Full Review: 2007 Honda Interceptor VFR ABS

Honda's Interceptor Embraces Both Sides of the Sport-Touring Equation

The 2007 Honda Interceptor with the 25th Anniversary paint scheme

Basem Wasef

Sport-touring motorcycles are a challenging genre, and Honda tackles the dual tasks of providing speed and comfort with its VFR Interceptor ABS. Featuring a VTEC-equipped, 781cc V4 power plant, 5.8 gallon fuel tank, and removable saddlebags (at an extra cost of $1,000), the 2008 Honda Interceptor is priced at $10,799, and $11,799 for the ABS version.

Modern Technology Underneath the Honda Interceptor's Retro Exterior

A look at the Honda Interceptor's silhouette reveals a sporty but conservative stance, and when ordered in its 25th Anniversary paint scheme (available only on the 2007 model), the Interceptor takes on a positively retro appearance.

However, this sport-touring bike is modern in virtually every other way. From its triple-box-section twin-spar aluminum frame to its linked brakes with optional ABS, this Honda is engineered to offer a balanced blend of performance and touring comfort. Its V4 engine-- configured like two conjoined V-twins-- is a dual overhead cam design with programmed fuel injection. It features aluminum composite cylinder sleeves formed from sintered-aluminum powder impregnated with ceramic and graphite intended to offer reduced friction and increased heat dissipation. Pistons are cast-aluminum, and the engine uses VTEC for flexible power delivery.

VTEC operates by using only one intake and one exhaust valve at engine speeds under 7,000 rpm, and two intake and two exhaust valves when the engine exceeds 7,000 rpm. The system intends to maximize fuel economy at lower rpms, while boosting horsepower at higher engine speeds.

The 3-piston brakes are linked, so operating the rear brake will automatically clamp the front brakes, as well; optional ABS offers skid-free stops. The 43mm cartridge fork has spring-preload adjustability, and the single-sided swingarm is connected to a single gas-charged shock with seven-position adjustability. The ABS variant features an easy to use dial for rear suspension damping.

On the Road: The Jekyll and Hyde Honda Interceptor

Unlike sport-touring bikes like the Triumph Tiger, which is a descendant of an off-road-ready adventure bike, the Interceptor's roots are exclusively in the street. One could arguably call it an all-out sport bike, so it's no surprise that the Interceptor boasts some serious on-road performance. Straddle the 31.7-inch high seat, push it off its center stand, and glance at its gauges, and the centrally located tachometer suggests the Interceptor's sporting intentions. Start it up and the V4 pulses like a twin-- though its four cylinders offer strong power all the way up to its 11,750 rpm redline.

The riding position is slightly forward tilted but not extreme enough to be uncomfortable. A diminutive windshield offers decent wind protection, while a small vent gets some airflow to the rider. If you don't look in the mirrors it's easy to forget you've got a wide profile thanks the saddlebags just behind you.

Though its curb weight is 551 lbs. (540 lbs. without ABS), once you get the Interceptor past parking lot speeds it feels agile enough for canyon riding. The engine, while quiet and torque-y, becomes an entirely different beast when the revs rise above 7,000 rpm and VTEC activates. The sensation is like the secondaries in a 1960s muscle car kicking in: brutal power, a mean exhaust note, and an eagerness to rev to redline. The feeling is addictive, and once you start plumbing the depths of VTEC, you'll want to trigger it again and again, if only for the rush of acceleration and the mean snarl of the exhaust.

Striking a Solid Balance for Everyday Riding

Most aspects of the Interceptor's riding dynamics feel just right; something about the throttle response, brake feedback, and tight chassis makes it a pleasure to maneuver both around town and through twisty mountain passes. The ride is crisp but not punishing, and the smooth-spinning V4 produces plenty of power-- especially above 7,000 RPM, thanks to VTEC. If there's one drawback to the system, though, it's the way the power is delivered. Activating VTEC during straight line riding offers an entertaining kick of thrust, but during mid-turn maneuvers the bump in power can be unsettling. It's not dealbreakingly disconcerting, and the benefits of the engine's two-sided personality certainly outweigh its drawbacks, but during day-to-day riding it's something to be aware of.

ABS kicks in only when it's needed, and offers a reassuring safety net when road conditions are slick. Riders hoping to ride near the limit, though, might prefer the non-ABS version. For a more sedate riding style, the fuel economy benefits of keeping the revs low are enhanced by VTEC, and long distance cruising is possible thanks to the 5.8 gallon fuel tank.

From high quality touches like silver finish brake and clutch master cylinders to its involving road demeanor, the Honda VFR Interceptor is a well-balanced sport tourer. It delivers a smooth, responsive, and comfortable ride; whether you're poking around town or hauling across the state, it's hard to ask for anything more.