Who will buy the new VFR800?

Bruce Steever
Publish Date: 
Jun 12, 2014
By Bruce Steever

The first buyer for the new RC79 is the easiest: the “VFR guy.” This is the classic Honda VFR rider, and he’s likely to have owned several in his riding career. He’ll be an easy sale because this is the improved VFR800 he’s been wanting for years. Make sure your dealership has accessories in stock for him, because he’ll likely want a bunch of them mounted before he takes off for a multi-state ride to “break the bike in.”

Another potential buyer is a rider who wants what the sporty adventure-tourers promise in terms of performance and practicality, but can’t get over the image of riding a big dual-sport, or simply can’t get over the frequently too-tall seat heights. The new VFR’s adjustable seat can be set to a low 31 inches, and the bike is compact enough to be friendly to shorter riders.

The big challenge for Honda and its dealer network will be selling the VFR based on its now-unique position in the marketplace.

The VFR800 is a pure middleweight in the current market, lacking the power to fight the big 1200cc adventure streetbikes head-to-head, and while the VFR Deluxe includes new tech such as traction control and ABS, it lacks the all-singing, all-dancing technology as found on machines like the KTM. Instead, the new VFR customer will need to be interested in the bike’s unique displacement and engine configuration, its silky-smooth power curve, its all-season ability, and its understated nature. The VFR is no longer a flashy, technical powerhouse of a bike – it’s now more of a sleeper machine, a more subtle design for a more subtle pilot.

Don’t bother trying to sell your typical CBR or GSX-R owner on the idea, but your customer that commutes on his sportbike is a potential VFR sale, as is the re-entry sportbike rider, and so is the rider steeping up from more budget-minded bikes the latest 300cc and 500cc options.

Press image courtesy Kevin Wing/American Honda