2012 Honda Crossrunner: MD First Ride

April 4, 2011

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Powered by the same 782 cc V4 engine found in the European model  VFR 800, with VTEC, the new Honda Crossrunner features an easy-to-use, friendly engine full of torque, with a slight kick at 7000 RPM. The new Crossrunner is totally different from an ergonomic perspective, of course. The rider sits bolt upright, similar to an adventure bike, and generous passenger accommodations are available, as well. This is really a street bike, however, with comfortable ergonomics and the adventure look, without the large front wheel and knobby tires.

With the beautiful blue Mediterranean Sea as our backdrop, we set out to experience the new Honda Crossrunner. As I said, despite its ergonomics and general appearance, this is not really an off-road bike nor an aggressive supermoto.  It is a bike without a category, in effect, but it works. Enough for us.

The Crossrunner is a fun bike with 100 hp, and an easy, comfortable nature driven by the character of a V4. With or without a passenger (who would also be comfortable), the relaxed ergonomics and generous, easy- to-use power made this a surprising press introduction for us. We understand Honda is developing a more dirt oriented version of the Crossrunner, but for now we are happy with the street oriented compromises (you could take the bike on smooth fire roads, but that is about it).

We are immediately reminded of the special feel a V4 engine layout provides to the rider. The engine is cooled with radiators on the sides of the machine, something Honda has done before on several occasions.

Although the engine is derived from the VFR, and is very similar in many respects, with 782 cc, 16 valves, four cams and liquid cooling with VTEC, the engine does feature slight modifications. Changes to the fuel injection and the exhaust, and other minor tweaks, result in the VTEC (in reality, just a switch from two-valves to four-valves per cylinder at 7,000 rpm) working much better, and more seamlessly than in the VFR. The motor provides excellent, usable performance across an extremely broad range, from as low as 1,500 rpm.  Acceleration is not fierce down there, of course, but you could open the throttle in sixth gear at just above idle and the bike would respond with a smooth, linear pull, unlike most other bikes. Power builds smoothly until VTEC kicks in, but it does so in a nonviolent manner that provides an exciting change to the sound pitch together with a welcome surge of power.

The twin-beam aluminum frame is similar to that found on the VFR. The Crossrunner has a very balanced suspension system with 43 mm Showa forks adjustable for compression, rebound and preload, together with a somewhat less adjustable shock mounted on the attractive single-sided swingarm. Braking comes from Honda’s sophisticated Combined ABS system, which works extremely well.

The Pirelli tires developed for the Crossrunner combined good grip and stability at high speeds with a sporty profile that aided easy direction changes on twisty roads.

One of Honda’s goals with the Crossrunner was to provide a versatile bike that targeted a large group of potential customers. The seat height is low, and the passenger seat is at almost the same level as the rider, something passengers will appreciate. The passenger seat is generous in size, comfortable and accompanied by integrated grab handles.

Instrumentation is clear and thorough. Like most modern instrument clusters, it provides a huge amount of information. Only a gear-position indicator is missing. The buttons on the cluster are large enough to operate with gloves on.

Although the Crossrunner is generally comfortable, taller riders will find the footrests too high. Although we didn’t have an opportunity to test fuel consumption, Honda indicates the Crossrunner provides a range of approximately 210 miles from its nearly 6 gallon gas tank.

In addition to the stable handling at high speeds on the Highway, wind protection was good with only slight buffeting at my helmet. At 75 mph, the engine turns a comfortable 5,000 rpm, and very little vibration is evident.

Tackling the twisty roads just inland from the beautiful Mediterranean, although we had to dodge hundreds of bicycle riders, we were able to draw some conclusions about the cornering ability of the Crossrunner.

The relatively wide bars aided direction changes, although you were always aware that this is a relatively heavy motorcycle with a claimed weight of nearly 530 pounds. That torquey motor makes the bike quick between corners, but the Crossrunner is better at tackling sweeping, rather than tight, curves.

The engine impresses us throughout the ride with its strong, smooth powerband accompanied by that distinctive sound and feel of a V4.

The new Honda Crossrunner strikes us as a successful design that will indeed appeal to a large group of riders, providing comfort and practicality combined with a healthy dose of sporty handling and power. We do not know the official price yet, but the bike will become available in Europe in June in a choice of white, red or black color schemes. We don’t know if Honda has plans to bring the Cossrunner to the United States, but with the surge of interest in more upright, comfortable sporty bikes here, we can’t think of a reason Honda would keep it from U.S. riders.

MotorcycleDaily attended a manufacturer-sponsored event, to which selected members of the press were invited, to facilitate this report.

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