The big-bore VFR

1998-2002 VFR800FI 152mph 97.8bhp £8675-£7999

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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.

Price new

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.”

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