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The Honda Varadero Review - Well Sort of...

Honda recently announced that they would be bringing the Honda Varadero to Canada in 2008. The Varadero is not a new bike - it's just new to Canada. The Varadero first appeared on the roads of Europe in 1999. So far it's not coming to the US. Some are saying it's to give the Canadian Dealers something that the US guys can't offer, making it a little more tempting for Canadian's to shop on this side of the border (It might also get some US folks interested in coming up north!). Since it's not here yet we had to look to information about the bike from other parts of the world in order to give you a preview of what's to come. So based on that information and an assumption we'll get the same spec bike here's a review of the basics:

First up - the Varadero is a BIG adventure tourer styled bike with a liquid cooled and fuel injected 996 cc 90 degree V-Twin (4-stroke 8- valve). You won't have any trouble keeping up traffic with this big v-twin with right around 95 hp. You might have guessed it has 6 gears, and you'd be right; and it's got an o-ring sealed chain for the final drive.

I've seen seat heights from 838mm to 845mm -the official word from the Honda UK site is that it's 838. You'll have 181 mm of ground clearance should you decide you want to take it off the pavement. The tank will take up to 25 litres (that's 3 more than the Suzuki V-Strom 1000 or 650). When you get down to 4 litres remaining the warning light reserve comes on. Some reviews suggest that the Varadero is a little thirsty though so you might have to stop for gas a little sooner than you might expect; particularly with a lot of city or aggressive driving.

Dry weight is listed at 244.2 kg (incidentally - I've read slightly lower dry weight's in reviews so it might be best to reserve judgement until official news comes from Honda Canada). The V-Strom 1000 is 207 kg. That's a whopping 72+ lbs of pudge that the 2007 UK spec Varadero has over the V-Strom. Rider reviews seem to indicate the bike is big but still feels much more nimble than its weight might indicate.

The wheels are hollow-section triple-spoke cast aluminum suggesting that its got a street bias and isn't intended to be taken too far off-road. 110/80 tire's in the front and 150/70's in the rear. Front suspension in a 43mm telescopic fork with 155 mm of axle travel. In the rear you get a pro-link damper with 40-step spring preload (and stepless rebound damping) adjustment, 145mm axle travel. For brakes - ABS front and back; 296 x 4.5 mm dual hydraulic disc in the front and 256 x 5mm hydraulic disc in the back. Both have combined 3-piston calipers and sintered metal pads.

Touring should be a comfortable affair on the Varadero though and it can be fitted with factory accessory bags. It's got a well padded seat and a tall windscreen to keep you comfy on those long journeys and to protect you from the elements.

Haven’t seen any pricing information yet but it should come in close to the Suzuki V-Strom 1000. If you take the price of the 2007 Varadero from the Honda UK site; a direct conversion would equate to roughly $14,460 CDN. The MSRP on a 2008 V-Strom 1000 (no ABS) is listed at $11,999.

Edit (Feb 18/08): An astute reader indicated a slight flaw in the direct conversion (speculative) pricing we've published. "European prices include the tax already. The £7,299.00 quoted on the Honda site includes 17.5% tax, therefore the before tax value of the bike is about £6211+ change and equates to roughly C$12,200.00 @ 1.97 exchange rate. Which is spot on with the V-Strom pricing." I'm sure many are hoping for this type of price in Canada. Keep your fingers crossed! Thanks for the comments Chris.

If you search online forums and listen to motorcycle podcasts you'll see/hear grumbling about Honda and how their lineup hasn't really shown much in the way of innovation or listening to the wish lists of customers (a lighter - more powerful VFR800 for example). Some say that bringing a bike to Canada that's been around since 1999 is another sign of that lack of vision. Say what you want, but Honda has built a reputation of making reliable machines and there will be buyers for the Varadero. The bike has a solid reputation and for those looking for a big comfortable touring bike this one is worth checking out.

Edit (March 22/08): Pricing information for the Honda Varadero in Canada was released on Friday March 21 in a newsletter to people who subscribed on the Honda Canada website. It'll have a base MSRP of $13,999.

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