When we last tested the Honda VFR1200F DCT (Dual Clutch Transmission) model. We came away impressed with Honda's big V-4's overall performance, never mind all the remarkable technology packed into its semi-auto gearbox. When Honda flexes its technology-power, the result is often a motorcycle that rides as well as its spec sheet tells. That Honda chose to have the world press launch for the VFR1200F in Japan was a clear sign of confidence the company has in the success of the motorcycle.
That said, there were a few niggling grips with the Dual Clutch Transmission's (DCT) behavior in both Drive and Sport mode. For one, we disliked how the transmission in Drive mode would quickly upshift to sixth gear as soon as possible after taking off. While good for fuel economy, it was bad for any situation where you asked for a quick squirt of power at less than 65km/h. We also weren't fond of the Sport mode's penchant for staying in a particular gear until you approached redline before upshifting, no matter what throttle position you were at. And there was also the engine's lethargic response off the line, presumably to preserve the smaller dual clutches.
The Honda VFR1200F received its first software/firmware updates in 2012 to better suit real-world riding conditions. The control logic program was revised to recognize riding habits and change shift patterns to suit. Power and torque in the lower rpm regions was increased slightly, and traction control was added along with more fuel capacity. With all these changes, we thought a revisit to the Honda VFR1200F was in order. There's no doubt that Honda engineers worked some magic to enable a 278 kilogram motorcycle with a 1524mm wheelbase to get around corners as well as the VFR1200F does. Steering is fairly6 light and neutral considering the Honda's weight and size, though the stock OEM Bridgestone BT-021 tires tend to steer heavier as they get worn. Suspension action is more than adequate for the Honda VFR1200F's intended sport-touring scope, keeping the chassis from getting tied in knots at anything up to a blood-in-the0eyes pace. And bleeding off speed using the Honda's Combined Braking System (CBS) with ABS was the most natural-feeling linked front/rear setup from the company we've tried so-far, yet little of the unwanted braking/chassis action common to the other Honda linked braking units.
Unlike the first generation VFR1200F DCT's letchargic acceleration of the line, the new model launches from a stop with much more thrust, which we think is more related to the ECU permitting more power to be applied to the dual clutch system than any engine tuning. In fact, the Honda launches even harder if you don't give it full throttle immediately; if you give it about three-quarter throttle and then progressively wind it on to the stop, the Honda VFR1200F actually takes off with some authority, though it's still lazy by conventional manual gearbox standards.
Around town, the revised Drive mode settings are a little better; there's not upshifting to sixth gear at the soonest possible speed, but much depends on your throttle position. If you're barely cracking the throttle open, the DCT will still upshift to sixth gear by the time you've hit 60km/h. And as you slow to a stop, the transmission still sounds like a rolling drum full of bolts and rocks as it automatically downshifts through the heavy gearsets that were surely over-engineered to handle the VFR1200F's torque. The new logic setting do detect when you're riding more aggressively though and hold off on the upshift longer than before.
In Sport mode, the DCT also seems better at sensing your riding intentions. If you back off on agressive throttle movements for a period of time, the transmission upshift to a higher gear, though it will only go to fifth gear. In both modes you can now make manual shifts with the paddles on the left handlebar, but it will return to the riding mode you selected instead of leaving you in manual mode as before.
The traction control's intervention levels are fairly heavy-handed as you'd expect for a sport-touring machine, but the action is surprisingly transparent. Regardless, with the VFR1200F's smooth throttle response and tractable power, it takes a concerted effort from the rider to break the rear tire loose on dry pavement, and the Bridgestones' grip in the wet is decent enough that it would take a rather stupid move to do the same in those conditions. The traction control can also be switched off if desired.Tag: HondaVFR1200VFR1200FDCTDual-Clutch1200ccV-4V-FourAll-RoundTouring-Bike