- The Washington Times - Friday, September 5, 2008

Honda’s Interceptor is truly a race-bred machine. It serves up the qualities of a sport bike while also providing the more endearing attributes of a street bike.

There seems to be a growing trend developing in the manufacture of sport bikes. The trend is one of gradually incorporating elements of comfort and convenience into these bikes. Not to worry hardcore canyon carvers, there will likely always be naked and radical sport bikes available.

The Interceptor model has been part of the Honda lineup for several years and the 2008 VFR Interceptor comes two ways — the standard model is without ABS brakes, and begins pricing at $10,799. The ABS equipped Interceptor starts at $11,799. Both versions fall into the sport-tourer category and are capable of competing on equal ground with more radical and traditional sport bikes.

Honda has continued to refine the VFR Interceptor over the past few years with no significant major modifications. The unique Honda machine continues to deliver outstanding performance and above average comfort in a visually pleasing package that is practical and enjoyable to ride, while serving as a pleasant alternative to run-of-the-mill sporties.

The Interceptor continues to lead the pack of sport touring bikes in today’s market. The unique VTEC power plant actually seems to deliver two engines in one machine.

At the lower end of the rpm range, each of the four cylinders runs on two valves (one intake and one exhaust), increasing low-end and mid-range torque. Rev up to 6,400 rpm and above, and the other two valves (intake and exhaust) per cylinder kick in for a four-valve mode, which comes across with an effect not unlike initiating a nitrous-oxide boost, but with an earlier minimal and barely noticeable lag or flat spot between the two and four valve modes, which Honda has nearly eliminated in this 2008 model.

The premise of the system is that a two-valve operation provides more low-end torque with increased fuel efficiency, while the four-valve mode delivers considerably more power in the higher rev ranges. Also part of the technological wizardry are: Programmed Fuel Injection, Pro Arm and Pro-Link rear suspension, Honda’s Lined Braking System and the available ABS system.

The motor is a 781cc liquid-cooled 90-degree, 16-valve VTEC V-4 with four valves per cylinder and Programmed Fuel Injection that delivers power to the rear wheel through a close ratio six-speed sequential manual gearbox and an “O” ring sealed chain final drive. Honda traditionally doesn’t list horsepower and torque ratings for its motorcycles due to varied and often ambiguous methods of measurement. Independent sources report 107 horsepower at 10,800 rpm and a maximum torque rating of nearly 60 lb.-ft. at 7,750 rpm.

The suspension consists of 43mm HMAS cartridge forks with spring-preload adjustability and 4.3-inch travel forward, and the Pro Arm single-side swing arm with Pro-Link single HMAS gas-charged shock with seven position spring-preload and rebound-damping adjustability and 4.7-inch travel out back.

Bringing the Interceptor to a halt is a breeze with the linked ABS system, made up of dual full-floating 296mm discs with LBS three-position calipers up front, and a single 256mm disc with LBS three-position caliper with Anti-Lock Braking System. The Interceptor rides on Dunlop Sportmaxx rubber.

The Interceptor generates a positively aggressive image with its faired bodywork and raked (but short) windscreen that obviously works better for shorter riders than for tall individuals. Initially, it displays the look of a sport bike, while providing friendlier ergonomics, such as more upright riding position and generously sculpted tank, allowing the rider to tuck knees in comfortably.

Swinging a leg over the 2008 Honda VFR Interceptor serves up a much more civilized experience than the all-out sportie genre. The bars are elevated and angled back, with the foot pegs and controls positioned more mid-range than radically aft. Let’s face it, as we age, our flexibility, durability and resilience tend to decline, while our love of riding generally remains the same. Laying over the tank in a crouched, racing posture just isn’t fun anymore - well ok, maybe for short stints.

The Interceptor delivers power over a broad torque range in any gear, particularly the upper gears. The engine and exhaust notes prove to be melodic with a powerful growl emitted with a twist of the wrist. The ride quality is compliant over rougher surfaces, and the handling characteristics rendered are well balanced and positively agile. The 57.4-inch wheelbase and 81.15-inch overall length lend themselves to favorable turn-in and mid-curve steadiness. The bike weighs in ready to ride at 551 pounds and the 5.8-gallon fuel tank allows for a most reasnable range, roughly 200 miles.

The VFR Interceptor may be categorized as a most capable sport ride that has been tamed for extended travel. Get comfortable, hold when you twist the throttle to a point above 6,400 rpm and enjoy the ride.

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