Page 1 of 2 1 2 LastLast
Results 1 to 15 of 22

Thread: VFR1200 DCT Review - Honda Wants You!

  1. #1
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Posts
    6

    VFR1200 DCT Review - Honda Wants You!

    Why a review of a Honda on the BMWMOA website? Two reasons really. One, many of us are the "targeted buyer" for the VFR1200, and probably the iterations to follow. Secondly, the Dual Clutch Transmission (DCT) technology offered on the VFR1200 DCT is a "game changer" and will likely change the way we think about motorcycles in the future, the same as ABS did a few years ago.

    Last weekend I joined a diverse group of eleven other motorcycle enthusiasts in Santa Barbara, CA as the guest of Honda to ride their new VFR1200 DCT bike that hasn't even hit the dealer's showrooms yet. The group was made up of avid VFR forum contributors, representatives from Sport-Touring.net and Motorcycle Sport Touring Association (MSTA), and current or previous owners of BMW, Ducati or other "premium brand" motorcycles. I fell into two of the categories - BMW owner and MSTA member. Over half of us did not own a Honda motorcycle.

    Friday evening we were given a tech briefing on the bike along with dinner. It was suppose to last two hours from six to eight o'clock, Honda had to call it off at ten thirty to get ready for the ride Saturday! Honda management was amazed at the level of interest exhibited and the depth of the questions asked. They commented they were used to dealing with journalists that don't ask many questions and accept the press packet as the end-all of information on the bike.

    The buyer profile for the VFR1200 was defined as someone over forty-five, experienced rider, previous sport bike ownership, has or currently owns a "premium brand" motorcycle, looking for a high quality, technologically advanced, performance oriented motorcycle for street use. As is common for Honda they have created a new motorcycle classification. One forum user defined it as the "Gentleman's Supersport."

    The VFR1200 is offered in two models, the standard clutch / six speed known as the VFR1200F and the dual clutch "automatic" known as the VFR1200 DCT. The three techno highlights for me were the V-4 engine with the two rear cylinders placed closely together to help create a very narrow profile for rider ergonomics, Honda's version of shaft drive, and the amazing DCT. I will leave you to visit the Honda websites for the myriad of technical details on this bike, but just a comment or two on DCT. First, forget everything you have heard about automatic transmissions in motorcycles. Second, just because you don't want an automatic motorcycle today - don't pass up an opportunity to check out this new technology. It is straight out of F-1 and it works beyond your wildest imagination. I will be so bold as to say you will even be a better rider with it! (I went to this event asking myself, why would I ever want a motorcycle with an automatic?)

    The two models use the same six speed transmission, the differences are in the clutch arrangement. The DCT uses two oil actuated clutches assisted by some heavy duty computer technology. The first clutch is slightly larger and handles shifting of gears 1-3-5, the second clutch handles gears 2-4-6. As the bike shifts the "next" clutch is always ready for the next gear shift. There are three shift modes for the rider to choose from. Drive (D) mode would be comparable to drive in your car, Sport (S) mode is for more aggressive riding, offering shift points at higher RPM, and manual mode lets you shift when and how you want, utilizing paddle shifters like on many high end German cars these days. You can switch between all three modes while on the move with the touch of a control switch!

    The bike looks much better in person, than in pictures. Compared to earlier VFR's this is a big bike. The wheelbase is longer that my 2010 Concours 14 and it is a heavy bike at over 600 pounds. Fit and finish is first class - as good or better than any bike I have owned. I would define the ergonomics as "relaxed sport bike for the mature set". I could easily flat-foot it with the standard seat (I am 5'9" with a 29" inseam). Controls are logically placed and easy to reach. The DCT controls are obviously different. First there is a parking brake mounted on the left handlebar. The bike will roll when in neutral or in-gear at idle. The paddle shifters are on the front and rear left handlebar. A rocker switch on the right handlebar takes care of putting the bike in neutral (press to the right) and the two drive modes - Drive and Sport (press to the left once for Drive, press again for Sport). An additional lever on top of the right hand controls allows you to switch between manual or the automatic drive modes - or you can go directly between the drive modes and manual. Once on the bike it takes about five minutes to adapt to the new DCT configuration and stop reaching for the clutch lever and shift pedal.

    We got to ride both models for about an hour and a half. The roads varied from congested city streets, sweeping , curvy state highways to rough, potholed mountain roads. It was a controlled demo ride with ride control front and rear. The pace could best be described as "slightly spirited". (Local LEO's interrupted the press demo rides a few days earlier!) As a result the bikes were not pressed to the limit in any way.

    Common impressions of both models can be summed up quite easily: Stable, Rock Solid, Confidence Inspiring, Comfortable, Smooth and Deceptively Fast.

    The VFR1200F, six speed / manual slipper clutch model was fun to ride like any other VFR. But it wasn't exciting to me in any new way. It is a quality bike that will satisfy many new buyers of the VFR.

    On the other hand, the VFR1200 DCT is a revelation! This bike was designed to be run with the DCT! It shifts better than 95% of us! Shifts are fast and almost undetectable. Just a slight click. There is no chassis movement, suspension compression or jacking. All of this occurs regardless of mode you are in. In stop and go city traffic the DCT is a joy. Once out of the city, Sport mode was amazing. It seems to know what you are thinking. Aggressive canyon carving will be no problem in sport mode. Several readings, such as braking, throttle position, lean angle, RPM, etc. are fed into the computer to keep you in the gear you would have selected on your own, thus allowing normal engine braking and powering out of a corner. The big advantage with all of this is you have additional time on your hands to select the best line, when to apply more throttle, and observe what's going on around you - hence my comment earlier about the DCT making you a better rider. You no longer have to contend with shifting, chassis movement, etc. If you want to maintain control yourself, just use the paddle shifters and gain the same benefits as mentioned above. There is never a missed shift or false neutral with the DCT.

    The DCT equipped VFR commands a $1500.00 premium, bringing the price in at $17,500.00.

    Bags, heated grips, center stand, windscreens, huggers, etc. will be available in July of this year.

    I really like how well the engine and DCT worked together. It has seamless power to redline, unlike the hit the VFR VTEC engine gives you. Honda personnel indicated we will see this engine / transmission combination in other applications. The internet is already rife with rumors on the release of a VFR1200T touring model yet this year, with an adventure model to follow. The fit and finish is very good. Handling is rock solid and confidence inspiring. The weight of this bike is not noticed once moving.

    On the downside, I would like to see a bigger tank (4.9 gal.). The throttle was a little "snatchy", but nothing serious. And finally, at 63, the riding position probably would not afford me all day, cross country comfort. I am looking for a riding position similar to my BMW R1200R or Kawasaki Concours 14.

    I am excited and impressed with the VFR1200 DCT. It provides me with a window on things to come. Honda is definitily offering a premium product in the VFR1200 DCT. I don't think I will run out and buy this bike tomorrow, but I feel confident that I will buy a Honda motorcycle with this V-4 engine and Dual Clutch Transmission in the future - I hope the very near future.

    PS - I could get use to going to new product intros! BMW, Ducati, I'm available!

    Disclaimer: I have no relationship with Honda, nor was I paid to do this review. Airfare, room, and meals associated with the demo event in Santa Barbara, CA were paid for by Honda.

  2. #2
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Jul 2003
    Posts
    1,007
    Thanks for the review. I appreciate reading about a rider's impressions instead of just the press kit quotes.

  3. #3
    Registered User teepke's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Location
    Billerica, MA
    Posts
    361
    Interesting read, thanks for sharing. I'm still trying to wrap my head around how DCT works in stop/go traffic.

    Out of curiosity... is this the same bike that you demo'd?

    -tp
    '11 F800R

  4. #4
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Posts
    6
    Yes, this is the traditional six speed with manual clutch that has been recalled in the UK. It is not the bike with the DCT.

    Coming to a stop is the same as if you were driving a Volkswagen Jetta or GTI with their DSG transmission. If you are in Drive or Sport mode the bike knows to downshift as you apply brake, or slow down by letting off of the gas. When you come to a stop you can either press the righthand rocker switch into neutral or you can leave it in gear and the bike will not go anywhere unless you blip the throttle. If you are in manual mode you would normally downshift the paddle shifter to first just like you would on your current bike only you don't have a clutch to operate. If in manual mode and you don't downshift all the way to first, the bike will do it for you rather than stall.

    Taking off is as simple as twisting the throttle if you have left the bike in gear. If you put it in neutral you will need to either push the right hand rocker switch into Drive or Sport mode, or push the forward paddle shifter on the left handlebar and it will go into first - now twist the throttle.

    Hope this helps. It wasn't all that clear to me either until I actually rode the bike and played with it. It is a pretty fool proof system.

    John

  5. #5
    Registered User teepke's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Location
    Billerica, MA
    Posts
    361
    Interesting again! Thanks for the clarification on shifting... gosh I already have a hard enough time with my left/right/cancel/horn switches on my bike... I would have to feel for real how it works I suppose.

    Last question... no shift lever by your foot then? I suppose that's how/why there'd be a difference in the recalls?

    Thanks again.
    -tp
    '11 F800R

  6. #6
    Registered User breyfogle's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    Location
    Lomita (aka L.A.), SoCal
    Posts
    703
    Compared to earlier VFR's this is a big bike. The wheelbase is longer that my 2010 Concours 14 and it is a heavy bike at over 600 pounds.
    It might make a good IronButt bike but a VFR it aint.
    '89 K75S Original Owner
    '94 (Beta) R11RS, ( RIP 12-5-2010 courtesy of blind left turning cage driver ) ....

  7. #7
    Registered User ALIENHITCHHIKER's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Location
    Asheville, NC
    Posts
    965
    First time I laid eyes on it I said, "Honda has made a BMW"

    I like it!

    Thanks for sharing your impressions.
    Steve
    Current Hottie: '00 R1100RT
    Old Flames: FY K100RT, '80 XS850 with Vetter Quicksilver, '67 Bonnie, '66 Honda 90

  8. #8
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Posts
    6
    You are correct, there is not a shift lever on the DCT.

    A good portion of the VFR community is not happy about this bike. They will be keeping their old VFR's

    John
    Last edited by JREINHARDT; 06-11-2010 at 02:26 AM.

  9. #9
    Dleonard 1988 K75s
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Location
    Missoula MT
    Posts
    23
    Thanks for sharing. Actually, I am also very interested in this bike. I made a trip to the dealer, but I didnÔÇÖt ask for a test ride because I know the outcome wonÔÇÖt be pretty on my check book.

  10. #10
    1aretea
    Guest
    I saw one today at the Dealer and it was next a new '08 VFR. It didn't realy impress me much, infact I'd rather have the '08. The DCT option, I'll go with a standard transmision. What next cars that park them selves!!!

  11. #11
    Registered User breyfogle's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    Location
    Lomita (aka L.A.), SoCal
    Posts
    703
    Quote Originally Posted by 1aretea View Post
    What next cars that park them selves!!!
    Maybe bikes with four wheels, .............. , and a covered seating area !!
    '89 K75S Original Owner
    '94 (Beta) R11RS, ( RIP 12-5-2010 courtesy of blind left turning cage driver ) ....

  12. #12
    Registered User teepke's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Location
    Billerica, MA
    Posts
    361
    is this (some) of the competition for the "targeted buyer"?

    Multistrada

    -tp
    '11 F800R

  13. #13
    Registered User punkasskid's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Location
    Amarillo,TX
    Posts
    36
    Quote Originally Posted by JREINHARDT View Post
    You are correct, there is not a shift lever on the DCT.

    A good portion of the VFR community is not happy about this bike. They will be keeping their old VFR's

    John
    You can count me among those. I don't believe I'll ever get rid of my '99. It's just too dang competent at everything I want from a bike.
    73 R75/5-36mm Dell Orto pumpers, lightened flywheel, polished crank, single cam chain/sprockets, Carillo rods and wrist pins, Wiseco pistons, custom profiled cam, 5 speed, LWB swing arm, ATE disc in front, Progressive front Works rear-yeah, it sh!ts and gits.

  14. #14
    Prefers to play martinph's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2005
    Location
    Armstrong, BC
    Posts
    694
    Not long ago, some of us were horrified when bikes got signal lights and electric starts.
    Now power brakes, heated seats, electric windshields, ABS, reverse, radios, heated grips! Auto is the next logical step! Not for all, buts thatÔÇÖs OK.
    Martin. BMW MOA Ambassador.17748
    BMW MOA Charter, Life member.
    Valley BMW Riders. British Columbia.

  15. #15
    BUDDINGGEEZER
    Guest
    First I would not want a dual clutch tranny, I enjoy working the clutch. Second I have sat on the VFR1200F and the ergos are not comfortable to ME. $16,000 was the asking price and a Yamaha FZ1 was much more comfortable, lighter, probably just as fast and you can buy 2 FZ1s for the price of the VFR.

    Ralph Sims

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •