Five reasons why the 2012 Honda Crosstourer will suck

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Because nothing says “Adventure” like a complicated V4 engine, fragile technology like a dual-clutch transmission and a 591+ pound curb weight, the Honda Crosstourer concept is being turned from ungainly concept into a years-late-to-the-trend production model. Brenda Priddy captured these images for Edmunds.

Unveiled last year at EICMA, the Crosstourer Concept was essentially Shamu on stilts. Same frame, same V4, sam DCT transmission (which will probably be an option). These spy photos appear to show a bike which faithfully carries over those mechanicals and those abbreviated adventure looks.

Converting a motorcycle which combines the performance of a touring bike with the comfort of a sportsbike to pay lip service to some fictional off-road ability are a BMW GS-style wire wheels on the single-sided swingarm/shaft drive, a GS-style abbreviated front mudguard, a new exhaust that’s wayyyyy less ugly than Shamu’s and upright handlebars.

Get the feeling that we’re less than enthusiastic about this bike? Well, having spent significant amounts of time riding adventure tourers off-road and more time than we would have liked on Shamu, we’re just not seeing a motorcycle that makes a terrible lot of sense. To make this easy for an industry unused to anything but glowing praise, let’s detail the issues here individually:

1. It’s going to be too heavy.
Adopting the same motor, same frame, same 22lbs DCT transmission etc from the VFR, but also fitting beefier and, therefore, heavier, adventure components doesn’t create a recipe for a weight lower than Shamu’s 591lbs (wet). That’s appreciably more than the R1200GS’s 504lbs wet weight. The big GS is already extremely intimidating.

2. It’s going to be too complicated.
A high-tech V4 and a fancy pants transmission are all well and good on a road-going sport tourer, but they’re something else entirely in a bike that’s meant to carry its rider to the back end of beyond. If one of the above goes pop somewhere in Africa or, heck, rural America, how the hell are you going to fix it? We’re not implying unreliability, we’re implying that adventure bikes go down, sometimes a long way from the nearest Honda dealership.

3. It’s too late.
Sorry Honda, but you’re continuing your recent trend of entering segments once they’re already over. Long Way Round aired for the first time all the way back in 2004. Eight years later (this is a 2012 model), the market is saturated, literally every single bike company, including Ducati and soon Aprilia and MV Agusta, is making an adventure touring bike. All these feature-heavy, very expensive motorcycles were conceived back before the motorcycle market changed forever with the end of free credit in 2008.

4. It doesn’t do enough to distinguish itself.
Literally every possible sub-segment of the adventure touring market is already occupied, typically by several bikes. The F650GS is bum-basic and affordable; the Triumph Tiger 800 is an F800GS, but English; the Yamaha Super Tenere is an R1200GS, but Japanese; The Ducati Multistrada 1200 is expensive, fancy and fragile. Will a V4 and a transmission that we’ve already established is neat, but doesn’t make a compelling case for itself when shifting a sequential motorcycle transmission is already very easy, be enough to make the Crosstourer stand out?

5. Shamu was not a good start.
Ignore for a second the controversy we caused by publishing an impartial review and instead look at the VFR1200’s biggest problem: poor fueling. Now imagine trying to navigate an off-road obstacle on slippery gravel while using faux knobbies as the 591lbs bike surges and stutters on constant throttle in first gear. We can feel your sphincter tighten through the computer screen.

Incidentally, Priddy’s photographers also captured a 700cc, parallel-twin, naked Honda. MCN’s got those images and details.

  • parkwood60

    Particularly silly when they already have perfectly capable V-twin powered ADV bikes everywhere but America. First the Africa Twin and now the XL1000v. Why not just update one of those?

  • Ben Incarnate

    I had this one confused with the Crossrunner, based on the old VFR. Sadly, many of the concerns ring true on that model, as well.

    • Roman

      Heh, that was my first reaction as well. All I’ll say is that I’d love to have those handlebars on my 2000 VFR. Looks really comfy. Other than that….why not stuff that engine into a standard and maybe give the Diavel a run for its money?

  • Thom

    I was about to say WTF and lodge my protest until I came to the first mention of a V4 .

    So now I’ll say ” Honda ! WTF ??? ”

    And second parkwood60′s motion .

    Cars or M/C’s I’m beginning to think Honda has lost the program .

    • dux

      “Honda has no pulse”

  • Gregory

    Again– as I said in the FJR article– wouldn’t the Honda NT700v accomplish everything this bike claims to accomplish?

    Addressing point #1: the NT700v is lighter. #2: the NT700v is simpler with a better-proven engine. #3: it’s been around for years as the “largest area under the curve” tourer. #4: it’s absolutely unique as the only thing in its segment. #5: it’s not based on a fat gigantic Africa Twin.

    It looks like Honda is chasing the “GS/PD, I commute Dakar” wannabees. In fact, I’d go so far as to argue that the “GS/PD, I commute Dakar” wannabees are in an exact-same pirate’s class of their own, just like their orange-black bandana chrome consultant brethren at the opposite end of the spectrum.

    On the wannabee spectrum, it goes from “GS/PD, I love Dakar” to “orange-black bandana chrome consultant”.

    The question is, where are the real riders?

    Well, I’ve channeled Steve McQueen… and he rides KLR.

    Oh, and go Canucks!

    Portland, OR
    2008 Kawasaki KLR 650

    • gt1

      One of the motorcycle magazines wrote that NT700 requires labor intensive removal of all plastic, from front to rear to perform even basic service- like replacing a tire or a headlight bulb.

    • NitroPye

      Are you a parody I can’t tell?

      Bay area, CA
      2010 BMW R1200GS / with 9 milkcrates

      P.s. KLR ain’t McQueen.

    • Wes Siler

      The Dullsville is also super boring.

    • vegetablecookie

      I agree with the “GS/PD, I commute Dakar” chasing. Not one of these will ever see dirt, much less the “back end of beyond”. They will be used by guys who wish they were Ewan and Charlie, but don’t have the guts (…and perhaps the cash) to actually do it. Since that’s the case, a few extra pounds isn’t going to matter.

    • moto1337

      Seems like a Vstrom would be a better compromise.

    • Brad W.

      Hater. The GS is awesome for the street. I used to think the same way you did but then I rode one.

      BTW is the milk crate strapped to the back of your KLR color matched?

    • Joe

      People that channel McQueen are in the same group as pirates and Dakar wannabees.

      Chicago, IL
      Waiting until the McQueen fad dies out

  • Myles

    So this bike weighs like 5% more than a sup10, makes around 35% more power, and has a cool gearbox available (as an OPTION).

    But it sucks?

    Y’all are some glass half-empty motherfuckers, especially when you haven’t even thrown a leg over the bike. Do you all hate Big Red?

    Also, the GSA weighs 560 pounds wet. You quote the GS’s weight but seem to be talking about the GSA (especially the “wire-wheels”).

    • NitroPye

      The GS can come fitted with the wire wheels. If the Crosstour has a 9 gallon tank it would be useful to compare it to the GSA.

    • Thom

      Myles my man ;

      V4 + Dual Purpose = Over Complicated trouble

      A case of 1+1=3 if you get my drift .

      Nothing against Big Red on my part . More being against poseurs . As well as not being too thrilled about much of Honda’s recent ( last three years ) offerings two wheeled or four . They need to get back on track .

    • Ben Incarnate

      HFL loves the CBRs. :)

    • Wes Siler

      I believe we also said the SuperTen sucks.

      No ones being glass half empty, this is a heavy, complicated, fussy bike in a class that needs something lightweight, simple and fun.

      Tell you what, call me when you’ve dropped it into a river while doing a tricky watercrossing due to the poor fueling and can’t get your motor repaired in rural Mexico and tell me it’s a good adventure bike.

      • Archer

        Because, of course, Honda engineers can’t possibly get the fueling right for this bike… which you’ve never thrown a leg over.

        • Wes Siler

          Ridden a VFR? It’s abysmal. I assume a Honda engineer or two turned a wrench on that bike too.

          • Archer

            Yes, I have ridden a VFR- two of them, in fact. In general, low-speed fueling was better than that on my 03 Interceptor 800 (which is somewhat touchy compared to some bikes).

            Not as perfect as on my 07 CBR, for example, but way better than some.

            The impression I have is, you must have ridden a particularly crappy example of a VFR.

            Your highly negative experience just doesn’t match that of the two people I personally know who own one.

            You never know, Wes, maybe the guy who set up the fuekling on the CBR may have pecked on the programming keyboard for this bike’s ECU and you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

      • Myles

        If you’re adventuring in mexico you probably aren’t on a standard GS, you’re probably on a GSA. Which is 95% of the weight of this thing (560 pounds) and is only going to get heavier because it’s going water-cooled.

        In a previous article you did say the sup10 sucks, but here you compare it to the most popular big adventure bike in existence (r12).

        I also don’t understand how this bike is already fussy when it’s not even out yet.

        As for the target class? The target class is people with a healthy disposable income who spend too much time at the office and want to pretend they’re Ewan McStarWars one or two long weekends a year. The target class isn’t a dirtbike with lights, it’s a touring bike on stilts.

        As for what I’d probably be riding and dropping in a river on a crazy adventure? It would have to be a katoomshakalacka. They’re Orange and every time I see one it’s dirty as hell (the opposite of every BMW I see, which is as clean as a HD).

        • Glenngineer

          Seriously? If you’re adventuring in Mexico, you’re probably on a DR400 or something similarly cheap, easy to work on and utterly unremarkable.

  • gt1

    R1200GS also has “features” making difficult servicing it in remote locations. The immobilizer antenna ring was prone to failures (BMW replaces them, even out of warranty). When it dies, there is no way the bike can be started. On a Moto Guzzi I had before the GS, I could set up a dashboard code allowing me to override the immobilizer.
    In case of engine troubles, GS requires a dealer computer to read the trouble codes, while Moto Guzzi has a service menu, and all codes could be read from it’s dashboard.
    And that Guzzi wasn’t even an adventure bike (Breva 1100).

  • NitroPye

    They would have better luck updating the Africa Twin.

    • Thom

      Ditto !

    • Sasha Pave

      Here here! A brilliant bike. If they updated it with a modern chassis and lightened it up, Honda could have made a proper re-entry.

  • Nik

    Just sell the Transalp in the States, ya dummies.

  • Steve

    Regarding Honda’s going “pop” in rural America: This is yet another reason Motorcycles are not reliable as basic transportation in North America.

    I ground the rear wheel bearings in my 01 VFR to dust in Arkansas. High speed, heavily loaded sport riding for many many miles did them in. Fortunately, once I heard the grinding, there was a very large Honda dealership just minutes away. So I roll into the service dept and asked if they would kindly replace my wheel bearings?


    Not only did they not have the bearings in stock, the next available appointment for service was two weeks away. They had new bikes on the floor using the exact same bearings but they did not stock such a common part. They also could not find the 30 minutes to do the work.

    I love my bike. I dislike Honda.

    Yes, I am still bitter about that one.

    • Kirill

      Motorcycles are perfectly reliable as basic transport in NA. You just need to have the right kind. Specifically, a Harley. H-D dealers seem to be as common as GM dealers in flyover country.

      Of course the downside of this is that you have to ride a Harley.

      • Devin

        This comment made me laugh only because of how true it is. I live in a rural area, and our only very good dealer is HD.

        • Steve

          There is truth in this. If you own a Dodge, or any other Big 3 American made car, you can always have it maintained or repaired in Oswego KS. It appears to be true in much the rest of rural America. In contrast the nearest dealer for my VW is 78 miles away in Arkansas.

          I use Oswego as a rural reference point because it is the location of our family farm. I live in Houston and can walk to my VW dealership.

      • Sasha Pave

        Too true, on my ride to Alaska there was a hd dealer in most small towns, no other brands. When I tore up the rear tire on my GS I got a replacement at a HD dealer who was smart enough to stock em.

        It’s the dead simple bikes which makes the best adv tourers, like the KLR, or an airhead. These big fancy bikes are for the road, and a little dirt here and there.

    • Peter88

      I melted the alternator on my 04 CBR1000 (they do that every 15K miles) on the way to the Brickyard 400. Limped to the local Honda shop somewhere in Tennesee. I left it there for the weekend, rented a car, saw the race, picked it up on Monday ready to go. All the work was covered. I hate that alternator but I have no complaints about Honda or their shops.

  • Triman023

    I blew a head gasket on my Buell S2. They didn’t have gaskets in stock for the Sportster engine. No head gaskets, valve cover gaskets, nothing. Took two weeks to get the parts. That was a good thing because they couldn’t give me an appointment for two weeks anyway.
    This is a large Harley dealership in Los Angeles.

    T shirts? Lots of them in stock, and you can talk to a chrome specialist right away…

    • jpenney

      That’s my experience too. The spanner wrench to adjust the pre-load on a Sportster … special order. Gasket … special order. Starter … special order and ridiculously expensive.

      The Sportster (and of course Buell) are and forever will be shit in the eyes of the Harley clan.

  • dux

    How did this turn into a Harley-Hating thread?

    • Steve

      Quite the opposite. Sounds as if you want to know you can keep your bike running in North America, then you should buy a Harley.

      • dux

        Maybe if your Harley requires novelty t-shirts…

  • DoctorNine

    Dear Honda,

    Fail. Do Not Do This.
    You will lose money and credibility.
    Just restart the TransAlps and all will be forgiven.


    P.S. Have zombies sucked your brain?!?!

    • T Diver

      Not Zombies. An Earthquake and Tsunami.

  • Beale

    It looks like a gigantic, overweight finch.

  • David

    Just like supersport bikes don’t get taken to the track, adventure bikes aren’t taken off road to remote locations.

    Same reason SUVs and crossovers and vehicles of this type are still sold like pancakes to people doing school runs.

    It’ll sell just fine.

    • dux

      Needs more cup-holders to sell well. And maybe some fake wood paneling.

  • CG

    You all are confused. This is a CUV. Take a Civic chassis, add a mediocre 4wd system, jack it up a foot with a station wagon body…Voiler, what every buys these days. Take a VFR (and as a recent past owner of one, yeah the low speed fueling sucks, and if you are allergic to 4 figure 16k service bills, don’t buy one – otherwise a nice bike frankly), jack it up 6 inches, pretend it is an all weather adventure bike, a two wheel cuv. Given that every other mfg. is doing the same, I guess they think those housewives are going to buy these too. Honda needs to go back to the engineers running the company and tell those marketing mba guys to go to hell.

    • R.Sallee

      Pretty much. The adventure-tourer craze is a lot like the SUV craze. People buying big, tall bikes with off-road capability they’ll never exploit. Obviously not every GS-Adventure-990-Tenere is going to a poseur, but they are selling way more of these things than there are people that take their street bikes off road.

  • peter

    my goodness Honda is a few spokes short of a complete wheel. didn’t they learn anything from the Rune? When you’re as big as Honda business should be simple – improve what has worked well and riders will trust their reliability in name.

    i am starting to think Honda is losing sight of the m/c market. i am with most of you that they should have brought the Africa Twin over here. they also should have also made a street / race bike with that V5 tech.

    i digress, i have always been a fan of honda motorsports but i never really like any product to buy one. the VFR1200 is a big let down too – especially at that price.

  • combat77

    If the buying public wanted simple the NX650 would have done better. It doesn’t get much simpler than a big air (oil?) cooled thumper.

    You wouldn’t believe the “Adventure Riders” I come across on my day hops. Most these guys just want gadgets and gear anyway. Really, If you’re only going a hundred miles from home, you don’t need the camel back and GPS. I have to admit that I clown these squids the same way I do the “bagger nation” bros.

    To the guy’s that really get down and dirty. Maximum respect. This bike isn’t for you. You know it. I know it. Where’s the argument?

    On a side note:
    How about the new CB1100. Good torque. Good MPG. Low seat. A little bland. Install a Supertrapp and some cases and rack up some miles. If only.

    Might as well hate on the CB1000R “naked bike” a bit while I’m at it. Looks like it gobbles more knobs than miles. BIG RED FAIL!

  • Lawrences

    $20000.00. That’s a lot of milkcrates.i

  • Ola

    I agree with CG. Honda is not trying to make something offroadable. The R1200GS is not used for offroading by most of its customers, but as a tarmac tourer with rugged looks. This is the pie Honda is trying to cut a slice off. Now, the proper way of doing that would have been developing the Transalp/Varadero. They’re both way short of the mark in the adventure class.

    I think this is more a way of trying to generate better sales on the VFR1200 platform, which presumably cost a lot of money to develop and is not selling as well as Honda hoped.