Honda VFR1200F: First Ride
The Honda VFR1200F DCT blends performance with luxury in a unique way that opens new avenues in the world of sport-riding and sport-touring. Varad More reports his thoughts on the motorcycle that promises to change the way we ride
Everyone who has heard about Honda's VFR1200F motorcycle and its Dual Clutch Transmission (DCT) wants to know how efficiently the system works and how it benefits the rider. After spending a day aboard this technological innovation from Honda at the MMST race-track near Chennai, I got answers to the above queries and some more. Firstly, the DCT is not an automatic gearbox. The system employs a conventional 6-speed transmission equipped with two independent clutches that engage and disengage for seamless and rapid shifts based on data gathered by four sensors, front and rear wheel speed, throttle position and crank position, which determines when to shift and what the rider is intending to do. The Dual Clutch queues up two gears simultaneously, one odd and one even, with only one gear actually engaged at any given time so that when a shift is initiated the gear-swap happens almost instantly.
During the day long stint astride the VFR, I was pleasantly surprised to find myself enjoying the twisty circuit of MMST near Chennai without having to bother about matching the revs and smooth gear-shifting without upsetting the bike going into corners. The VFR1200F is not a race-bike like its younger sibling, the CBR1000RR Fireblade. The VFR is what Honda calls as, a road-sport machine, a new segment that combines sport riding and sport-touring in a very practical yet enjoyable manner. The DCT unit on the VFR1200F offers three different modes to choose from and each one of them is suitable for different riding styles. The fully automatic 'D' (Drive) mode is for leisurely slow-paced and laid-back riding, wherein the transmission goes through the cogs as quickly as possible with ultra-smooth shifts taking place under 2,500 rpm. So by the time it reaches the 70km/h mark, the transmission has already slotted into sixth gear for effortless cruising. However, the gearshifts are mildly perceptible in the 'D' mode.
But a race-track is not exactly a place to ride a bike at a leisurely place. It is an environment built specifically for speed. And for that all you need to do is gently dab onto the right-handlebar-mounted switch to shift into the 'S' (Sport) mode, on the fly. Once in Sport mode, there are two options to use the DCT. In the Sport auto-mode (AT) the transmission will shift gears automatically albeit at a higher rpm than in the 'D' mode depending upon the data gathered from the throttle position and other sensors. With throttle pinned to stop, the DCT shifts into higher gears just shy of the 10,200rpm redline. Gear shifts in 'S' mode happen with blistering pace (under 0.5 seconds) and are also a lot quieter than in 'D' mode, this is chiefly because the additional mechanical inertia helps in high-rpm gear shifts when the 'S' mode is engaged.
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