Here’s the 2011 Honda Crossrunner, which uses a 100bhp 782cc V4, summed up in a single sentence: “Extensive customer research indicated that whilst buyers liked the appearance and the image of adventure bikes, for some the compromised stability caused by long travel suspension, taller seat heights and dual purpose tyres was a concern.” That’s right, it’s an adventure bike that won’t be scary.
Honda goes on to say, “The Crossrunner represents the best aspects of two separate biking genres: the flexibility and exciting attitude of a Naked performance machine with the upright riding position and rugged appearance of an adventure bike.”
To power this contraption, Honda has developed a new version of its VTEC-equipped 782cc, quad-cam V4 that develops 100bhp at 10,000rpm and 54lb/ft of torque at 9,500rpm. That powers a bike that weighs 240.4kg/530lbs (wet). It uses chain final drive and a single-sided swingarm.
That engine capacity and it’s 72mm bore and 48mm stroke, as well as the presence of VTEC, are identical to the old VFR800.
Rather than set out to create a massively dirt-capable adventure tourer or a high speed adventure bike, it sounds like Honda has instead focussed its massive R&D budget on less-exciting, but more practical things like aerodynamic stability and passenger comfort.
The Crossrunner was tested in wind tunnels 120 times during its development not to boost its top speed, but to perfect “stability-enhancing airflow.” That’s what’s allegedly responsible for the Crossrunner’s, we’re quoting Honda here, “trend-setting appearance.” That’s right, the multi-layered fairing isn’t just there to increase Honda’s parts profit when you drop it, but to help make things easy on the highway too.
Honda also says its research resulted in exceptionally wide handlebars which should make steering very light.
Pillion practicality and comfort were also a target, with their seat becoming low, flat and wide, which should also make it easier to climb on and off.
The aluminum beam frame also appears strikingly identical to the old VFR800’s and holds a 43mm right-way-up fork and rear Pro-Link shock, neither of which are fully adjustable. The non-radial ABS brakes? Those look like a VFR800’s too.
The Crossruner will be available with a range of accessories that includes taller screens, heated grips, hard luggage and other practicality-enhancing features.
So Honda’s basically taken a VFR800, uglified it and given it an upright riding position right? Yep. But why? Well, it kinda sorta makes sense even if we’re still upset that the honest, practical VFR800 was replaced by the overweight, expensive VFR1200. With the popularity of adventure bikes booming, adapting the VFR800 to this class will give an old platform a new lease on life with minimal development and re-tooling costs for Honda, all while avoiding direct competition with the high-margin VFR1200. Think of it as gaining a comfortable, upright VFR instead of losing sport touring’s oldest friend.