Fine ride out from London on one of the warmest days of this summer on the hired VFR800A9. Lots of fun in the Cotswolds, coming down the challenging curves of Fish Hill, there’s a convenient roundabout at the bottom at Broadway to turn around and run the curves uphill. One lap to check it out and then a couple more for fun.
The Malvern Hills aren’t huge but the roads are good for some careful sport. Pause for a family lunch and then back down interesting roads to ride along the west side of the Severn Estuary to Chepstow. No toll eastbound on the bridge to leave Wales, pause for tea with GSXR Tony in Bradley Stoke, then the M4 back to The Smoke, beautiful sunset in the mirrors. About 375 miles, I saw 28°C highest temperature, and even after sunset, nothing lower than 21°C: what a treat!
About the VFR800A9 (2013 model), part of my reason for hiring was to check it out as a touring bike. I’ve had a lot of fun with it but it does have some bad habits too. In many ways it’s the best 750 I never had; great for good B roads and single carriageway A roads. It’s a V-Four, the engine sounds and responds quite differently to a parallel four, there’s more low revs torque but there’s a tendency to pudder lilke a twin at low revs. This seems to be dependent on the petrol, not all fuel sold as “Unleaded 95” is the same.
I rode a VF750F for quite a few miles in the 1990’s (the one with “chocolate cams”) and this is much the same engine but the V-Tec technology added and bored out to 800cc, this kicks in pretty smoothly at throttle / high revs with a distinctive hammer type noise. Power was never a problem: plenty of it.
The windscreen/fairing is effective at catching flies but the engine gets hot relatively readily and the fan can't cope, even on just a hot day in England; you have to crouch down right on the tank to get out of the wind flow, too low for it to be sustainable, at least with the stock bars/pegs geometry. The handling benefits from a one-sided swing arm and did everything I wanted it to do with ease and even grace, fun to hang off on curves and very much worth it for the extra stability. But the bike’s heavy, and it seems heavy also on tyre wear, Bridgestone Battlax BT023R Sport Touring fitted. This one (15,000 miles showing) already had the same head bearing and/or front fork wear that mine had, so still something to watch out for.
Would I buy one now? Maybe specifically as a sports tourer with a riding position that you can actually hang off with but compared to my 600RR it’s far heavier and a bit longer, so more comfortable and stable for getting there but less fun when you have arrived.
A previous ride to Fish Hill: Cotswolds biking - May 2013