Johannesburg - Honda has comprehensively revised its VFR800X Crossrunner adventure tourer for 2016 with more mid-range torque, more top-end power, longer-travel suspension and sharper styling.
Actually, the upgrade - almost enough to qualify as a new model - was inevitable after the parent VFR800F model from which the Crossrunner is derived, underwent a radical revision in 2014, much of which has been passed on to its khaki-clad sibling.
Its 782cc V-four is now rated for 78kW at 10 250rpm (previously 75 at 10 000) and 75Nm at 8500rpm, up from 72.8Nm at 9500 - and that last figure is the important one, pointing up the new version's broader torque curve (especially in the low and mid-range), which is what makes V-engined motorcycles fun to ride.
More work has gone into making the transition from two-valve operation to four-valve V-Tec breathing at about 6500rpm as smooth as possible; the familiar hiccup in the power deliver, akin to a misfire, is still there, but becomes less obtrusive with each development cycle.
The PGM-FI fuel-injection and its 36mm throttle bodies have been re-mapped to suit the engine's new performance parameters, along with a revised exhaust system with shorter downpipes to heat up catalyser more quickly.
Honda quotes fuel-consumption of 5.3 litres per 100km, but given that the previous model averaged 6.9 in real-world testing we'll take that under advisement until we've ridden the new Crossrunner.
The smaller dual radiators, with increased core density as on the RC45 superbike, have been moved from the sides of the engine bay to the front, making the whole bike noticeably slimmer.
The new torque control system (Hondaspeak for traction control) uses the ABS sensors to compare front and rear-wheel speeds; if the difference exceeds a pre-set threshold the ECU dials back the fuel-injection and ignition reduce torque and maintain grip.
A switch on the left handlebar lets you select between two levels of intervention or off; default mode is '2', for the earliest intervention; from there you can select '1' or 'Off' - and each time it intervenes you'll see a flashing 'T' on the instrument panel.
The Crossrunner's 43mm forks offer the same stepless preload and rebound damping adjustment as the VFR800F, but with 25mm more travel, as befits an adventure tourer, while the rear suspension has 28mm more travel on a lighter, stiffer single-sided swing-arm and raises the bikes ground clearance to 165mm.
New radial-mount four-piston brake callipers act on 310mm floating front discs, with a single-piston unit doing duty on a 265mm rear platter, while new 18” cast wheels wear 120/17 front and 180/55 rubber.
Seat height is adjustable to either 81mm5 or 835mm, and its tapered front section is narrower to allow easier ground reach. Wider handlebars (683mm across the grips) give plenty of leverage for quick changes of direction, and heated grips are now standard, as are self-cancelling indicators and full LED lighting.
The new liquid-crystal instrument panel features a reverse display against a dark background. The digital speedometer and bar-graph rev counter are flanked by a gear position indicator, fuel consumption and cruising range readouts, clock, ambient temperature gauge, a readout for the five-stage heated grips and dual trip meters.
Honda VFR800X Crossrunner - R141 990
This includes a two-year, unlimited distance warranty and one-year roadside assistance.
Honda VFR800X Crossrunner
Engine: 782cc liquid-cooled V-four.
Bore x stroke: 72 x 48mm.
Compression ratio: 11.8:1.
Valvegear: DOHC with four overhead valves per cylinder and V-Tec .
Power: 78kW at 10 250rpm.
Torque: 75Nm at 8500rpm.
Induction: PGM-FI digital electronic fuel-injection with four 36mm throttle bodies.
Ignition: Digital electronic.
Clutch: Cable-operated multiplate wet clutch.
Transmission: Six-speed constant-mesh gearbox with final drive by chain.
Front Suspension: 43mm inverted cartridge forks adjustable for preload and rebound damping.
Rear Suspension: Pro-link with gas-charged monoshock adjustable for preload and rebound damping.
Front brakes: Dual 310mm petal disks with Tokico four-piston radial-mount monobloc callipers and ABS.
Rear brake: 260mm petal disc with single-piston floating calliper and ABS.
Front tyre: 120/70 - 17 tubeless.
Rear tyre: 180/55 - 17 tubeless.
Seat height: 815/835mm.
Kerb weight: 242kg.
Fuel tank: 20.8 litres.
Price: R141 990.