Belgium. The ‘land that God forgot’ is more famous for balding politicians and chocolates than inventions. Perhaps ‘Hercule Poirot’, the detective with the dodgy moustache and equally bizarre habit of stumbling upon random criminals isn’t the best example. But Belgians have been very successful inventors in the past, with the saxophone, the Big Bang Theory and asphalt just for starters. And last year, a couple of brave Belgians took a leap of faith to produce something else they believe the world wanted, the VFR800RR Bioblade.
Bikers world wide hadn’t been hoping, we had been expecting Honda to produce a V-Four-powered sports bike. Its stand at the Milan bike show in 2008 was adorned with V-Four signs, flanked by a spectacular collection of historic V-Four race bikes; the RC45, RC30 and NR750. Photographers were poised with their arms stretched skywards, lenses aimed over the heads of hundreds of waiting journalists. The focus of everyone’s attention was the veiled shape on stage and the promise of a new V-Four. But as the curtain dropped, so did our hopes for a V-Four powered sports bike. Honda’s new V-Four was a sport-tourer, the fresh for 2010 VFR1200F.
“If Honda won’t build it, we will”
Shortly after the Milan show, two Belgian bike journalists from Motorrijder magazine decided to build something special, the kind of motorcycle they believe Honda should consider developing in the future. Their limited experience of building such a bike was comical compared to that of the mighty Japanese manufacturer, but after 18 months of hard graft, which included using as many original Honda parts as possible, the VFR800RR Bioblade was finally finished,
Starting with a crashed 1999 Honda VFR800, the Bioblade project morphed into its present form with parts from a CBR1000RR and aftermarket help from Akrapovic.
Think 800cc V-Four and you think MotoGP (for now at least). Rossi, Hayden and Stoner all ride high-tech prototype machines that cannot be replicated for road use under the current official ruling. But what if there was a production spin off? A Honda sportsbike, powered by an 800cc V-Four, with a MotoGP replica paint job. Sounds interesting doesn’t it?
The Bioblade VFR800RR had three simple goals. It had to have the peak power of a modern 600cc bike and a wider power band overall, specifically with less fluff and more punch in the lower revs. It had to be visually stunning and capable of competing with the elegance of Aprilia’s RSV4R. And the bonus ball was an environmentally friendly one. The Bioblade had to run on biofuel and successfully compete in a three-hour endurance race before being converted from race bike trim to a completely road legal motorcycle.
I saw the crumpled heap of the crash-damaged 1999 Honda VFR800 and found it hard to visualise the promised end result. But the mangled wreck provided the frame and heart of the Bioblade, the V-Four engine. Next step was to buy another crash damaged bike, this time a 2005 Fireblade (the Fireblade being Honda’s name for the CBR1000RR here in the States – MCUSA ed). The superior forks, suspension and braking system replaced the VFR’s entire front end, while its fat and low rear unit was exchanged for the Fireblade’s trimmer tail with underseat exhaust.
With some more adjustments to the tuning the Bioblade was capable of an impressive 134 hp. Not bad for a bike running on biofuels!
A custom made Akrapovic exhaust system, combined with flowing the ports and a sharper cam profile, enhanced the characteristic roar of the engine and released a respectable 125 hp at 10,000 rpm and 69 lb-ft of torque at 8250 rpm. Reprogramming the engine mapping and changing the end canister produced yet more punch, 134 hp at the back wheel. Not bad for a bunch of Belgians.
It wasn’t all plain sailing though, the first track test was hampered by a serious lack of ground clearance and with the exhaust pipes scrapping, Akrapovic revised their artwork to let the bike to achieve its full potential on track, second place in the second round of Belgium’s biggest endurance championship, the No Budget CUP.
The original VFR800’s bulky fairing was replaced with slimmer bodywork from a Honda SP1 and aftermarket Bimota DB7 clocks completed the stylish transformation. A professional paint job mirrored Honda’s celebratory limited-edition Fireblade, with the ‘HRC’ detailing (Honda Racing Corporation) subtly replaced with ‘MRC’ (MotorRijder Concept).
Then it went green. Bioethanol is fuel made from fermenting plants like sugar cane, fruit or even potatoes. The resulting (E85) mixture is 85% Ethanol and 15% petrol, the later is needed to start the engine from cold. According to BP’s estimates, 20% of all road transport fuel will be Biofuels by 2030. E85 costs roughly half the price of petrol, assuming of course that you can find somewhere to buy it. Admittedly, the Bioblade drinks 25% more E85 than conventional fuel, yet the bike still manages to squeeze over 140 miles from the VFR’s original 21-liter (5.5-gallon) tank, which was retained for practical reasons such as cost, and its ability to suck a magnetic tank bag in place.
Honda Belgium called the VFR Bioblade project “interesting”, but will riders one day see a purpose-built VFR supersport anytime soon?
This bike was never intended to be an impractical show piece, but a real motorcycle for real bikers. The Belgian boys were hardly a match for Honda’s bank of technical experts though, so the 467-lb (fully-fuelled) Bioblade feels like a VFR with superior suspension rather than a featherweight supersports bike. The riding position is comfortable, especially on track and the stance is not dissimilar to a GSX-R750, but with more leg room. Road riding highlights the bike’s sportier focus and there is noticeable pressure on your wrists. A small price to pay for something so unique.
In all, the VFR800RR Bioblade is a brave attempt from these lads to literally ‘put their money where their mouth is.’ Rather than simply verbalize their disappointment, not necessarily in the introduction of the VFR 1200, but rather in the lack of a Honda V-Four sportbike, they developed the bike themselves, albeit on a budget and with limited resources. And for that, they can only be applauded.
So, will the VFR800RR Bioblade ever become a reality? Honda Belgium described it as ‘interesting’. I hope that’s not Belgian waffle!