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SS1K on "New" VFR800

Mar 1, 2006
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Crockett, TX
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I used to be pretty active in the Ironbutt Association, but I took a break from the long trips after my kids were born. Last time I completed a SS1K was 15 years ago on an '04 Triumph Sprint ST. I left from Dallas and made a big loop around north and west Texas and primarily just stayed on the interstate for convenience. I know the math doesn't work quite right, but my body seems to be about 30 years older now, so I wasn't sure how this trip would turn out.

I recently acquired a new, old stock 2014 Honda VFR800 that had been sitting in a crate at a dealership in Tennessee for over 6 years. (Last year, I found a similar deal with a NOS 2014 Interceptor in Marshall, but it got crushed by a U-Haul truck in a parking lot shortly after I bought it.) I was looking for a "purely pavement" sport-tourer since I've primarily been riding adv bikes for the past 15ish years and I missed having a smaller and sportier bike in the garage. The VFR is a bit more "sporty" than the larger bikes I was browsing, but the price was too good to ignore. After sorting out the ergonomics to fit my ancient knees and back (Helibars and BLS peg lowering blocks,) I set off at 6am Tuesday morning from my house in Crockett with the rapidly brightening sky to my back. I had enough common sense to plan my loop with the sun at my back in the morning and evenings. Sometimes I impress myself with such details, then I notice my cattle usually do the same thing so I have to be happy with the fact I'm at least as smart as a cow.

My route would take me north and west to Abilene, then south through Uvalde to Corpus where I turned to go back north and east to College Station and then east to end at my original fuel stop near my home. I mostly kept to state highways and tried to avoid interstates as much as I could. Using a Valentine 1 Gen2 integrated with JBV1 and Waze on my phone helped me keep track of weather, speed traps and traffic along the way and the Sena bluetooth system in my Shoei kept me entertained and connected.

Other than the lowered pegs, raised clip-ons and new tires (the original OEM tires were hard as a rock after sitting in storage for so many years), the bike is a stock non-Deluxe model with the OEM quickshifter. I'm 6'4", 220lbs with a 36" inseam, so the bike is a bit cramped for me...at least compared to my other bikes. Overall, the ergos felt similar to my old '01 Honda Blackbird if my memory serves me right. But I still had no real discomfort during the 2-3 hours between fuel stops and a quick walk around the parking lot worked out the kinks in my rebuilt knees. A couple of ibuprofen at the last fuel stop kept the inevitable aches at bay. To be fair, I'm usually sore in the evenings regardless of what I do, so I can't blame the bike or the ride for that.

The bike performed flawlessly on the long slabs of highway. I ended up with 1015.4 miles in 17hrs and 32 minutes. Overall, I burned 29.3 gallons of gasoline for a final result of 34.6 miles per gallon. My moving average was 63.5 miles per hour since I stopped for a total of 92 minutes for fuel, food and water. Weather was in high 50s - low 70s for most of the trip and I rode through some light rain for a couple of hours. I dealt with wind all day long, but the bike was pretty stable even with strong crosswinds. The Conti Sport Attack tires that the dealer installed at purchase were fantastic in the wet. I'd never used these tires before, so I had no idea what to expect, but they gripped very well under heavy braking and in some of the twisty roads I chose in the hill country. I didn't push the bike very hard in the corners for reasons I'll explain later.

The engine and transmission really impressed me on this bike. Having never used a quickshifter before, I was excited to try it on the highway. So naturally, I constantly forgot it was installed. 40+ years of grabbing a clutch lever has burned that habit into my muscle memory. Still, the bike was happy to bang off the rev limiter or just sit in 6th gear at 75-80mph for hours at a time. The clutch is one of the best I've used in a quite a while and gear changes had just the right amount of "notchiness" for lack of a better term. Very positive mechanical feel as each cog slipped into place. My big BMW and Triumphs feel a bit sloppy in comparison, even if they work just as well. The front brake was very easy to modulate and has great feel at the limit. The rear brake was very grabby, but that may be to the lack of feel I get with my giant clown feet. I finally decided to just forget it was there most of the time unless I was sitting at a stop light/sign. I'll see about adjusting it a bit later.

The LED headlights on the VFR are easily the best I've ever had on a motorcycle. Incredibly bright with great throw on the high beam and very sharp cut-offs on both low and high. Riding Hwy 21 at night between Madisonville and Crockett can be stressful with all the deer and hogs just waiting to ambush oncoming vehicles, but I had a great view of both sides of the highway after the sun went down and never felt like I was outrunning the illumination.

However, I'll definitely need to address the suspension pretty quickly. It's far too softly sprung at both ends for a guy of my size and weight. On smooth highway, it's not an issue, but broken pavement really upsets the front end and tight roads overwhelm the shock and forks if I push it. I messed with the preload and rebound damping as much as the OEM bits would allow, but I'll start looking for upgrades later this week and see what I can find. Once I get that issue solved, the Interceptor will be pretty close to perfect for days when I don't feel like wrestling with the big bikes.

I know many people find these types of rides to be pretty boring, but I always find them to be satisfying and it was still better than sitting at home arguing with my cats. Plus, it was a good way to learn more about a new bike and give me an excuse to go shopping for parts.


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Jul 21, 2004
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Katy, TX
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Very nice bike review.