By Marissa Baecker
The Honda VFR has a long history of being a fan favourite. Since its debut as a V4 – 750cc, the VFR has garnered attention. So much so, that changing it was a risky venture for Honda. However, improvements like updated style, a 10 kg weight loss plus added standard features like adjustable seat height, traction control, ABS, heated grips and self-cancelling signals, have sent this model to the top of the list of desired rides and I was about to get my hands around the bars of one for a quick road trip to a rock concert.
“Now that’s a sexy bike!” The first thought when I arrived to pick up the 2014 VFR800 Honda. The looks may be what draw you in, but it’s the ride that will keep you there.
I admit that taking to the highway on a Friday afternoon wasn’t the best decision as Lower Mainland outdoor enthusiasts pulled everything out of their garage and were proudly towing most of their recreational belongings in some manner or another.
My wimpy grip was put to the test in an exercise of clutch control during heavy rush hour traffic that didn’t see my digital gear change out of third or my speedo go past 60km/hr for about 100 km of the Trans Canada Highway. After nearly 2 ½ hours, I pulled into the Chevron gas station in Hope, B.C. where there was barely room for a motorcycle to squeeze in between campers and cars.
Although the compact rider triangle of the VFR initially excited me, I found myself cursing this cuddler after 2 hours of Friday afternoon gridlock. My hips, wrists, shoulders and knees were practically locked in place and I questioned who I thought I was – some 20-year-old spry athlete?
Sucking back my Gatorade on the lawn trying to replenish the fluids I had sweat out inside my leathers creeping along the highway, I admired a relaxed-looking Harley rider saddling up as I worked through muscle cramps in my calves. I still had 2 – 3 hours of travel to get to where I was going and I was rather fatigued.
“Are you heading East,” I queried to a positive response. “Do you mind if I ride with you?”
George would lead us out of Hope, ascending the canyon and down into Merritt where we parted ways and I continued South toward a blackened skyline just as mother nature started to put on a light show.
“Oh that’s just great!” I considered waiting it out as other riders were putting on their rain gear roadside and but a thumbs up coming from a rider in the opposite direction told me it wasn’t as bad as it looked and I persevered.
As liquid polka dots decorated the blacktop below me, I thought about the traction control. When the sky opened up, and the road reflected oil, surface grit and flashes of light from Mother Nature’s strobes, my wrist rolled off the throttle but my Honda didn’t waiver. I anticipated tire movement but my ride stayed strong and consistent for the next 20 km until I came out the other side of the storm, soaked, but upright.
A simple roll on of the throttle and the VFR delivered linear power as I continued my ascent and back up to the posted speed limit of 120km hoping my leathers would dry in the wind. After coming off the ultra-lite Honda CBR500 (432lb), I initially considered the VFR800 (526.8 lb.) to be heavy but that extra weight was a welcomed addition when the wind picked up as I crested the mountain summit and began my descent into the Okanagan Valley.
Near the end of my journey, the dual LED headlights were becoming a predominant feature. They lit the road ahead and around me making it difficult to consider ending a ride on a warm summer night.
I pulled into the security lot of the South Okanagan Event Centre in Penticton, B.C. and immediately caught the attention of a group of enthusiastic roadies proving that the full fairing VFR800 Honda in pearl white (also in red) had sex appeal to both men and women.
Upon parking my ride along side the Alice in Chains tour buses, I answered a few questions and then left the ogling crew circling my bike to take a closer look as I headed inside for the grande finale of photographing a live rock n’roll show.