We’re all familiar with the rush that supersport motorcycles provide, but also wish we could ride more withought the fatique that comes as standard. Honda’s response to the demands of adrenaline and comfort takes the name Interceptor and concludes in simply the most versatile all around motorcycle powered by a racing-derived V-Four VTEC engine.
Despite speculations conforming which the new Honda VFR will feature a V5 engine, the 2008 Intermot show in Cologne has to prove the motorcycle press wrong.
Instead of being fully upgraded as a 2009 model year, the bike still features the VTEC V4 engine, the only important addition being the C-ABS system, but only as an option. Also, the White paint scheme now available on the European version and the Black on the North American one further enhance the awesome VFR design and that’s pretty much all that this bike brings new on the scene.
But you should never doubt the performance of a VFR engine. The V4 – VTEC with electronic fuel injection, which distributes power in two different stages by implementing an ingenious valve opening system, is both a great power source and an economical engine depending on the riding preferences of each rider. Maximum horsepower is 108 at 10,500 rpm and torque, 59 ft.lb at 8,750 rpm.
The engine is positioned on a nimble double – beam aluminum frame ensuring that the handling abilities would stay true to the VFR name.
Most likely Honda hasn’t made that big V5 step yet because other middleweight sport-touring models are only powered by two-cylinder engines and the best example in that concern is the BMW F 800 S. That is simply a naked bike with slightly upgraded looks and wind protection which relies on an 85 hp parallel twin engine, versatile chassis and on comfy ergonomics in order to make a good impression in comparison with the long present Honda model.
We reckon the BMW F 800 S isn’t quite the bike for the job and in this case, the heavy artillery is yet another half-faired model (yes, I know) and it is produced in Japan. The Yamaha FZ1 at least features four cylinders if not a full fairing and the displacement positions it far from the middleweight category (998cc). With an engine derived from the YZF-R1 model, there is plenty to expect from the fuel-injected inline four, including to outdo the Interceptor on every straight portion of road that is encountered.
It is hard to get across a bike that was created for this battle and that is mostly because Honda gets its own recipe for an undisputable success. That means sport bike looks and touring velleities unmatched by no manufacturer except one. Triumph! A must to refer to is the 2009 Sprint ST model and one that is, basically, the Brits interpretation of the idea behind the Interceptor. Like you probably already know, the engine behind Sprint ST’s beautiful fairing is a liquid-cooled, DOHC, inline, three-cylinder unit. Triumph compensates the “lack” of one cylinder with a displacement of 1050ccs, making the Interceptor and Sprint ST powerplants comparable even though apparently totally distinct.
Also, terribly similar is the way that these bikes are designed until the very last detail (the single-sided swingarm and MV Agusta-like rear wheel). Still, the Interceptor is more sport than touring while the 127 bhp and 77 ft.lb of torque Sprint ST is more of a mile hauler. Like Honda, Triumph also offers optional ABS, something that also influences the price. MSRP for the standard 2009 Triumph Sprint ST model is $11,599 and $12,399 for the ABS model. As you will see below, this is very close to Honda’s offering.
So if their bike was to be in a class of its own from no matter reasons, at least to look good, Honda people thought. And how well they did as the long time of refining and redesigning conclude in a sharp looking piece of machinery that receives a well deserved place in the Japanese manufacturer’s sport bike lineup.
The front fairing features angular lines and integrated headlights and signal lights in a successful attempt to provide the Interceptor with a more than fair share of modernity. Also, they keep it distinct from the CBR models by implementing a simple side fairing design with only those cooling snips as an aggressive touch and a VFR and implicit Interceptor characteristic. Furthermore, the five-spoke rear wheels bolted on a single-sided swingarm is yet another distinctive note as well as the under seat exhaust built around the right rider side of the bike’s rear wheel.
Overall compact and aggressive, but retaining the sport-touring riding position with a wide, spacious seat and close by footpegs and handlebars, the Interceptor is a successful combination of styles visually, so imagine how it is to actually ride the thing. For the moment we can only stare at the Black, White and Gray color schemes in expectancy of a future test run.
But until then you can check out our last experience on the Interceptor.
Offering two models for 2009, Honda’s SRP differs as follows: $10,999 for the ABS-free Interceptor and $11,999 for the Interceptor ABS. Although I don’t know how much the simple model will carry on through this transition period, it is nice they offer two alternatives.
Honda seems to have impressed by not doing almost anything to this model, but that’s apparently a method two. What riders would have expected was an even more sport-oriented motorcycle (as long as it beats the Triumph Sprint ST I’m pleased so..), but Honda manages to stay true to the touring side. After all, that’s what the VFR was all about in the first place, a fast and yet very comfortable model.
Engine and Transmission
Engine Type: 781cc liquid-cooled 90o V-4
Bore and Stroke: 72mm x 48mm
Compression ratio: 11.6:1
Valve Train: VTEC DOHC; four valves per cylinder
Induction: PGM-FI with automatic enricher circuit, 36mm throttle bodies and 12-hole injectors
Ignition: Computer-controlled digital with three-dimensional mapping and electronic advance
Transmission: Close-ratio six-speed
Final Drive: #530 O-ring chain
Chassis and Dimensions
Suspension Front: 43mm HMAS cartridge fork with spring preload adjustability; 4.3 inches travel
Rear: Pro Arm single-side swingarm with Pro-Link single HMAS gas-charged shock with seven-position spring preload and rebound damping adjustability; 4.7 inches travel
Brakes Front: Dual full-floating 296mm discs with LBS three-piston calipers
Rear: Single 256mm disc with LBS three-piston caliper; Optional ABS (VFR800FI ABS)
Tires Front: 120/70ZR-17 radial
Rear: 180/55ZR-17 radial
Wheelbase: 57.4 inches
Rake (Caster angle): 25.3o
Trail: 100mm (3.9 inches)
Seat Height: 31.7 inches
Fuel Capacity: 5.8 gallons, including 0.8-gallon reserve
Curb Weight: 540 pounds (VFR800FI) / 551 pounds (VFR800FI ABS)