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On the drive train.

Summary: Honda is back with a VFR superbike that's a brilliant mix of a tourer

and a superbike and is as much at home on the race track as on Race

Course Road.

Honda is back with a VFR superbike that's a brilliant mix of a tourer and a superbike and is as much at home on the race track as on Race Course Road.

For a while now, the best superbike to buy in our country has been the Honda CB1000R. It has pretty much everything you could ask for in the motorcycle of your dreams: heart-stopping acceleration, vision-blurring top speed, and a cornering finesse that can make you look like a MotoGP star.

But its the upright seating, supple ride and relaxed power delivery- especially when compared with the Honda Fireblade or the Yamaha R1-that really makes it the best suited for India. Well, not any more, because Honda has just launched its new VFR1200F in India.

Specs Engine: 1237 cc V4 Max power: 172 bhp @10,000 rpm Max torque: 129 Nm @8,750 rpm Gearbox: 6-speed dual clutch Chassis: Twin spar diamond frame Wheebase: 1545 mm LXWXH: 2254 x 886 x 1220 mm Kerb weight: 278 kg Fuel tank: 18.5 litres

The VFR is a sports tourer that looks and feels the part. It has a tall stance and a relaxed seating position. The seat is low and wide, the handlebar slightly raised and the footrests, though rear-set, aren't set exceptionally rearwards or too high. The cockpit has a large instrument console that displays speed, engine revs, fuel level and trip, among other things, and gives you the feeling of a large bike that can conquer continents. To make things more comfortable for riders in winter, the VFR also sports heated grips.

The VFR is as much at home on a race track as on Race Course Road. Yes, it isn't as nimble as a 600cc or even a litre-class motorcycle, and needs some prodding around tight corners. But, around fast bends, it feels completely willing and stable.

It's also a truly enjoyable bike to stitch corners with. There is a lot of grip and feedback from all quarters and even if you overdo it, the VFR, like a good pet, doesn't bite back. The highlight, however, is the drivetrain. The engine in question is a 123cc, V4 unit that makes 172bhp. This, for a sports tourer, is very impressive indeed. The engine has a mild note to it when idling but begins to get throatier and more purposeful as you rev. The power delivery is similar. It's not overtly aggressive to begin with, but it's strong in the mid range and the fierce pull continues all the way to the redline. So much so, that the bike sometimes squats under the surge.

The engine is part of what makes the VFR's drivetrain a gem. The hero here is the new Dual Clutch Transmission (DCT) which works especially well in the 'Sports' mode. The gearbox holds the revs in each gear for a longer time in 'S' and the downshifts are more alert and aggressive. On the track one never feels the need to downshift manually via the handlebar-mounted switches.

Moreover, in 'S', the DCT almost always keeps the bike in the power band, giving it enough poke at exits of corners. It also means that the rider can concentrate mainly on braking and the corner entry while the bike handles the chores of clutching and downshifting. What is impressive is the absence of any driveline lash that's peculiar to any shift-driven motorcycle.

The VFR is a great combination of a tourer and a sports bike. It's both torque-y and free revving, handles superbly, and we expect it to ride well on public roads too. Owing to its size, it may not be a great everyday commute machine, but as a superbike for India, it's as close to perfection as you can get.

(The author is Associate Editor, Auto Bild India)

Reproduced From Business Today. Copyright 2010. LMIL. All rights reserved.

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Publication:Business Today More (New Delhi, India)
Geographic Code:9INDI
Date:Dec 7, 2010
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