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Having gone from a 1998 Honda VFR 800 to a DL650 Wee-Strom this summer, I thought I'd do a writeup on the transition and do a compraison of the two bikes, even though that's comparing apples and oranges...

I actually learned to ride a motorcycle on a Wee, and when I got my license 3 years ago I purchased a red 1998 VFR. That purchase was done purely by heart, as the 5th. gen VFR has been a dream for me ever since it came out. Many claim it to be the best VFR generation, and the last one with gear driven cams and a non-VTEC engine. The transition from the school Wee to the Vifffer was huge, and it took me a great deal of time to learn to ride it well. The VFR is an easy bike to ride, very stable and a low centre of gravity. But riding it well is another story. A lot of things had to be "relearned", and just learning how to sit on a sportsbike took some time. But when I got it, the Viffer was great. So why change? Well, the riding position and seat was killing me on rides over 1 hour. Also it encourages speed, and on our twisty Norwegian roads with low speedlimits that's not healthy for your wallet or your drivers license in the long run.

So this summer I picked up a 2006 Wee (a US import, actually) with 6500 miles on it. Complete with Givi crashbars and a sweet Givi set of cases. I've since added the MotoAgora (greek) skid-plate and handguards, and have plans for a fork brace and grip heaters during the winter break. The Viffer is now up for sale. Why a Wee? I wanted an asphalt oriented bike with a more upright riding position, enough power, low maintenance cost and a "do-it-all" bike. The Wee turned out to be the best bang for the buck, I knew the bike well from before and managed to find this gem just 40 min. from where I live.

I'm 34 years old. 180cm. heigh and weigh 81kg. Most of my riding is solo, with the wife along for the occasional trip. I commute to work on my bike, take it for spirited rides on weekends, with the occasional longer trip thrown in. 98% of my riding is on asphalt, the rest is on gravel roads. In 5 weeks of owning the Wee, I've put around 400 miles on it. Tires are Michelin Pilot Road 2 on the VFR and Metzeler Toruance EXP (front) + Michelin Anakee (rear) on the Wee.

So here's my two cents on these bikes compared...

What the Wee does better:
- The riding ergos are upright, relaxed, and far superior to the VFR for speeds under 90 km/h.
- The same upright riding position with excellent view makes it superior in city traffic.
- For the same reason, picking your lines in the twisties is easier.
- Heat management is much better. Especially noticeable in stop-and-go traffic, where the VFR will cook your legs.
- The wide bars provide excellent control. Combined with the low weight of the bike, that makes for excellent abilities in tight, technical twisties.
- Weighs less than the VFR. About 15 kg. less dry, if I'm not mistaken.
- Great range! Tank volume is the same, but the Wee provides much better milage than the rather thirsty Viffer.
- Good stock seat. I seriously can't understand what everybody is bitching about. Compared to the VFR, the stock Wee seat is great. I've now gotten a gel seat, mostly because I like to sit a bit higher (more legroom). But the stocker is fine for hours of riding in my book.
- Nice seating position for the passenger too.
- Plenty of low-midrange power and runs smooth and vibration-free in the 3-5000 rpm. range.
- Less plastic = way easier maintenance. I was constantly laughing when changing the oil and filter on the Wee!
- Cheap to buy and run. You get a lot of bike for your money!
- You can take it out on gravel and forrest roads with no problems.
- Even more aftermarket farkles available than for the VFR. Didn't think that was possible!


What I don't like about the Wee:
- Doesn't have the raw power of the VFR. An 800cc engine would do this bike good.
- Doesn't have the VFRs good looks.
- Sounds like a sewing machine with the stock exhaust, and aftermarket options are limited and way too expensive.
- A bit of turbulence, mostly from the mirrors, at higher speeds.
- It's much more top-heavy than the Honda.
- Doesn't have the rock-steady, planted feel of the VFR (a fork brace might help with that?).
- Doesn't punch out of the corners like the VFR can.
- Doesn't give the same adrenaline rush as the VFR is capable of (but maybe it could with pure road tyres?).
- Some of the parts and assembly gives it a budget-bike feel. But then again, it is!
- High frequency vibrations from around 6000 rpm to the redline is pronounced.
- The cotter pin locking on the rear axle is just plain stupid. What idiot thought that was a good idea on the Wee?
- All the aftermarket farkles available are hurting my wallet, and are making my cheap bike not-so-cheap :green_lol:


What the VFR does better:
- Has the raw, arm-ripping power that the Wee lacks.
- Feels more stable and planted on the motorway and in high-speed turns.
- Punches out of corners much faster and more aggressive than the Wee is capable of.
- Ride it hard in the turns, and it'll make your adrenaline flow!
- The engine is pretty much smooth and vibration free throughout the RPM range.
- More top-end kick in the pants than the Wee.
- Very low centre of gravity and great weight distribution.
- Nothing beats the sound of a V4 engine with (a cheap) slip-on exhaust!
- The build quality and feel of the Honda is above and beyond just about anything that Suzuki turns out.
- Better overall wind management, which is to be expected on a full-fairing bike.
- Single sided swing-arm makes chain adjustment a breeze and looks great too.
- The linked brakes is a nice system. I like them, and wish the Wee had them too.
- Has an outside air temp. gauge, which is a nice touch on a touring bike.
- Holds its value well, something that's plus now that I'm selling it.
- Did I mention that it's the best looking bike EVER?


What I don't like about the VFR:
- Ergos are much more sport than touring. Even with a correct seating position and bar risers, you will get tired a lot sooner than on the Wee.
- The same ergos makes it utter crap at speeds lower than 80 kmh. Above that the wind helps support you.
- The stock seat sucks giant donkey balls! Complete lack of comfort for me.
- You're leaned forward. Your neck will get tired and you don't have the same great view as on a Wee.
- Routine maintenance is a pain with all the plastic you have to pick off first.
- Heavier and less flickable than the Wee.
- Has known problems with the electrical system. It's easy to fix, but there are $ involved. Mine died last summer.
- Heat management is terrible. You don't want to be on this bike in stop-and-go traffic.
- Not as comfy for the passenger as the Wee.
- Poor MPG compared to most other bikes in its class and the Wee.
- A complex V4 engine makes things like valve checks time consuming and expensive.

I probably could come up with more, but this will do. Like I said, this is comparing apples to oranges. For me, the negatives of the VFR, especially when it comes to ergos, are so major that I decided to sell it.

The VFR is a great bike for it's intended use: Sport-touring, with a big emphasis on SPORT! For me it was not to be. It's just not compatible with the type of riding that I do, and I find the Wee superior in every way that really matters. In a month on the Wee I've put more miles on it than I did on the VFR in all of 2010. For me, the Wee does so many things well and is so comfortable to ride that I can't wait to hit the road on it again. That was not the case with the Viffer. Keep these things in mind when selecting what bike to get. Use your head as well as your heart, and you'll find the perfect bike too :hurray:
 

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I agree on some things, disagree on others. This coming from one who has both a V-Strom and a VFR sitting in the basement next to each other.

I primarily disagree on the comparison that the V-Strom is more comfortable than the VFR. I've done 700 miles in a day on my VFR and had more left in me. I've done 600 miles on a V-Strom and was worn out. To me the VFR is far more comfortable on long riding days than the V-Strom.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
I agree on some things, disagree on others. This coming from one who has both a V-Strom and a VFR sitting in the basement next to each other.

I primarily disagree on the comparison that the V-Strom is more comfortable than the VFR. I've done 700 miles in a day on my VFR and had more left in me. I've done 600 miles on a V-Strom and was worn out. To me the VFR is far more comfortable on long riding days than the V-Strom.
Please note that my comparison is with a 5th. generation VFR. You have a 6th. gen Viffer, that's a slightly different animal. It has a better seat than my 1998 and a slightly different riding position.

Also, keep in mind that bike ergos are very individual. For my size, build and riding style the 'Strom was the better choice. Others may have different experiences.
 

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Legroom would be a big difference for me in comfort. I understand that the seating position of the VFR works well for many people (especially at higher speeds). But, after a while my knees start to hurt on a bike like that. Some people are shorter than me or have better knees so that may not be an issue for them.

I do think VFR's are sexy looking though!
 

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Nice writeup! I really love the VFR. A riding buddy had 2 5th gens, and now has a 6th gen. Actually he was the one who planned our Alaska trip. Let me tell ya, he was DEFINITELY more worn out at the end of long days than I was. 10-12 hours in the saddle on the Wee was no problem, but he had sore neck/shoulders from his more crouched over riding position.

At lower speeds the Wee gets better mileage, but when we were really railing at high speeds, my Wee started to get worse fuel economy!

My first bike was a sportbike, so the high center of gravity on the Wee makes it harder for me to keep upright at low speeds and especially in slippy stuff (mud, etc).

I'm with ya on the saddle -- no problem at all.
 

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Good write-up. I don't have the VFR, but I do have a 2006 Sprint which is similar in purpose anyway, to the Viffer. I've only had the Wee 8 months with only about 3 months of actual riding, but I have my Sprint for sale. Not that it hasn't been a great bike--it has. But I am just ready for lots of miles on something like the Wee. I thought for sure I'd want to keep both, but I am discovering that one bike is enough for me. Trying to keep it simple and the V-Strom fits that bill to a Tee.
 

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Great write up.

I loved the 5th Gen VFRs, a friend of mine had a '99 which I rode. The riding position is what put me off the bike, but most of the rest I liked. I recently test sat on another one I stumbled across and still felt the same about it.

I wish Honda had made an alternative bike from the same basic platform, something with less "sporty" riding position and more "standard" upright type ergos.

I know legions of riders love them as they are so maybe it's just me and my creaky knees etc.

I have just never been a big fan of the full sport bike riding position, even when I was younger.
 

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I have just never been a big fan of the full sport bike riding position
I sometimes hear the opposite from some of my compadres over on the Triumph Sprint forum; they say their back cannot stand the pressure of sitting straight up. I gotta say I actually feel more pressure on my spine with the stock V-Strom seat than I do with my Sprint, which is zero on that bike. Once the Wee is reassembled (post-crash), some seat mod is forthcoming.
 

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I wish Honda had made an alternative bike from the same basic platform, something with less "sporty" riding position and more "standard" upright type ergos.
I had a 99 VFR for a while and felt cramped on it, although I did like riding it. I'm very interested in the new Kawasaki Ninja 1000. It is an upright position based on the Z1000.

Steve
 

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... I gotta say I actually feel more pressure on my spine with the stock V-Strom seat than I do with my Sprint, which is zero on that bike....
That's because there *IS* more pressure on your spine when sitting up straight. When you sit straight up all of your weight is pressing straight down on the base of your spine. When you lean forward slightly some of the weight is taken off. The other extreme is laying straight down, at which point there is virtually no weight on the base of your spine.

Admittedly it does put some more weight on your arms and wrists but not much if you hold with your legs. I speak from experience: A long day on my VFR hurts my back a lot less than a long day on a V-Strom. I have a choice, and for long days I will always take my VFR.

Please note that my comparison is with a 5th. generation VFR. You have a 6th. gen Viffer, that's a slightly different animal. It has a better seat than my 1998 and a slightly different riding position.

Also, keep in mind that bike ergos are very individual. For my size, build and riding style the 'Strom was the better choice. Others may have different experiences.
You are right on both counts. Well, I assume you are right on the first since I've not ridden a 5th gen bike. That's why I keep both bikes. Some times I want to ride my V-Strom, other times I want to ride my VFR. In my experience they are completely different machines and trying to compare one to the other is like trying to compare apples and oranges.
 

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I got back into riding when I bought my Orange Wee in 2009. Great bike to pick it up on again.

About 6 months later a guy who lived 6 miles from me had a 1995 VFR 750 with 8000 miles for sale and I made the mistake of riding it. I came home with it that afternoon.

What I really liked about the VFR was the ride and the handling. The ergos around town are not as good for me as the Wee but on the highway on a long trip I am very comfortable.

Then this summer I rebuilt the suspension on the Wee. Springs and emulators up front and a new shock on the rear. What a difference in handling. This summer, after much debate, I took the Wee on a 4200 mile, 9 state, 14 day trip of the US upper midwest. A friend of mine lent me his Russell Day long seat for the trip. While I really missed the raw power of the VFR I am glad I took the Wee especially when we hit some dirt and gravel roads for 20 or 30 miles that we did not expect. While I cruised right along, my riding partners were getting beat up on their Ninjas. I am sure I would have been in the same boat with the Viffer.

Now that the handling is sorted out on the Wee the only difference that really matters to me between the two bikes is the raw power and sound of that V4 motor. However, in the last few months I have been very lucky on several occasions in not having to pay my local LEO's for going above the posted limit. That motor is like schnapps to an alcoholic. Since that is the only difference I have between the two bikes and it is a difference that I can see getting me into trouble I think I will be selling my beloved Viffer and picking up a DR650 to handle some of the more aggressive DS rides that I would like to do.
 

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Great write up.

I loved the 5th Gen VFRs, a friend of mine had a '99 which I rode. The riding position is what put me off the bike, but most of the rest I liked. I recently test sat on another one I stumbled across and still felt the same about it.

I wish Honda had made an alternative bike from the same basic platform, something with less "sporty" riding position and more "standard" upright type ergos.

I know legions of riders love them as they are so maybe it's just me and my creaky knees etc.

I have just never been a big fan of the full sport bike riding position, even when I was younger.
The bike you're asking for is being made by Honda now... Check out the Honda Crossrunner. Basically a more upright adventure-touring bike with the VFR 800 engine, and one of few bikes that beat the Wee when it comes to ugliness. It's been getting decent reviews and the 800cc would be nice in a bike like this. But IMO it can't compete with the new Tiger 800 or the BMW F 800 GS...
 

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Great review. Thanks for it.

I am starting to think that I have some sort of mental disorder. I may be some sort of automobile/motorcycle hoarder. One is not enough. I feel this compulsory urge to add another to my collection. I am even considering parking my car outside to make more space in the garage. :yikes:

This mental deficiency has led me to consider adding a 'sportbike' to my arsenal. I put 'sportbike' in quotes because I am not really sportbike material. I've ridden a CBR 600 and a 'gixxah'. I hated 'em. Not for me.

My wee is a fine motorcycle. And I love the ride-it-and-forget-it simplicity. I don't mind bouncing it down a dirt road or leaving it in the shitty part of town or whatever. I also like running errands on it; having cases to haul stuff home from the home center or whatever.

But I wouldn't mind something with a bit more zip too. I had been kicking around the idea of adding a used-n-abused middle weight sport-ie-ish bike to the mix. Something like an SV650 S or a Kawi twin; an EX500 or a Ninja 650.

Then the VFR came to my attention.

I admit that I live among-possibly under-rocks. Until recently I was not really aware of the VFR. And I definitely didn't know about the late VFR800's.

Seems like a real nice balance between sport and tourer. Lighter than the FJR's and Concours' of the world, yet not crotch-rocket small. Decent power without being over-the-top, in yo face.

The early VFR750's seem like a really decent value used too.

Things that appeal to me on paper about the VFR750's and 800's:
- V4 sound
- Nifty, somewhat unique V4
- Honda fit, finish, reliability
- Weekend warrior track-toy capable.. I think
- Not-so-sportbike ergos
- Not-so-sportbike like fuel capacity; >150 mile range
- Utility; available factory hard bags on some models, Givi support for all

So some Q's:
- What kind of real-life range did/do you VFR guys see?
- How are the VFR's on tires? Do they eat rears like some (many) heavier sport/st bikes?
- How bad are the maintenance costs, really? Are they really any more substantial than the wee's?
 
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