Honda VFR800 8th Gen Review

How do you “review” a cult bike? A bike which has forum faithful frothing at the mouth about the virtues of the V4? A bike with decades of history that Honda has tried to re-invent and re-introduce a couple of times? That’s my problem with writing this VFR800 8th gen review — it’s almost impossible to satisfy everyone. Because ultimately, I sold it, and not every aspect of my VFR800 review is glowing.

So this is as balanced a review of my VFR800 as possible. I’m not you, you’re not me, but maybe we share some things in common — let’s see if my view helps.


Early in 2021, I was looking for a commuter bike.

I knew I’d have a 40-50km commute most days of the week for the terms of a 6-month project I had — mostly freeways, a bit of traffic, some sweepers, and a few nice entry and exit ramps.

… But what’s a “commuter” bike? You can commute on anything. I’ve seen people “commute” in supercars and on superbikes. I suppose it’s different for anyone, but to sum it up neatly… a commuter motorcycle is a bike you don’t mind putting miles on, and on which you can still have fun (it’s a motorcycle, after all). So on one extreme, don’t commute on your showroom Ducati 916 with zero miles on it, but on the other hand, you don’t have to be on a Honda CB500 (not that there’s anything wrong with that, though).

After considering a few options that could work for me, I ended up with a Honda VFR800 8th gen. (See my guide to the Honda VFR generations as to why this is commonly called an 8th gen).

My choices were slim. This was Australia, during a COVID-driven supply shortage. Used bikes were more expensive than usual. New bikes were scarce, especially in the ideal colours.

And if I wanted a commuter bike with a bit of bark in it, my choices were slimmer. The two things don’t go hand in hand. Commuters are reliable, predictable, and versatile. A fun sportsbike is loud, hot, and impractical. How do you combine those two?

Well, you can’t exactly… but there are a few sweet nexus points. The Honda VFR800 is one of them.

The VFR800 range has reached cult status — by which I mean the fans are adulatory, more so than the spec sheets would imply. So there was a lot I wanted to know about the VFR800, including

  • Is the VFR800 truly a “do it all” bike?
  • Is the VFR800 still exciting, or sporty?
  • Just how comfortable is the VFR800?
  • Would the VFR800’s V4 engine give me that “berserk” feeling I’m used to from exciting motorcycles?

Here’s what I found out.

Honda VFR800F deluxe RHS profile in urban setting
The Honda VFR800F 2014+ just looks really nice.

Editor’s note: I ended up selling my VFR800 after three months. I enjoyed it, but it didn’t light my fire.

A lot of people will tell me that if I want to go fast, ride hard, or get laughing-in-my-helmet thrills, then maybe the 8th gen VFR800 Deluxe isn’t the bike for me. Or that I’m missing the point, or that maybe I should “upgrade the rider”. All of that is valid.

The thing is, when you strip back any motorcycle purchase… a lot of what makes you love a bike is an ephemeral, entirely subjective feeling. Sometimes the heart knows, and sometimes it doesn’t and you give it a try. With so many bombastic reviews spewing forth adulating epithets about the virtues of the VFR, I feel I owe it to the internet to say — cool machine, but it’s not for everyone. In the end, it wasn’t for me.

But I’ll try to share why it might be for you.

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