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2008 Honda VFR Interceptor First Ride

Monday, June 16, 2008
The 2008 Honda Interceptor may not have undergone any major changes  but it still carries all the trademark features from its racing roots.
The 2008 Honda Interceptor may not have undergone any major changes, but it still carries all the trademark features from its racing roots.
Few dates on the calendar instill the kind of fear and loathing-not to mention paranoia-in the American conscience as that of April 15th. That's right, tax day. The date is so foreboding it has the ability to rouse angst in even the most honest, law abiding citizen. Like many of the country's tax paying individuals I approach the day (rather it approaches me) with a kind of resigned dread. The last several years, late at night on the 14th, as I plowed through the requisite pile of receipts a freelance moto-journalist acquires throughout the year, I promised to get my taxes done early the following year. That promise was repeatedly broken each subsequent season. That is, until this year.

With uncharacteristic diligence I managed to dive into the daunting task ahead of schedule. This was achieved by making a deal with myself; that if I could get my taxes filed early, I would reward myself with playing hooky on April 15th, tax day, and spend the day on a motorcycle. In the end, I made peace with what I owed the good ole USA government, wrote out a check, and sent the forms to Sacramento. The morning of the 15th, a Tuesday, dawned with a kind of lumbering laziness. Instead of the usual dark mood and ominous silence, birds were chirping and there was a scent of freshly mowed grass in the air. I thought maybe I'd dreamt the episode of being done with it all, but quickly realized it was true. I was free. April 15th would be my day.

A hot cup of coffee in the quaint village of Ojai after a good ride add up to the start of a perfect day.
A hot cup of coffee in the quaint village of Ojai after a good ride add up to the start of a perfect day.
Coffee and toast were enjoyed with a calm normally given over to Saturdays. Then I suited up. The day would be spent with the new 2008 Honda VFR Interceptor. To stretch the legs of the sport-touring mount - as well as indulge this unexpected mid-week freedom - I decided to take a dash up the back roads to Ojai, California, simply for the beautiful extravagance of a coffee in the quaint village. As I headed out of town I noticed that Kinko's was a beehive of activity. Disheveled citizens-with blood shot eyes, wired from a night consuming coffee-morbidly and numbly made copies of their returns. The light turned green and I dropped the clutch on the VFR to start my day of hooky.

As a sport-touring mount Honda's VFR is a solid player that can give most liter sportbikes a run for their money (Just watch Freddie Spencer-who uses a VFR as a teaching platform-put one through its paces at his riding school). The Interceptor has a rich racing pedigree that Honda continues to evolve, albeit very incrementally. The VFR has merely been refined over the past three years with no dramatic changes. That said, it remains a formidable machine that provides riders desiring performance and comfort with a stylish, practical, and thoroughly enjoyable alternative.

The  08 Interceptor features a fuel-injected  VTEC V-4 engine  an aluminum chassis  ABS and an all-new color scheme.
The '08 Interceptor features a fuel-injected, VTEC V-4 engine, an aluminum chassis, ABS and an all-new color scheme.
The Interceptor is equipped with Honda's 781cc liquid-cooled 90-degree V-TEC engine. The V-4 powerplant has 4-valves per cylinder, but only operates on two-valves (one intake, one exhaust) per cylinder at low rpm, then transitions to operating on all 4-valves at 6500 rpm and above. The theory and practicality behind the V-TEC engine is to imbue the Interceptor with the benefits of increased torque and fuel economy of a 2-valve engine at lower revs, with the more efficient flow and top-end power a 4-valve head affords at higher revs. The engineering has an F-1 type feel to it, augmented by a powerfully sweet growl that really sings on top end. The VFR was put on the dyno at Peak Performance Motorcycles in Simi Valley to get a true horsepower rating. Just before tagging redline the Honda hit a respectable 107 horsepower at 10,800 rpm. Maximum torque rating was 59.49 ft lbs at 7750 rpm.

The technology is impressive, but it comes at a cost. There is slight flat spot and subsequent surge when the motor switches from 2 to 4-valves. Honda has improved this for 2008, smoothing out the transition significantly. On the plus side, the motor pulls strong off idle and at low, traffic-friendly applications. Once the 4-valve configuration starts pumping, the Interceptor can really scream. The F-1 techno feel runs through the entire Interceptor's drive train. Transmission and clutch deliver seamless shifts, perfectly accented by the responsive motor.

The torquey qualities of the VFR at low rpm complemented the stop and go traffic as I departed town, sharing the congested streets with morning commuters. A short jaunt on the freeway was devoured with aplomb, the 6-speed close-ratio transmission providing a decent spread between gears. Breaking off from the freeway the Interceptor lapped up the winding two-lane roads that snake through the mountains to Ojai, showing off the machine's racing roots.

Its 5.8-gallon tank gives the  08 Interceptor good range. Throw on the optional hard saddlebags and you ve got a solid sport-touring package.
Its 5.8-gallon tank gives the '08 Interceptor good range. Throw on the optional hard saddlebags and you've got a solid sport-touring package.
A 57.4-inch wheelbase gives the VFR a quick, sporting response on turn-in with good mid-corner stability. Fully fueled the VFR tips the scales at 554 pounds, the weight bias distributed 288 lbs on the rear (52%) and 266 (48%) on the front. This weight, when multiplied by inertia, contributed to some front tire cupping, although truth be told, that was after some very serious riding with aggressive trail-braking.

The Interceptor I was riding was equipped with ABS, with the front and rear brakes linked (which automatically applies some front brake when the rear pedal is depressed). The only critique I have of the ABS system - which I always recommend for touring for unpredictable weather and unfamiliar roads - is that under heavy braking the feel of the front brake is inconsistent. This is due to the ABS erroneously trying to regulate pressure and wheel speed, misinterpreting the aggressive braking as wheel spin. It's quite common with ABS systems and, again, this is somewhat of an unfair criticism as this only occurred when flogging the Interceptor very aggressively. The brakes consist of dual 296mm rotors mated to 3-piston calipers on the front, with a single 256mm disc on the rear.

The VFR is definitely more of a sport machine that has been adapted for travel with a slightly relaxed seating position and optional hard bags to earn it a sport touring classification. Although more comfortable than most sport machines, the Interceptor is going to feel cramped for most riders on long hauls. Freeway flying distance junkies would be better suited to Honda's ST1300. Further proving this out, Honda's website places the Interceptor in the sport category as opposed to the touring section. The VFR has a 5.8 gallon capacity fuel tank, which is going to render (depending on riding habits) a range in excess of 200 miles between fuel stops.
The Interceptor is the type of bike that looks smokin  hot even when it s sitting still.
The Interceptor is the type of bike that looks smokin' hot even when it's sitting still.

The Interceptor possesses aggressive lines with attractively wedged bodywork and an angular windscreen that works sufficiently at freeway speeds. A single-sided swingarm and dual under-seat exhaust contribute to the VFR's high-end sophisticated presence. What the Honda VFR Interceptor offers is a machine with the performance and good looks of a sportbike, combined with more practical ergonomics for weekend jaunts. Naturally, the whole package is graced with Honda's phenomenal dependability and stellar fit and finish. Available in one color; a classy, striking Metallic Silver.

After my day of hooky, roosting around the back roads of Ojai, I headed back home, getting into town as stragglers were frantically trying to get their tax returns post-marked before 5 p.m. Unlike the traditional rush, this year for me, April 15th, had delivered one of those wonderful days of pointless wandering a motorcycle inspires. I wonder if I could write the VFR Interceptor off next year as therapy for well-being?

2008 VFR Interceptor ABS MSRP $11,799 (standard $10,799) 

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jgself   October 29, 2013 05:09 AM
Late to the discussion here, but I had an 06 VFR with ABS...bought it used in 06 from a guy who couldn't ride it anymore and it had 1980 miles on it. I really loved it, but in a rash moment, I decided to get something lighter and more youthful for town, so I ended up selling it and getting an 07 Monster S2R1000. I always regretted that. The Monster was great for in town, but awful for commuting on LA Freeways to leave town...no wind protection, didn't suck up the highway like the VFR, less range. Eventually, I sold the Monster because neither was riding around on LA streets all that fun (with crazy distracted drivers) nor was hoping on a crowded freeway with it. After a couple years of not having a bike, I got the bug again, and last week, I found an 07 with ABS with only 1300 miles on it...same story...guy wasn't riding it. Long story short, it should be on its way next week and I can't believe to have found a 5 year old bike with such few miles. These are great bikes...super reliable, smooth power, great for trips, and very refined and interesting compared to some of the other Japanese bikes. This one is staying.
Joe - DFW Tx -2008 VFR800  September 5, 2010 04:00 PM
there are several 07,08,09 interceptors around the dallas-fort worth and surrounding area. They are new, but never sold, going for $8-$10K. I'm planning to test a slightly used one, and purchase a new one if I like it as I expect too. Seems like a sport bike that is more versitile than other sports. Thanks, Joe.
Jon -Interceptor  May 30, 2010 08:30 AM
I have owned bike for 40+ years, started VFRs with a 90 red-white wheels (best looking bike I've owned)-bought unseen, put 40k on it before I thought I was too old. Then had Honda cruiser for 1yr and fell twice, traded in for new 98 800FI. Am now rebuilding chassis after 56k of traveling- all new bearings etc. up. Have done 1k in day on it and I'm in my 60s. The VFRs are absolutely great all-around bikes if you just want to ride (maybe a little fast).
steve -interceptor  May 19, 2010 09:35 AM
after being without a bike for three years i bought a second hand vfr 03 and was immediately captured, really comfortable riding position great neutral handling and plenty power for us mere mortals. only thing i dislike is when the v tec operates mid corner which it has on a few occassions, a little unsettling when it happens but overall a great real world live with every day bike.
John O'Leary -@ Michael - Interceptor  May 14, 2010 11:13 AM
It's a sad day when you leave a bike in a garage for a year and don't use it because you hate the thing. Ever considered a test drive on the VFR before splashing out? Personally speaking, serves you right. You dug your hole, now sit in it.

The 800 VFR's as we call them here in then UK are very popular. The VTEC change at 6500rpm is so smooth as to be hardly noticeable with the later models, '07 and upwards. It's a fine bike built for long distance touring which is what i use mine for, and wouldn't change it for anything.

The new 1200 is pricey, crap mirrors and is a real licence loser, not the bike i was hoping it would be, for a start it's not a touring bike which the VFR/Interceptors are famous for. How do i know this? Took it out for a test drive and didn't like it. Saved myself a fortune, much to my 800's joy, so holding on to that instead.
Michael -Interceptor  April 6, 2010 03:12 PM
Bought new in December of 2008 I was immediately full of regret. Bought as a replacement for an 87 VFR 700 this newer VFR is 100 pounds heavier and with the VTEC it is a slow dog, a genuine Lead Sled.

Unable to use it as a trade in,it sits lonely and forlorne in my garage. Good thing I have the 60 month warranty since you never know when a tree could crash through the barn. I hate this bike and hate making the monthly payment on it even more.

One year and 40 miles later the dealer tells me I could trade it if I can cough up $3800 down.... .
William Austin TX -Giving Up My 2003 Non ABS for New VFR800A - - My 19th Motorcycle and FIRST one Bought New  January 15, 2010 08:23 PM
After riding 1.2 million miles in 30 countries around the world, I have ridden about 100 different motorcycles and owned about 20 of my own. Never bought one new, deciding that used ones were always a much better "deal." However, this changed when the new VFR1200 came out: Honda pushed its dealers (with financial incentives) to sell and otherwise get rid of 07 and 08 VFR's. A few months later, most private owners of 07/08 models lowered their used prices to reflect the Honda "deals" and now a bike that was clearly expensive (but worth it, packed with technology), is now DIRT CHEAP. To buy a motorcycle of this caliber NEW for 7000 and used for as low as 4500 is, simply put, the best motorcycle value I have seen in the last 20 years. Amazing machines that inspire comfidence, improve skills and look COMPETENT anywhere and everywhere.
RAHUL -PARCHAGE  November 4, 2009 10:38 AM
RedRover -Re: "Dave - Aftermarket Seat "  October 21, 2009 10:02 AM
Dave, in response to your request Sargent Cycle makes an EXCELLENT aftermarket seat for the viffer.

RedRover -Look for a Holdover '07  October 21, 2009 08:43 AM
For the last several months mother Honda has let dealers slash pricing on holdover '07's (both the 25th anniversary Red/White & Blue and the "Winning Red" color schemes) which are essentially identical to the '08 model. Through visiting various VFR boards on the Web, I've heard of some of these (non-ABS) selling for as little as $6500 "out-the-door" NEW!! That, my friends, is the value deal of the decade for a new motorcycle of this caliber. If you're interested in NEW that's the model-year to get before they're all gone.

I've owned both a 2nd gen and my current '02 6th gen and can testify it's a great bike. And, I concur with everything the previous posters have said. Now, get riding!
Dave -Aftermarket Seat  September 22, 2009 10:22 AM
Anyone have an opinion on a good aftermarket seat? This site seems to like the Corbin, http://www.hondavfr.info/accessories/seats-saddles/
Paul -VFR800a  September 19, 2009 12:09 PM
I have owned a 2008 model for a year now and done 20,000km... I have to say compare against the 600s this is a man's bike! Ok there is not real rush when you hit 7000 rpm, but the sound of the growl makes me smile every time and then it just screams and makes me smile even more.
JP-Interceptor -Probably most flexible sportbike ever made.  August 1, 2009 07:52 PM
I have an ' 07 Interceptor and love it. It is one of the few Japanese motorcycles with some real "personality". It is different in small ways that make it cool...V-4, not a "boring" Inline 4 or "typical" V-twin. At idle it sounds like a V-Twin, not a 4. The bike is "friendly and mild" until the V-Tech hits, then it suddenly turns into a completely different cat, an angry, screaming, 4 cylinder sportbike. Personally, I love the "hit" when the V-Tech hits...you KNOW when it does from the screaming intake howl. The bike is rock steady in corners and predictable; I have never felt like it was untrustworthy. It is not "the" fastest sportbike out there, but it is quite fast AND comfortable. At highway speeds the windscreen is set perfectly to lift you off the bars and is very comfortable at 75 to 80 mph. This thing will eat some major miles on an interstate highway if you want to...and still be a challenge and thrill in the corners when you get off the super-slab. To me the deal clincher is the removable hard bags; the utility they add over a sport bike is a magnitude of 10. They come off and go on in seconds. Carefully loaded, I can get three full plastic bags of groceries in there....try that on your Liter bike race replica on the way home from Track Day!! This is actually a real sportbike that is useful....what a concept! 90% of the repli-racer riders out there could not take this bike to the limit on a track, yet write it off as "slow". The Interceptor HAS to be the best all around sport bike ever made unless you spend a LOT of time riding over 130 mph. Too many people overlook it when shopping for a sport bike because it is not the latest repli-racer. BIG mistake. If you were told you could only own ONE motorcycle for the rest of your life, you would be hard put not to have this bike on you short list.
Blake -Interceptor  April 28, 2009 03:28 PM
A little late on the comments considering everyone else commented in January but I appreciate the comments because I just sold my 05 CBR600 looking for a sport bike performance and style the the comfort of a cruiser, and I must say that I am sold and will be going to the dealer, thanks!
Trevor -Spencer  February 5, 2009 11:42 PM
Anyone who thinks that these bikes are slow needs a wake-up call. On the last day of Freddie's 3 day course, I was hauling ass draggin my knee, having a good time when one of the instructors passes me on the brakes, and then waves the signal "Follow me, try to keep up...!". Well damn, I remember looking at that VFR mid-corner wondering to myself why I was behind it on my CBR.... They sound deadly with aftermarket exhaust, and you will feel refreshed after a long ride, vs the poor kids on race-replicas.
JOHN RAMBO 6 -INTERCEPTOR  February 3, 2009 12:16 AM
Rcjam-1 -Interceptor January 26, 2009 11:40 AM  January 26, 2009 09:06 AM
This is the only bike that i'll ever need. I sat on one not to long ago and it fit me to a T. I did all my homework on this bike and I,m looking to get one in the spring. The only thing that i would like to see is a better color than black, But don,t get me wrong the black is beautiful,But it is hard to see at night and with it,s price tag it,s going to be hard to get it painted. OH WELL, Like that,s going to stop me from getting one of the best sportbikes ever made (YEAH RIGHT)I will see you guys N gals on the road in the spring.
John -Interceptor  January 7, 2009 10:21 AM
I agree with your oppinion of the Honda Interceptors Grace and overall Performance attributes. I own a 2002 Interceptor. The only differnece is pre 2007 models kick in to 4 valve per cylinder at 7000 rpm instead of 6500 rpm. Honda upgraded the ECM to kick in earlier to reduce some of the jolting effect it gives you without sacrificing the overall acceleration. I have had no problems with it mechanicaly or with fit & finsh. I have upgraded it a bit with aftermarket exhaust, rear sets, steering Damper. It gives it more of a Racing bike feel now. But is still more comfortable than a pure sport bike would. I do agree that riding through the Northern Califonia Mountains is a blast with more rider comfort than my previos Honda CBR. It does give the Liter bikes a run for there money.
drew -interceptor  December 12, 2008 10:32 PM
this is a sick bike. i do believe im gonna get one.