Honda Interceptor

Text: Andi Seiler • Photography: Christian Neuhauser

For the model year 2002, Honda's successful Interceptor was totally revised. As well as sporting a brand-new look, the engine underwent a good deal of transformation. VTEC technology, well known from the brand's automobiles, is now also used in a Honda motorcycle.

Concept &
Tranformation
From its introduction in 1986, the Honda Interceptor has become the stereotype of a powerful and reliable sports bike with lots of aptitude for touring or all-day riding. Over the years it has retained its typical features - a strong aluminum frame in double-beam layout and a high-tech, water-cooled V-four engine. This power plant was originally developed from Honda's successful superbike RC30. In 1998 the engine gained some capacity from 748 up to 782cc and was equipped with fuel injection and a catalytic converter. Also, the VFR800F Interceptor had an engine-mounted, single-sided swingarm. In former models, the swingarm mounted to the frame.

These changes made the VFR better than before and the bike became one of the most successful in motorcycle history. Although its competing brands had more capacity, they could never beat the Interceptor's smooth and steady power delivery. Even in the 2002 version the capacity remains the same. Honda preferred to lend it more power and torque in other ways. The more modern design of the bike also seems a better fit with the high-tech components of the VFR. It almost looks like Captain Kirk was consulted in the process.

Engine &
Transmission

With an unchanged capacity of 782cc the Interceptor now incorporates Honda's revolutionary VTEC system, well known from their automobiles. It's a variable valve arrangement that uses four valves per cylinder. Up to 7000 rpm, two out of those four valves do their job; above that mark the other two get involved hydraulically. If you shift down, the mark for switching from four to two valves is 6800 rpm. The reason for the VTEC setup: To get the most power and torque out of an engine at the bottom end and midrange rpm, you need high gas velocity in the intake ports for a good cylinder filling. This can be managed with small valve diameters. In contrast, you need bigger valve diameters for good power and torque delivery at high rpm. The VTEC technology delivers the right solution combining the best of both worlds.

You can even hear the switch from two- to four-valve operation. The deep tone at lower engine speeds changes to a hard beat at 7000 rpm. Undeniably, this change makes the Interceptor more competitive. The engine easily revs up to 10,500 rpm, the mark where 109 healthy horses gallop (two more hp than the former model). VTEC fortunately doesn't require a more sensitive throttle hand; the transition is still smooth enough to accelerate safely out of tight turns. In combination with narrower valve angles, twelve-shot injectors, sparkplug caps with integrated coils, and a well-fitting, short final transmission ratio, Honda replaced the expensive, louder gear cam drive with a less expensive but quieter chain setup.

Chassis & Brakes

A significant feature of the Interceptor has been the single-sided swingarm, which makes the removal of the rear wheel easy. Rake and trail of the chassis remained the same but the 19mm longer swingarm lengthens the wheelbase, also. The fork tubes diameter measures 43mm; the former model had 41mm forks. In the back, a single shock with adjustments for spring preload and rebound damping take care of proper suspension. This setup offers a wide range of riding capabilities from sportbike use to touring purposes - up to a point where the committed rider may feel it's no longer necessary to own more than one bike. Handling and high-speed stability are great.

Also implemented, Honda's latest version of linked brakes, with an option for ABS ($ 1,000). The antilock system makes the good braking performance even better and, most importantly, safer. The ABS model also features a hand wheel for the rear shock to adjust spring preload quickly and easily.

Accessories &
Arrangements

Visually, the Interceptor has changed a great deal. The front fairing integrates larger and stronger headlights. Underneath there's a big opening for transferring fresh, cool air to the airbox. The whole fairing, which offers the rider great protection from wind and rain, is more angular and dynamic. You can even discern parallels to the GP1 bike, RC211V, of Valentino Rossi. The radiators of the V-four fit behind the side panels to maintain a narrow profile. Additionally, the double-hole mufflers emerge right underneath the rear seat, lending the bike a real cool look from behind.

For touring purposes, Honda finally offers a set of optional luggage boxes painted in the bike's color. In stock condition, you already get a nice, comfortable seat for rider and passenger, and footpegs mounted in an ergonomically correct position. The larger 22-litre tank (5.8 gal) imparts a fuel range well over 280 kilometers.

The downside of the new details is a weight of 249 kg (633 lbs., with full fuel tank), definitely felt in a U-turn or when maneuvering the bike into a tight parking spot. Out on the road, the Honda hides its weight problem gracefully through its great handling abilities. Also, the center stand makes it a lot easier to load the bike with luggage and to fill the gas tank.

Test Summary

Chances are the 2002 Interceptor may show the rest of the sport-touring pack its tail light. The changes are right for a bike that already stands out in a crowd. Even the smaller capacity, compared to other sport tourers, doesn't hurt because the V-four compensates with modern VTEC technology. Ergonomics and comfort are outstanding; riding an Interceptor is real easy. And although it gained some weight with the new features, it is still a great handling bike. Only in parking situations or at slow speeds will you feel the bigger hips. Nevertheless, for $ 9,999 (ABS version $ 10,999) you'll own a bike endowed with great all-around capabilities that is designed to fit in perfectly if you're ever roaming any of the planetary sets of a Star Trek movie.

TECHNICAL SPECS:

Honda Interceptor

Retail Price $ 9,999 (with ABS $ 10,999)
Warranty One year, unlimited mileage
Maintenance Schedule 600/4,000/every 4,000 miles (1,000/6,400/every 6,400 km)
Importer/Distributor
American Honda Motor Co.
1919 Torrance Blvd.
Torrance, CA 90501-2746
phone (310) 783-2000
http://www.hondamotorcycles.com

ENGINE
Type 4-cylinder, V, 4-stroke
Cooling water-cooled
Valve Arrangement 4 valves per cyl. VTEC, dohc, cams chain driven shim under bucket adjustment
Bore & Stroke 72 x 48 mm
Displacement 782 cc
Compression Ratio 11.6:1
Carburetion electronic fuel injection
Exhaust Emission Control catalytic converter

TRANSMISSION
Gearbox 6-speed
Clutch multi-plate wet clutch hydraulically operated
Final Drive chain drive

CHASSIS
Frame Double-beam frame aluminum alloy
Wheelbase 1,460 mm (57.5 in.)
Rake 65 degree
Trail 95 mm (3.7 in.)
Front Suspension cartridge fork
Stanchion Diameter 43mm (1.7 in.)
Adjustments spring preload
Travel 109 mm (4.3 in.)
Rear Suspension cast aluminum-alloy single-sided swingarm w/single shock
Adjustments spring preload and rebound damping
Travel 120 mm (4.7 in.))

WHEELS & TIRES
Type cast aluminum-alloy wheels
Front 3.50 x 17
Rear 5.50 x 17
Front Tire 120/70 ZR 17
Rear Tire 180/55 ZR 17

BRAKES
Front Brake 2 discs, floating 3-piston calipers
Diameter 296mm (11.7 in.)
Rear Brake 1 disc, floating 3-piston caliper
Diameter 256mm (10.1 in.)
Combining ABS as an option ($ 1,000)

WEIGHT & FUEL CAPACITY
Wet-Weight 249kg (553 lb.)
Fuel Capacity 22l (5.8 gal.)

PERFORMANCE
(European measurements)
Claimed Horsepower (crank) 109hp at 10,500 rpm
Torque 8.2 mkp (61 ft.-lbs.) at 8,750 rpm
Top Speed 245 km/h (153 mph)
Acceleration 0-100 km/h (0-62.5 mph): 3.3 s
Fuel Consumption 6.2l/100 km (38.3 mpg)
Fuel Range 355 km (222 miles)

EQUIPMENT
Full fairing, dashboard w/digital speedometer, odometer and two trip odometers, analog tachometer, digital gauges for fuel range, cooling fluid temperature and clock, ignition switch/lock in front of the upper triple clamp, hand levers adjustable, side and center stand, detachable rear seat cover, electronic anti-theft device (deactivated with ignition key); luggage boxes as an option

ROADRUNNER Test Diagram
Engine 5/5
Chassis 5/5
Brakes 4/5
Comfort 4/5
Luggage w/accessories 4/5
Equipment 4/5
Design 4/5
Bike for the buck 4/5