It’s hard to believe that until recently, the legendary VFR800 was still in the Honda line-up, and priced at just £9999, it was an absolute bargain. Sure, the engine was a little long in the tooth, but the bike as an overall package was a solid, dependable sports tourer and was an affordable way into enjoying some Honda V4 engineering. Sadly, time, and Euro emmissions standards wait for no-one and by the time 2022 came round it was no more. Other long-standing four-cylinder bikes have fallen the same way, from the Kawasaki H2, to the mighty GSX-R1000 and a multitude of sports 600s.
The solution many manufacturers have come up with to plug gaps in the range left by these losses is to use half the cylinders. Take Honda for instance – the mildly iconic Hornet 600 inline four may have been retired from active duty years ago but Honda have seen fit to revitalise the brand just this year with an all-new Hornet CB750, featuring a brand-spanking new 270-degree parallel twin. It’s been warmly recieved by the press too, reported as being a spirited ride with an enthusiastic engine, and crucially a price point that undercuts the class-leading Yamaha MT-07. Further up the Honda range, the Pan European ST1300 tourer was finally superceded by the NT1100 in 2022 which uses the parallel twin powerplant from the Africa Twin. Honda have sold as many NT1100s as they can get their hands on, thanks to keen pricing, modern tech, great performance and a gem of an engine.
Which got me thinking: They’ve used that engine in a dual sport adventure bike, and a full-on tourer… could we see it in a sports bike? Yamaha have used the 689cc twin engine in the naked MT-07 and transplanted it successfully into the R7 sportsbike, could Honda do the same with the NT1100 motor and slot it into a sportsbike chassis?
It would be a hell of a bike if they did. Having sampled the engine first hand I can verify that it is a peach of an engine. Yes, it might make “just” 100bhp, but the way that power is delivered with a huge dollop of torque means that whatever it powers will have a real-world, useable and tractable delivery, especially at a much lower weight than a V4. Blasting around fast B-roads or your local circuit would be an absolute hoot, and you can bet it wouldn’t break the bank either. As a spiritual successor to the VFR, the idea has merit to address the conditions motorcycling currently faces with legislation, fuel efficiency and affordability. What do you think? Let me know over on Instagram or Facebook, I’d love to hear your thoughts.