Numerous rumors surround the imminent launch of the 2009 Honda VFR1000, some more believable than others. What we do know is that it’s coming and that its launch is extremely important to Honda. Not only will it need to replace two models (the flawed VFR800 Interceptor and venerable CBR1100XX Super Blackbird) but it’ll be a flagship motorcycle for the company, a technological tour de force and a halo bike for the rest of its range. Here are the three rumors we think are most likely to reach production.
A V5 Engine:
Honda’s flagships of the ‘80s and ‘90s, the VFR750R RC30 and RVF750R
RC45, used extremely complicated V4 engines whose real-world
performance never quite matched their technological promise. They
competed in the preeminent production-based race series of the time,
World Superbike. Now, with MotoGP running four-strokes, GP technology
is trickling down to production bikes in ways never before possible.
Witness the Ducati Desmosedici RR. An RC211V-based 1000cc V5, an
extremely complicated engine whose real-world performance hasn’t quite
matched its technological promise, would give Honda Ducati-beating
bragging rights while firmly establishing the VFR as a technological
leader among production bikes. It could also give the VFR performance
to rival larger capacity bikes like the ZX-14 and Hayabusa.
A Frameless Chassis:
Well, not quite frameless, think BMW, but with larger aluminum spars
extending well back alongside the engine from the headstock and a
separate aluminum casting supporting the swingarm pivot. We’ll call it
a two-part chassis. This rumor is backed up by the Honda patent
application you can see above. This design would use the engine as a
stressed member and represent a radical weight-saving departure from
current Honda design principals and from rival machines.
The Ducati 1098R, Kawasaki ZX-10R and 2008 CBR1000RR already use
various forms of traction control, but none features a version
optimized for on-road safety. We think the 2009 VFR1000 will, along
with the new Honda Combined ABS, making the VFR one of the safest bikes
Whatever happens, expect the 2009 Honda VFR1000 to represent a
significant departure from the current model, pursuing new avenues to
deliver more accomplished all-round ability than ever before. Also
expect a significant stylistic departure from the staid current design
and a price commiserate with a range-topping sportsbike, but not the
exotic HRC specials of old. We can’t wait.