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Possibly the most important motorcycle for the last five years in Honda’s range, the new VFR1200 has finally broken cover.

The VFR750/800 has been one of the most successful models in motorcycling, but the camchain and electrical problems with the most recent V-Tec 800 model have turned some UK riders away from the model. Many riders still prefer the gear-cam earlier VFR800s from 1998-2002. But all that could change, as Honda bring the new 1200 model into production in 2010.

The new machine is aimed at the lucrative sports-touring market, which is dominated by older bikers, in the 45-65 age range, often with the time and money to undertake three or four overseas trips per year on their machine. The new VFR1200 has good pillion accommodation, a set of grab handles for pillion comfort and optional luggage, plus heated grips for those Alpine passes in Autumn.

More importantly, the engine in the new 1200 demonstrates some technical novelty. It is a V4, but unusually has wider set front cylinders, and narrower rear pots. This is to aid cooling, but it also alters the profile of the bike, allowing the stylists the chance to make it look slimmer, and narrow the saddle where the rider sits too. Inside the 160bhp motor there is a single overhead cam, quite unusual and Honda’s first big bike SOHC motor since the old CB750 of 1976 was dropped.

The engine also has a sealed cankcase, which is a design touch taken from Honda’s motocross models. Sealing the crankcase allows designers to get around certain crankcase breathing issues – in theory, the pistons aren’t wasting as much energy simply pushing air around as they go up and down inside the motor.

With 90% of its torque developed by 4000rpm, the new VFR1200 should be a pleasant bike to ride on everyday roads, relaxing too. The bike is heavy at some 260Kgs dry, but should compete well in terms of handling and braking with machines like the FJR1300 or Haybusa 1300.

Six piston caliper, ABS braking, new ergonomic switchgear and LED style lighting add classy touches, to what will be one of the top contenders in the sports-touring class in 2010 we reckon.

More at; www.feelvfr.com

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