Test, Honda RVF 400
Honda RVF 400
Small, beautiful and fast – the Honda RVF 400, a toy not just for young people.
Most contemporaries lose their lightness of being as they get older, and playful interaction with oneself and the world is stifled by the seriousness of life. “Wife, house, children – the complete catastrophe,” as Alexis Sorbas put it so aptly.
Transferred to motorcycling, the development from pleasure-oriented to sensible action looks like this: Burned through the area with 16 full pipes on the tuned 50s, then rattled the streets with an RD 250, then switched to a fat, high-performance four-cylinder – and in the end but to land on an R 100 GS or an XJ 900.
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Honda RVF 400
RVF 400 together.
The impetus was provided by my colleague Monika Schulz, whose fresh and youthful view of things I often and often profitably enjoy. “Hey, it’s so awesome, the RVF,” it gushes out of Moni one morning, and when it gushes out of Moni in the morning, there must be something behind it. So I promptly set off for a tour of the little miracle that is now sparkling in the glaring light of the photo studio. At first glance, the 400 series comes out as a pocket version of the RVF 750 alias RC 45. The same lines, but less bulky because it is scaled down. No question about it, the RVF 400 presents its sportiness in a more relaxed, playful manner, unencumbered by the burden of having to fight for the Superbike title in an intensified form.
On the surface, the 400 has everything that makes the RC 45 good and (45,000 marks) expensive: Upside-down fork with golden anodized stanchions, important four-piston brake calipers on the front wheel and floating discs, and of course a single-sided swing arm with rocker arm in between a flawlessly crafted bridge frame made of aluminum profiles. This in turn houses the compact 90-degree V4 engine, which is not completely new (it was already purring in the VFR 400), but still impresses with a remarkable array of filigree four-stroke technology.
In order to mobilize its 60 hp, the little one has to dig deep into the five-digit speed range. The prerequisites for cheering without regrets lie in the crankshaft, which keeps the piston speed under control with a stroke of just 42 millimeters, and in the structural design of the valve train: Instead of plain, rattling and whipping chains, a cascade of spur gears takes care of the drive of the camshaft Quartets. The 16 valves scattered over the two cylinder heads are fingered by filigree rocker arms – bucket tappets would be technically “nicer”, but the little levers with their shims for valve clearance adjustment are more practical.
Four carburettors take care of the mixture preparation, which would reveal the first major difference to the RC 45, whose V4 is fed by an elaborate injection system. On closer inspection, further differences become apparent: The RVF 400 has a relatively simple central spring strut without a reservoir and without adjustment options for the compression damping, and the fork can only be influenced in rebound and spring base. Nonetheless, not a bad record for the Bonsai RVF, which in return can book a price advantage of 30,000 marks.
And yet: Almost 15,000 marks are still a lot of wood for 400 cubic meters and 60 hp, however attractively packaged. But sober price / performance calculations have no place on board the RVF 400. On the other hand, there is space for my height of 180 centimeters, which fits snugly between the handlebars and the seat hump, and I even put my head behind the extremely flat windshield without any contortions – the thing fits like a tailor-made suit. Nevertheless, I fear that with this subset of the fastest way from a sprightly mid-forties to a sparkling source of income for the physiotherapist.
The quickest route leads through the hustle and bustle of traffic in Stuttgart, and two of my prejudices are shaken: The RVF comes out of the starting blocks without riot speeds and clutch magic and can be moved without complaint in the low pressure area of its power range, the only disturbing thing is a clacking of load changes in the drive train when the engine is running changes from pull to push stage. And the machine is not as uncomfortable as it seems, especially not when instead of urban slalom, freestyle driving on the most curvy stretches possible. Suddenly it is there, the so often conjured up unity of man and machine: like Siamese twins, it carries us in an exhilarating incline through curves of every curvature radius, the engine hisses, kept on its toes by the shift foot, in a breathtaking voice, the chassis lies in the hand like a perfectly balanced tool that does its job by itself.
It is this playful lightness that carries the charm of the RVF into the last braking zone: A gentle grip on the lever and the machine energetically, but perfectly calculable, throws excess speed overboard. Excess speed is a foreign word on the motorway, especially with motorcycles with unbridled forward thrust written on their panels. The RVF makes every effort to live up to its appearance. With big ears she cracks the 200 km / h mark – enough to be with the music on halfway busy stretches. When I hear the keyword “music”, Hans Albers comes to mind: “Come on, sweet little one, be mine, etc … «It will probably come down to that.
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