The Crossrunner is the latest all-rounder from the Honda stable. Kevin Ash went to find out how well it stacks up against the likes of Triumph’s Tiger 800 and BMW’s F650GS.
It doesn’t sound like a promising formula: take a near-decade old bike, lose some horsepower, add high bars and new bodywork that (for some people at least) makes it look like an oversized penguin, and… er, that’s it.
In essence, that sums up the new Honda Crossrunner. It’s based on Honda’s 2002 VFR800 VTEC, itself still on sale, and that includes most parts from the frame and engine to the wheels and suspension. The instrument display is from the 2011 CBR600F, the optional luggage is from the VFR1200, leaving only the seat, tank and bodywork as unique to the Crossrunner.
Unexpectedly perhaps, it’s a fine motorcycle though. While the engine itself is completely unchanged, the Crossrunner has a new exhaust system and changes on the intake side and to the ignition and engine mapping which have reduced peak horsepower but boosted the torque available at low and medium revs.
The VTEC system is retained too – this operates only two of the four valves per cylinder up to around 6,500rpm, then beyond that the remaining valves come into play, improving the breathing capacity as the engine needs it. On the original VFR800 the VTEC caused a sudden step in the power output which irritated many riders, so a lot of work has gone into smoothing this out on the Crossrunner.
The frame predates even the 2002 VFR800 by three years, but nothing has been changed aside from minor adjustments. The forks have been moved down through their clamps by 40mm and the rear suspension has been adjusted to increase the ride height too, but the components themselves are all ex-VFR. Only the tyres are different: these are Pirelli Scorpions originally developed for the Ducati Multistrada, although the Crossrunner’s rear is slightly different to the Ducati, with a less aggressive profile that helps it lean into corners more progressively.
The use of this rubber confirms the Crossrunner, like the Multistrada, is only intended for the lightest off road riding, such as tracks where the asphalt has run out or forest firebreaks, but nothing more demanding. Its prime purpose is as an all-rounder in the same way the Multistrada, and overlapping with adventure bikes like Triumph’s Tiger 800 and BMW’s F650GS. So the Crossrunner needs to be good as touring bike in particular, but also able to reward a sporting rider and commute to work capably too.It does all of these, and with real character and excitement too.
That engine might be an old design but the revised power curve suits the bike’s role perfectly. On the twisty coastal roads of south west Majorca, where my ride took place, the bike was a real pleasure to throw through the corners. It’s not especially an agile bike but it turns willingly enough and the stability is exemplary. Don’t wrestle it into turns but sweep through them and you’ll get on very well with this bike, which returns excellent feedback and control (the roads were quite slippery so this was reassuring), and good comfort too.
The suspension doesn’t show its age except for a small hint of bounciness when pushed hard, and its quality really helps long distance riding too by isolating you well from bumps and general rough stuff. The riding position though is odd, a legacy of the bike’s genetics as a cross between adventure style and VFR. While the bars sit you upright with your arms set wide, ideal for urban riding as well as touring (and not so bad for sportier stuff too), your legs are much more in the traditional sports tourer stance, which means quite high and rearset footrests. You get used to it but some taller riders might start to feel cramped after a couple of hours on board.
There’s little turbulence around your head at speed as the screen is low, like a VFR’s, but the wind pressure isn’t an issue, not at sane road speeds anyway, so this all works well enough, especially as seat comfort is good both solo and with a passenger.
What’s more likely to worry you is the fuel economy readout. The VFR800 has a reputation for being thirsty and sadly the Crossrunner has inherited this trait along with the rest. I recorded 35mpg in mixed riding on a variety of roads, and while more considered riding would improve on that, many owners will struggle to better 40mpg where riding in the same manner on a Triumph or BMW would see you achieving at least 45mpg, possibly up to 50mpg on the German bike. At least the fuel tank is a decent size at 4.74 gallons (21.5 litres), meaning you have a range of 180 miles or more while touring.
This is the only real blemish on the bike’s character though. The engine makes a fabulous sound as you’re working it, purring contentedly at lower revs than coming alive with a hard-edged snarl as it spins faster. The upside of the design’s age is this is a thoroughly proven design, and in fact the VFR has gained a reputation as one of the most reliable, durable engines in motorcycling.
In short, the Crossrunner is versatile, interesting looking, comfortable for most riders and full of character too, with good and very accessible performance. It’s a shame about the thirst but otherwise, it’s an excellent choice as all-rounder.
Get Honda motorbike insurance for the honda crossrunner.
|MODEL TESTED||Honda Crossrunner VFR800X|
|PRICE||£9,075 on the road|
|AVAILABLE||Early summer, depending on post tsunami factory restart|
|ENGINE||90-degree V-four, liquid cooled, sohc VTEC 16v, 782cc|
|POWER||101bhp @ 10,000rpm|
|TORQUE||53.7lb.ft @ 9,500rpm|
|TANK/RANGE||4.73 gallons (21.5 litres)/ 180 miles|
|TRANSMISSION||Six gears, wet clutch, chain final drive|
|CHASSIS||Aluminium twin spar, single-sided aluminium swingarm|
|SEAT HEIGHT||32.1in (816mm)|
|RAKE/TRAIL||25°45’/ 3.78in (96mm)|
|WEIGHT||529lb (240kg) (kerb, 5 litres fuel)|
|REVIEW PHOTOS||Ula Serra, Francesc Montero, Zep Gori, Félix Romero|