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2012-04-19 10:23

SWISS ARMY KNIFE ON TWO WHEELS: Honda's Crosstourer is a jack of all trades as it's easy to forget that you are sitting astride a 1200cc adventure tourer.


Bavarian automaker's have long held a grip on the adventure tourer market but won't be able to rest easy knowing Honda has entered the fray. Resident bike guru DRIES VAN DER WALT gets to grips with the VFR1200X Crosstourer.


Vehicle specifications

The boys from Bavaria have for long ruled the roost of adventure tourers, but they have been facing some competition lately. The fact that the world’s largest bike manufacturer has decided to join the fray may well cause some sleepless nights in the executive bedrooms in Munich.

Considering Honda's VFR1200X Crosstourer’s quality and aggressive pricing, it may well be justified.

The large-capacity adventure touring section of the bike market is arguably the fastest-growing one and Honda’s Crosstourer is a decisive step into this market.


The SA launch of this much-anticipated bike took the form of a very indirect trip from Broederstroom near Hartebeestpoort Dam to Sun City, giving me the opportunity to get to grips with the bike over a route of just over 300km.

Honda believes that the VFR1200F-derived 1237cc V4 motor is inherently better suited to this application than the well-known Boxer. The Japanese automaker fine-tuned its engine to smooth out the power and torque curves and made a concerted effort to lower the Crosstourer’s centre of gravity.

Honda's added a die-cast aluminium frame and long-travel suspension to the mix in an attempt to achieve “an engaging riding experience and a comfortable ride on all road surfaces.” 

The Crosstourer’s styling is intended to convey both strength and sportiness.  The bike takes several styling clues from the VFR1200F, including the inverted-triangle headlight and layered fairing.

At the back sees a luggage carrier with 10kg of stowage and a grab rail to which the optional panniers attach directly to. The bike comes standard with LED indicators, a first for a large-capacity Honda motorcycle.

Optional extras include an extended screen, although in practice I found that the standard screen works better as the extended version caused unpleasant buffeting on my helmet.

The multi-function instrument panel is easy to read at a glance, positioned just below the rider’s line of sight to enable you to keep your eyes on the road. The display is dominated by a large digital speedometer. This is flanked by gauges showing remaining fuel and engine temperature. Across the top of the display is a bar-type tachometer, which runs left to right as engine rpm increases. Also included is the odometer, two trip meters, remaining fuel, fuel consumption (both actual and average), range to empty, gear position indicator and a clock. The  panel is concave to reduce reflection, and I found that it remains legible even in direct sunlight.

Ergonomically, the bike seems to have been designed around my 1.78m frame – the off-road inspired upright riding position felt natural and comfortable. This, combined with a comfy seat left me with the impression that I could take the bike from Johannesburg to Cape Town as easily as I would on a short trip to the local mall. The Crosstourer begs to be taken on the open road and is at home on highways or rural dirt roads.

At launch, the bikes’ suspensions were dialled to a softer setting for comfort, though it was obvious that the Crosstourer doesn’t lack in the handling department. This is in part due to Honda’s efforts to keep the centre of gravity low. I would have estimated the bike to weigh 40kg less than its 275 kg kerb weight.

The bike is equipped with traction control which, while not particularly intrusive, kicked in quite often on the dirt portion of the route. Unlike the ABS, the traction control can be turned off, but not being an off-road expert I preferred to leave it on.

Die-hard off-roaders may bemoan the inability to turn off the ABS, but seeing as though the Crosstourer is a soft-roader, the bulk of its owners will probably find this to be an advantage rather than a drawback.

Adventure bikes have long outgrown the dual-purpose moniker and the Crosstourer is a fine example of a multipurpose bike.

You can press it into the role of tourer, commuter, canyon carver, adventure bike or general run-about without feeling that it isn’t suited to the task. In my opinion, Honda has succeeded in turning the Crosstourer into a Swiss Army knife on two wheels.

Price: R149 900

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