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Honda VFR1200X Crosstourer
Off road style, on road comfort
This latest offering may seem just one more off-road styled street bike, but is actually a great surprise.


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13.06.2012 - The 1200 V4 powertrain works really well and it brings a new and tempting dimension namely V4 performance with a choice of manual or sophisticated automatic transmission. A mode for every situation Three modes of operation are available to suit different riding styles and situations. MT mode gives full manual control, allowing the rider to shift gears with the handlebar trigger control buttons. The automatic D mode is ideal for city and motorway riding, and maintaining fuel efficiency. In sporty S mode the transmission lets the engine rev a little higher before shifting up, giving greater performance, and also shifts down sooner when decelerating. The Dual Clutch Transmission, as the name implies, uses two clutches: one for start-up and 1st, 3rd and 5th gears; another for 2nd, 4th and 6th. By pre-selecting the next gear using the clutch not currently in use, the system can electronically switch clutches when required, to deliver swift and smooth gear changes. The Engine The 1237cc, four stroke, liquid-cooled, DOHC power unit churns out 127bh. However, whilst the engine may be basically the same as the VFR1200, there are some fairly crucial tweaks and modifications. Softer camshaft profiling and the restriction of both the intake and exhaust provide vast amounts of torque into the lower ends of the rev range. The stainless steel header pipes are 10mm smaller in diameter than the VFR1200s, at 28mm ID, and the L-shaped intake trumpets are 40mm longer and have a 4mm smaller diameter. These breathing restrictions, along with altered cam timing and ECU modifications to the fuelling, make a massive difference to the engines feel and behaviour. The results are impressive: the pull from tickover is now instant. Other changes include a longer travel suspension and a 21.5 litre fuel tank. The console is all-new and bristling with information: a large central digital speedometer, fuel and engine temperature gauges; a bar type tachometer, odometer, twin trips, both actual and average fuel consumption, gear indicator and clock. In fact, virtually everywhere you look on the Crosstourer theres quality, sophistication and pleasing attention to detail. The fly-by-wire throttle is excellent -the two wheel speed sensors create a remarkably simple and effective traction control system. It senses when theres a 25 per cent discrepancy between front and rear wheel speeds and, first, shuts the throttle butterfly accordingly and then limits the fuel injection if necessary. Theres a slipper clutch, plus Hondas unique Combined ABS brake system, spreading braking forces between front and rear wheels, and incorporating one of the most sophisticated anti-lock braking systems currently available. The seat height, at 850mm, means you can get your feet firmly on the floor, the engine has that pleasing V4, rumbly drone and the bike is available in four gorgeous colour sets: silver, white, black and red. What is it like to ride? On long, fast straights the Crosstourer is impressively planted, steady and predictable. However, whilst the massive luggage potential is a bonus, it does mean that at speeds above 160kmph it can feel like it wants to weave or shimmy. For this reason the top speed is electronically limited to 210kmph, not a bad thing you could say. However, the effect of the luggage is less noticeable on back roads, and the longer travel suspension smoothes out bad road surfaces and potholes; perfect for island cruising. The wonderfully upright riding position is great for forward vision and the seat is a revelation. Where the VFR1200 tips you forward onto your perineum, the Crossrunner places you firmly on the extremely comfortable seat base. The view in the mirrors is completely free and the footrests are much further forward, all making for a relaxing and secure ride. Only on extremely bendy roads does the bike start to feel a little top heavy and a vague-front end isnt helped by dull Bridgestone Battle Wing tyres and slightly bouncy, basic forks. Some people may feel the bike is too heavy all round at 265kgs, but in practice, particularly doing slow U-turns and pottering around slowly, it certainly doesnt feel it. And that massive low-down torque really does change the way you ride; its effortless and smooth. Peak revs is at 9,500rpm so each gear gets a wide spectrum of usability, especially as the power is still strong in the mid and upper reaches of the rev range. Dont be fooled by its look though, this bike is definitely not an off-roader. But the Crosstourer does handle well and is ridiculously comfy. It may not be a bargain at around 16,000, but its high standard makes the cost seem more than fair in comparison with its rivals.



Gallery: Off road style, on road comfort
 
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