Monday, February 11, 2008

Memorable: The mid-1980s Honda VF1000R

From left: The Honda VF1000F Interceptor, and the cooler, faster, more powerful, more stylish and very exotic VF1000R!
Pics: PB mag forum
Honda VF1000R Honda VF1000R Honda VF1000R Honda VF1000R

A few weeks ago, we wrote about the CB1100R, a high-performance homologation-special bike which Honda made in the early 1980s. But even though it dripped racer-cool, for some Honda connoisseurs, an inline-four just wasn’t enough – they had to have a V4 engine. And with the VF1000 range, that’s exactly what Honda gave them.

While the CB1100R was only made up till 1983, Honda started production of the VF1000 range of motorcycles in 1984, which continued till 1988. The VF1000F Interceptor, the VF1000FF/FG, and the VF1000R were all powered by Honda’s 998cc, DOHC, 16-valve, liquid-cooled V4, a formidable piece of engineering if ever there was one.

Things started in 1984 with the VF1000F Interceptor, which was fitted with Honda’s 998cc, 113bhp V4. The bike was quite high-tech for its time – adjustable ProLink rear suspension, braced 41mm forks with Honda’s TRAC anti-dive plumbing, ComStar wheels (16-inch front, 17-inch rear), and disc brakes all around. With its red-white-and-blue paintscheme, which remains instantly recognizable even today, the Interceptor gained cult status with Honda fans worldwide.

If you wanted fast and flashy in the mid-1980s, the Honda VF1000R was the bike to have

The first VF1000F evolved and Honda launched the VF1000FF and FG (F-II) models, which featured minor styling changes, and in the interests of better, more stable handling, the adoption of 18-inch wheels. But the bike which really interests us is the 1984 VF1000R, which Honda launched as a celebration of their racing heritage and as a showcase for their V4 engine technology.

With its gear-driven cams and higher state of tune, the VF1000R’s 998cc V4 made 122bhp at 10,000rpm – enough to push the 238-kilo bike through the standing quarter-mile (400m) in 10.80 seconds, and to a top speed of 240km/h. The chassis and suspension were identical to the VF1000F model, but the 1000R got uprated brakes, quick-release axle holders, adjustable clutch and brake levers, endurance-racer style twin headlamps, a full fairing made of lightweight fibreglass, and a cowl for the rear seat – all very important for those who wanted to look like Freddie Spencer.

Expensive and a bit too heavy, but we still think the VF1000R absolutely rocks!

The VF1000R started with the RE version, and Honda went on to make RF and RG versions, which were marked by minor styling revisions (including a move from twin headlamps to a single headlight), and a hike in power from 122 to 130bhp. What’s important, of course, was that V4 engine, the sheer performance, and the endurance-racer styling – all of which combined to make the bike so very desirable.

Priced at US$6,300 the VF1000R was expensive for its time and did not sell very well. It was also a bit too heavy, and not really very successful in racing. But for us, the fast, sophisticated and stylish VF1000R is still one of the most memorable Hondas ever made…

A video of the VF1000R
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