In the face of so many new Honda models, many of which send the marque in new directions and may not align themselves with old school riders, the return of the V-4 powered Interceptor — a popular and critical favorite — has taken Honda back to its roots with this lightly evolved offering.
It is obvious that the new 2014 Honda Interceptor VFR800F is closely related to earlier models by its adherence to the original design cues. The resemblance includes the familiar 782cc, 90-degree, V-4 motor, which for 2014 gets new cam profiles, longer intake funnels, new head porting, new VTEC settings, and complementary EFI settings, all in the name of better low and midrange power.Weight has been reduced by about 20 pounds—primarily in the subframe and muffler — while the steering geometry and chassis remain the same.Honda continues to employ the controversial VTEC system, whereby only two of each cylinder’s four valves are active at low revs. At around 6700 rpm, the second pair activate with an obvious change in the personality of the motor. Switchable traction control is standard on the Deluxe, but it is more of a tool for slippery pavement rather than mitigating overwhelming power.Unfortunately, earlier models exhibited a noticeable hit when VTEC activated. In response, Honda engineers have staggered the rev range in which the VTEC turns on and off, along with revised EFI programming, to make the VTEC transition smoother. Additionally, overall power is increased and it develops in a more linear fashion. Fueling is now about perfect at all speeds, and devoid of flat spots.Matching the motor is a flawless six-speed, close-ratio transmission box with light hydraulic clutch actuation. The throws are very short, and it has a light and easy feel. Being able to shift effortlessly improves rideability, as it is one less thing for the rider to think about.Straddling the bike gives the rider a familiar feeling. The handlebars are a bit on the narrow side and mounted on risers. At six-feet tall with long arms, I found that my seating position was forward leaning, even though Honda calls it “upright, neutral ergonomics.” Optional taller handlebar risers—a half-inch higher and a quarter-inch closer—may be a good choice.The Interceptor Deluxe is quick to respond and moves effortlessly away from a stop with a lighter feel than its 536-pound claimed curb weight might imply. It feels smaller, even at rest, and this deception is aided by bodywork that is one and a half inches narrower and fully redesigned with the radiators mounted in front. Added to this is the new, almost three-inch deep seat that is adjustable between 31.0- and 31.8-inch heights.The windscreen is adequate and directs most of the blast above the shoulders; the airstream past the helmet is smooth and the fairing also functions well. Even when the testing temperature rose to 95 degrees, I felt no engine heat unless at a stop.All these efforts add up to a bike that is a pleasure to ride. With neutral handling, the Interceptor drops into turns with little effort — its worn peg feelers can attest to that fact.Casual riding and aggressive curve-carving are easy. The Interceptor is quick to respond to changes in direction, and can alter lines confidently with relative ease at anything below break- neck speeds.On the Deluxe model, the 43mm Showa forks and linkage-assisted shock are both adjustable for rebound damping and spring preload. The front suspension offers good feedback and the rear holds up well, even when pushed hard, with little or no bouncing or squirm. Most riders will find the factory settings to be spot-on.The new single-sided swingarm follows the old design, but is more rigid and works well with the 10-spoke, bronze-finished, fine-die cast wheels, which Honda claims are the first with this method of construction. Mounted on the rims are bike-specific Dunlop Sportmax D222 tires — high-quality rubber that we trust for a bike of this type.Dual radial-mounted Tokico 310mm full-floating discs with four-piston calipers handle braking duties up front, and they are not linked to the rear disc as they were in earlier models. Regardless, they do a fine job with good initial bite and nice sensitivity.The Interceptor’s brakes possess a certain granularity in the feel and, everything considered, match the character and performance of the bike quite well. ABS is a standard feature on the Deluxe, yet the brakes are easily modulated and it will only be needed in an emergency or in unexpectedly low-traction conditions.Much of the easy handling is due to Honda’s efforts at mass-centralization. The single-can muffler sheds 11 pounds compared to the dual underseat mufflers that it replaces — a big change in both overall weight and reducing highly placed, farflung poundage.Honda also reduced the size of the catalytic converter and placed it farther forward; the result is better balance and to move one very hot object away from the rider. While the main twin-spar frame is unchanged, the die-cast aluminum subframe replaces a steel structure and is four pounds lighter than before.The Interceptor features a new digital speedometer and tachometer, gear-position indicator and trip computer functions like dual trip odometers, MPG indicator, outside air thermometer and clock. The headlight, taillight and accent lights all use LED illumination. There is a color-matched seat cowl that replaces the passenger seat and grab rail. This cowl also increases the storage area under the back seat.Other Deluxe-only features include a remote rear spring preload adjuster, self-canceling turn signals, grip heaters, and a centerstand, all of which command a $1000 premium.In 2010, Honda eliminated the Interceptor and nominally replaced it with the high-tech (and high-priced) VFR1200F, which did nothing to placate those who longed for an improved Interceptor 800. After all, many think the VFR800 is one of the best series of bikes ever and, befit- ting a cult machine, fans have high expec- tations for the latest iteration.Aficionados of the older Interceptor can rest assured—Honda has carefully updated and refined the old favorite, lifting it to modern standards with improved technology, making the 2014 Honda Interceptor Deluxe a worthy eighth-generation successor to the crown.Riding Style:
- Helmet: Joe Rocket Speedmaster Carbon
- Jacket: Joe Rocket Reactor 3.0
- Gloves: Joe Rocket Phoenix 4.0
- Pant: Joe Rocket Phoenix 3.0
- Boots: Sidi ST Air