Honda took a fair bit of flak for their ‘new’ Crossrunner 800 when it was added to their range in 2011. The new bit wasn’t too much more than a pumped up VFR800F. New technology wasn’t what the Crossrunner delivered; it was instead a new lease of life for the much loved V4 VFR800 engine. The Crossrunner style appealed to those who might find a VFR800 had a more sports bias than it did tourer. Honda’s hunch paid off, the bike quickly carved itself a niche in the market. It’s one of those motorcycles that only make total sense once you’ve ridden it. Many owners are people who are loyal to the Honda brand, who then become loyal to the Crossrunner model. The styling isn’t its strong point, something that Honda addressed with a visual makeover to the 2015 model.
There’s an alloy frame under that bulbous bodywork, a heart from a VFR800 and a few other parts from the shelves in the Honda parts department. There’s a severe lack of technological gadgets. This is a machine from the start of this decade and is the only thing that was available to the design team. The Crossrunner 800 is a very capable bike with the reliability of that V4 engine. Matched to a riding position that just begs you to take the long route at every opportunity, it’s no surprise that these bikes can often rack up high mileages, though thanks to the quality of the build it’s not an issue.
The bike that arrived with a lukewarm reception went on to sell really well. At the end of the day, it’s a typical Honda approach, see a gap in the market and build an answer before anyone even asks the question.
What’s it like to ride?
If you’ve ever owned a VFR750 or VFR800 you will appreciate everything about the Crossrunner 800. It’s a wonder that Honda never created it sooner. The engine is still a gem, despite being able to trace its roots back to the VFR750FG from 1985. The Honda research and development team have made constant changes inside that V4 engine, each one adding to the pleasure of pulling the throttle open. The fuel injection is spot on and there’s useful and useable power from the moment you pull away. The strength of the Honda V4 is its dollops of grunty torque. The Crossrunner is the perfect chassis to exploit every one of 101bhp quoted by Honda.
The pumped up chassis makes for a super comfy ride. The upright riding position is a major improvement from a standard VFR800 if you ride on a daily basis and mile munchers will also applaud it. There’s 240kg of bulk beneath you, though it never feels that chunky. The jacked up suspension is more than just to give the Crossrunner an aggressive stance, it means all road surfaces can be tackled with ease. Unlike other cross over bikes, the VFR800 uses 17 inch wheels at each end. The rear gets to wear a 180 section tyre which encourages spirited handling. Tank range is around 180 miles so it’s easily achievable to go from full to empty without a need to stretch your legs. The linked brakes are one area that always generates a debate and like it or not, the Crossrunner is kitted out with the linked brake set up.
What to look for when you buy one?
We spoke to Vinny Styles, Sales Manager from Wheels Motorcycles in Peterborough.
“The earliest bikes are now seven years old. The design might look a little dated, but the love for the model is still strong. If there was ever a bike where you shouldn’t look at the year and instead focus on the condition, this is it. People buy these bikes to ride to work and tour on. They often come in with above average mileage for their age. Other owners then buy them to compliment their race rep that’s in the garage. These bikes come back in for part exchanges with well below average miles. Either is a sound buy. There are no nasty faults with this model and with a full service history, a high mileage machine is still a bike worth consideration. The looks aren’t for everyone, but never judge a book by the cover! If you like the VFR800, you will love a Crossrunner.”
What goes wrong?
We spoke to Chris Tombleson, who runs Grumpy 1260. They service and repair all manner of bikes.
“The obvious thing that affects this model is the regulator, it’s a Honda blight and despite the unit getting bigger over the years to increase surface cooling area, it still rears its ugly head, mostly when you least need it. There are several aftermarket options to cure the problem, always check battery condition when looking at one. A new battery isn’t always a positive thing as it could be the result of the last one being cooked! We have de linked the linked brakes before which is not a massive job, but it does take a while to do. You’ll also need new brake lines, most owners opt for braided lines all round. Beyond that it’s a great bike, build quality is brilliant and the engine is one of the best ever built!”