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2006 Sprint ST vs 2006 Honda VFR. Which One?

25381 Views 42 Replies 30 Participants Last post by  oldtim
Definitey the Sprint. Both are very good Sport Touring bikes, but ever since Honda added variable valves to the VFR (in 2003?), the VFR has suffered from lots of criticism re: throttle response and lumpy power delivery. The Sprint, on the other hand, was significantly updated last year and given a bigger, smoother three cylinder. The only criticisms of the Sprint seem to be engine heat managment (cooks your legs in hot weather) and poor side luggage (something Triumph was going to fix this year - not sure if they did). Plus I think the Sprint is much nicer looking - IMHO.
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I have a 2006 Sprint ST/ABS in the faster silver color and I have ridden the VFR in the 2004 version which is pretty much the same as the current model. I have ridden over 200 miles on the VFR in twisties and some highway, and about 4000 on the sprint in every different type of road and condition. Here are my thoughts.

1. Looks: subjective but I think the new generation sprint looks way better. I get compliments regularly.

2. Motor: sprint has it hands down. The viffer makes more noise when you turn the go handle but that is about it. The 1050 motor has a broad spread of torque and makes good power. They both have pretty seamless injection. The sprint gets around 45mpg, the viffer 40 at least with me on them. They are both smooth and I didnt find vibration to be a problem on the superslab. For the same weight you get almost 30 more can really feel the difference. They both sound unique, but nothing is like the sound of the triple on the howl if you ask me.

3. Heat: They both put off heat in the summer. The sprint runs cooler but seems to dump more of the heat on the lower legs while the VFR runs very hot with the cooling fan running almost all the time, but the viffer is definately cooler than the sprint on the lower legs. While the heat was noticeable on the sprint, it was not intolerable. I didnt notice any heat issues on the seat (from the underseat exhaust) with either bike, though on the forums I have heard some complain about it. I rode them both in 100 degree plus temps.

4. Ergos: they are both very comfortable sport bikes. The wrists seem to get less tired on the VFR to me, but either one will be worlds better than a sportbike such as the R1. They are not nearly as comfortable as an FJR, but they weigh less and handle way better. They both have plenty of leg room and comfortable seats, though the sprint seat can get thin near the tank so you can feel the seat pan underneath. The windshield is a little higher on the VFR. There is no buffeting on either. The 07 sprint comes with higher bars and windshield so that might make them a little more close in this dept. They seemed equally comfortable just a little different...I liked the sprint better because it felt a little more forward leaned to me and that made me feel more comfortable inthe twisties.

5. Handling: they are pretty close here. The sprint is very stable and holds its line well while the VFR felt a little more flickable. They are both 500+ pound bikes and so the weight is felt if the road is very tight. In long flowing higher speed stuff the sprint is in its element. In very tight stuff the VFR gets the nod, though not by much. I ride with all sorts of different folks and I can keep up with R1s easily on the sprint, but the VFR felt more neutral in very tight slow corners. The suspension on both is soft compared to sportbikes and both have pretty significant brake dive, though the VFR felt less likely due to the linked brakes. They are both very comfortable on rough roads and poor pavement seemed to upset the sprint less than the VFR.

6. brakes: There are reports of poor brakes on some sprints but mine have been fine. There is a lot of lever travel on the sprint in comparison to most other bikes, but plenty of power and feel is about the same on both. I like that the brakes are not linked on the sprint, though I honestly didnt have anything bad to say about the brakes on the VFR. They seem about the same to me here, other than excessive lever travel on the sprint.

7. Luggage: The sprint comes with free luggage, the VFR costs an extra grand. The bags on ths sprint work fine and the sprint looks better with the bags off- there is no unattractive mounting crap to mess up the lines of the bike. The vfr has these large black metal brackets that are there if you take the bags off. With the bags on I think the vfr looks a little better, but it is close. The vfr bags will hold a full face helmet, while the sprint will not.

8. Maintenance: The VFR is a honda. Good luck beating that. I have had good luck with the Sprint and the few warranty items I had were resolved quickly. The sprint needs valve adjustments every 12k miles and synthetic oil. I think the VFR is every 24k, but I could be wrong. My friend did say that his adjustment was very expensive due to the VTEC but I dont recall cost. Dealer support is generally going to be better with the honda, but if you have a Triumph dealer close by and you are happy with them it will probably be a wash. The triumph has a 2 year warranty, the VFR one year. You will need a 46mm sprocket and a BIG breaker bar to get the back wheel off the sprint. All SSSA chain adjustments are much easier than a double sided swingarm.

9. Instruments/lights/mirrors: Like looks this is subjective, but to me this is the only part of the bike I see when riding so it is pretty important to me. I like the dash on the Sprint much better than the VFR. Its numbers are more legible at night and have excellent contrast. The sprint has a fun milage/trip multifunction computer with several screens that can be toggled through, including a top speed attained number (162.6mph for me). The VFR is good and has large digital numers which may be a little easier to see. I think it looks boring, especially at night. The headlights are better on the VFR without question. The mirrors are both good, but the sprint mirrors vibrate more. Both bikes have center stands

10 Niggles: Vfr seem to have a problem with heat management for the engine, the sprint with heat management for the rider. There is a heat reduction kit available for the sprint 05 and early 06 models under warranty. Mine didnt need it and perhaps that is why mine has not been too bothersome. VFR may have a problem with the regulator/rectifier, while the sprint may have a problem with spongy front brakes if you read the message boards. Dealer support is probably better with the honda, though it will vary by dealer. The seat is a bear to get off of the Triumph, but you only need to remove it to get to the battery.

Most triumph dealers will let you test ride a sprint, and you can get one here in CA for the same price as a VFR so that should not be an issue. The best bet would be to ride them both and make a decision. I bet one twist of the wrist and you will be sold on the Triumph!

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Maybe "fois gras"?
Yeah, I love my VFR, but if I were to get a new(er) sport touring bike, I think it would be the ST3. The valve intervals are out to 12k now, I hear, and there are only six of them. Well over a hundred horsepower, and probably easier to find dealers than Triumph.
or maybe pho ga?
Subscription fee?

You practically just started your own motorcycle magazine.
Re: Subscription fee?

See Buzz, that's how it's done. None of that smartass comment stuff like you and that Fenton clown.
They're both great

They both sound better than most other bikes (Tie), they're both quite comfortable (edge to the Sprint), they both handle well (edge to the VFR), but the Honda is probably more reliable now that it's had a few years of fixes and is the only one that uses the current MotoGP engine configuration (800 v-four)

Get the Honda... or the Triumph, wait, I'm confused.

Save your money buy a VFR 750. If you must spend large get a Ducati ST3
Re: They're both great

I'm tellin' Mr Kawasaki you didn't recommend a used ZX9 with Beetle Bags.
Hummm, new VFR next year? Any clue as to the specs? I have owned 2 (a 91 and a 96) and would not touch the V-Tech model, with chain driven cams and hideous styling...the only redeeming factor is the factory bags for the newest VFR. Honda, PLEASE give a VFR1000 that weighs under 500lbs WET, NO V-TECH, and other silly gadgets and no Flash Gordon styling.
Warning: Recent model Triumph front brakes suck.

Warning: Recent model Triumph front brakes suck. Just read any road test. Nice bikes but loads of mushy brake lever travel and Triumph refuse to admit any problem or provide a fix, despite being inundated with complaints...yes I am a Triumph owner.
Re: Warning: Recent model Triumph front brakes suck.

I tested one and the brakes were so bad that at any real speed they bordered on dangerous IMO. The dealer agreed and informed me that he has heard this complaint frequently. Definitely try before you buy.
There's a comparison article in the November Sport Rider that includes the VFR, Sprint, ST3, and Breva.
If Honda does indeed introduce a new VFR next year, I'll be the first to cheer. But considering how incredibly dated their entire line of bikes has become, I won't be holding my breath.
I'd go for VFR800i non-V-tec, older model.

Or even older VFR750 rc36-2. Purely for handling, engine and incredible reliability.

I like new Sprint ST a lot, but perspective to have break down on Triumph anywhere in long journeys in Europe except UK scares me and handling of both VFR V-TEC and ST is a bit slow to my liking. IMHO VFR800i and specially RC36 quicker in twisties and just a comfortable as new models.

And obviously rc36-2 is bulletproof bike and can look very pretty with few accessoires and good paintjob.

But if ST would wear Honda badge, so that I will not worry about all these matters (especially breakdown/repair/spares/service) I'd go for ST.
Thanks for a great question and responses. I am between bikes and have seriously considered both of these motorcycles when I finish my hot rod. I am leaning towards the VFR, but then a Triumph is just so cool. Having never ridden either, that is obviously the most important part of the decision. I'll probably buy used, as the car project is sucking me dry like some sort of a four wheel vampire. I am not sure how I'll talk myself into getting rides on these motorcycles...
Hot Rod?? What are you building? I've been interested in putting together one of those generic kit cars, either a coupe or convertible '32 Ford roadster. But, I also really like the replica Cobras. I've also seen these cars sell used for something like $25k to $40K and up. From my bike restoration experience I would think buying someone else's car to start would be better. Any tips?
Come n listen to a story from a man named Jed...
Bigger engine, and bring back the cam gear whine!
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