Honda VFR1200F : A Comprehensive Review + An In-Depth Look at the Dual Clutch Transmission

Recently HMSI (Honda Motor Scooter India) ltd. launched VFR1200F. This is third sports bike after the launch of its flagship bike CBR1000RR Fireblade and CB100R. It is one of the bike of its own kind of bike in sports touring segment which offers its rider ultimate comfort of touring.

Sports touring class refers to blending bikes performance with long distance journey while providing utmost safety and comfort to the rider. The VFR has always been Honda’s technology flagship, and VFR1200F is proof of that. With the launch of VFR 1200F Honda has reengineered the benchmark of motorcycling in India. What’s so special in this bike let’s have look…


Imagine yourself waking up in the morning thinking about adventurous long drive of 300 kilometers, effortlessly devouring large stretches of highway before carving through twisty canyon roads, just to enjoy lunch at a perfect location and then head back home. With the same inspiration the first sketch of this dream machine came forward and later on translated into Honda VFR 1200F. A concept which is extensively driven by customer needs.

According to Honda, the idea was to create “a futuristic sport motorcycle for the sheer joy of riding, custom tailored for experienced hands who ride hard, ride long, ride far and ride often.”


Honda VFR1200F is equipped with 1273CC, UNICAM 76 degree liquid cooled V-4 (V stands for V shaped 4 stands for four cylinders), four valve per cylinder engine which is designed as light and compact as possible. The V-4 engine is derived from Honda Moto GP engine. With bore & stroke of 81mmx 60 mm and compression ratio of 12.0: 1, this machine is capable enough of producing maximum power of 127 KW (170 bhp) @ 10,000 rpm. Maximum torque is 129Nm which peaks @ 8,750 rpm out of which 90% can be produced as low as @4000 rpm. The torque figure of this bike itself speak about its excellent low end torque availability. With the kerb weight of 268 kg (278 kg for DCT version) the bike is able to produce power to weight ratio of 634.33bhp/tonne.

The other special thing about this engine it comes with crankshaft which Honda calls a “Symmetrically Coupled Phase-shift unit. This crankshaft has 28 degree crankpin offset which works with 76 degree V angle to eliminate primary engine vibration. Result the engine has perfect primary balance which results in elimination of counterbalancer (A weight added to a moving engine part intended to offset vibration and enhance smoothness) and weight savings of nearly 1.4 kg.

The other feature includes “Sealed Crankcase system” (first time on the street bike) which maintains a mild negative pressure to minimize friction losses due to air force or mechanical pumping. It is a system where a scavenging pump pulls oil and gases out of crank chamber which result in reduction of overall friction on engine moving parts like crankshaft, pistons and connecting rod. It also helps in decreased oil churning losses without separate oil tank.

Honda has also incorporated Unicam valve train into the engine of VFR1200F. It uses a single overhead camshaft which directly triggers two intake valves per cylinder while integrating roller rocker arms with screw type adjuster to trigger two exhaust valves per cylinder. The advantages are reduction of weight as you don’t need to use other camshaft which you find in DOHC (Double overhead camshaft) engine, reduction in space which makes the engine size very compact and a very flat combustion chamber for faster and efficient burn.

To eliminate problem of oil pressure the VFR1200F comes with constant oil-pressure monitoring system which tracks a range of variations in oil pressure within a safe operating zone. The VFR1200F also incorporates idea of mass centralization which reflects in its unique cylinder layout. This layout locates No. 2 and No. 3 cylinder side by side but close together in the rear bank and No. 1 and No. 4 cylinder more widely spaced in the front bank. Result a compact structure that easily fits between the rider’s legs.


Here comes a new magic of Honda. Honda VFR1200F is available in two options six speed manual transmission or Dual Clutch Automatic transmission (DCT). This is the first time in the history of motorcycle that any motorcycle is equipped with Dual Clutch Automatic Transmission. This technology is used on sports cars like Nissan’s GT-R, BMW’s M3, several Porsche and Audi models, and the upcoming Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG. Another thing is despite using Dual Clutch Transmission Honda made the engine very compact. As an indication of the deep level of innovation involved in developing such a novel transmission, Honda has 100 patents pending related to this design.

Aluminum Wet Multi-Plate Dual Clutch

The two clutches are laid out in-line along the transmission, with the hydraulic control of the piston installed on the inner face of the clutch disc. This configuration minimizes lateral interruption in the direction of the engine.

Dual Clutch Transmission

As mentioned in the name Honda’s Dual Clutch Transmission has two separate clutches inside the gear box which are operated through ECU (Engine/Electronic Control Unit). One clutch which operates odd no.1, 3, 5 gears and the second clutch operates even no. 2, 4, 6 gears.

Both the clutch works independently to affect gear changes. When you shift the gear from neutral to 1st the first clutch will engage to the gear shaft. When you shift the gear from 1st to 2nd the first clutch will be released by ECU and 2nd clutch will engage to the gear shaft. In the above process one clutch supplies drive to the rear wheel, while the other has the next gear preselected, ready to seamlessly take over power as soon as the ECU (or rider) triggers it.

Result a seamless gear change experience never before on any street bike. The main reason behind automation is time the gear changes perfectly and Honda has done its job perfectly by making actual shift time of less than a half-second. The DCT is able to deliver fuel efficiency equal or better tan fully manual transmission which makes it to deliver both sporty riding and an environmental friendly performance.

Honda VFR 1200F DCT version comes with AT/MT switch (AT for automatic transmission and MT for manual transmission) and S/D/N switch (N for neutral, D is for city ride condition and S for sports ride condition).

The D mode is for city traffic riding situation. In the D mode during acceleration the gears up shifted as fast as possible while during deceleration the gears downshifted is as slow as possible. Result minimum braking and enhanced fuel economy which is perfect for a street bike.

The S mode is for sporty riding situation which is opposite of D mode. In S mode during acceleration the gears up shifted as slow as possible white during deceleration the gear downshifted as fast as possible. Result excellent corner handling. In fact in the S mode the gear selection is well operated by ECU whether it’s slow, medium or fast cornering.

If you get bored of automatic transmission and would like to select gear your own, press the AT/MT switch to MT mode. As the DCT version comes with auto clutch there is no clutch lever and pedal for changing gears. Instead on the left handlebar you have an index finger pull switch for up-shifts, and a thumb button for downshifts.

The manual transmission version comes with six speed gear box and slipper clutch. The slipper clutch is mostly used in Moto GP in order to avoid engine stalling while rapidly changing gears. To understand how the slipper clutch works just imagine that you are riding at the speed of 120 in 6th gear and suddenly you moved to 3rd gear what will be the result? The bike would undergo massive engine deceleration and might cause the rear wheel to lock and hence jeopardize the rider’s safety. The Slipper Clutch helps by allowing the clutch to partially slip until the engine speed matches your own speed. This feature generally found on Moto GP racer bike.

Talking about induction the VFR1200F comes with Throttle by wire system (TBW). This is the first time Honda has used Throttle by wire system technology. The TBW with PGM-FI (Programmed fuel injection) gives its rider an unmatched throttle response. The 44mm throttle sprays fuel through 12-hole injector. The TBW set up comes with ECU which process information from rider throttle control input, engine speed via a crankshaft position sensor, manifold absolute pressure, gear position, vehicle speed, engine coolant and intake air temperatures, and throttle position and deliver the accurate throttle response compared to mechanically linked system. In addition to above this system eliminates the need for the Idle Air Control Valve used in other Honda PGM-FI systems to deliver a consistent fuel delivery. The system is also more sensitive and accurate in delivering fuel compare to mechanically linked PGM-FI.

One more surprise for VFR1200F is absence of conventional chain drive system. The bike has equipped with newly designed shaft drive system for the rear wheel. The engine power is transmitted through a shaft which is found in cars. The output shaft is placed below the transmission countershaft to create a longer swingarm without having to stretch the wheel.

The Honda Pro Arm® single sided swingarm is integrated with the shaft drive system utilizing an “offset pivot point and sliding constant velocity joint for a new level of shaft-drive performance and control”, according to Honda. The pivot expands vertically as well as sliding while constant velocity joint takes up any variations in length during the rear wheel’s arc of travel. At the output shaft a clutch damper absorbs backlash effectively. Thus enhancing cornering ability, high speed handling and traction capability compared to prior generation drive shaft.

Nothing has been left by Honda engineer’s which can be proved by its uniquely designed exhaust system. The triangular muffler and asymmetrical exhaust pipes produces sound like heat beats at low rev and when you revved the engine hard, the noise changes to a truly inspiring, hard-edged V4 moan to churn the emotions.


Much of talk about VFR1200F technicalities let’s have a look how it works in real world. The VFR1200F can achieve 0-100 KMPH in less than 3 seconds. It can achieve 0-150 KMPH in 5 seconds only. The quarter mile (0-400 meter) stood at 10.33 @ 217.00 KMPH. The top speed recorded was 253 KMPH and the speedometer was correct all the time. These figures are really surprising when the bike weighs more than 270 Kilograms. Following is summary of VFR1200F performance.


The VFR1200F’s revolutionary sculptured styling can’t fail to impress from every angle, the patented layered fairing design creates a uniquely beautiful shape and, at the same time, optimal airflow and heat management. There are two layers in this faring. Air entering between the layers and through two oval-shaped spaces in the front of the fairing is channeled in exact directions which enhance the bike’s stability at higher speeds. The air is also channeled through smaller hole before it reaches the radiators, which increases the velocity, optimized engine cooling and a cool and comfortable ride for rider and pillion. Apart from this a small amount of air is channeled through the windscreen to reduce buffeting around the rider’s head and shoulder.

One more thing about the patented layered faring is the side cowl and front faring are merged without any faring attachment and screws showing where the different sections of faring meet which gives the bike aerodynamic surfaces. The motorcycle has a very high quality feel to it. The fit and finish of the bodywork is where this is most evident with a sleek high gloss paint finish developed at Honda’s new paint plant in Kumamoto.

The bike got X shaped headlight with two tinted LED-look strips that frame the sides of the headlight. Concave surfaces direct the light and air towards the windscreen which increases the illusion of lightness and space. The bright airy cockpit contains an instrument cluster that is elegant and easy to read, with a large LCD gear position readout that works even in automatic mode on the DCT version.

The left wing of the panel contains A large, sporty analogue rev counter and a digital speedometer are surrounded by LCD readouts of the fuel, coolant temperature levels and fuel consumption while the right wing has the temperature gauge, odometer with two trip meters, clock, ambient temperature display, HISS indicator and ABS indicator. Above the instruments is another panel that has various warning lights which were legible even in bright sunlight.

The seat of this bike is placed 32.1 inch above the ground level which is firm yet comfortable. A new process is used to bond the cover to the seat. If you are not comfortable with the tall seat, a 6 inch lower and narrower seat and a Luxury Alcantara seat cover is offered by Honda Accessories Department. Due to cylinder’s arrangement which we mentioned before, the engine is at its narrowest where the rider sits. It makes the rider feels like sitting ‘in’ bike rather than sitting ‘on’ bike. The rubber covered foot pegs of this bike are slightly higher positioned like in Moto GP racing bike.

Honda accessories department also offers a 35 liter Pannier, 31 liter top box, 13 liter tank bag, sporty 3 positions adjustable add on screen, slim heated grips and navigation kit.


The VFR1200F’s suspension is handled by a single Pro-Link® gas-charged shock that includes a handy, easy-to-alter remote spring preload adjuster, and the shock is also adjustable for rebound damping.

The shock delivers 5.1 inches of wheel travel. The front 43mm inverted cartridge fork delivers 4.7 inches of travel and also offers spring preload adjustability. All together, this combination of adjustability in the suspension at both ends give this bike broad range of application, be it hard sport riding, more casual long-distance trips or adventuring with girlfriend or wife.


It is one more area, where Honda has exaggerated the next generation technology. The VFR1200F comes with Combined Braking System (CBS) with Anti lock braking system (ABS). The front brake is equipped with two 320 mm floating disc with six piston calipers so there are total 12 piston calipers work in the front braking. The rear brake is equipped with 276mm disc with 2 piston calipers. The CBS system creates an optimal balance between front and rear braking force. When the front brake lever pressed the CBS system will activate all pistons of right hand side and four pistons in the left side, the other two pistons are activated when the rear brake is applied.

The right side pistons are slightly smaller than left side pistons. In addition to above the lightweight and compact ABS will give you smooth and comfortable ride in both sporty and long distance ride. The no speaks itself about the capabilities of these brakes. The bike took only 38.40 meters to stop from 100 KMPH speed and only 9.45 meters to stop from speed of 50 KMPH (Source: Cycle world magazine). Even if you apply the brakes at very high speed the bike will remain stable.

Fuel Economy

What fuel efficiency would you expect from a V-4 1273 cc engine which produces 170bhp. According to Honda the VFR1200F gives 15.9 Km/liter while tested in D mode under standardized testing conditions prescribed by WMTC while in the road test taken by Cycle world magazine the best figure obtained was 17.46 KM/liter when ridden carefully in D mode. The worst figure obtained was 11.92 Km/ liter and the average comes at 14.48/liter. With 18.5 liter tank the bike can give you range of 268 kilometers. According to Honda claimed fuel efficiency same can be stretched till 294 kilometer. This is the only area where long distance bike rider has complains. The bike can’t run 300 kilometer with full tank.


The Honda VFR1200F cost £11,596 (Rs. 8,34,912) in UK, €14,990 (Rs. 8,88,907) in Europe and $15,990 (Rs. 7,51,530 in USA. But in India the bike is launched at Rs. 17,50,000 ex showroom price with three colors option Candy Prominence Red, Seal Silver Metallic and Pearl Sunbeam White. The difference due to 110% import duty. The bike is imported via CBU (complete built unit) which attracts 110% import duty. The on road price is Rs. 20,54,000 which makes it almost impossible to buy for majority of people in India.


Though the price is out of range passionate bike lover and who has capabilities to own this machine surely can go for this DCT avatar keeping in mind the range of bike which is low in comparison of the segment it is. But if you are ok with the range it can give you the experience of bike riding which you have never before.

– Mahavir Kothari