The big-bore VFR
1998-2002 VFR800FI 152mph 97.8bhp £8675-£7999
Top speed Power
For 1998 and the VFR800FI, every element of the VFR750 was overhauled. If the early VFR750 ‘donated’ its engine to the RC30, in 1998 the RC45 donated its motor to the VFR – so it moved to fuel injection, and the 750’s cam gear drive moved from the centre of the crank to the right-hand end so the engine became more compact. The other big change was to add 2mm to the RC45’S stroke to bring capacity to 782cc. The result was more power, revs and shove: 110bhp @ 10,500rpm, and 60ftlb of torque.
The chassis was new. Honda had a thing for bolting swingarms directly to the backs of the crankcases, using the engine as a stressed member and doing away with frame sideplates – as per the VTR1000 and 929 Fireblade. Twin radiators were moved each side of the bike and the VFR800FI kept its single-sided swingarm, but brakes were linked.
Despite its slimming job the 800 looked a bit bulky, but was dynamically superior to its predecessor – faster, handled better, braked better. It was a peerless middleweight road bike, even if there was the faintest suspicion it wasn’t quite as prestigious. Tony Nucoll’s VFR800FI is a well-ridden 1998 bike that still feels lubricated, slick and built-to-last. The extra power and torque is plainly obvious – the motor works less for equivalent road speed. Its suspension is also more modern and direct. “I wanted a bike I could use all year round, in all weathers, for the express purpose of commuting. The VFR was the best bike for the money – it’s much better than a 600 but not as lairy as a 1000; the perfect middle ground. It ticks all the boxes. It’s seen lots and lots of winters and it’s still really strong; no faults. No issues at all. It just works.”