The Honda VTR1000 SP-1 could have, and probably should have, been one of Honda's most desirable creations. Unlike most Honda motorcycles, it wasn't a vehicle for the masses. Far from it, this was a product of years of frustration and an unbreakable will. The V-twins has a vice-like grip over the world superbike championship, and Honda didn't like it. They finally gave up on the four cylinder format and, with a little help, the new twin cylinder RC51 won the championship in its debut year. The stage was set for the release of one of the all time great race-replicas.
Most superbikes start life as a roadbike, not this time. We were about to get an actual superbike, albeit a slightly refined version for the public highway. It looked the part, which is always a good start. It may not be pretty, but there's something very appealing about its aggressive lines. For the ultimate 'I want one' you really should go for the later Honda VTR1000 SP-2 in white. Not only is it more emotive but the works replica swingarm makes a big difference to the motorcycle's stance. Still, the Honda VTR1000 SP-1 is unmistakably pure racer. The digital dash isn't the easiest to read, and screen braces went out with the Ark, but on this motorcycle they just add to the sense of occasion. The Honda VTR1000 SP-1 uses a conventional twin-spar frame using the engine as a stressed member. The steering head is cast to direct air into the airbox. The Honda Multi Action System cartridge fork is fully adjustable, as is the Pro-Link rear suspension with HMAS shock. They need to be, because as standard set-up needs plenty of work. The brakes can over power the motorcycle, while the dodgy fueling hampers quick exits out of turns. The fueling is not perfect, but most secondhand machines available have that modified. On the VTR1000 SP-2 Honda is using an PGM-FI (fuel-injection) system to overcome the fueling problems.
Four piston Nissin brakes chomp on big 320mm discs and they sure are hungry. They may be old, but they work well and make up for any lost ground on the way out of turns. Interestingly, the calipers are mounted on aluminum stays rather than directly to the fork legs.
The Honda VTR1000 SP-1 possessed the largest pistons Honda had ever used in any of its vehicles. The massive 100x66mm forged pistons can be hesitant to move at low revs, but get up to steam nicely. There's also a close-ratio gearbox inside, ceramic composite cylinder sleeves and iridium tipped spark plugs.
For 2012 the Honda VTR1000 SP-1 isn't a fast bike, with 125 horsepower; modern liter-bikes make more torque and are far more flexible thanks to the extra revs, not to mention the 30 to 50 extra horsepower.
So why the interest in a motorcycle that's had little to offer? Well, the Honda VTR1000 SP-1 was made in small numbers and is obviously getting on a bit. Despite being reliable they're a dying breed. In another then years there could be very few low kilometers original VTR1000's out there. This make those still out there something of a collector's piece. If you only ride on the odd day off and don't need ultimate performance, an Honda VTR1000 SP-1 could be a very nice motorcycle