Will the legend live on?
Honda’s VFR platform has garnered a strong following since its introduction in 1986. The VFR750F’s unique engineering and handling characteristics earned the sport-tourer a loyal customer base and Honda only improved on the formula in future generations. In 1990, the company overhauled the cosmetics, chassis, and wheels to keep up with the day’s technology. By 1998, the factory started rolling out the VRF800 and Team Red has continued to refine the model.
While the VFR1200F replaced its smaller sibling in the States in 2009, Honda discontinued the big-bore variant in 2017 due to Euro 4 regulations. All along, international markets have still enjoyed the VFR800 but the quirky sport-tourer may meet the same demise thanks to impending Euro 5 emissions standards. Unlike recent models that circumvent the new rules with a new exhaust or ECU update, Honda would need to rework its aging V4 engine to qualify. Despite those considerable hurdles, many speculate that Honda could come out with such a mill by 2023.
Models like the Africa Twin and Rebel 1100 may share an engine, but early reports point to the new VFR being a platform-specific motor. With Honda unveiling the new CBR1000RR-R SP last year and its subsequent success in British Superbike and WSBK, the brand plans to move forward with the inline-four layout for its flagship superbike in the foreseeable future. With that said, a new V4 engine would aim squarely at the VFR’s well-earned sport-touring customer base.
Similar to the latest Africa Twin, a VFR800 revamp could require a displacement bump to meet the aforementioned regulations. Regardless of the engine volume, many speculate that the new VFR would also need forced induction to satisfy Euro 5 while maintaining the same power figures. Numbers currently running through the rumor mill hover around 900cc to 1,000cc, but only time will tell if Honda revives its sportiest tourer and makes it a liter bike again.