Honda VFR750F – Quick Review

Honda’s VFR750 really came of age once it won its single-sided Elf-developed swinging arm in 1990 with the FL-RC36. Here we take a quick look at the pros and cons of what makes up the meat of used VFR sales: the 1990 – 1997 models.  

What’s good:

Price: As a breed, this era of VFR is cheap. Lots were sold which has kept values depressed and prices are likely to remain stable, rising slowly only as bike numbers begin to decrease or fashion dictates. At time of writing you can still buy a good early Nineties model showing 40K miles for around a grand. That’s a lot of bike for not much money.

Quality: The sheen of Honda quality is all present and correct on the VFR. Chassis, paint and plated parts resist corrosion well even after 20+ years (though look out for rotting radiators and the usual pitted forks on year-round used models). The engine should run like a sewing machine so don’t accept any ‘the carbs just need balancing’ excuses when perusing a potential sale with a rattly or knocking power unit. VFRs are mechanically robust and with proper servicing will achieve a high mileage (check gear shift on test ride).

Just like with BMW, don’t be afraid of buying a 40K mile-plus VFR with history. VFRs tend to attract older riders with nothing left to prove so are typically well looked after, cosseted even. You’re not buying a ropey ZX-9 with a tail-tidy and mini indicators here.

vfr750fl-rc36-red
90’s high-tech – you even got a digital clock

Power and handling: The urgent whine of gear driven cams and that V4 induction sound is intoxicating – without doubt it’s the bike’s best bit. Its linear, smooth, unhurried power delivery is good news for everyone from beginners to old timers who’ve been there and done that, and the kitten-friendly power delivery makes it a particularly good winter bike too.

Point to point, it’s fast and easy to ride, with neutral and (in today’s context) slow handling and predictable responses. And yes, it might be old, but the VFR can still hustle. A well-ridden VFR is something most sports bike pilots will not enjoy seeing in their mirrors.

Maintenance: Fairing parts come off easily with quick release screws for basic maintenance and checks. With the original toolkit, tensioning the chain on the single sided swinger model is child’s play, which if you have kids can save on servicing downtime.

There’s excellent coverage of common VFR issues online and loads of advice to be had in the forums, particularly the US-based ones like vfrworld.com where you will find the VFR variously referred to as the Mad Max-esque ‘Interceptor’.

Comfort: A low seat height and reasonable bar reach means its typical sports-tourer territory of the 90s. Good for short to regular sized people. The fairing provides reasonable protection.

Extras: Tons of extras are available from bar risers, Corbin seats to raised screens and dedicated full luggage systems. Take your pick.

honda-vfr750f-92
Removable pillion seat cover comes as standard

What’s not:

Fuel economy: Nothing to write home about. 45 mpg seems to be about maximum but you can expect less. Tank range is the usual rubbish -150 miles and no more. Fuel gauge is annoyingly pessimistic.

Home Maintenance: Everything is really ‘packed in’ on the V4 so owner servicing can be a bit of a pig if you’re used to across the frame multis. Front plugs are a menace to get to, valve clearances are tricky and time consuming, the carb balance equally so. Changing the rear cylinder’s pipes on a rotten exhaust system can be an entertainment and requires much beer.

Top Tip: Check the remote fairing-mounted fuel tap still works. The cables can seize, and running onto reserve in the middle of nowhere is not a good time to discover this amusing quirk.

Electrics: Weak. An overheated regulator-rectifier unit was a well-known early problem but is an easy fix. The alternator can also fail without warning. A rewind is the best option. Otherwise reliable.

Torque: The pre V-TEC VFR is not a grunty mid-range torque monster so is not the first choice for extended two-up use or loaded touring. It needs its revs. I’m being picky here – it’s good enough.

Weight: Incredibly heavy feeling – you’ll be surprised. Feels cumbersome waddling it around in the car park. Could be a deal breaker if you’re on the short side.

Brakes and Suspension. Compared with the wonderful motor, decidedly average. Brakes can seize and require careful cleaning. The suspension is basic and copes with most things but the rebound damping tends to suffer if the bike is loaded or two up. The basics are sound though. The chassis and single sider swing arm combo is taut, and shock upgrades are available.

Tall Riders: It’s the same old story for tall riders: not roomy enough. Long-legged people may have difficulty with the seat to peg distance. The screen actively directs air at your head at motorway speeds too. In a word, annoying.

vfr750-1997
Straked fairing panels identify ’94-’97 models

Summary:

Despite a couple of minor blemishes, the VFR 750 remains one of the modern era’s definitive production bikes. Journalists love it. Riders love it. It’s just ‘good’. So good in fact, that (whisper it) the multi-garlanded Viffer can sometimes feel just a little bit, well, boring.

High recommendation indeed.

2 Comments

  1. Do you think a rider being 5’6 tall would struggle , IV been driving 30 odd years time for comfort not struggling . I have a 1990 model and would like a 2001 800 injection model many thanks Liam

    • 5’6″ should be no problem for an 800. If you do feel tippy-toes, just get the seat foam cut down by one of the many seat repairers around. Had a cut down Corbin on mine but they are dear. Great bike.

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