20 years of Honda VFR

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20 years of Honda VFR


20 years of Honda VFR

20 years of Honda VFR
Formula V

The powerful, growling V4 engine, the soul of every VFR, has kept the Honda fan base in high spirits for 20 years. Because the sparkling sound and fascinating technology let you overlook the sober utility and the rather baroque outfit of a VFR.

MOTORRAD editor Werner “Mini” Koch looks back.

Werner Koch


Huh or hott? Fast athlete or robust motorhome? Uhhhh, mhhhh, well, so half-half maybe? So a touring hit? Or neither at all? One thing was clear to me in 1986: the answer, my friend, really only knows the wind. At least not Honda. Aluminum bridge frame, central spring strut, snappy brakes and, right in the middle, a machine that will tear every seasoned motorcycle freak out of the boots: the V4 engine. Throaty growling, compactly laced and every screw, every detail a mechanical and technical frenzy. And with a nominal 100 hp, the VFR 750 even stood up to the poisonous Suzuki GSX-R in terms of engine power at the time, which was no longer able to offer in this regard. In terms of weight, the Honda, with a ready-to-drive 230 kilograms, was well above the 201 kilo flyweight.
Since the superbike scene began to spread in racing in 1986, Honda quickly added an HRC racing kit for the VFR 750 F. Ergo a racer, the tourer? I didn’t really get it then when tuning artist Kurt Stuckle took me to a rehearsal-
rides in the saddle of the Racing VFR from
Honda Kraft in Kiblegg in the Allgau asks.
What’s going on now? Touring roll with slicks?
It felt like a rat, however, and with a loud V4 sound it cut an acoustic path into the already mono-tone four-stroke area that had washed itself. Shame, shame, me
can not imitate it acoustically ?? and if so, you couldn’t hear it while reading anyway.
Enlightenment comes weeks later. In the middle of a Vosges tour, between Ballon d’Alsace and the source of the Moselle, with a crackling campfire with fresh
caught trout, crumbly baguette and a bottle of sparkling Edelzwicker, it sparked. Like the VFR 750 F so
there it is ?? tense, stocky, right-
walking pressed. That can only be the beginning. Anyone who builds such an awesome engine has more plans than curious motorcycle tourists to sway comfortably through the landscape. To do this, it takes
no crisp, compact V4 engine in a light aluminum frame mesh, that can also be done by a flattened, Bavarian in-line engine in a steel frame and with a cardan shaft ?? if you know, what I mean.
No, the Honda VFR 750 had more on the box than you did in 1986
relied on the restrained motorcycle scene. Ultimately, it was up to Honda to rehabilitate the V4 engine technology that had fallen into disrepute due to the countless defects in the VF models up to 1985.
Apart from the unsuccessful racing career of the 1986 VFR, this concept was the beginning of a new generation of motorcycles for me: Sport Tourer ?? not to be confused with touring athletes? please note the order.
The thing with racing has
Honda clarified two years after the VFR premiere: the 750cc Superbike World Champion was Fred Merkel in 1988 and 1989, and the machine was the Honda VFR
750 R or RC 30 (see box on page 79). One hardly believes how small and compact the Honda engineers have put together the bundle of technology. Compared to today’s super athletes, the RC 30 is like a 250 GP racer. A grandiose piece of engineering, in which pure passion did more
than all computer-aided calculation programs. You can feel this passion when you sit in the wide saddle, with the first grim thrust of the gas and at the latest with the first lively curve break. This motorcycle
is a driving machine par excellence, a dream. Which she unfortunately stayed for me and a thousand others for financial reasons. The proud price of 25,270 marks ensured that it was only around in Germany
430 copies of the RC 30 were sold and registered.
As fascinating as the RC 30, so
In 1994 its successor, the Honda RFV 750 R, RC 45 for short, entered the ring in an upright and soulless manner. A motorcycle that with
The freely programmable ignition / injection electronics undoubtedly reflected the state of engine technology, but without embodying the character and flair of an RC 30. Which is why the RVF 750 was also Superbike world champion, but never became world champion of the heart.
In contrast to the VFR 750 F.
Optimized at the right time and with the right means of facelift, the sports tourer has always been a safe bet for Honda dealers. If only because the complaints and warranty claims were within pleasing limits? which was always confirmed in the MOTORRAD long-distance tests. Although the ?? 86 endurance test VFR had to quit service at kilometer reading 24,998 due to an irreparable cold deformation, the inner workings, on the other hand, gave the impression of immortality.
The VFR models RC 36, RC 46/1 and RC 46/2 covered the long-distance distances in a similarly dignified manner. Incidentally, the egg-laying woolly milk sow was at the top of the podium in pretty much all comparative tests. The Honda VFR only had to fit when the Bavarian counterpart also included a socket and heated grip. But really only then.
Aesthetes and nostalgics struggled with the shape and dimensions of the cladding parts and the rear apron of the models from 1994 onwards, while tourists and practitioners found exactly what they were looking for in the VFR: perfect function with the best quality. And not to forget a reliable V4 engine, which ensures great entertainment value in all model series.
Within reach:
20 years of Honda-
VFR technology in comparison

To reconstruct the VFR past, one can either delve into the dusty archive ?? or you can ride the four distinctive VFR 750 models again. Which is a bit of a hassle considering the 20 year olds, as the original model can hardly be gotten in series production. But as luck would have it, you run across your path again. Tuning guru Kurt Stuckle ?? we remember the racing VFR from Honda Kraft ??, today chief technician of the IDM Kawasaki Superbikes, pushes his private ?? 86 VFR into the soft autumn light. Mother-of-pearl white, nothing screwed? first class. So that nothing stands in the way of the nostalgic trip.
It’s really exciting when 20 years of motorcycle development are presented live and without filters. Which is why the pack on the tour through the curvy Westallgau changes machines for a long time. But no matter whether you switch from very old to completely new or step by step: VFR remains VFR. Nevertheless, you can feel the progress in the truest sense of the word with every fiber. A chassis from 1986, still with hardly
dampened suspension and gentle reverberation in all positions, mutated
with every stage of development to an ultimately stable and razor-sharp two-wheeler, because the constantly increasing quality of frame constructions, spring elements and tires has an enormous effect.
The V-engines with the crank pins offset by 180 degrees leave no doubt as to their origins. Sound, pulling power and the smooth, yet robust-mechanical run are
very similar for all generations. But if you tear open the throttle valves of the 2006 VFR after the sprint on the RC 24 in 1986, you can get a real picture
make of how modern electronics and finely tuned technology dop the V4 concept. A shot glass with more displacement and efficient injection electronics have a similar effect on the VFR as an anabolic steroids cure for an athlete. Targeted Muscle Power When It Matters ?? with the VFR, of course, without turning the hormonal balance upside down.
Was there anything else? Yes, that one-
clear commitment of the VFR series to the sports tourer. With the 1986 model, still with a tricky, narrow knee angle, the posture relaxes in line with the year of construction. Arrived in 2006, driving and seating comfort has prevailed against all pseudo-sporty tendencies. The current Honda VFR is one of the most comfortable and safest sports touring bikes on the market without suffocating its first-class functionality in yawning boredom. With this in mind, I’m already looking forward to a VFR with the fullest
Liter displacement ?? so that the success story does not end here.

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Formula V

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1990 – Honda VFR 750 F / RC 36

Basically unchanged, the valve control on the RC 36 engine was changed from rocker arms to bucket tappets, the passage of the constant pressure carburettors was expanded from 31.6 to 34.1 millimeters, thus further improving power delivery and smoothness. The chassis was upgraded with the distinctive single-sided swing arm and a more massive bridge frame, and the RC 36 now rolled on 120- and 170-width tires. But all of this had its price: At 244 kilograms, it mutated into a heavyweight in the 750 series. Which is why the RC 24 with 17-inch tires (from 1988) came out on top in the MOTORRAD racetrack tests.

The indestructible one

Construction time: 1990 to 1997
New price (1990): 15,570 marks
Stock: about 9800 pieces

Market situation / prices: With the RC 36 introduced in 1990, the V4 era began to boom at Honda. Over the sales period up to 1997, a good 15,000 machines were registered, the current inventory is still very high at 9,800 units. The trade in second-generation second-generation vehicles is also brisk, which certainly has to do with the fact that the RC 36 still looks very fresh despite its years. The price and quality gap, however, is very wide: Much-used machines that can be seen to be tough start at around 2500 euros. Checkbook-maintained copies, which also have hardly any kilometers on the clock, are still traded for up to 5000 euros.

Inspection: Like its predecessor, the RC 36 has an extremely stable engine. Prospective buyers would do well to pay attention to a stamped service booklet, in particular the valve clearance check, which is due every 24,000 kilometers, should have been carried out. Threaten with cross-country skiers
worn bearings and howling gears. A well-known VFR problem is overheated alternator regulators.

Conclusion: It is an everyday mileage cutter, but also cuts a fine figure as a modern classic. The offer is diverse. And if you act quickly, you will be rewarded: You can still get neat pieces of cream from first hand.

2/1990 (T), 16/1991 (LT), 18/1998 (O), 18/2005 (GK)

T = test, LT = long-
track test,
O = optimization,
GK = used purchase

1998 – Honda VFR / RC 46/1

With a bore that has been enlarged to 72 millimeters with a minimally shortened stroke, the RC 46 now draws from 782 cm3 of displacement and, thanks to the 36-size intake manifold, pushes a decent 78 Nm of torque with 101 hp of maximum power onto the roller. With a regulated catalytic converter, Honda takes environmental considerations into account. From now on, the engine was given a major role: it takes on the rocker arm and the reversing lever of the suspension strut that is too soft. The actual aluminum frame is only screwed onto the V4 as a bridge structure. Remained
is the single-sided swing arm, the weight has decreased: the clearly tourist-oriented RC 46/1 weighs 237 kilograms.

The new

Construction time: 1998 to 2001
New price (1998): 19,900 marks
Stock: about 6000 pieces

Market situation / prices: With the RC 46, Honda is consolidating the VFR’s nimbus as
all-purpose sports tourer continues. The model update from 1998 is also coming
to buyers. Around 6500 machines of this type will be new by 2001
authorized. This number essentially corresponds to the current inventory that the Federal Motor Transport Authority determined at the beginning of 2006. The used trade with the 800 series is very lively, the wide range of products depresses prices. First-series models with regular checkbooks are already available for 3800 euros, the majority of the offers from the last years 2000 and 2001 are around 5000 euros.

Inspection: Even with the RC 46, the generally high mileage documents the unbroken popularity with frequent drivers. That shouldn’t be an obstacle to buying. The solidity of the VFR was always convincing in MOTORRAD’s long-distance tests. Known weak points remain the heat-plagued alternator regulator and a sensitive steering head bearing. Lots of owners have been here as well
both ?? sometimes overwhelmed when fully loaded ?? Spring elements already intervened to optimize.

Conclusion: The RC 46/1 with the gear-driven cams is for technology fans-
waves are clearly the better choice compared to the successor model from 2002.
The price level is very attractive with a number of offers between 4000 and 5000 euros.

2/1998 (T), 11/1999 (LT), 1/2001 (VT), 24/2001 (GK)

T = test, LT = long distance-
test, VT = comparison test, GK = used purchase

2002 – 2006 – Honda VFR-ABS / RC 46/2

With variable valve control (VTEC) and a toothed chain as camshaft drive, the V-four-cylinder enters the 2002 model year. The result: 105 hp at 10900 /
min, better pulling power and a slightly lower fuel consumption. The look wins through the slim, almost sporty plastic dress and the underseat exhaust, which leaves space for bulky panniers. The finely regulating ABS, the tight but not uncomfortable coordination of the spring elements and the lively handiness get top marks? despite the proud weight of 253 kilograms. A package that could not be beaten for a long time in MOTORRAD’s 1000-point rating.

The playful one

Construction time: since 2002
New price (2002): 12,240 euros
Stock: around 4500 pieces

Market situation / prices: The German motorcyclist drives less? the trend
in recent years has also had an impact on the sales of prestigious long-haul machines. With around 5000 machines sold so far, the RC 46/2
nowhere near the successes of the previous models, especially the RC 36. Around 4500 machines are listed in the current inventory. the
Prices of young used vehicles have come under significant pressure due to competitive prices in the sale of new machines. Well-groomed 2002s will be from
6500 euros traded, still brand new 2005 models with a performance of well under 10,000 kilometers are just under 9,000 euros.

Inspection: MOTORRAD wrote the endurance test of the youngest member of the VFR family as an “all-round carefree package”. Interested parties should also pay attention to the inspections here. The valve clearance must be checked after 24,000 kilometers, and adjustments to the complex VTec system are costly.
Honda countered the problem area with an alternator regulator with an extended warranty, a sensitive point remains the sensitive steering head bearing.

Conclusion: Despite declining buying interest, the VFR is still the first choice for
brisk tourists. If you are looking, you should look to the ABS version,
which is not traded more expensive in comparison.

Tests in MOTORRAD: 25/2001 (TT), 16/2002 (VT), 17/2003 (LT), 5/2006 (T)

T = test, TT = top test,
LT = long distance test,
VT = comparison test

Honda V4 superbikes VFR 750 R / RC 30 and RVF 750 R / RC 45

Just in time for the introduction of the first world championship of the 750 Superbike class, Honda presented the uncompromising in 1988
RC 30, which dominated all national and international races. In the standard trim, the V4 produced 112 hp, with the HRC racing kit the RC 30 put around 133 hp at 12500 rpm on the dyno. Talented tuners put another ten horsepower on top through precision work. More was not possible because the homologated constant pressure carburetor with a diameter of 35.3 millimeters acted as a real throttle.
This shortcoming was foreign to the RVF 750 R / RC 45, built in 1994, which cost 43,850 marks. The successor came with full size 46 suction pipes, larger valves with a two millimeter larger bore and a correspondingly short stroke-
Model with 120 hp as standard, the HRC racing kit pushed another 30 horses. Despite all efforts, the targeted march in racing did not materialize. Only in 1997 did the American John Kocinski finish the superbike season as world champion on an RC 45.

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