German brand Horex hasn't made a motorcycle for 50 years – but since a new ownership team took over the brand name in 2007, plans have been afoot to change that – and at this year's Intermot in Cologne, we got our first close-up look at what the new owners are playing at. The Horex VR6 is a modern super-naked featuring a staggered six-cylinder engine with forced induction via a belt-drive supercharger. The quick-revving motor will develop up to a meaty 200 horsepower, putting it right up with Yamaha's 2009 V-Max in the musclebike stakes. The new German bike's looks will draw inevitable comparison to Honda's recent CB1100F – and when you combine the looks with the premium pricetag, it's fair to say the Horex VR6 is targeted at cashed-up older riders who will appreciate the retro looks, the comfortable riding position and the seemingly limitless reserves of power that blown 1200cc powerplant is going to pump out. It's great to see forced induction back on the bike shopper's menu!
Turbo- and supercharged production bikes pretty much disappeared in the 1980s, the thought being that the extra power wasn't worth the laggy, peaky power delivery of a turbo or the weight and component stress penalties imposed by a supercharger. But much has changed in the last 30 years – forced induction is now exceptionally well understood in the automotive industry, and the new owners of vintage German brand Horex believe it's time to sweep aside the reputation of forced induction motorcycles and bring a factory contender to the market with an engine fully designed to take advantage of a belt-drive supercharger.
That engine is a 6-cylinder 1218cc jobbie with an exceptionally narrow 15-degree V layout to keep the engine fairly compact horizontally (at just 42.9cm wide) and even more compact than the typical four cylinder engine longitudinally. Valves are operated by three overhead cams, taking advantage of the staggered cylinder configuration, and the voracious cylinders are force-fed by a belt-driven Rotrex C-series compressor.
Power is slated to be "up to" 200 horsepower at 8500 rpm (depending on how much boost you run), and the engine's character is said to be a nice mix of grunty and smooth, as befits the premium design and pricetag of the bike.
Beyond the engine, little is remarkable; 50 mm USD forks, standard ABS, a single-sided rear swingarm and a fairly hefty weight figure of 240 kg (although this is some 20 kg lighter than Yamaha's beefy VMAX). The intake air flows through the frame to reach the blower, both the supercharger and the final drive are by belt, and the bike is electronically limited to 250 km/h.
Horex has stated it will begin delivering bikes in 2011 through Germany, Austria and Switzerland, and this will extend to the rest of Europe and beyond over the next few years. No price has been stated formally, but figures we've heard bandied about put the Horex VR6 well into the premium segment, as befits what looks to us almost like a handmade machine.
Six-cylinder motorcycles still have a lot of fans – including our own Mike Hanlon, who remembers Honda's CBX1000 as one of his favorite rides – and there will no doubt be a lot of interest in the return of the forced induction engine to production motorcycling, even if it's happening at the bespoke end of the market. We look forward to seeing how the Horex brand fares in its latest incarnation.