In addition to a similar cubic capacity, BMW F800GT and Honda VFR800 VTEC share the same program: comfortable but dynamic, these motorcycles mix the kinds with the profit of the versatility. But with the final one, to which addresses these queens of the compromise? Duel.
In theory, BMW F800GT and Honda VFR 800 VTEC join together all qualities of a motorcycle known as of “light tourism”: an engine “large-but-not-too” of the voluntary kind (parallel twin-cylinder of 798 DC and 4-cylinders out of V of 782 DC), a part cycles effective and comfortable and an elegant careenage (to read our Test of BMW F800GT and our Test of Honda VFR800VTEC).
To arrive at this sum of promising attributes, each one applies its own receipt by mixing ingredients a priori not very compatible: the base of the German specialty comes thus from excellent BMW F800R, that BMW careened. More powerful than its predecessor, been sulky F800ST (90 ch against 85), it appears more led also thanks to its increased protection and to its position of improved control (saddles lowered by 20 mm, handlebar raised of as much, footrests advanced and lowered by 10 mm).
Its effective ABS of series and its assistances with control optional (anti-skid, adjustable shock absorber electronically and pressure gauge of the tires) make it more sophisticated also and general-purpose. With its practical luggage stand, its belt drive and its appetite of bird, the Bavarian one gives itself means of deserving its suffix “GT” while making forget its genes (and its embarrassments!) of roadster.
The Japanese woman, it, dissimulates a heart and muscles of athlete under a cocktail dress, of cut almost BC-BG. In that, Honda is one of the last representing of a kind fallen in disuse: the Sport-GT. Discovered, then slightly altered in 2002 in 2006, date on which its famous variable distribution followed a cure of polishing substance, Honda VFR800 VTEC visually hardly suffered from its decade of sleep.
Better: thanks to its slim lines and with its engine of original and noble architecture (V4 with 90° cooled by side radiators), its power of attraction remained very long-lived. A judgment which its dimension raised on the market of the motorcycle of occasion confirms (to read our special File occasion Honda VFR800 VTEC).
Perched on her central crutch of series (an option with 130 Euros on BMW), the “old woman” Honda still makes turn many heads, helmeted or not! Its class attracts even more approving glances to him than its young German rival. Of its indicators integrated on its sharp-edged sides into its attracting quiet chrome, via its imposing will monograms, the Honda VFR800 taken effect, where the classical line of BMW returns it more pass key.
The German however has also beautiful attire. With the image of its splendid will monograms openwork, its clamps Brembo 4-pistons, its robust frame out of aluminum or its pretty rims provided with valves astutely fixed at the end of one of the ten sticks. Its trap door with standard petrol aviation off-set on its right back side – the reserve of 15 liters is installed under the saddle – confers even a small key of originality to him.
Moreover, with the first glance, BMW F800GT does not betray the reputation “German quality” suitable for the production two and four BMW wheels. In spite of its statute of motorcycle of access to the range “GT” of the manufacturer of beyond the Rhine, his level of completion is of good invoice and the materials used qualitative and are assembled carefully.
However, a more thorough examination put some small pikes of rust on the discs of 320 mm our model of surface test adding up only 1400 km with the meter. Even thing on part of screws and bolts of the Rotax block and its pipe exhaust: not terrible for an invoiced motorcycle 10,550 € in its initial version…
Also let us acknowledge that the irreproachably of its Japanese rival in terms of perceived quality and completion tends to make the inspector very demanding. Because to observe closely Honda VFR800 VTEC is to offer a pure visual delight, an ophthalmic return ticket in first class!
The attention given to the least details of manufacturing of this motorcycle is a true plea in favor knowing it (well) to make Honda: the careenages are adjusted with the millimeter, the welding is licked and the electrical communication is invisible. Even the metal of protections of the silencers and the toe-clips passenger is entitled to a meticulous brushing which flatters the retina.
Naturally, this presentation “Premium” has a price: 12,490 Euros exactly. Although Honda VFR800 VTEC receives series completely combined ABS (Dual C-ABS), the addition proves frankly salted for a motorcycle in the end of a career. A marketing choice probably dictated by the will of Honda to support the arrival of its replacing, the VFR1200 which is displayed starting from 13,990 Euros…
… With the practice!
In theory thus, BMW F800GT and Honda VFR800 VTEC intend to carry out the quadrature of the circle while allowing freeing itself effectively from short ways like traveling far, quickly and comfortably. But in practice, this enticing program passes by some compromises…
Downtown, for example, impossibility of slipping U under their saddle and the absence of vacuum-pocket – even of a socket – prove aggravating. Drive chain of the VFR is also a data (practical and economic) to take into account. Lastly, if the two motorcycles offer an excellent retro vision, the length of the branches of their rear view mirrors requires attention at the time of an urban rally.
One comforts oneself thanks to their adjustable levers, their well drawn and soft saddle and their accessible order of warnings. A clear instrumentation and readable account also among their assets: special mention in the BMW on which one makes ravel left inch a bunch of information like average and instantaneous consumption, the engaged report, the outside temperature and the hour… With condition, of course, to choose the option “Computer of edge” to 155 Euros!
Because of origin, the console of BMW F800GT does not outclass of anything that the Honda VFR800, where are displayed – of series – petrol the level, the temperature engine and external, the hour and two partial trips. It misses in Honda only one indicator of committed report and an order with the handlebar (to read the complete listing of the practical aspects and equipment in following page). Not bad for a motorcycle showing ten measuring rods!
BMW has however other qualities to put forward in urban area, in particular in the chapters of approval and comfort. Typified roadster, its handlebar broad and fixed in height is first of all definitely more resting for the wrists that the half-handlebars of Honda. Although liberally raised above higher t-piece, those require a light slope of the bust which remains perfectly right on BMW F800GT.
The higher and moved back footrests of the Honda VFR800, as well as the higher width of its engine and its reserve of 22 liters, do not facilitate either the operations at low speed. Lastly, its higher turning radius and its heavier direction, the heat released by its V4 in the stoppers and its lower availability (it knocks fewer than 2500 rpm when the twin-cylinder begins again without hiccupping) do not make excellent a motorcycle-taxi of it!
Nimbler and less constraining, the BMW F800GT also benefits from its definitely lower weight (213 kg with 90% of full against 249 kg all full facts) to eclipse Honda VFR800 VTEC downtown. And this, even if its gear box and its injection prove less pleasant than on board Honda: the Germanic selection is drier and noisy and of light jolts is perceptible with the go-around.
Higher in the turns, they are the swarming felt on the level as of hands and of the feet which disturb. Whereas the four-cylinder engine out of V is almost free from all forms of vibrations, the twin-cylinder online Rotax produces some sufficiently to be awkward starting from 5000 rpm, that is to say to 140 km/h in sixth (130 km/h with 5500 rpm in 6th on Honda). Crush with the mode of cruising on fast track…
With this pace, the protection of the two motorcycles acknowledges its limits: the legs are far from being completely sheltered, while the shoulders and most of the helmet are exposed. In spite of its higher bubble, BMW F800GT does not mark decisive points on this level because the bust is exposed naturally more because of position of more rectified control. And in winter, that BMW and Honda neglected the interest of an adjustable windshield is quickly made regret!
On the other hand, the choice of the components of the suspensions and their effectiveness could be called into question neither on the German, nor on the Japanese woman. In spite of its nonadjustable fork, BMW F800GT combines precision and comfort with the front one, while its back element offers the same successful compromise. As on the Honda VFR800, the back reload can adjust itself via a practice and accessible serrated roller located under the saddle (behind the right back toe-clip on Honda).
In option, the BMW F800GT can also receive a simplified form of the ESA, the device making it possible to adjust the tarring of the suspensions electronically. On this version, only the relaxation and the compression of the shock absorber postpone are concerned: the pilot intervenes on their parameters while choosing between three modes (Comfort, Normal and Sport) via button “ESA” installed on the left control unit.
On Honda VFR800 VTEC, not of electronic suspensions: just a fork and a shock absorber of quality whose actions are coordinated perfectly. Very comfortable, these suspensions absorb all the irregularities of the bitumen and the mass transfers, while offering sufficient sportsmanship to the more players.
And of the sportsmanship, Honda does not miss any thanks to its engine with two faces! With its value of stall torque perched high (80 Nm with 8750 rpm), V4 is pitilessly released with bottom and mid–modes by the 86 Nm of couple available as of 5800 t/mn of BMW. Then, exchange gives it, and the Honda engine starts a register differently more aggressive…
To 6800 rpm exactly, its variable distribution VTEC enters in action and sets in motion the eight valves remained “in day before”. Even if the transition from two to four valves per cylinder were softened in 2006, the effect is always sensitive to the handlebar: Honda Street suddenly ahead and on the spot leaves BMW F800GT however voluntary in the turns.
Verdict: the choice of the reason
Amusing or aggravating according to the tastes, device VTEC is of the interest to insufflate character with Honda mechanics, which is not any more if current in the production of the winged blazon.
The motorcyclists “sportive-GT” will also appreciate this engine takes seat in a part cycles sharpened: Honda VFR800 VTEC benefits in particular from a higher directional degree of accuracy than BMW F800GT. It in addition remains welded with the wished trajectory, even by maintaining constraint onto before following “releasing late brake”.
Its braking in addition offers corrosive the higher and a general effectiveness higher than that of BMW. On the F800GTthe catch of lever is a little spongy, while the absence of coupling highlights a prompter ABS to enter in action (especially in the back) that the very advanced integral device Honda.
On the other hand, there is not any doubt that the higher availability and acceleration filled better and linear of the BMW twin-cylinder grant more versatility to him and of general approval. Especially in duet, where the aspect “ON/OFF” of V4 does not support a cast control.
And like the engine of the BMW F800GT is shown definitely more sober (5.4 l/100 km on average against 6.7 l/100 km during this test) and that almost 2000 Euros separate the two motorcycles, BMW is essential like the choice reasoned and reasonable of this comparative.