Universally considered one of Honda’s most illustrious race-bred sportbikes, the Interceptor is also arguably one of the best all-round streetbikes ever made and the review that you are about to read is going to prove it.
The Interceptor continues its reign at the forefront of sport touring. Featuring a fuel-injected, VTEC-equipped V-4 aluminum chassis, comfortable, all-day ergos and an all-new color scheme for 2008, this is a machine, though born at the track, whose razor-sharp performance is equally at home on any paved surface. It will also surely satisfy your commuting necessities and it will blend perfectly with a sportier riding style. That is why it was created for in the first place.
Most motorcycles with a powerful racing history ended up being produced for the masses after new regulations determined their creation in the first place. You will notice that this is also the case with the Interceptor after looking back to 1983, when the famous AMA changed its displacement limits for fours to 750 cc and 1000cc for twins. This is how the GPZ750 and the G750E and most important, the Interceptor, were introduced. The Interceptor was initially introduced just to homologate the bike for racing but it quickly became a winner as it was a radical departure from then current technology, borne from early design exercises which also created the infamous NS bikes. Honda firmly believed in the 90 degree V-four, with its unique power delivery and narrow frontal area. The streets had already seen the V45 Magna and the track had been dominated by the legendary FWS1000 the year before. The Interceptor hit the streets as a unique replica of that same racer. What did I tell you?
Signifying the machine of new beginnings, it had the privilege of being the first to have a 16 inch front rim. Also, stout 39mm fork tubes rose to a new steel frame painted in the color of aluminum. The engine was taken right out the Magna but the direction of rotation was reversed in order for the engine to rotate in the same direction as the wheels. The 86 hp were delivered through a five speed gearbox which was updated at the time and the final drive featured now chain. The aggressive sportbike look was given by the short bars, a boldy style nose fairing mounted on the frame and a chin dam. Being very innovative and enjoyable to ride, the Interceptor became known as the street bike of the time.
The year 1984 doesn’t bring major changes until the ITC tariff of the bikes 750cc and over determined the production of the VF700F2 Interceptor. It was a limited addition which could be bought for and additional $800. The cylinder capacity was reduced by reducing the engine’s stroke from 48.6mm to 45.4mm. This required the lengthening to the connecting rods and the bike lost almost 10hp. A tooth was removed from the countershaft sprocket to compensate the change but the bike still remained the greatest product available at the time.
Insurance companies noticed the sportbike wars, and when the 1986 VFR750/VF700 was released, the bike was no longer called the Interceptor.
The VFR series was derived from the earlier VF motorcycle, a street bike which practically introduced the V-type four-cylinder engine design at Hondas. Having all the necessary qualities for a guaranteed success, great looks, excellent power with minimal vibration and relaxed riding position, Honda decided to start producing the VF, a very important root of the VFR. The earliest VF series engine was designed the V45 for its size (748 cc), was very narrow being only 16 inches (406 mm) wide, and had perfect primary balance making for a smooth, vibration-free engine. A smaller V30 (500 cc) engine and a larger V65 (1100 cc) engine were also available, the latter being known as the fastest production bike in its time which generated the birth of the V-max.
Being a new engine type, Honda’s engineers of the time had, in 1982 (the first year of the VF models), reliability problems due to new automated production equipment at Honda’s plant. In 1983 the engine was revised to correct the problems from the previous model year, and saw the introduction of the V65 and the Interceptor. The joy didn’t last long because in 1984 appeared the infamous cam problem surfaced, which led to eight cam revisions over the course of one year. As you expected, the problem was fixed later on but the cam chain was later dropped from the VFR in favor of gear driven cams, to help distance the VFR from the reputation of VF engines for premature cam wear. Honda was to revert to chain-driven cams for 2002 and later VFR engine designs, as the problem was forgotten.
After its debut in 1986 as the advanced, aluminum-framed VFR750F Super Sport, it derived in1989 into Honda VFR750R (RC30) which was the successful racing version, replaced later by the RC54.
1998 is the VFR year. The bike was completely redesigned and the new VFR debuted as a distinct new generation of the long-popular VFR750F. The all-new aerodynamic fairing featured reduced coefficient of drag and enhanced wind protection while the new 781 cc, fuel-injected V4 engine was based on the engine powering the race-oriented RVF/RC45, with swingarm pivots molded into rear of cases. Also characteristic for this year is the PGM-FI fuel injection system based on the RVF/RC45 Superbike and the side-mounted radiators which easily distinguishes a VFR from other motorcycles.
In 2002 Honda released the VTEC version, which dropped the gear driven cams. The V4-VTEC engine produces both stronger 2-valve low-to-mid range torque and the raging 4-valve top-end for a fuller, more user-friendly balance of performance. Above 6,800 rpm, the VTEC valves kick in, and four valves per cylinder start to operate instead of two valves per cylinder below 6,800 rpm which results in greater fuel economy and lower emissions. Initially, the transition created a jolt which could be very unsetting if it happened mid-corner but the problem was later solved and now the transition is smoother. 2002 is also the year when the first VFR ABS entered the scene.
As you can see, great projects are never abandoned and a second proof is the fact that Honda still produces this motorcycle which seems to return to its roots as it is called again the Interceptor.
It is a real challenge to find the adequate competitor for the Interceptor because this motorcycle features virtually everything a rider could desire and more: full fairing, V-four engine developing an immense amount of power and torque and there is more. Comfort is no stranger to this motorcycle and long rides neither as it proves being cheap to ride even when it boasts that great amount of power after the VTEC kicks in at 6800rpm.
In my attempt of naming a sport-touring motorcycle with the qualities close to the Interceptors I figured that Yamaha FZ1 would be very appropriate as it features the engine found on the R1 adapted for sport-touring performance comparable to the one encountered on the subject of this review.
I won’t exaggerate and name a veritable naked as Kawasaki Z1000 because it will mean that I’m starting to lose track and concentrate only on power and it is well worth mentioning that this sport-tourer is in a class of its own and it suits him perfectly.
Honda had made so much progress that until other manufacturers noticed the opportunity and start developing an opponent for the great success, it was already too late and all projects gathered dust.
The aggressive lines of the Honda Interceptor make a statement of the bike’s capabilities and they are never wrong. The aerodynamic fairing has the task of improving the air flow on the bike’s bodywork and together with the windshield, the air is perfectly directed above the rider’s head.
The initial idea was to forget smooth lines and for the bike to feature sharp-looking lines and defined geometrical shapes. The first that comes in my mind can be easily detected if you take a first look on the bike’s exterior which is defined by the triangular shaped holes in the side fairing revealing the side radiators.
Everything is very well designed and has a determined purpose even if that means reducing drag or beautifully dressing the signal lights in style. It usually means both things.
The Interceptor was also provided with folding aerodynamic mirrors and redesigned fuel tank which is very well defined with the help of the seat, a key element between the fuel tank and rear end of the motorcycle.
For 2008, this tourer is available in a very appropriate metallic silver paintjob with the purpose of showing up the bike’s aerodynamic lines even more.
Over the years, the Interceptor kept the basic architecture of the 781cc, V4 engine unchanged but we all know that big things are accomplished with small things and there is plenty to discuss there.
The adding of the VTEC system in 2002 brought a bit of weight but the engine now has some significant power reserves once you hit 6800rpm. The idea is to determine how much do you really want to push it as the power gain is influenced by the gear utilized at the time you reach the certain rpm level.
I found that gearing is juggled on the new Honda and that the final drive is lower courtesy of a one-tooth-smaller countershaft sprocket, but the internal transmission ratios were influenced too. Situated on a stop sign, I wanted to see how the bike accelerates from a complete stop. I noticed that the first two gears ended up being lower and that helped a lot in the given situation. The rhythm is not kept for the higher gears as they are wider and allow a more relaxed touring riding on mostly any kind or situations but you shouldn’t believe that the Interceptor is getting old and it becomes a boring cruiser. No way! You can play with the gears and with the rpm range in order to obtain a sportier behavior and a big smile on your face.
Honda’s Multi-Action System cartridge fork touches more rebound damping and that can only mean that good things are rolling out the production lines. The rear shock also received a bit more compression damping and more rebound. The result is touring in complete comfort with the ability of strongly pushing the bike through any gears in complete comfort.
I especially liked how the bike started in the morning but a few seconds later the question was if it is even started. The clean running engine manages to be as quiet as possible at idle and that says a lot on where the bike’s heading.
Ergonomics remained the same and this was one of the things that made me fall in love with the Interceptor. Of course, they wouldn’t of made the ride so enjoyable without the wind protection given by the windscreen and fairing. That attracted me I the first place, made me desire to never leave this bike again.
It is a real honor to ride the Interceptor in the city as it always makes sure that you dispatch traffic with its shorter first and second gears. Also, the bike handles like a dream and allows its rider to make slalom now and then when rushing towards his destination.
The linked braking system makes life easier for the rider and it gives more confidence in the bike’s braking abilities. I noticed that the system first seems a little weak but it then enters into its second stage which can bring you to a quick complete stop if necessary.
Out on the highway, the VTEC seems a little bothered by the bike’s taller gearing but power gains are still obtained. I personally didn’t prefer the sixth gear because I loved playing with the VTEC and different combinations of gear and rpm until I was totally satisfied with the bike’s performance.
Due to its chassis and suspension system, the Honda Interceptor is more stable than it has ever been so higher speeds won’t put any problem whatsoever. Aggressive cornering moves and rough pavement are handled with nary a whimper, with decent ground clearance keeping hard parts off the deck. I must mention that if you prefer really aggressive cornering the centerstand and collector pipes will more likely hit the pavement than do their jobs so you should probably consider a CBR.
Overall I consider the Interceptor a great, reliable sport-touring motorcycle with an excellent powerband, handling and comfort. While the VTEC’s improvements to engine’s performance aren’t outstanding, the Interceptor manages to rely on it to bring a plus of power when needed and after all that is what the system is all about. It is good to know it does its job, though.
Your riding abilities will really be appreciated on the new Interceptor which, although comfortable and permissive, demands some riding skills. But for your qualities to be valued the 2008 Interceptor has to become the next two-wheeler in your garage and that my friend is only done after paying the retail price of $10,799. You will also have the opportunity to qualify for a one-year complimentary membership in the Honda Rider’s Club of America.
The 2008 Honda Interceptor announces to be a great success and there is no doubt about that. With power one twist of the throttle away and stability only encountered on a Honda, this motorcycle demands you to go as fast as you fell like. That is if you don’t fell like enjoying the view while gently touching the right side of the handlebar and worship the bike’s true touring abilities.
Engine and Transmission
Type: liquid-cooled 90-degree V4
Bore x Stroke: 72mm x 48mm
Compression Ratio: 11.6:1
Valve Train: VTEC DOHC; four valves per cylinder
Carburetion: Programmed Fuel Injection [PGM-FI] with automatic enricher circuit
Ignition: Computer-controlled digital with three-dimensional mapping and electronic advice
Transmission: close-ratio six-speed
Final Drive: #530 0-ring-sealed chain
Chassis and Dimensions
Front Suspension: 43mm HMAS cartridge fork with spring-preload adjustability; 4.3-inch travel
Rear Suspension: Pro Arm single-side swingarm with Pro-Link single HMAS gas-charged shock with seven-position spring-preload and rebound-damping adjustability; 4.7-inch travel
Front Brakes: Dual full-floating 296mm disc with LBS three-piston calipers
Rear Brakes: Single 256mm disc with LBS three-piston caliper
Front Tire: 120/70ZR-17 radial
Rear Tire: 180/55ZR-17 radial
Rake: 25.3 degree
Trail: 100.0mm (3.9 inches)
Wheelbase: 57.4 inches
Seat Height: 31.7 inches
Curb Weight: 540 lbs (Includes all standard equipment, required fluids and a full tank of fuel-ready to ride)
Fuel Capacity: 5.8 gallons, including 0.8-gallon reserve
Emissions: Meets 2008 CARB emission standards.
Available Colors: Metallic Silver
Model ID: VFR800
New for 2008
-New metallic silver color
-Revolutionary VTEC combines the power characteristics of both two- and four-valve cylinder-head designs. The engine runs on two valves per cylinder below 6400 rpm then switches to four valves per cylinder to deliver significantly stronger low-end and mid-range torque, while maintaining the Interceptor’s impressive high-rpm power delivery.
Programmed fuel injection (PGM-FI)
Unique Pro Arm Rear Suspension
Pro-Link Rear Suspension
Unique NR-style center-up exhaust system incorporates two stainless steel mufflers tucked beneath the Interceptor’s tail section
Large-diameter 43mm Honda Multi-Action System (HMAS) cartridge front fork provides enhanced handling under all riding conditions
Linked Braking System (LBS)
Four brilliant multi-reflector headlights employ two centrally positioned H4 low/high beams positioned under two widely spaced H7 high beams for brilliant nighttime illumination
-Compact 781cc DOHC 90-degree V-4 with and oversquare bore and stroke of 72mm x 48mm.
Silent-type cam-chain drive eliminates mechanical gear noise. The system features a set of dual tensioners that maintain optimal pressure and lubrication for the camshaft chains, ensuring quiet operation and long life.
Programmed fuel infection (PGM-FI)
Iridium-tip spark plugs are ignited by compact high-energy coil-on-plug spark plug caps that produce a strong, high-voltage spark.
Interceptor engine serves as a stressed member of the pivotless frame, which features specially designed engine mounting bolts tuned to work in harmony with the damping characteristics of the frame.
Aluminum-composite cylinder sleeves are high-pressure-formed from sintered-aluminum powder impregnated with ceramic and graphite. The composite sleeves provide better wear resistance and superior heat dissipation than conventional sleeves.
Cast-aluminum pistons feature LUB-Coat solid lubricant to minimize friction between piston and cylinder wall.
Auto-enriching system is integrated into PGM-FI module, which optimizes the air/fuel mixture on cold starts and eliminates the need for a manual choke.
Solenoid-operated dual air-intake duct design keeps one duct closed during low-speed operation to ensure optimal control of air-intake velocity.
Dual-side mounted radiators maximize cooling efficiency using low-air-pressure areas created by side cowls to draw cooling air through the radiators. During low-speed operation, a thermostat-controlled left-side fan pulls cooling air across the radiator into the fairing to keep hot air away from the rider.
Rugged 125mm-diameter eight-plate clutch offers light weight and high load capacity.
Clutch features an offset outside friction plate for quiet operation when starting from a stop.
Exceptionally smooth-shifting six-speed transmission.
Three-phase coil-spring damper in the transmission provides for seamless upshifts.
-Triple-box-section twin-spar aluminum frame features a tuned, pivotless design that isolates the engine-mounted swingarm from the frame and contributes to handling comfort.
Unique Pro Arm Rear Suspension.
Pro-Link Rear Suspension.
Linked Braking System (LBS)
The Interceptor’s 196mm floating front-brake discs feature a lightweight seven-spoke inner rotor design.
U-section cast-aluminum wheels are light and reduce unsprung weight.
The six-spoke, 3.5-inch-wide front wheel carries a 120/70R-17 radial tire. The five-spoke, 5.5-inch rear wheel sports a wide, low-profile 180/55ZR-17 radial tire.
-5.8-gallon fuel capacity for excellent sport-touring range.
The Interceptor’s sleek, aerodynamic bodywork is functional and beautiful.
Satin-finish treatment on muffler covers and exhaust heat shield for distinctive styling.
Stylish silver finish on clutch and brake master cylinders.
Clear turn-signal lenses front and rear provide a high-tech look.
Air flowing through the windscreen’s central air vent provides cool air to the rider at low speeds and increases rider comfort at higher speeds.
High-tech instrument display includes electronic tachometer, LCD readouts for speedometer, air temperature, coolant temperature, odometer, two tripmeters and clock.
AGG output of 497 watts.
Detachable seat provides storage for the U-lock and other necessities.
Removable passenger seat cowl.
Adjustable brake and clutch levers.
Injection-molded nylon passenger grabrails are comfortable to the touch in cold or hot weather.
Folding aerodynamic mirrors.
Transferable one-year, unlimited-mileage limited warranty, extended coverage available with a Honda Protection Plan.
Purchase of a new, previously unregistered Honda USA-certified unit by an individual retail user in the United States qualifies the owner for a one-year complimentary membership in the Honda Rider’s Club of America (HRCA)
Available Honda Genuine Accessories
-Touring Accessories: Color-Matched Hard Saddlebags, Sport Touring Trunk, Saddlebags Liner Set, Trunk Liner.
Honda Interceptor ABS
Apart from the Interceptor that I presented to you in this review, 2008 also brings the Anti-Lock Braking System (ABS) model. The bike is introduced with the same specifications and features found on the usual Interceptor and not even color manages to separate the one from another so the only difference will consist in the way the ABS model performs while strongly hitting the brakes.
It is also well worth mentioning that the second version of this tourer will determine you to deep deeper in you pockets as it costs with $1000 more that the ABS-free machine. The only problem for you remaining is which one to chose.