without any restraints to keep you in the seat!

    Who says Honda doesn’t know how to have fun?

  • ForgottenOne

    You know you could save a lot of time and effort if you would just say in every article that you write that every bike that will ever exist sucks and you hate them all.

    BTW, Honda has always made light, fast bikes? You apparently never heard of the eighties, Honda (or anyone else’s) superbikes were hardly light.

    • http://www.twitter.com/beastincarnate Beast Incarnate

      HFL is both hard on bikes and fair. Any review that comes out glowing across the board from any source should be treated with skepticism. If that’s your thing, I can let you know the next time free subscriptions of Motorcyclist come around.

      • always_go_big

        Yep, I’m with you Beast Incarnate, rock-on HFL and give us the low down. Living in Japan all we get is the sydicated dross from bike media who sit deep in the major manufacturers pockets and dish out press release perfect BS. Last thing I want to see is more of the same here. Thanks HFL for sharing your unsanitised opinions and keeping it real.

      • ForgottenOne

        Fair? Deciding that a bike is horrible before you see it or even ride the thing and trying to convince people your opinion will be fact is fair? Are you kidding?Remembering bikes that support your opinion and forgetting to mention the one that don’t is fair? That is called ignorance.

        • pauljones

          Fair in the sense that Wes (forgive me, Grant, but most of the ride reviews I see are written by Wes)writes are as quick to point out the shortfalls of the bike as they are the strengths of the bike.

          As for judging the bike before he sees it, well, I see where you’re coming from. It’s certainly possible that they will have ironed out the fueling issues by the time it comes to the market, and apply the same fix to older VFR1200s. But the other things that he observes are, to be perfectly fair, true.

          For instance, if the drawing is accurate to enough of a degree, then Wes’ observation here is correct:

          So what does this teaser sketch show us? Well, like Shamu, this “adventure” touring bike will use a complicated layered fairing intended to make the bike look very upmarket to buyers more used to spending that kind of money on cars. Of course, that same setup, with very large panels all interconnected, should also make dropping it cost as much as crashing a car too.

          And, also, as I pointed out before, I get the idea that Wes is just a little bit of a Honda fan. The fact that he is more than willing to criticize a Honda bike like Shamu is indicative of the fact that despite having his brand preferences, he’s still plenty objective, and, by extension, fair.

          • ForgottenOne

            I am not just talking about just this bike with his hatefest, I haven’t been on this site that long and almost every new bike unvailed he hates and can somehow just look at a few photos, most of them not even that good and tell you what the bike will be like.

            Just because a bike may not be perfectly suited to him does not make it suck for someone else. We are fortunate enough to live in a time when there is an overwheming amount of bikes to choose from and almost everyone has plenty of choices (even a large ape-like creature like myself) so why all the hate? Enjoy all the diversity this industry has to offer and revel in what may some day considered a golden age of motorcycling with a niche bike for almost everyone, or maybe it will be considered the dark ages but at least we have pleny of choice.

            As for Honda, many people scoffed at them 20 years ago for making bikes like the Transalp, 650 Hawk Gt and GB500 but those type of bikes sell like hotcakes now.

            • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler

              It’s so flattering being discussed in the third person.

              I think you’re being very selective in your “hatefest” descriptor, but I certainly understand that, as a new HFL reader, it might be hard for you to adjust to content that’s not universally positive about absolutely everything, as 99% of the motorcycle press is.

              As Paul Jones and a couple of other people have said (thanks guys), we set out to be fair in our analysis of new bikes. Of course, we also set out to be funny and have a good time, two things you probably haven’t seen elsewhere either. And yeah, I’m totally biased when it comes to Honda. I freaking love their bikes, when they remember that they know how to do it better than anyone else that is.

              The thing is, right now we aren’t getting a lot of new motorcycles that are, in my opinion, any good. Sales back that up. The industry is still stuck in a rut, bringing out bikes that were planned and developed when Baby Boomers still had access to virtually free credit and the will to spend it on fancy toys. The world has changed and bike makers haven’t quite caught up yet. Hence bikes like Shamu 2 that don’t seek to do new things, they seek to be bigger and offer more features than their competitors in established classes. This article explains that better than I can:

              http://hellforleathermagazine.com/2010/09/bred-obsolescence-why-2011-won%E2%80%99t-be-a-bumper-year-for-bikes/

              And here’s some proof that you’re being selective in your “hatefest” thing. A wide variety of bikes that have been released in the last two weeks that we’ve been universally positive about:

              http://hellforleathermagazine.com/2010/10/2011-kawasaki-ninja-zx-10r-a-two-wheeled-nissan-gt-r/

              http://hellforleathermagazine.com/2010/10/kawasaki-w800-a-bigger-retro/

              http://hellforleathermagazine.com/2010/09/custom-speed-shop-design-beezerker/

              http://hellforleathermagazine.com/2010/09/mini-scooter-e-car-companies-bike-companies/

              All better now?

              • ForgottenOne

                Not really, I think you are missing my point, but I am not suprised. I am not talking so much about the bikes you have reviewed but the ones you have only seen in pictures. When you review bikes do you present one person’s opinion or or the opinion of three or four like those other places that apparently sugarcoat everything?

                I think you are totally biased on EVERYTHING. To me, your bad attempt to be “real” just comes off as childish and ignorant. I just can’t believe how many people fall for it.

                • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler

                  Well if you really dislike our content that much, then I suggest you read about bikes elsewhere.

              • mluddyjr

                I’ve gotta call you out on the ‘universally positive’ claim.

                Back in June Kawasaki said the new ZX-10R would be “Loaded with innovative technology.” You guys claimed it wasn’t innovative because it had an aluminum frame and an inline-four. You even gave the article a headline of “more of the same.”

                http://hellforleathermagazine.com/2010/06/2011-kawasaki-zx-10r-more-of-the-same/

                Then in August Kawasaki announced that the bike would have more power than any Ninja to date and that making it easier to open the throttle was a priority, you guys claimed it would have less usable power and only be better for bench racing:

                http://hellforleathermagazine.com/2010/08/2011-kawasaki-ninja-zx-10r-less-usable-performance-better-bench-racing-bragging-rights/

                Now that the full details are released you’re suddenly in love with the bike and all it’s new technology.

                You’re not always negative, but you’re quick to pick up on potential negatives and jump to conclusions, then exaggerate those into much bigger problems. I appreciate the ‘honesty’ in your reporting, but the tendency to blow things out of proportion makes it harder to take every article at face value.

                • http://www.twitter.com/beastincarnate Beast Incarnate

                  Well played.

                • pauljones

                  It’s called open-mindedness.

                  They made a guess based on what they knew at the time, and when conflicting information (i.e., the final specs on the bike) was presented to them, they changed their position.

                • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler

                  Well somewhere in this epic thread I said “we love to be proven wrong.” Kawasaki did just that.

                  Throughout all the teasers, all signs pointed toward marketing hype, standard product. Before the bike started to be teased everyone was abuzz with 90 degree cylinder, big bang, etc etc etc and none of those ingredients were there. Sorry, but we just have a hard time listening to lame marketing.

                  Then, when we read the details we were enormously impressed and we said so, our report on the official release was 100 percent positive. I didn’t even allow the anti-kawasaki bias I was feeling after they accused me of breaking and entering to seep into the article.

                  It’s funny, because after that “more of the same” article, Honda actually emailed me to say that’s what they were thinking too, lots of hype with nothing to back it up.

            • http://www.twitter.com/beastincarnate Beast Incarnate

              You haven’t been on this site that long, yet you pass sweeping judgement. How is that different than what you’re upset about?

              • ForgottenOne

                I am not passing judjement just making an observation on what I have read since I have been here.

                Who is upset? Certainly not me, this is just discussing motorcycles. I think it is funny how serious you guys take this, can’t handle the heat when someone calls you out? Why do you let people make comments if you can’t handle what they say? Afraid it is too “real” for you?

                You are giving me the impression that this is one of those sites that welcomes everyone’s opinion as long as everyone has the same one.

                • pauljones

                  If that were the case, I wouldn’t be here. I am a young, inexperienced rider who has tried sport bikes, adventure bikes, standards, and cruisers. And I prefer cruisers.

                  If HFL were as you say, welcoming only those that agree with them 100%, that’d be one mark against me. Most here don’t like cruisers.

                  The second mark against me? I like Harleys. Many here really don’t like Harleys.

                  The third mark? I aspire to own a Harley. Most here would rather shit hot razor blades than own a Harley.

                  And yet, here I am on HFL.

                  If HFL were as close-minded as you are thinking they are, I would have been ejected a long time ago. I get along just fine here because while many people would rather gargle with anti-freeze than own a Harley, they respect that I have their own preferences. They don’t cater much to the cruiser market, but at the same time, they have a good, broad coverage of the rest of the motorcycle world, which works for me because I enjoy all kinds of motorcycles.

                  What I particularly appreciate about this place is the brutal honesty found here- these are guys that would tell you what kind of bike they just bought, tell you everything they hate about it, and then tell you why they still bought it because the good outweighed the bad. They just won’t gloss over any of the bad. I like that.

                  I don’t always see eye-to-eye with Wes, but I respect the hell out of him for being an all-around straight-forward guy and a skilled rider. The same goes for Grant. Even if he does ride bitch once in a while. :p

                  You won’t find that in any other major motorcycle journalism outlet.

                  The key to getting a long here is to not automatically jump to conclusions about what is and isn’t being said by anyone, commenters or editors, but rather sit back a moment and think about what they are saying and why. Then, when you disagree, tell them that. Be honest about it. Just make sure that your argument doesn’t kick off or end with some kind of accusatory statement such as “I think you’re totally biased on EVERYTHING.” Be respectful, and you’ll get the same respect back.

                  Also, this is the internet, which means that it’s often much more difficult to interpret what is and isn’t being said when all you have to go off of is computer-generated text. You just have to assume the the best intentions out of people when it seems ambiguous and kick back for a while and learn people’s personalities.

                  Unfortunately, while HFL has been around a while, commenting has only just started to grow, and we’re all new here. We’re going to need some time to get used to each other.

                  But one thing that I do know is that your knowledge is welcomed here, your experience is welcome here, and your opinions are welcome here. They want you to be here.

                  Just give it a little time for us to get to know each other a little and establish a pattern of sorts.

                • ForgottenOne

                  Paul, if brutal honesty was as widely accepted as you say most of this conversation would not exist. I think my honesty is proving more brutal than most here can handle and I am a bit shocked how over-sensitive everyone here is with the image that this site is trying to project. You think I am being disrespectful to Wes for giving my uncensored opinion, would you rather have me gloss it over? Isn’t that contradicting what this site is supposed to stand for? If you want to be real and honest than you need to accept all opinions and not just parts of them or request that people censor themselves to keep from offending anyone. Apparently I was right and struck a nerve otherwise I would have been ignored.

                  I meant what I said in my first post but I expected it to make people laugh instead of everyone acting like I burnt their church down.

                  As for my “statement” if I would have said “I know” instead of “I think” then it would have been a statement but I didn’t so it remains an opinion.

    • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Grant Ray

      Yeah, ForgottenOne, because a CBR1000RR is so puketastic. Even more, that Goldwing is just gag-worthy.

      Pfft.

      • pauljones

        I interpreted his second comment an argument not that the CBR1000RR or the Goldwing were bad bikes, but rather that the VFR1200′s weight in it’s heavy-weight sport-tourer role isn’t unusual or even any heavier than previous bikes that Honda has released in that same niche.

        Besides, I think we can all agree with what Beast Incarnate pointed out- you guys are hard on bikes, but rarely unfair. It seems to me that the issue with the VFR1200 isn’t that isn’t a decent bike, it’s just that while Honda made a lot technological advancements on the bike, they didn’t make the advancements where they needed to be made the most, namely things that have to do with making the bike better to ride than its predecessors.

    • pauljones

      Wes is a big fan of Honda motorcycles. For that reason, along with the fact that most of his arguments usually tend to veer towards the rational side, I give him a pass on that.

      On a somewhat related note, I tried to argue the whole Honda weight issue, but when I looked up the weight on the 1988 CBR100f, an old Honda Sport Tourer that would have filled approximately the same slot as the new VFR1200, I found that you were absolutely correct. The wet weight of both bikes were within six pounds of each other.

      I stand edumacated.

      • http://www.twitter.com/beastincarnate Beast Incarnate

        That the wet weight of the 2010 bike is even kind of close to the ’88 bike boggles the mind. Technology and materials used have come a long way, enabling already light bikes like the CBR600 to drop about 30 pounds since ’88.

        Fun fact: the ’88 Harley 1200 Sportster weighed 490 while the ’10 1200 Sportster is 562.

        • pauljones

          As a guy who likes cruisers and even actually likes Harleys, I am duly ashamed of that fact.

          And I probably will be for a long time to come.

          • http://www.twitter.com/beastincarnate Beast Incarnate

            I was shocked twice. First, that an ’88 Sportster weighed ten pounds more than my current bike. I thought, my god, maybe I’ve been crazy! Then, that ’10 Sportster reared its big fat head. Damn.

            • richard gozinya

              Even the Super Glide put on a lot of pounds over the years. An ’88 Superglide is about 60 lbs lighter than a ’10. They’re not the only ones of course, the VMAX is also around 60 lbs heavier than its predecessor.

              • http://www.twitter.com/beastincarnate Beast Incarnate

                Good point, Richard. I have no doubt that they have plenty of company in that regard, but it sure did catch me by surprise.

              • MikeD

                That Overweight Overpowered VMAX!!…I can’t help but to drool over it at any chance i get…that is one Fat Chic i wouldn’t mind be seen riding on top of her.lmao.

                • richard gozinya

                  Didn’t say it was a bad bike, just that it’s a lot heavier than its predecessor.

      • ForgottenOne

        Look up the weight of the VF1000R repli-racer if you want a real shock and remember that was supposed to be a cutting edge bike.

        • http://www.twitter.com/beastincarnate Beast Incarnate

          Maybe Wes should have said “relatively light, fast bikes.” Put the 80′s bikes in context and I don’t see anything that offends so much as our sweet killer whale.

          Out of context, you’re right. However, so is everyone else.

          • ForgottenOne

            It was one of the heaviest repli-racers of all time, that would have been “relatively light” for a touring bike.

            • MTGR

              Hey, I worked on superbikes in the eighties, and for their time they were indeed light and trick and fast.

              But we have come a long way since then and any production supersport now should at least match that level of performance. Based on most reviews (even the mainstream ones, if you read between the lines, which is the only place they actually say anything anymore) Shamu fails on that count.

              Everyone has a different perspective, but at least HLF has always been willing to present what they think – I don’t always agree with them (for example, I think Honda is a faceless, nameless, corporation that has bled the emotion right out of the motorcycling world) but at least they are doing more than repeating the company line. And providing some good humor to boot. If more of the web followed their example it might actually force the makers to get some real motorcycles to the market again rather than rehashing the same thing and adding a higher price tag.

              Personally, I am suspicious of anyone who claims a bike is great without ever seeing it. In this day and age that just means you bought the marketing hype. And when the bike it is based on (Shamu) and the drawing (yuck) both suck then the logical conclusion is what it is. Once a bike does turn out to be great then it deserves all the hype and the sales that should follow, until then it deserves nothing.

              Relax ForgottenOne, if it turns out Shamu and Shamu 2 are as great as you seem to feel then they will get all the acclaim due and you can claim to be the only one smart enough to have seen it coming. In the meantime, switch to decaf and try smiling.

              • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler

                Well said. We love to be proved wrong. We’re hoping, probably more than anyone, that bikes like the Diavel and Shamu 2 turn out to be great. Sadly, experience has taught us not to get our hopes up.

                • ForgottenOne

                  I am about as relaxed as it gets, why would you think otherwise?

                  When did I say this bike was great?

                  Are you even reading what I am actually writing?

                  I don’t get my hopes up too high with bikes till I ride them but I do not condemn them from a photo with very limited knowledge of them eitherwhich is what I have a problem with. Do I have to keep repeating this or are you going to keep trying to put words in my mouth and misrepresenting my point?

                  It is a shame this place isn’t called “Hell for English” or “Hell for Reading Comprehension” there might be less confusion. (Just so everyone knows that was a joke and should not be taken seriously and argued about endlessly because you didn’t get it)

                  BTW, if I am not mistaken the wet weight of a VF1000R (streetbike)is around 600lbs, that is light?

                • ForgottenOne

                  Apparently I need to start a site called “Hell for Typing” after reading my last post.
                  (another joke)

                • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler

                  Do you really think we’re just going on this sketch?

                  Let’s look at the facts.

                  1. The sketch looks like a joke.
                  2. Honda says it’s based on the V4.
                  3. The VFR1200 is one of the worst bikes we’ve ever ridden.
                  4. Development on this bike would have had to have started at the same time as the VFR, when Honda was still stuck in its boomer, boomer, boomer mindset. They actually told us this, we didn’t just make it up.

                  Given those four things, what conclusion do you think we should draw?

                • pauljones

                  I’m going to go ahead and say that the only logical conclusions based on those four premises is that Egyptians are responsible for crop circles.

                  Just throwing that out there.

  • pauldo

    That profile looks a lot like the MTS1200 – maybe I just mean the upper fairing part/beak.

  • http://twowheelsplus.blogspot.com/ andehans

    Regarding Bred Obsolescence. May I suggest Mammoth as a fitting name for this beast?

  • ike6116

    It’s like Honda made a decision in ~2000, 2001, 2002 somewhere around there when Discovery Channel started making love letters to Harley and Jesse James and all the buzz was about how “Harley has successfully leveraged their brand” and were doing well financially that “THAT’S THE WAY TO GO! DO BUSINESS LIKE THEM!” and they’re now living with that decision through the recession. Honda, please, I grew up on an XR80, I love the Wing, let “The Power Of Dreams” come back to your motorcycle division.

    • pauljones

      I’m not prepared to crucify them just yet for one (soon to be two) bikes. The rest of their lineup is excellent.

      • http://www.thisblueheaven.com Mark D

        I don’t know; I’m not particularly hopeful about a brand that made Shamu, is prepping to released an even more expensive bike, yet still does not have a single naked or middleweight bike on the market (The CBR600rr is a pure repli-racer, in my mind). Where’s my hornet?!

        • Bikeralex

          Honda still makes CB600F Hornet, CBF600N/S, CBF1000A, CB1300S, and the CB1000R amongst others.

          • pauljones

            Not for the United States.

            • http://www.twitter.com/beastincarnate Beast Incarnate

              Correct. The Hornets you’re looking for are made in Italy, I believe, and the cost of importing them puts them at a major disadvantage in a market niche that already posts mediocre sales in the US.

              I owned a 599 – the US Hornet 600 – and those sold terribly due to a $1000+ price premium over comparable bikes with no tangible advantage. Great reviews, but the price buried that sucker into cult status. They’ll have the same problem with either of the current Hornets.

              • http://www.thisblueheaven.com Mark D

                I know they still make the hornet/CBFs, but not in the US; while not so much a design mistake, it sure is a business mistake. Hell, you can get the CBF600 in Canada! If Kawi and Yamaha can make bikes like that (Ninja 650/whatever yamaha 600 sport standard I saw the other day), and sell them in the US profitably, it seems like Honda whiffed on choosing their factory locations.

                • Bikeralex

                  Wow I didn’t know this. You guys should make a Facebook group lol ;)

          • MikeD

            I would give the left nugget for that White/Red-Gold Wheels CB1300.

      • MikeD

        I’ll be holding the Hammer and some 6inch nails near by in case u change ur mind.
        I think their redemption would be that Flat6 muscle bike:The EVO(evil)6 next to Suzuki’s I6 Stratosphere.

  • http://www.ledepassionne.com vonsonntag

    Looking at the artist view of this new Varadero recalled me this thing, once knew to be the most ugly bike ever : the Bimota Mantra (http://www.diseno-art.com/encyclopedia/vehicles/road/bikes/Bimota_Mantra.html). So now, Sacha Lakic designs could be big in Japan ?

    • MikeD

      Some how i find that Bimota different looking but not Fugly. May be signs of age coming…

    • pplassm

      Youve never seen a Suzuki Madura, have you?

  • http://www.tripleclamp.net Sasha Pave

    There’s a weird perception that all adventure touring bikes have to be capable of Erzburg on Sunday, then commuting to work on Monday. I appreciate the variety, and would certainly welcome this big pig should it arrive state-side.

    Maybe this bike and the new Super Tenere would make nice touring partners on a ride to the fat farm.

    If Honda can keep this ShamuHamaMama below 600lbs, I think they might be on to a good bike. The current Varadero 1000 is a really sweet ride I wish they sold in the US, and it comes in at 540lbs.

    So, go Honda and give us more choices! But for fuck sake, give us a new XR650r aluminum frame dual sport with electric start already and keep the line in balance!

    • MikeD

      Good Point, just yesterday i was snooping around Honda’s Bike website and i wondered the same too. How long has the XR650 been untouched, 20-25 years? How much longer till they redesign IT? When Jesus makes a Second Comeback? No offense meant to believers.

  • Bikeralex

    I don’t understand why motor journalists are hating Honda for making the VFR1200, Ducati for making the Diavel and Porsche for making the Cayenne. All the brands still make purist racing machines. It’s a free choice what model is best for you.

    So much negativity! Why? Why not focus on the positive sides? I think most people can’t identify with the negative mentality and prefer to think positive. Peace!

    • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler

      It’s simple, we’re positive about the things that deserve positivity and negative about the things, like this, that deserve to be mocked. That’s our job, to provide context and analysis. If Honda brings out a massively capable, light weight, dirt-focused but highway-capable adventure tourer tomorrow, I promise I’ll fall over myself to heap it with praises. Sadly, I don’t think I need to get my plaudits ready.

      • Bikeralex

        Yeah as a VFR800 rider I agree with you on the VFR1200F – heavy, expensive and short range, it seems pointless and without purpose to me.

        The Porsche Cayenne was also a departure from Porsches normal ways, but it does have a purpose though, and it sold in buckets. I wonder if the VFR1200 derivatives will do also?

        And to Liquiddogged: Don’t you have the “traditional” motorcycle range from Honda in USA? They have plenty options in the middle ground! Most fun are the CB600 Hornet with 173KG/102BHP and the CB1000R at 217KG/125BHP (Kawa Z1000 and Yamaha FZ1-N competitor)

        • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler

          The Cayenne is not a fitting analogy for bikes like the Diavel or VFR. While it’s also a big, heavy departure from a traditionally pure brand’s values, it was also a well-timed, well-judged attempt to appeal to a mainstream audience. The Cayenne was intended to have mass appeal where bikes like the Diavel and VFR are hyper-niche.

          Perhaps a better four-wheeled analogy would be something like the BMW X6 M, which is a massively expensive attempt to appeal to people who want an exotic, luxury, performance, four-seat SUV/coupe.

    • Liquidogged

      So, as long as we have pure-bred racers and fat old man bikes we should be happy and positive? What about the middle ground?

      We are getting more these days. More technology, but also more weight and more money needed to pay for it all. People are getting sick of it. This is why the cafe racer scene and the stripped down custom scene are getting so big now. People want to get back to the elemental beauty and passion of riding a motorcycle.

      When Honda puts out a bike like this, and doesn’t release any kind of middle ground non-repli-racer with a reasonable price tag, I take it as a big fuck-you to everyone in their twenties, which happens to include me. Is that fair? I don’t know. Is it fair that I’ve owned several used Hondas through the years, yet they make no effort to release a modern street bike that appeals to me or meets my needs? (other than the 600rr)

      • MTGR

        Hey, I have over 20 years of experience at being 20 and I still agree with you whole-heartedly Liquidogged. Though I would agree your gen has never been presented with any motorcycles as innovative and groundbreaking as mine was got to see in our 20s.

        Motorcycle, by definition, means a motor and a cycle – 2 wheels and a motor.

        That simplicity is a big part of the appeal of motorcycles for a lot of the core motorcycle market (by which I mean those of us, of all ages, who liked bikes before they became the latest fashion statement and will still like them once they are completely out of fashion again).

        Yes, Shamu and Ten-ton-ere began development back when the market looked much different, but that only shows how long, and how far, out of touch most of the mainstream manufacturers have become. And that they were blatantly cashing in on a trend at risk of their core market.

        • MTGR

          Speaking of which – there is a lesson somewhere in there to be learned Ducati.

    • 2ndderivative

      Hippie!

      I’m all about the negative thoughts. Bring on the snark.

  • lashedup

    I think the point that ForgottenOne and to an extent Bikeralex are trying to make (if I could read minds anyway) is that Hell For Leather has a really great opportunity to be something great but I think you guys try too hard sometimes.

    The sensationalistic headlines, the broad pronouncements about something being crap when you haven’t even seen it, looked at specs or have much in the way of information just seems like it creating drama for drama’s sake (or to drum up traffic I suppose). Calling the whole Orange County Choppers guys Homoerotic and such just makes this sound like a tabloid for teenagers. Jalopnik is rapidly going down that path and it just gets old. People want an authority that talks to them and HFL does a good job at that. There is just the underlying layer of constant negativity (or at least it comes off that way) that makes me not want to take you guys seriously. I’m not looking for glowing reviews in any way shape or form. I’m just looking for a site written by people I can identify with, people that want to talk about this latest Honda announcement and dissect it a bit. Think about it. Honda has released a sketch – that’s it. Yes, wrapping an adventure bike in plastics is a recipe for disaster – I agree. But it is the drama you add to the whole thing that just makes me want to not take you seriously as it seems more like you have an axe to grind. That’s how it comes off anyway, even if you really are passionate about Hondas.

    This is just feedback and opinions are like assholes of course. I’d rather have someone tell me what they think so I could give it some perspective rather than have them leave and never find out what they didn’t like.

    Keep up the good work. You guys have huge potential and I want to be reading this five years from now.

    • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler

      I really don’t understand where the idea that we’re “negative” comes from. If anything, HFL is one big love letter to the motorcycle.

      Actually, I do understand where it comes from. All other motorcycle media outlets are stuck in 1983 where “Honda Makes the Greatest Bike Ever, Yet Again!!!!” is seen as a neutral headline. We don’t come from that world. We come from mainstream media where real reporting, dry humor and intelligent content are valued. You guys must read publications outside bike stuff, right? Compare us to that, not to the sad excuse for media that motorcycles has historically had.

  • Cajun58

    HFL criticizes any bike that doesn’t fit your definition of what a bike should be and that’s fine it gives your site attitude but trying to pass that off as tough and fair is completely disingenuous.

    • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler

      How is it not fair if we apply the same standards to every bike? Every publication is biased, we simply make our biases known.

      And for the record: our bias is pro: function, credible design, good value and original, intelligent thinking.

      • Random

        Based on your criteria I also can’t understand how the new bike couldn’t be rated better. It’s original (“how about making a R1200GS competitor??”), functional (“let’s throw some random goodies even if teh bike stands at aircraft carrier weight”), has lots of good value (aren’t those panniers included in the list price???) and it’s highly original: it’s neither a good tourer nor a fast hyperbike.

      • Cajun58

        Bias is by its very nature unfair and no rationalization can justify it. However, in your case it is acceptable because you do for the most part apply it equally to every situation. As you say all publications are biased and as long as they’re forthcoming as you clearly are it makes for a more interesting site.

    • http://www.thisblueheaven.com Mark D

      I’m not so sure HFL has a bias as much as it has actual opinions on bikes. Looking at any glossy magazine, invariably the last few lines of a comparison are, “…but you couldn’t go wrong with any bike!” Once in a while, if the bikes are different enough…sure, that’s a valid conclusion. But every time? I for one welcome an actual opinion. And its hard not to have one on a bike that is likely to be more expensive than my car, is meant to go in the dirt but has pricey fragile fairings, uses an engine with known fueling issues, and was designed to sell in a vastly different economic market. While Wes and Grant are good journalists, I would never really consider a review “journalism”. By its definition, its subjective. I just happen to agree with some of their perspectives on bikes, and appreciate their humor.

  • DoctorNine

    Id rather just have a CB1100.
    But I don’t get that option.
    Which blows.

    • MikeD

      I think not even the Europe is getting that one. Anyone cares to clarify that?

  • MikeD

    And the Fatty Saga continues…
    On another theme, I have never seen so much “writing” about a bike as this one is getting here. Maybe the Diavel article is next to it. Gee, talk about an “attention whore”…lol.
    This one sure knows how to “agitate,stir and let it hit the Fan” in here. (O_O )’

  • Shinigami

    Wes,

    While I certainly respect your opinion on this matter, I can’t help but feel conflict over your experience with “Shamu” versus mine.

    Spe3cifically, a local Shamu rider joined my group on a brisk ride on one of the more twisty, technical (if somewhat remote) routes in the Western United States. My group contained a number of highly accomplished riders on premium supersports.

    The VFR 1200 rider not only kept up with our group (at twice the posted limit on this particular road) he frequently passed and led the group- we were generally riding at 8/10ths with occasional excursions to full on knee dragging in appropriate places.

    No big deal?

    He had a pillion along. The rest of us did not.

    I was quite impressed at the handling and overall capability of this bike in the hands of an accomplished rider. I am sure that it was helpful that the pillion was obviously experienced and cooperative with the rider, but it was very clear to me that this stock, just broken-in VFR was more than capable of keeping up with the rest of us.

    This was further supported by this rider’s performance in an advanced racer training class on our local track (which is on the WSBK circuit).

    My time on a demonstrator VFR 1200 recently on a similarly technical route did nothing to disabuse me of this opinion.

    So I have some significant difficulty understanding your horrendous experience on this bike.

    The obvious questions about setup, etc. were more than adequately addressed in the discussion of your previous account. So I am sincerely puzzled about this.

    • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler

      It’s not like we’re saying that the VFR will spontaneously combust if someone attempts to ride it, just that it pales in comparison to rivals like the Hayabusa, ZX-14, K1300S and GT and the Concours 14.

      And that guy sounds like he’s a lot braver than I am.

      • pauljones

        On the note of Sport Tourers, is there a snowball’s chance in hell that Triumph might allow you a day or two on a Sprint GT?

        I would be interested in knowing your views on it.

        • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler

          None whatsoever, Triumph describes me as, “poisonous.”

          • pauljones

            I’m guessing there’s an interesting story behind that description?

            • http://www.twitter.com/beastincarnate Beast Incarnate

              I’d strongly recommend never trying to eat Wes.

          • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Grant Ray

            Triumph USA even went so far as to throw a hissy and pull a photo contract out from under my feet with Triumph UK. True story.

            • pauljones

              Okay, now I’m really curious.

              I don’t know what you guys could possibly have done to piss them off to that extent, but it must have been pretty epic. It sounds like a it would make a great bar story.

              What happened?

            • MTGR

              I suspect all the major OEMs (which Triumph has basically become) are going to be going through a lot of growing pains dealing with un-contained reviews in coming years.

              For years (decades actually) the mainstream mc mags have been bound by manufacturer ad-cash to be as PC and manu-friendly as possible. Thankfully the internet might finally blow that our of the water simply by allowing more access than the makers can control.

              IMO it is just nice to any honest and distinctive opinion – I am not so insecure or inexperience (bike-wise at least) to take every single thing stated anywhere as absolute fact. At least a real opinion gives me some sense of the bike’s personality and features that may or may not be to my liking even if I do not agree with the overall review.

              You know people, you don’t have to like everything that is said and if you find you never like it then you don’t have to read it at all. This is still a free speech-type country.

              • ForgottenOne

                But it is not a free speech-type website.

                • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Grant Ray

                  Neither I nor Wes are obliged to allow your deleted personal attacks to remain on something we work very hard at for our readers. I’m bored of this rehash already, where a reader assumes they have Constitutional rights on HFL and spew vitriol. If you can’t play nice, then it’d be great if you find yourself a new sandbox.

                • ForgottenOne

                  I merely cracked a joke using your own phases about what you say this place is vs what it actually is. You say you are truthful and real but when someone confronts you with the same brutal honesty you review bikes with you cry foul? A joke is a “personal attack”? Really?

                  I realize this is your work and you take it to heart but the bikes you review is someone else’s work and you don’t hold back on them. So what’s the difference?

          • http://www.thisblueheaven.com Mark D

            WTF, I don’t think I’ve ever read a negative review on a Triumph on this site (maybe some snark about that big cruiser Thunderbird they built…but hey). Sure, you poke fun at their “leaks”, but its not like they are the only one’s who do that. I want to hear this story now.

            • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Grant Ray

              There is no story. Triumph UK makes great bikes, and Triumph USA for some reason unbeknownst to us doesn’t care for HFL. And therefor doesn’t care for HFL’s reader-base. Which is you.

  • Darth Lefty

    Just what I was looking for, a 200 hp 700 lb dirt bike

  • http://twowheelsplus.blogspot.com/ andehans

    I’m a Honda fan, I have owned both Honda cars & mororcycles. I love the engineering and the quality.
    I think the fundamental issue here is that Honda struggles to find their position in the market. They’re obviously trying to position themselves as a premium brand as they’re beeing attacked from other brands in the mainstream segement. I just don’t think Honda has figured out what premium is or what it should be for them. Is it about a higher level of cosmetics and electronics? Is it the esthetical design? Does premium imply big and heavy? If Honda were to ask me what I think, I’d say the world’s best engineering, cutting edge (and useful) innovation and iconic design.
    Looking at the current Honda line-up there’s nothing much to excite me. Why buy a Hornet when I get a Street Triple for the same price? Or the CBR1000RR when the S1000RR is about the same prize?

  • ernie

    actually, forgotten one, i don’t really give a shit if the authors of this site choose to offer a negative, or for that matter a postive, review of a certain bike. i’ll still form my own opinion. i own a have rebuilt from basketcases two harley shovelheads. from a performance and engineering standpoint, they suck. end of story. that’s an objective view, and that is something that most people don’t seem to be able to project, whether it be on this site or any other. subjectivity seems to be the order of the day. the only issue i have with this site is when the authors seem let their own personal bias’ seep through, no doubt calling it journalistic imperative or licence or whatever you choose, in particular (as pauljones stated) their disdain for those “pirates” who ride those obnoxious harleys. as long as they’re critiquing bikes in a reasonably intelligent manner, that’s fine by me. as for forgotten one possibly looking for sites more suited to his views, as stated by mr. siler, i would have to say that mr. siler should remember that you have to take it as well as give it, and if you choose to publish your views you have to be prepared to defend them without saying “i’m not gonna play with you anymore”. stick around, forgotten one. the thing about devil’s advocates is that while they’re not always popular, occasionally they’re right. and people hate that

    • ForgottenOne

      I’ll try to stick around if they let me but since they have started deleting my posts I wouldn’t be suprised if they ban me completely. All this because they misunderstood most of what I said and blew it out of proportion.

      • http://www.twitter.com/beastincarnate Beast Incarnate

        Communication is a tricky thing, particularly on the Interwebs. As a general life rule, it never hurts to think about what you’re about to communicate and how it could be received. It’s like visiting someone’s home and they have terrible art. You could not mention it, find out what they see in it, or tell them that their home is ugly. Only one of the options will get you poisoned at dinner.

        Or, like the time a girl asked me, while lying in my bed naked, “Have you ever found me unattractive?” I could have said no or deflected. Instead, I went with honesty. Someone didn’t get laid that night.

        • ForgottenOne

          Please take an extra large helping of “practice what you preach” and pass it on to your friends.

          • http://www.twitter.com/beastincarnate Beast Incarnate

            I’m definitely not blameless, F1. I’ve screwed up before, as illustrated, and I’ll screw up again if you give me time. Kind of like Honda.

    • http://www.twitter.com/beastincarnate Beast Incarnate

      Ernie – The role of devil’s advocate is important. I don’t want anything I’m involved in to be a big circle jerk. At the same time, when you have a different opinion on something, it’s important to choose the right words. There’s a difference between saying, “I disagree with your point and here’s why,” and, “I think you’re an idiot because of what you said.”

      Treat others with respect, even if you disagree with them, and you’ll receive respect in return.

  • ernie

    weeeelllllll, beast incarnate, i don’t spend alot of time on this thing called a computer, much preferring face to face conversation, but when i do respond to an article or opinion, i respond in kind. if i feel comments or opinions are somewhat lacking in, as you said, respect, then i’m afraid that’s the response that comment will receive. respect is earned and can be easily lost; it’s not something to be demanded. i notice that forgotten one has been chastised for offering his views, whether right or wrong, but grant ray can offer his one-and-a-half cents’ worth in a wholly “disrespectful” fashion and remain untouchable with his post during this discussion. anyway, i’ve been lurking around this site for a couple of weeks now, after it being mentioned to me by a friend who rides, of all things, a sport bike, but i think i’ll move on. stay safe