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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Hi,

As per the title, I currently own a '09 VFR800. This was the bike that I learned to ride on (with the exception of dirt bikes on a farm rounding up the sheep in my younger years - and no - that's not a metaphor), and pretty much the only road bike I have ever ridden (apart from taking some friends bikes out for a short run).

I'm looking in particular for people's experience that have made the switch, what they found difficult to adjust to, what they found easy to adjust to, and their end thoughts of making the switch more than a straight comparison of the two.

I'll admit - I have an attachment to my VFR like some teenage girls have to their Justin Bieber. I love the way the bike sings, the way it looks, the way it moves, and I still scream with delight everytime I see one. :grin:

But alas - I've just found Honda have given up on them now like I've given up on Holywood ever making a new original interesting entertaining movie, so I'm looking to see what's the 'next best' option available for me.

I'm looking for some honest truths from people who have switched from the 6th Gen VFR800, to the latest Gen (2018) Ninja 1000. The good, the bad and the ugly.

I know this is a Ninja forum, so I expect a little bias here, but I'd really like to hear the 'dont likes', or 'what I miss' posts as well as 'what I love'. Not to turn me off making the switch, but just so I have a good solid idea of what I may miss as well as what I'll gain if I make the switch.

My primary concern moving away from a VFR is the way the bike handles. As mentioned, I learned on this bike. I found that it was solid on the road, just sits in the corners, and for someone who had very little experience - I was scraping my boots, and then my pegs before I knew it (without intending to). I wasn't pushing hard - and don't consider myself a 'race' rider. (I'm the kind of person who reads 'road craft' books rather than 'twist of the wrist' books - so consider myself a spirited but conservative and responsible road rider. Most of my peg scrapes have been at lower speeds too - I just love the way the VFR can dip into the corners but still feels like it's solidly connected to the road. It's a solid bike that makes me feel confident and comfortable.

So the fact that I got down to my pegs with no training, and whilst feeling comfortable speaks volumes for the way the VFR handles. It was the best of both worlds to learn on (enough power to keep me up with everyone else once I became more confident, but also a friendly bike easy to anticipate how it would handle in conditions whilst being able to handle what demands I made of it when I had a rush of blood and a desire for a more spirited run).

There are a few things I had in my 'wish list' for the VFR that Honda never brought out. In particular was just that 'little' bit more power, which makes a switch to the 1K an option.

Below are my current thoughts, and concerns, and I'd be very appreciative to hear what other people who are familiar with the VFR 750/800's (especially 6th Gen) have found when you made the switch:


  1. Handling. How did you find the change with the way the Ninja handles compared to the VFR? I don't care about the race track, but am interested in mountain twisties, which range from sharp through to sweepers. This is my #1 concern about switching bikes. I know the VFR - I love the VFR, and making a switch concerns me. Does the Ninja sit and feel as nice in corners, or does it require a little more or less handling?
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  2. Seat Position / Feel. From what I've been told the feel of sitting on the Ninja is completely different to a VFR. On my VFR800 it feels like I sit 'in' the bike, not 'on' the bike as it does with some other bikes I've tried. (Yamaha MT09 as an example). How did you find the transition of the way the Ninja feels to sit on compared to the VFR?
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  3. Vibrations. Is there much difference between the vibrations. I've read that some earlier models vibrate more. I do week touring at a time, on the bike all day every day so I need a bike that's going to be comfortable and not irritate me with vibrations coming from the V4?
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  4. Power. This is something I'm hoping for a little improvement on if I make the switch, but what's it like in the twisties.I normally ride between 3-6k reves in twisties so that a bump, accidental twist of the wrist, etc won't spit me off. One thing I've been concerned about more powerful bikes is that they are easier to 'make mistakes' on whilst in a corner and I'm just wondering if this is something that is a significant change from the VFR to Ninja 1K, or is the power only there when I really demand it, and not from a little flick of the wrist?
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  5. Seating position. I'm not getting any younger, and have a nigly back. CBR1000's, R1's, etc lean too much for me when I ride them. From what I can gather, the Ninja 1000 is a lot less of a lean than the VFR (nearly halves the lean). I don't mind a bit of forward lean in the VFR, and am worried that the 1K will feel more like a MT09 or Street Tripple (upright bike) than a sports tourer, and might affect the 'sports' aspect of a sports tourer feel. Can anyone who's transferred over comment on how they found the lean? Is the position still spirited enough to enjoy as a sports tourer compared to the VFR800?
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  6. Center stand. From what I gather, the Ninja 1000 doesn't have a center stand. This is something I'm worried about as I use my center stand all the time on my VFR800. (Not just in the garage but when out and about - it makes quick checks whilst touring so much easier). Am I the only one that uses the VFR center stand so frequently, or are their others here that used to use it all the time, and if so how did you find yourself adapting to a bike without one?
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  7. Reliability. One thing I loved about my VFR is that it's never let me down. Not for a moment. I know as they get older previous generations had issues with the stator / electronics although I think that was sorted in the 6th gen. The engine itself is remarkable, and owners and dealers alike have told me not to worry about valve clearance checks when scheduled, to ignore completely or at least wait double the distance first, as they're so reliable.I have no experience with Kawasaki. Are they also known for quality workmanship, or are they more about the tech/electronics?
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  8. And of course, anything else that stands out or comes to mind when you made the switch. I have no knowledge of the Ninja 1000. (Prior to today, I actually thought it was in the same league as CBR1000's, and R1's - so I was surprised to hear that it was more orientated to sports touring, and even significantly more upright than the VFR800).
I'll be honest. If Honda made a VFR1000, I'd probably jump at it. It feels like the VFR was made first for handling, and then everything else has been around that. (So it gains handling at the cost of a bigger engine, more electronics, etc). I have never purchased a bike brand new before - and it's a big committment to change. Sorry for the big post and wall of text, but I'm just wanting to gain an appreciation of what others have found who have transitioned from a VFR750/800 to the Ninja 1000 to know what I might be in for.
 

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I have never owned a VFR but i have sit on a couple to see what they felt like, the ninja will be a little taller a little bit more heavy definately a little more upright and in my opinion be alot better touring bike than the VFR. And it will be a hell of alot more powerful, i say if you go for the ninja you will forget about honda i certainly did, and definately dont like the route honda is going in there production bikes.
 

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The ninja is actually 20-30 lbs lighter than the vfr 800. It sounds crazy, but the v4 configuration is not the greatest choice if light weight is a primary concern. Yes, Ducati just did it, but the bike costs 25k.
 

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I do miss not having a centerstand. Leaving things like this off is how Kawasaki kept it lighter than the vfr and cheaper, too. Build quality is nowhere near the vfr. This causes no issues, but you'll find the paint lacking as compared to a vfr.

As far as it being reliable, there are very few failures of any kind. Mark lost an abs pump, and thats one of the largest failures Ive ever heard of, to be honest. Kawasaki fixed it and I dont believe it ended up costing him too much, even though his bike was not in warranty. I would not make reliability a factor in my decision. If the extended warranty is over 300.00, I would skip it.

Its a lot more powerful. I dont know if you are looking at a brand new 2017. If you are looking at a 2016, there is an ecu reflash available thats really nice and adds even more power.

I know there are a bunch of us who would have bought the Honda version...if only, but were never interested in a vfr 1200.
 

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I have ridden several VFRs, and almost purchased one in 2016, but ended up with another SV650. I feel that VFRs I have ridden have a fairly top-heavy feel, and they definitely don't carry their weight as gracefully as the Ninja. You'll definitely noticed the weight difference, and it's definitely more upright. As far as the peg scraping thing, you might want to enroll in an advanced riding school of some sort. I thought the same thing when I was riding my SV, and then learned that I was leaning the bike more than I needed to in the corners, and my body not enough. If your body positioning is right, you'll feel quite at home on the N1K, though having your arms a little higher in the air definitely takes some getting used to (biggest thing I noticed going from the SV to the N1K at the riding school here).

I weighed my N1K last year (sans mufflers) and it came in at about 470lb. It's *substantially* lighter than the VFR, and has a good bit more power as well (20-30 depending on who you ask).

I haven't noticed any real vibration issues; some are more sensitive to this than I am, and have fixed it with a different sprocket. I can say I have done a 10+ hour day on the interstate crossing the Dakotas and vibration wasn't an issue.

There isn't a center stand option. To be fair, if you're worried about scraping pegs, center stands usually lower your clearance overall, and honestly I haven't had need for one while doing normal maintenance during a trip. Convenient/nice-to-have? Yes. Necessity? No.

@jonlong just posted his first ride impressions of the N1K after switching from a FZ09:

From what he says there, the throttle is nice and smooth as compared to the earlier years like mine (2013, which is pretty choppy stock, but can be remedied (and some!) with a tune.

Hope you pick up an N1K; it has plenty of power but it's very smooth at lower RPM and of course all that torque means you can keep it in the non-scary-power RPM range for easy driving and no sudden lurchy/blasty moments. It's a hell of a bike, and I'm sure the new ones are even better than the one I have.

The VFR was a little too oinky for me; noticeably heavier.... But you should definitely look into the VFR1200, too. One of those caught my eye recently. They're much smaller than they look in pictures, but again are kinda heavy.
 
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I just realized something if we go back to your post.

The Honda tech mentioned being able to skip required maintenance on the vfr. Specifically, the valve adjustments.

The reason they said that is because that specific service, on the Honda, is expensive. With that vtec system, people report prices of 700-1500 as the cost.

You can skip the adjustment on any Japanese bike. Most of them either don't need to be adjusted, or are so close as to not matter.

That works until you go to sell the bike. At that point, the skipped maintenance makes your bike worth a lot less, and makes you, the owner, look like a deadbeat, idiot or fool. You've skipped basic maintenance on this new bike I'm thinking of buying sort of thing...and especially on a complicated system like Honda uses for the vfr.

Don't let people bs you on maintenance. It sucks that its required, and expensive. Thats one big reason people avoided the vfr.

You can skip things on your car. When it breaks, is slowly rolls to a stop on the side of the road.
 

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Haven't ridden a VFR, but as far as handling the N1K, in general, it's a cinch. Though I may be a bit biased as I have owned several cruisers, one of them fairly heavy, as well as a Hayabusa, which is a heavy sportstourer.

A N1K will be a lot quicker than a VFR, but you may find the engine sound a bit boring in comparison. The V-tec sound is pretty sexy. May wanna throw on some slip-ons if you decide to get one. As far as twisties go, it's probably the most fun bike I've had (out of like 6 bikes). It won't be as nimble as a 600 cc supersport (obviously), but with some minimal effort it will lean down as much as the tires and the road will allow.

Overall, I think it's a great bike for touring and for the twisties, though in my opinion the engine doesn't have as much character as the one on the VFR. It's a fairly comfortable bike though, especially with the Kawasaki gel seat (even the '17 model greatly benefits from this).

I heavily considered a VFR myself at several points, but decided against it as I felt it was a bit underpowered.
 

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In 2011 I switched from a 2003 VFR (6th gen) to the Ninja 1000. I totaled the 2011 two years later and promptly purchased a 2013 Ninja 1000 without hesitation.

Loved the VFR and put almost 50,000 miles on it, waiting for someone to build a better middleweight sport touring bike at an affordable price. The Ninja has a slightly more upright seating position and is more comfortable for the long haul. Stock seat and my backside did not get along well so I purchased a Sargent seat. Problem solved. Ninja has far more power and right where you need it most.....no comparison here. Fueling on the earlier models was a bit twitchy at low rpm but Ivan's flash of the ECU added more power while making fueling butter smooth everywhere across the tachometer. Newer models have better fueling from the factory so no real issue here. The Ninja comes stock with a 190/50 rear tire and steering inputs take a bit more pressure on the bars than with the VFR but it is otherwise easily a match for the VFR in handling and cornering. Almost everyone who has the Ninja switches to the 190/55 and this much improves turn in and reduces the amount of pressure needed at the bars to maintain a line through the corner. To me the Ninja actually feels a bit more light and nimble once I made the tire size switch. Because of the far better power in the low and mid range, the Ninja is more fun in the twisties. The VFR needed to be in the right gear for the corner......the grunt of the Ninja means that if you enter a corner a gear higher than you intended it will still power through and out from the apex like a cheetah after a gazelle. I have 22,000 miles on my 2013 but my riding is divided between it and my ZX6R. The Ninja has been superbly reliable so far. The only thing I had to do was disassemble the clutch switch and wipe it clean when the bike would not start unless it was in neutral. I don't miss the center stand.

The Ninja is hands down the better sport touring bike in my opinion. What do I miss about the VFR.......the single sided swingarm made changing the rear tire much easier. That is it. Like the VFR but I would never go back.
 
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We're not biased at all, we swear! :D
 

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Discussion Starter #11
LOL. I was expecting a Biased answer - but getting answers from people who have owned both is definitely helpful! It looks like I'll definitely need to try one out before I go ahead with the change to make sure that the differences don't irk me too much - but I suspect it's a bit like the Canon vs Nikon debate - with current technology and development, it doesn't matter which you buy - both will live up to expectations and put a smile on my face. Just with Honda giving up on the VFR800, and never having any plans on building a VFR1000 - it looks like it's time to check out the alternatives more serious.
 

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Ok, first...........I LOVE Hondas, and if Honda made a proper VFR in the past 8 years, I would have seriously considered it. I've owned 15 bikes now over the past 25 years, and swap with other riders often. No, I have not owned a VFR, but I have ridden almost all of them, including a 2009, the most recent was a half day rip through some pretty hairy Oregon roads around Baker City, John Day etc etc.

It's a turd. I can go in to detail, but for the sake of not coming across as a dick, its doesn't turn, its doesn't stop, and its is gutless.

The N1K is what the VFR should be IMHO. The only thing the N1K lacks, is sex appeal, although the 2017 I have now looks much better, no one is stopping to look at it.
 
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