Honda VTR 1000

For those that have been paying attention, I traded my `92 900SS for this bike. Why? Many reasons. I was trying to sell it for some time and only had a couple of offers that backed out. Then I found the crack in the frame. I was despondent over this and lowered the price to $5000. Still no takers, then this guy wants to trade for his VTR1000. I think a VTR is worth more than $5k, so I do it.

After saying yes to this, I read every review I could. The most reassuring review was UK's SuperBike magazine (Oct 99.) They stacked a lot of current bikes against each other. The guy testing the VTR liked it so much, he bought one for his own. I've heard they're a tad ugly. I've read they're slow. Everyone derides them.

Zina and I bought a van and drove up to San Francisco to do the trade. Thankfully, we did better than Drew, who had quite the adventure on his trip home. I picked up the SuperHawk, cleaned her off and stuffed her in the van and drove the 600 miles back home. I couldn't help but notice that it isn't nearly as ugly as the magazines say - or Drew tried to prepare me for.

Got a new battery, threw on some EBC HH rated sintered metal pads on the front. Also mounted a 120/60-17 Pirelli Dragon that came with a set of wheels I got for the 916. Fired up and went for a ride with Zina Xmas eve. Had a great time!

My very first impressions were good power, very light steering, and the brakes took some effort, but were effective with the HH pads. The bike reminds me very much of the 900SS but not quite as cramped. After riding more, I found it has a lot more power than a 900. Passed a car in rolling hills and did a huge wheely! It rides about the same as an SS if you're easy on the throttle, but you'll notice that the RPMs are a few thousand less than on a 900SS. If you pin it, you're rewarded with a deeper bark of the exhaust and immediate thrust forward. This is a very friendly and comfortable sportbike.

Advanced riding starts to find some limitations. This thing is so much fun, I'll definitely have to wear leathers for backroad riding! I found that the chassis squirms a bit during heavy loads - under breaking or bumps. Not solid like the Ducati, but you won't notice unless you're pushing the comfort envelope on the street. The forks feel pretty good, but the shock will need some work. I'm hoping the adjusters will save me from having to get a Fox. I'm gonna have to take the peg feelers off since I buried the left one on Palomar while not really trying that hard. Problem is, then I'll start grinding the new boots Zina bought me for Christmas...

I've compared it to the 900, what about the 916? The 916 is in the league of actual racebikes (like the 900RR, ZX7, and GSXR) and the VTR is a streetbike like the 900SS. So the 916 handles a lot better, is super stable in the turns, and is far better behaved at extreme lean angles. Not to mention limitless ground clearance.

Update... I spooned on some good tires, the Michelin Pilot Sports. The VTR really seems to like tires with soft sidewalls. It immediately railed with the new tires and is a very inspiring ride. A dyno run revealed more horsepower than my 916 or souped up 900: 102hp at the rear wheel with huge torque. Like 50 ft-lbs before the run started at 2500 rpm. It quickly passed 60 and never got back below 60 ft-lbs. This explains why it fells like a 900SS, but at 2000 rpm lower! To ride the VTR in real anger requires that the upper body be completely relaxed and loose. As soon as you stiffen up your arms, the things starts wiggling all over. Damn fine bike. Too bad it only goes 110 miles before running out of gas.

Current mods & stats:
  • Yosh Slip-Ons (Zina says they're quieter than a Ducati and I think they sound good)
  • Raybrig Metal-White H4 bulb
  • EBC FA-187HH sintered metal front brake pads
  • 180/55-17 Michelin Pilot Sport out back
  • 120/70-17 Michelin Pilot Sport in front
  • Jet kit? Got me