Off-road: Honda's CrossTourer
HONDA CROSSTOURER: Big engine, great power and traction control for off-road riding - if you're going 'out there' you might as well do it in comfort. Image: DAVE FALL.
Author: DAVE FALL
Serious adventure motorcyclists love their BMW GS / KTM 990 machines and wouldn’t consider anything else yet Honda reckons there are many fresh-air types who prefer their adventure biking to be more soft-roader than hard core so will adore that company’s new CrossTourer - I did.
The new model weighs 275kg (50kg more than a BMW GS but you’d never know it) and has a helluva lot going for it – that lusty 1237cc V4 engine being just one thing. It’s a beauty, mounted low in the frame just where the centre of gravity should be on any well thought-out adventure bike.
The CrossTourer’s frame is from the VFR1200, though with geometry changes to suit the new role. Factor in traction control (you can turn it off), anti-lock brakes, excellent ground clearance of 179mm and a 21.5-litre fuel tank that should be good for a 350km round trip.
Final drive is by shaft (no chain or sprocket adjustments)..
This bike comes with plenty of power: 95kW at 7750rpm from the VFR1200 quad-valve engine. You like your riding two-up? Not a problem with 126Nm at 6500rpm – even with the top-box and panniers.
A recent 320km round trip, about 10% of it on gravel roads typical of my area of the Western Cape, left me really impressed by the capabilities of the CrossTourer. I’m a bit of a shrinking violet when it comes to enduro-style riding but I can honestly say the CrossTourer and I got on great – it’s so easy to ride.
The bike's secret to success is its mid-range torque and driveability and the ultra-smooth torque curve. A first for Honda, however, is an electric, instead of cable, throttle and (my only gripe about the bike) its action is so snatchy that I preferred to ride in a higher gear than I might otherwise have done.
Nevertheless, I felt safe in the knowledge that the built-in traction control would always keep me on my intended course.
Tubeless tyres are standard (puncture repair easier out in the bush) and to this end another first for Honda is the implementation of curved spokes that lace up on the outside of the rim. They look good, too! They're 19" (110/80R/19) front and 17" (150/70R/17) rear with dual-purpose rubber.
The bike's suspension is totally adjustable for pre-load and rebound, front and rear, and there's a Prolink rear suspension set-up.
Now for the best part: price! The basic bike will set you back R149 900 but for R172 000 you get the full-monty package that includes top-box/panniers (opened and released by the ignition key), a centre-stand, cowl kit, taller screen, a 12V universal socket (for cellphone, etc) and heatable grips.
Honda CrossTourer specifications.