Varadero first impressions

OK, so I’ve done just over 170 miles on the Varadero so far.

I took it home from work on the back roads the day I bought it. What a joy! Seriously, for such a tall and heavy bike it’s a real joy to play in the twisties, and the suspension soaks up the bumps and holes so smoothly.

The V twin engine braking is strong – makes for easy speed control in the corners – I got more and more confident even in that one run, tipping it into corners that bit faster, and the bike just soaked it up and handled it all beautifully. Amazing what 11 years of suspension development does – compared to my 1997 ZZR this 2008 Varadero is a far nicer bike handling wise! The grunt of the V twin is apparent on the exits from the corners too – it propels you out of the corner really nicely.

Comfort wise – well, so long as I don’t slouch it’s superbly comfortable – I’m not used to the bolt upright riding position yet, and if I let myself slouch my lower back moans at me – sit up straight man! Other than that, the tall screen needs to be taller – quite a lot of buffeting at head height – although when it rained on the way home I didn’t have to wipe the visor once, with all that air blast coming over the screen nothing was staying on the visor!

The tall bike combined with the upright riding position and my height makes for amazing visibility – I can see that bit further and it really makes a difference to planning overtakes. The engine is 96 bhp compared with the 155 bhp of the ZZR (although I’m sure my 16 year old bike probably wasn’t putting out full power after all that time) – but that’s not holding the Varadero back – it’s still plenty swift – just not maniacally swift – but I don’t need that J

In town it’s very stable at low speeds, the extra visibility is a huge advantage in traffic, again allowing for much better planning, and speed adjustment is so easy. The bar and mirror height is well above car wing mirror height, so although I think the bike is marginally wider than the ZZR it’s still good for filtering – need to watch out for van and lorry wing mirrors though…

I noticed that when I stopped at traffic lights in Linlithgow where the road camber slopes down to the right slightly, and I had my right foot down – It would have been a struggle to put my foot down flat – these bikes are not for the vertically challenged!

So, a very well put together package – the suspension, frame and engine all complement each other, and I love the result. It’s not better than the ZZR – it’s totally different (admittedly, the suspension is better, and the riding position suits me better) – but for a bike to ride every day, on motorways, back roads and town, I love the Varadero.

Time will tell of course, but for now I’m smitten.

Well apart from one small niggle – no centre stand – come on Honda! I’ve already ordered an aftermarket one at a rather large cost, but a centre stand is needed for so many things, not least of all so I can put the bike in my already crowded garage and still get into the garage. Leaning over on the side stand it just takes up so much space, and how do you lube the chain properly if you can’t turn the back wheel? Shouldn’t the bike be level to check the oil level? And don’t say get a paddock stand – what if I need to do a roadside puncture repair ? Paddock stand is naff all use sat in my garage then. And then there’s the jobsworths at petrol stations who won’t let you fuel your bike while sitting on it – but on the side stand you can’t fill the tank full. Pain in the backside. In the real world a centre stand is just so dammed useful – come on Honda, get your act together!!

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One thought on “Varadero first impressions

  1. A much underrated bike, as your finding, powerful enough in the real world and good build quality.

    I agree why no centre stand or heated grips as standard (VFR12 anyone !) Parsimonious.

    Sadly I am an umpalumpa otherwise who knows.

    Bet the fuel consumption isn’t as bad as the doomsayers suggested either. If there isn’t one on already, I’d fit a Scottoiler, big twins are heavy on their chains.

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