16YM VFR1200X Crosstourer

16YM VFR1200X Crosstourer

Honda ushered in the new year with the US web release of the 2016 VFR1200X, as it is known there, and Crosstourer for the rest of us. While the VFR1200X is not a new model per se, it receives a host of mid-model updates and improvements to put it head-to-head with the giant in the adventure touring segment, the BMW Motorrad R1200 GS.

The 1,237cc V4 engine, the culmination of 30 years of Honda technology, has redesigned cams to provide torque lower down the rev range. Horsepower has been detuned to 129 hp at 7,750 rpm and 126 Nm of torque at 6,500 rpm from the 170 hp at 10,000 rpm and 129 Nm torque at 8,750 rpm of the VFR1200F engine from which it is derived.

This is more in keeping with the steadier, mile-munching pace of a dual-purpose bike like the VFR1200X, where the journey has slightly more importance than the destination. The 78 degree angle between cylinder banks, and a crankshaft with 28 degree offset between crankpins, reduces vibration to the extent that a balancer shaft is unnecessary. Fuelling is with 44 mm throttle bodies that are ride-by-wire.

There are two gearbox options – a standard six-speed and Honda’s automatic Dual Clutch Transmission (DCT) with bar-operated buttons. DCT offers the rider three modes, ‘MT’ gives the rider full control to select gears, while ‘D’ gives better fuel consumption and ‘S’ lets the revs build up a little before selecting the next cog up. For riders who prefer changing gears with their foot instead of pressing buttons on the handlebar, a foot-shifter is available.

To aid control, Honda’s Selectable Torque Control system (HSTC) lets the rider choose between three engine torque delivery modes, depending on available ground traction, or switching the system off – useful in certain off-road conditions such as heavy snow or sand. The drive goes through a fully-enclosed shaft, suited for a motorcycle designed to travel long distances across the world, and endure variable conditions.

Suspension duties are controlled by a 43mm USD fork by KYB, adjustable for spring pre-load and rebound, while Honda’s Pro-Link suspension takes care of the rear, mated to a KYB shock that does not require tools to adjust the pre-load. This makes it easy to set the suspension on the VFR1200X for varying loads.

The single-sided swingarm lets the rear wheel be removed without fuss. Dual 310 mm discs grabbed by six-pot Nissin calipers in front should make for sure stops, especially with a bike that weighs 275 kg, 285 if DCT is installed. A 276 mm disc does duties at the back, and ABS is standard. Wheels are 19-inch front and 17-inch rear, wearing 110/80R19 and 150/70R17 rubber, in keeping with general dual-purpose design ethos. Fuel capacity is 21.5 litres.

Seat height on the VFR1200X is 850 mm, and a lower seat option is available, dropping seat height by 20 mm. A full range of touring accessories is available from Honda, including panniers, heated grips, taller windscreen and LED fog lights, among others.

16YM VFR1200X Crosstourer

16YM VFR1200X Crosstourer

The base VFR1200X retailed for AUD17,499 (RM55,000) in 2015, with no word on 2016 prices as yet. Other models in Honda’s ‘X’ range are the VFR800X, NC700X and CB500X.

Dual-purpose and adventure motorcycles are popular here, in part due to their upright seating position, comfort, and ability to cover large distances without fuss or worry. It remains to be seen whether the VFR1200X will be able to wrest the adventure touring crown away from the BMW R1200 GS.