2010 Honda VFR1200F
The Ultimate road-sports motorcycle
The VFR1200F has been developed in
keeping with previous VFRs; that have delivered a
sports and touring capabilities using the latest technologies.
This motorcycle is, however, brand new.
A clean-sheet interpretation of the
ultimate road-sport machine – a concept driven
by extensive understanding of customer needs and the
adoption of state-of-the-art technologies.
In pursuit of heightened levels of
control and feedback, the VFR1200F adopts the latest
technologies but adapted and evolved to create a machine
that can be many things to many riders.
The harmonic growl of the flexible
and responsive V4 motor may rekindle the emotions
inspired by previous
iconic VFRs, but its unique ‘heartbeat’
engine feel and an unrivalled level of manageability
sets the new VFR
apart, not only from its predecessors - but also from
every bike currently available.
A truly international design team included
three Japanese members, one American and one European.
Guided by the infinitely experienced Kishi-san (CBR1100XX
Blackbird) and overseen by Hasegawasan,
the VFR1200F’s design team was not only culturally
varied but also spanned generations. Their collective
goal was to create a sports bike with longdistance
capabilities. To foster the right mindset the designers
imagined waking up to a perfect day and deciding,
impulsively, to ride 300km, effortlessly devouring
large stretches of highway before carving through
twisty canyon roads, just to enjoy lunch in a beautiful
location before riding home again.
The VFR1200F designers began sketching
their ideas in a remote hotel outside Rome. These
many forms and explored every possibility and rather
than refine these elements into one final design,
the team headed back to Tokyo with all their individual
On the VFR1200F project, designers
and engineers worked in parallel, discussing and perfecting
solutions as the clay model and sketches evolved.
European designer, Teofilo Plaza, described this six
month-long experience as one of the most intense and
passionate of his life. Once the basic design had
agreed, another many months of testing and development
lay ahead – a period in which designers and
engineers continued to work in unison.
The first V4 Concept model was unveiled
to a stunned audience at the Intermot show in October
2008. The radically styled show bike perfectly displayed
the free-thinking that had absorbed the design team
from day one of this revolutionary project.
Now, twelve months later, the VFR1200F
is ready for launch and whilst its V4 heritage may
obvious, the reality is that this machine far surpasses
anything that has gone before.
The designers were clear about one
subtle but important aspect of their task. This was
not to be a Japanese motorcycle designed as Europeans
would do it. It was to be a Japanese bike designed
in Europe, with two threads of Japanese culture running
through the design process.
The Japanese word ‘Ma’
has many meanings and no direct translation but in
essence it can be described as
‘the space between things’. By focusing
on the space around an object we can gain a new perspective
the overall form. The visible connects to the invisible
and gives it shape. It is perhaps easiest to understand
it in relation to music. If one thinks of the intrinsic
importance of a measure of silence or the pause between
movements in a classical symphony and the effect it
has on the performance overall if someone accidentally
applauds or disturbs that silence. That illustrates
the importance of ‘Ma’.
Like Ma, ‘Tsuya’ is not
a physical property. Rather, it describes the lust
one can have for an object, its charm, the way it
attracts and holds the eye. Focusing on tsuya bringsa
form to life, giving a new significance
to every line, curve and angle.
To a larger degree, pure function determined
the VFR1200F’s form. Mass centralisation, consummate
rider control and aerodynamic efficiency provided
the key underlying design criteria and from this starting
point the machine’s form evolved.
The remarkably narrow cylinder heads
and clever cylinder spacing allowed a very narrow
lowering the seat height thus making it easier for
the rider to place both feet flat on the ground at
This wasp-like waist also gives the
riderthe feeling of being ‘in’ the bike
rather than perched on top – crucial
for feedback and control. The fuel tank’s elegant
yet complicated contours have purpose as well as eyepleasing
aesthetics in mind. Its shape and form supports and
assists the rider to add extra elements of
control and heightened levels of feedback whatever
the riding situation. The ergonomically styled fairing
works in harmony with the fuel tank to provide extra
support and efficient weather protection for
the rider and pillion. Even the hand controls and
switchgear with their revised button positioning are
engineered to ergonomic advantage. The pillion’s
comfort and security have not been overlooked, either.
The supportive, vacuum-moulded dual-seat has a flat
and expansive area forthe pillion and strong, easyreach
grab handles and footrests positioned with comfort
and security in mind.
Layered Fairing technology
The patented layered fairing design
of the VFR1200F is a perfect match of form and function.
engineers worked together to create a uniquely beautiful
shape and, at the same time, optimal air flow
and heat management. The fairing design incorporates
two layers, which harnesses the benefits of flowing
to the machine’s dynamic and mechanical advantage.
This has two functions; air entering
between the layers and through two oval-shaped spaces
in the front of
the fairing is channelled in exactly the directions
needed to enhance the bike’s stability at higher
speeds. By effectively increasing the speed of the
air by channelling it through smaller apertures before
it reaches the radiators, engine cooling is optimised
and the hot, exhausted air is channelled away from
the rider and passenger for a cooler, more comfortable
The heat generated by the powerful,
enclosed V4 engine is also channelled away to keep
hot air away
from the rider.
A balance of positive and negative
surfaces gives the front of the motorcyclea light,
open look while also
creating a profile that slices through the wind with
the least possible resistance. A strongly defined
characterises the front of the machine. Concave surfaces
direct the eye and air up towards the windscreen,
which incorporates another airdirecting aperture at
its lower edge. Even the edges of the screen have
been crafted to enhance stability at speed. The powerful
single line-beam headlight is the same type used on
the CBR1000RR Fireblade. Its light streams into two
tinted LED-look strips that frame the sides of the
headlight, increasing the illusion of lightness and
A high attention to detail and quality
is evident everywhere, and every design element has
in tandem with engineering requirements.
The cowl and body are fused together,
creating one smooth, unified, aerodynamic surface.
The rear design
is compact and tapers upwards, emphasising the bike’s
lightness and dynamic shape. The tail-light and rear
indicators subtly mimic the frontal design.
New painting technologies, specially
developed at the hi-tech Kumamoto factory, have focused
on creating top-quality colouring with the most uniform
coverage. A deep clear-coat finish enhances the bodywork
colour, creating a luxurious, high-class shine far
above normal production standards.
The mirror-like surfaces create a sharp,
memorable profile that attracts attention even from
a distance. Three colour options were selected to
emphasise the highly-polished look, smooth texture
and unique shapes and layers of the bodywork. In 2010
the VFR1200F will make its debut in:
- Candy Prominence Red
- Seal Silver Metallic
- Pearl Sunbeam White
The VFR1200F engine was designed to provide its
rider with high speed, quick acceleration and a strong,
engaging feeling coming from the engine’s power
characteristics. Honda also wanted to deliver the
invigorating engine sound and feel that characterise
V4 sports bikes, but with an additional focus on comfortable,
responsive power delivery. The new V4 engine’s
performance is delivered where it’s most
useful and most enjoyable. Its linear torque curve
is focused in the low and mid range, making it possible
for the rider to simply roll on and off the throttle
while powering through bends. This effortless control
the bike great fun to ride – this is a sports
bike with realworld usable power.
There were several challenges involved in tailoring
the strong V4 power for use in an all-round machine
that can be used for weekend enjoyment, commuting
and long-distance touring. Key elements of the VFR1200F’s
power characteristics are its unrivalled response
and strong torque delivery. To allow full
enjoyment of the engine’s power while still
providing a high level of comfort, vibration needed
to be carefully
managed. A unique cylinder layout was developed for
this purpose. Instead of the traditional V4 cylinder
configuration, with the cylinders evenly spaced front-torear,
the VFR1200F adopts an ingenious solution in
order to centralise mass and at the same time achieve
a compact, space-saving solution. The rear cylinders
are placed side by side but close together, while
the front cylinders are more widely spaced. This layout
allows for a slim, compact ‘waist’ that
fits comfortably between the rider’s legs. It
also supports mass
centralisation, thus contributing to the bike’s
balanced feel and ease of control. With no right-left
imbalance, the need for a balancer is eliminated and
friction is reduced.
A new Phase-shift Crankshaft complements the advantages
of the cylinder layout. Operating with a 28° throw,
it effectively reduces primary vibration and noise,
eliminating the need for a power-sapping balance shaft.
The new V4 typically produces more than 90% of its
maximum torque (129Nm/8,750 rpm)
at 4,000rpm. To allow the rider to comfortably take
full advantage of this torque, delivery is smoothed
by four drivetrain dampers, which further eliminate
uncomfortable vibration and backlash.
The VFR1200F utilises the UNICAM single overhead
camshaft cylinder head design from the world-class
CRF motocrossers. The logic was straightforward: in
an environment where space, performance and weight
are at a premium, this technology was perfect for
a project where mass centralisation and ergonomics
were prime design criteria. Also borrowed from the
CRF range and the RC211V is the sealed crankcase system
that reduces the pumping loss created through piston
movement, and air density.
This system has never been used on a road machine
before but the gains for the rider are identical -
electrifying throttle response and improved fuel consumption.
New transmission layout and groundbreaking
shaft drive system
A compact new transmission layout contributes to
highspeed stability, better cornering and improved
capability. The highly developed shaft drive system
features an offset propeller shaft and a pivot that
expands vertically as well as a sliding constant velocity
joint that takes up any variations in length during
the rear wheel’s arc of travel. At the output
shaft a clutch damper absorbs backlash effectively.
Thanks to the rigidity of the pivot, stability is
improved and throttle-to-drive delivery is much more
A throttle-by-wire system improves the rider’s
connectivity with the VFR1200F. Providing light, precise
fuel metering at all engine parameters this highly
developed accuracy gives the rider increased levels
control, whatever the situation. It is another individual
aspect that adds to the heightened feelings of response
To aid control under intense deceleration a slipper
clutch is fitted, similar to the system on the CBR1000RR
Fireblade. Even under the most excessive downshifting
the clutch is designed to slip, thus preventing the
rear wheel from inadvertently locking up, allowing
the rider to stay firmly in control.
Unique exhaust and exhilarating sound
Engineers and designers alike focused not only on
the new engine’s power and delivery, but also
on its feel and sound. They chose a configuration
which would emulate the briskness of a typical inline-4
engine’s performance but deliver this with the
beat and feel that are pure V4. The exhaust layout
was made as
compact as possible with the assembly of catalysercontaining
exhaust pipes placed on one side of the sump and the
exhaust pipes of the rear cylinder bank placed on
the other side. On the bike’s right flank a
stylish triangular-shaped muffler highlights the styling
lines of the bodywork.The combined induction and exhaust
notes create a raw, compelling sound that is authentic
Honda V4 and distinguishes the VFR1200F
from any other motorcycle. At idle it pulses smoothly,
hinting at the engine’s huge performance potential.
Each twist of the throttle releases a burst of instant
V4 aggression that becomes a thrilling howl as it
quickly through the revs.The sound and beat of this
engine contribute to the unique character of this
sports bike and are as essential to the design as
the bodywork or riding position.
A key element in the raw emotion of this V4’s
sound is the exhaust system. Engineered to provide
cornering clearance and minimal intrusion to the rider’s
and pillion’s feet, the high-volume, twin outlet
highchrome muffler produces an unobtrusive but fantastically
stirring note. At low revs the noise is offbeat
and bass-rich. Further up the rev range, once the
servo-operated valve is opened, the noise changes
to a truly inspiring, hard-edged V4 howl to stir the
The VFR1200F frame, suspension and drive components
are brought together in a unique configuration that
facilitates both sports bike power and smooth stability.
Its strong aluminium twin-spar diamond configuration
frame is both lightweight and rigid. The swingarm
and driveshaft length are optimised without extending
the overall length of the motorcycle.The long swingarm
contributes to balanced, confident manoeuvring and
exceptional highspeed stability.
The swingarm is complemented by a compliant Pro-
Link rear shock absorber with adjustable rebound
damping. At the front, sturdy 43mm telescopic forks
with adjustable preload provide smooth and assured
control. Together, these systems ensure a comfortable
ride, even with a pillion and luggage on board, and
add to the overall feeling of total control.
The VFR1200F is equipped with the most highly developed
brake technology for all-round sports bike use. Powerful
new six-piston callipers for the front and two piston
callipers for the rear act on large discs (320mm at
the front and 276mm at the rear).A Combined Braking
System creates the optimal balance of front and rear
The addition of a standard-fit compact and lightweight
ABS supports both the motorcycle’s sports riding
potential and its touring proficiency.
Standard equipment - Instrument panel
The VFR1200F instrument panel combines sophisticated
styling and practicality. Shielded by the tilt of
the aerodynamic windscreen, its elegant design fully
complements the airy and spacious feel at the front.
It also adds to the sensation of total rider control.
A large, sporty analogue rev counter and a digital
speedometer are surrounded by LCD readouts of the
fuel, coolant temperature levels and fuel consumption.
The display also includes a clock, ambient temperature
display, HISS indicator and ABS indicator.
To enhance the touring potential of the new sports
bike, the rear is equipped with integrated luggage
mounts. These mounting points are unobtrusively cast
into the injection moulded under-seat area and pillion
footrest mounts. They allow easy installation and
removal of specially designed optional panniers without
interrupting the motorcycle’s clean styling.
Ergonomic hand controls
The VFR1200F is the first motorcycle to feature
state-ofthe- art ergonomic revisions to the handlebar
switch layout. The designers looked at the time required
to reach controls comfortably and the ease of
operation, particularly considering the hand position
during cornering. As a result,the VFR1200F has new
handlebar switches and a new layout with reversed
horn and indicator controls. The indicator switch
is designed around natural thumb movement for effortless
A wide range of optional equipment has been developed
by Honda Genuine Accessories specifically for the
VFR1200F. These accessories were designed in line
with the new all-round sports bike concept and in
every detail, from the choice of materials to integration
with the bike’s contours, they complement its
and performance. They include:
- A 35-litre pannier kit that fits the bike’s
integral pannier attachments with no need for any
conventional pannier stays. Operated with the motorcycle
key, the panniers are aerodynamically
shaped and coloured to match the motorcycle’s
bodywork. The left pannier can hold one full-face
- A sleekly designed 31-litre top box featuring
a locking, quick-detach mounting system and a lid
matches the motorcycle’s bodywork. The top
box can hold a full-face helmet as well as other
- Tough nylon inner bags for the top box and panniers.
Light grey with a Honda Wing logo, they come with
carrying straps and handles. As an extra convenience
feature, the pannier inner bags can be zipped together
for easy carrying.
- A 13-litre tank bag with a preset for easy installation.
- A luxurious Alcantara seat for extra comfort
- A sporty 3-position adjustable add-on screen
that integrates perfectly with the standard windscreen
extend wind protection for taller riders.
- A replacement lower seat with a narrow profile
which provides easier reach to the ground for shorter
riders while maintaining the bike’s carefully
- A pair of slim heated grips with an integrated
controller for maximum comfort and compact design
- A motorcycle navigation kit with a unique controller
that allows operation without removing hands from
the handlebars. An earphone and car kit are included
and Honda dealers are included in the POI list.
Honda and V4 – building a legend It has been
over three decades since we marked our return to Grand
Prix competition by developing the first Honda engine
with a V4 four-stroke configuration. In the intervening
time the V4 formula has been tempered in the fires
of competition and honed for more power and better
delivery. The NR500, RC30, RVF400, NR750, RC45, VFR750
and RC212V are just some of the milestones that mark
the V4 story.
The VFR – Sport Touring Trailblazer
The VFR lineage reaches back to the track-dominating
RS and RVF750, but the first use of a V4 engine in
a road bike was the pioneering VF750. Unveiled in
1982, it combined smooth, effortless performance with
a practical, easy-maintenance design. The first VFR750
was launched in 1986 and immediately became
the standard by which every all-round sports motorcycle
was judged. With a restrained and sophisticated body
concealing the finest technology and equipment, it
was developed to be instantly ‘right’
for every rider. It was a comfortable and flexible
Sport Tourer, with the emphasis placed firmly on ‘Sport’.
Since then, Honda has treated the VFR as its flagship
for new road-going technologies, which are often
developed and tested first in the laboratory of MotoGP.
The VFR800 made its debut in 1998. Based around
the engine from the RC45 it stayed true to the concept
of taking lessons learned on the racetrack and finetuning
them for road use. In 2002 it received an upgraded
fuel injection system, revolutionary new VTEC valve
control system and revised brake systems including
optional ABS. Subsequent updates have revised the
power delivery and upgraded the bike’s consistently
contemporary styling. The racetrack is still the source
and test environment for its technologies, while its
all-round usability and ample smoothly delivered power
have continued to lead its class.