Know much about Honda’s V-4, shaft-drive Adventure bike? No? Well you’re not alone. It’s an unintended secret and Honda wishes someone would let the cat out of the bag. Of course you probably know about the CRF1000L Africa Twin, but you should also know about Honda’s other long legged adventure touring bike. And that’s just the problem with the fantastic VFR1200X. It’s not meant to be a secret. Since its U.S. introduction in spring of 2016 the Honda VFR1200X has suffered in relative anonymity as it stands in the shadow of its more celebrated sibling, the Africa Twin. Unfortunately for the Crosstourer, as it’s known in other parts of the world, the North American debut happened in conjunction with CRF1000L. That meant few adventure riders noticed. But we noticed. Following our initial riding impression, we said it has “more overall character when compared to the inline-four engines used by its competitors” and “Honda’s V-4 engine… is reason enough to be excited the bike is finally stateside.”
We liked the bike so much we couldn’t resist adding the VFR1200X to our long-term pool and just had to share the secret. There is already one DCT Honda (an Africa Twin) in our long-term stable so we’ve chosen a manual-shift VFR.
Our X’s MSRP is $15,999 and is equipped with a liquid-cooled 1237cc V-4 engine with a claimed overall weight of 608 lbs. Standard three-level traction control and full-time ABS. Just a single color was offered in 2016: black. In 2017 Honda again offered a single color, Candy Red. That’s okay because we like the red.
As luck would have it our VFR arrived just in time for the Quail Motorcycle Gathering in Carmel Valley, California. Riding to Carmel Valley is one of the best weekend destinations for two-wheel travelers from just about any direction. For us heading up from LA, there are miles and miles of great roads limited only by the amount of time you have to get there. The 1200X makes route planning a fun challenge. The bike is so flexible, capable, and comfortable, seemingly every road is a good option. That’s a very good problem to have. It will shred smooth, fresh blacktop or vacant and neglected back roads or cruise effortlessly through the sometimes necessary freeway-drone. No matter what, it effortlessly clicks off chunks of miles. The smooth, torquey motor pulls well all the way to its 9,000 rpm redline, which combined with a nearly vibration-free chassis makes this a great bike to travel on. Adding to its travel chops are the 5.68 gallon fuel tank, which at our recorded 37 mpg mean we get 210 mile range between fuel stops. The seat sits at 33.5 inches and the windscreen has three set adjustment positions. We plan to mount a full set of Honda accessory panniers soon. But in the meanwhile, loading the bike using soft bags has been easy thanks to the large luggage rack and plenty of places to attach straps, etc.
About the only initial complaint/comment is that first gear is quite short and the jump to second is fairly wide. The short first gear is great when crawling along in dodgy conditions are starting out on a steep hill, but on really tight asphalt roads you’re stuck lugging it in second.
It’s been just over a month, and already over 3000 miles, since getting our hands on the keys. During that time the “X” has taken us to El Mirage Dry Lake to watch Lee Munro gain time trial experience before attempting to set a land speed record to honor his famous Indian-riding great uncle, Burt. It’s taken us into the High Sierras for the High Pipe Motorcycle Festival for a mix uncrowded mountain twisties and scenic dirt roads.
Still in the honeymoon stage and we are really racking up the miles. If the first month is any indication, we expect this trend to continue. And while it’s true we’re not good at keeping a secret. Don’t expect us to be easy to find. Unless of course you’re searching desolate back roads.
|Average Fuel||37 mpg|
|Price as tested||$15,599|