If the first Honda VFRs hit the streets in the late 1980s, they were revolutionary machines; the first high-performance V4-V4 motorcycles made available to the public.
There are a number of advantages to the V-4 engine configuration, but also some disadvantages, least of all the complexity. All of these bikes also run pretty hot, understandable for the sports bikes, less so for the touring riders. However, mass centralization is the main benefit, no matter how heavy the motor is, it stays compact and the bike will still ride well thanks to the low weight in the center of the bike. This made these bikes fast on the track, nimble on back roads, but still fairly accessible and easy to ride. No wonder they became so popular, dominating the sport bike scene of the early 90s, and reborn as exceptional tourers in the early 2000s.
The RC30 was developed as a homologation special, built in relatively limited numbers between 1987 and 1990 and sold for princely sums at the time.
It raced to victory in the SBK championship in the HRC colors, however, and served as a stepping stone for pretty much every other VFR brand motorcycle Honda would make in the future.
With around 60 hp at a stormy 12,500 rpm, this little machine was anything but a beginner’s motorcycle. It started in the 80s but got really popular with its radical redesign in the early 90s.
If you think it sounds familiar, it’s because Honda purposely made it look exactly like the RC30. While it might be a clone, it’s a legend in itself, selling well around the world and doing its part in making the single-sided swingarm a design icon initiated by Honda.
Not to be confused with the full-fledged racing bike, the 750F was designed for the road, if anything, it was wrong on the sports tourer side.
about the bicycle market
Although it gained a bit of weight with the single-sided swingarm, it still looked that way and was certainly delivered as a street bike.
In the late 90s, the VFR had almost forgotten its roots as a racing bike and developed into a really good touring bike.
It had also got fuel injection which ensured Honda could sell these motorcycles for many years to come, especially to police all over the world.
So radically different, you could say it’s a completely different motorcycle that simply shares the VFR name.
Its engine is a completely different unit, increased in displacement, but not much weight. The first DCT was also installed on a bike, fantastic for long distance touring.
When it comes to build quality, Honda is second to none. The racing bikes are remodeled marvels that are unusually reliable because they are geared towards endurance racing.
All road bikes can travel over 100,000 miles without major modifications and everything still works as it should. Regular maintenance is inexpensive, but not exactly straightforward due to the large panels.
While they weren’t the first to use the technology, they made it their own with the VFR series.
With the exception of a few Italian motorcycles, most of us will associate these VFR bikes with the single-sided swing arm. It was much more than just cutting off a page, however.
A lot of work went into making the swingarm work as it should, adding weight, but also making tire changes much faster in long distance races.
However, it made road bikes more complicated, simply adjusting the chain became a bigger event than it would normally be on a regular bike and requires a special tool.
Honda is regularly criticized for being a bit boring, they are very good at coloring between the lines and often leave performance on the table to make their bikes dependable.
Apart from the racing machine and the exceptionally fast 400s, the other V-bikes are generally referred to as “boring” motorcycles. This makes them extremely reliable in underloaded engines.
Much faster than you think
You are underutilized, but when you turn up the speed, that is quickly forgotten. One of the great things about the V-4 is that it has a great midrange.
Its peak power and torque are pretty high in the rev range, but the majority are available early, which makes them really fun street bikes.
That’s why the Honda VFR1200F was ahead of its time
The VFR1200F was a sports touring bike that brought super sports bikes to school.
About the author
(296 published articles)
Luke Zietsman is an absolute automotive enthusiast based in the Philippines. If it has two or four wheels, then he’s either owned it, researched it, or dreamed of it.
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