I have a 2000 VFR. It now has over 37K on the odometer. Everything you say is soooo true - it's a great bike. However it's the only bike I've owned. I would like to try something different but I can afford only one bike. I'm thinking that the new KTM Duke 990 would be fun but I'm afraid to let my VFR go. I'm also worried that the quality and reliability has spoiled me.
I actually read the entire article. Most of the other authors lose my attention in a paragraph or so. Not always but quite often. I'm not a Honda fan since I started in the 60's riding them and owned them up in to the 80's. Never was impressed with the cheap engineering. Hard to work on with all the phillips head screws. Probably different these days but I don't own one anymore.
This is where MO can stand out from the print rags. Real-life long-term reviews that don't all sound the same (every sportbike gets better tires and a pipe, cruisers' wider bars make it harder to lane-split, ho-hum...).
I've taken to not renewing any of my American bike magazines because they all seem to suck compared to Bike, Performance Bikes, etc. The Brits get a year's worth of content in every magazine! Between those mags and MO I get everything I want. Hopefully we'll see more articles like this where not every bike is reviewed as an editor commutes in L.A. traffic, and not every bike is judged by how fast it goes around a track.
Keep it real world and we'll keep renewing. Good work, hats off to Vlad.
Mine's identical, only its a 2000. It truly does do it all. It'll do 500 mile days in BC, 165 miles per hour, wheelies, and the occasional burnout when you need a new tire anyways. I put Pirelli diablos on mine. Stick like sh1t to a blanket and I actually get more mileage than the stock Dunlops afforded.
I highly recommend an aftermarket can. You will easily gain 8-12 horsepower and lose nearly 10 pounds. The OEM pipe is very restrictive and heavy. The previous owner of my bike tried to just unbutton it and cut out the baffles but he mangled the damn thing. So now it sports a straight-through Kerker can. I took out the glasspack to uncork a little more of that V4 howl.
By the way, a 90 degree v4 is the ultimate sportbike motor. (bring it on flamers) Just like you said, torquey, but with a strong top end rush and smooth smooth smooth.
I was disappointed as hell when they brought out the 02 model. Gained weight when it should have lost some, also lost the cool gear-driven valvetrain (which makes the engine sound like it's supercharged) and gained a useless bastardized vtec. Hopefully someday Honda will offer a v4 superbike. Until then, I've got a chubby for those new KTM's.
A superbly-written article....my compliments. I have two friends who ride VFRs and they feel the same way. One has about 90,000 miles on his, and he said that when it's time to get a new bike, it will be another VFR. That single-sided swingarm is way cool...
Beat me to it....I know this is the ultimate Mo joke, but I have a Naked SV, and am looking at a VFR or a Connie purchase. ( I swear on a stack...well...I swear anyway ) I'm gonna keep the SV, ( it's a good as all the tired jokes ) but want a bike for longer rides. This article was very well written, and down to earth. The Connie is the killer deal, but the hand-numbing buzz I read about is making me nervous. ( get what you pay for? ) A used VFR seems like a great route to go; just try and find one with low miles. Thanks for the great info.
A "review" written by someone who bought the motorcycle is always going to be biased. It upsets the natural balance of the universe when the writer has a financial attachment/investment and emotional connection to the machine in question. Even in the context of "Livin' with", it is still tainted by the lack of objectivity.
This line jumped out at me...
"consensus vote of the motorcycle editors on the planet, it's the best all around street bike made"
... as I didn't realize that Mitch Boehm represented a consensus.
The writer even goes so far as to make comparisons with the 916 -- heresy. A buyer has a tendency to elevate the value of the purchase. Of course, these comparisons are always made against a much more expensive machine. It's a pretty standard condition, ask any SV, Concours, or Boss Hoss owner.
"In my opinion, and in the minds of quite a few others, the VFR is the best all-around street bike on the planet."
Although presented with the "Livin' with it wrapper", Francis' nicely written article is a heavily biased "review". His conclusion really drives that point home.
I understand your response, but I am pretty familiar with Ducs, having owned two and having also been the manager of Ducati Atlanta. I put about 300 miles one day on an ST4, and the motor on that bike (916) felt very close to the VFR motor. But, as they say, that's just my opinion. By the way, the other magazines that have rated the VFR as the top streetbike include Bike, Cycle World, Road Bike, and Rider. I didn't even know that MB had rated it that highly. Even with that said, no one bike is everybody's "best streetbike," since so many factors go into that decision.
Thanks for the nice article. I'm sure the writer is somewhat biased, and I realize it isn't a comparision article, Thats fine, we know all that up front. It's just nice to read about what an owner that puts some miles on likes and doesn't like about a bike, and changes that they would do again.
Having had a '99 VFR800 for three years, I think this review is spot-on. My bike was dead reliable, looked as good as new after 45,000 km, and I never got tired of that awesome V-4 character.
As someone else mentioned, the bike really benefits from an aftermarket pipe. My Erion full system brought the rear wheel HP up to just about 110, giving it enough boost to power-wheelie off the throttle at 3500rpms and greatly improving the already decent throttle response. The weight loss also made the bike feel considerably less "porky" at low speeds. In addition I added Race-Tech Gold Valves and rebound valves in the forks, and an Ohlins in the back. After that the bike rode and handled about as good as any late model high-end sports bike that I've tried.
Like the review mentioned, a GIVI box works great on the bike, and so do RKA soft panniers. I've had the bike up to an indicated 150mph with all the touring gear on and the bike was still rock solid.
Unfortunately, my bum knees led me to sell the bike last year, but I recommend it to anyone who wants a sport-tourer that is equally home touring two-up or mixing it up with hardcore sport bikes.
Good articlce and as a VFR owner for 3 years I agree with much of what you say. However, some of the proposed changes are a bit 'interesting'.
For me, I think it could do with a weight loss, but it has never been a problem. Neither really is the heat thing. I live in the UK so it isn't always that hot here anyway! The seat isn't the best so I plan to get mine re-upholstered over the winter. Yes you can easily do 500 mile days (and in some of the worst weather conditions - as I did this year on the way to the Brands Hatch round of World Superbikes), but it is a relief when you stop!
The CBS brakes debate is nonsense. If you haven't lived with CBS then you really don't know what you are talking about. I wasn't too sure about them when I got the VFR (I had a CBR600 before) but you soon adapt and get used to them. Better that that, you'll really like them. The moaning about the set up normally comes from overly macho journos that spend two or three days with the bike. For the normal biker on a mix of roads the set up is great.