Honda’s luscious V4 motor, shaft-drive and (optional) dual clutch transmission puts the ‘grand tourer’ into adventure bikes
Honda’s big, V4-powered adventure bike might have been something of an after-thought to the VFR1200F on which it’s based – but in many ways it’s a far better, longer-lived and more satisfying motorcycle.
With a meaty, retuned, version of the motor originally developed for 2010’s VFR sports-tourer (peak power is down from 160 to a still-healthy 127bhp to generate extra midrange), yet the same shaft drive and DCT semi-automatic gearbox option, the 1237cc V4 remains one of motorcycling’s truly great powerplants.
But by being carried in a more upright chassis, complete with longer-travel suspension and bigger 19” (in place of the VFR’s 17”) front wheel – with both hoops, incidentally, now natty, cross-spoke wires – and the whole plot now dressed in a far more handsome set of bodywork, Honda’s V4 has blossomed into a classy, grand touring adventure bike -whereas before it was a slightly disappointing sports-tourer.
The cultured V4 powerplant remains the star, of course, delivering meaty, characterful drive right across the rev range with a typically neat Honda gearchange. The shaft drive is a reassuring addition, in-keeping with the adventure treatment (BMW’s GS can’t be wrong, after all) and the optional DCT, which turns its transmission into a clutch lever-less, semi-automatic, ‘twist and go’, is another classy feature that goes some way to set the Crosstourer apart in what is now one of motorcycling’s most congested categories.
Handling, due to the low centre of gravity of the V4, is neutral and perfectly acceptable without excelling; stopping power, via Honda’s dual C-ABS combined braking system, is more than sufficient; comfort and weather protection is also more than acceptable and the Crosstourer’s all-round quality and durability is beyond criticism. This is very much a premium Honda, after all.
Sure, it’s not perfect. Despite its handsome good looks and quality sheen the Crosstourer remains somewhat anonymous and forgotten about. It’s the great, overlooked adventure bike, at the end of the day. Other adventure machines launched since the Crosstourer’s 2012 debut have now conspicuously marched ahead, particularly in terms of electronic rider aids. The biggest giveaway to this is the Honda’s now dated LCD dash where many of its more modern rivals now have fancy, full-colour TFT screens. The Crosstourer’s also so heavy it’s not really a serious contender for any sort of off-road riding (although, considering how few bikes of this type actually hit the dirt, it’s doubtful how much that matters).
But at the same time, over those intervening years, the Crosstourer has also become better value than ever. Today, the standard, non-DCT version starts at under £11,500, which undercuts many middleweight adventure bikes such as higher spec versions of Triumph’s 800 Tiger of BMW’s F850. That’s tempting in itself. The novel DCT variant is less than a grand more while the fully-loaded, full-luggage and crash bar-equipped Highlander version of the DCT is only a little over £14k – that’s a lot of Honda for the money. That, when a similarly loaded (but no more powerful) BMW GS costs around £5k more should be enough to prompt anyone to still give the worthy Crosstourer a second look.
While as a used buy, especially considering the resilience of the V4 powerplant and general quality of its finish, it’s even better value still, with immaculate, low-milers available from as little as £7k.
Maybe it’s no wonder the Crosstourer has so comprehensively outlived the VFR1200F after all…
|ENGINE TYPE||76-degree V-four, DOHC, four-valves per cylinder, liquid cooled|
|BORE X STROKE||81 x 60mm|
|MAXIMUM POWER||127 hp (95 kW) @ 7750 rpm|
|MAXIMUM TORQUE||126Nm @ 6500rpm|
|FRONT SUSPENSION||43mm upside down fork|
|FUEL TANK||21 litres|