Saturday, October 22, 2005

Bikes: Back to the future...

Riding the VF1000F is a trip down memory lane. Back in 1984, the big Interceptor was a technological tour de force, crammed to the gunwales with stuff that had been pure racing esoterica not too many years earlier: Twin-piston front brakes, anti-dive front forks, adjustable suspension damping, a perimeter-style frame, a mono-shock rear suspension, and that super-high-tech liquid-cooled 4-valve V-four powerplant. In a world of air-cooled, two-valve, twin-rear-shock, backbone-framed competitors, it was like a UFO; a Jetsons bike; something from the Future.

Now? God this thing is heavy. The front brake lever seems mostly to produce a poignant desire to slow down, but little else. The engine, while strong, makes nowhere near the 113 horsepower Honda claimed; most dyno tests of the time showed numbers in the low 80s, which would make it an also-ran in the 600 class these days. Except today's 600s don't weigh the better part of 600 pounds. Did I mention it was heavy?

Anyhow, this is what we now call a "sport-tourer", and is the kind of bike I was looking for; comfy, with plenty of power for freeway riding, and handling that's surprisingly good for a bike of its avoirdupois. It should make a pleasant freeway commuter and roadtrip bike, and there are some relatively inexpensive mods out there that can correct or reduce its most glaring faults, like braided steel brake lines, or retrofitting the 17-inch rims off a CBR 600F2. It should be fun.

Besides, nostalgia never goes out of style.

BELOW: FlabbyFlabbyTonBike, (with HappyHappyFunBike, l., shown to scale.)

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