Bertie has spent his own cash. Not a lot of it, granted, but it has landed him a VFR with some work to do.
Our Bert bought a pup… or has he? His £100 Hound project begins!
Bikes kinda get under the skin, don’t they? Bikes like Honda’s seminal VFR750F… Now, I try not to get sentimental, but – when I was courting my late wife – I used to trundle to her place in Kent on a Honda VFR750 F-R in teal green. Even looking back now, after 23 years I think: wow, what a bike. It was quick, comfy and devoured miles with ease, meaning I was ready for action as soon as the front hoop landed on her drive. Ahhh (ahem) happy times!
Since those heady days of the mid-1990s I’ve hardly ridden a 750, but done plenty of miles on its soulless replacement the VFR800i, and the later V-TEC models. It was only when riding a minter F-R for MSL’s sister title Classic Motorcycle Mechanics (which I edit) late in 2015 that I was transported straight back to those times. It was magical!
So, I wanted an F-R, but couldn’t afford a decent, sorted one (single parent and all that) but I did happen to know where a knackered one was sitting… Enter my friend Simon Brown. Now, he used to use my garage to put his commuter F-R in before he got a lock-up of his own. Chatting to him back in early 2016, I found that his machine was sitting bereft of an MoT (shot rear shock) and he would let me have it for just £100.
Bargain! Why? Well, I knew he’d spent £760 on it over the preceding five years, including a vital reg-rectifier replacement and Motad stainless downpipes. Okay so it had 40k on the clocks and had sat for a while, but I was happy as Larry when I pushed it into my garage.
And there it has sat ever since. Being busy hasn’t helped, nor has not knowing what to do with it. Since I bought the thing I’ve considered everything from a nut and bolt resto to standard, to my own tarty-farty take on a V4 superbike, and even had the legendary Kar Lee design a colour-scheme for it. But – as 2018 dawned – I realised I just wanted to get the thing running and rideable. So I’m finally on it.
So, current plans are to sort the bodywork – perhaps in a plain black colour or wrap, and sort what needs doing.
The shock is already sorted thanks to a superb YSS Z-Series shock which I got from Wemoto when I first bought the VFR, as well as a battery. Some parts are pretty rusty – like the levers/pedals, so I will sort those as I go. I’ve already got a chain and sprockets and some LSL adjustable levers from Performance Parts Ltd: I managed to get some Hyperpro fork springs from them too which I’m going to use with some soon-tocome Liqui Moly heavyweight fork oil. This thing has sat for a while, so the suspenders will need sorting, it’s pointless not doing this if the bike will be apart.
With my garage being full of crap, I got the bike to my friends IDP Moto in Silverstone (Daryll Young and Craig Prior) to rip the fairings off it and sneakily leave it with them while I sought some more parts. This is what I found out about the bike…
When the panels started to come off the VFR, we could see that other than general wear and tear and furred-up bolts, the only real issues were the engine covers. Yup, the covers on both sides were heavily water pitted – not what you normally see on a quality machine like the VFR, but this one has clearly had a hard life. Either I need to get them off and blasted, or I need to source replacements: if only so the bike looks nicer… It’s the same for the wheels. I’ve got some new Dunlop tyres to go on, so I may as well get the wheels blasted and painted (they’re very heavily chipped) or source replacements and sell these on.
This VFR has myriad differing bolts/allen bolts/nuts and washers holding it together – not many seem to be standard for this model and some are clearly from the ‘make do and mend’ box – and one on the
left-hand side main fairing panel was chewed up and had to receive attention from the impact driver. I think – for peace of mind and looks alone – I should put my hand in my pocket for a Pro-Bolt fairing kit and engine bolt kit.
The Venom can I’m replacing for a sexy GPR carbon-fibre item which I’ve already bought. This was secured by some iffy clamps and bolts/washers which meant that the clamp itself was very near the (knackered) rear Avon – how it didn’t rub against the tyre as the shock was shot I will never know. What did make me breathe a sigh of relief were the downpipes themselves: as per what I’d heard, these are very clean, very recent Motad replacements: even if I simply broke the bike I’d make three times my original outlay by selling these…
So, I need to sort the rolling chassis and give the bike a good tidy up. With fork springs/oil, new shock/ can and tyres, the majority of this is sorted, but I know I should probably get some new wheel bearings while the wheels are out and get some gaskets for when I sort out those engine covers. One thing I was happy with was the brake calipers and forks. Also, I reckon a good steam blast will clean the forks before I drain/ strip them, while those calipers themselves look in good nick – even if they’re not the best brakes in the world as new… I reckon a check/swap of the pads and a bleeding of the brakes (the lines themselves look fairly new) and we’ll be sorted. I also want shot of the oh-so practical rack and will replace this with the VFR-specific twin-handles for the pillion, which
(even at breaker’s prices) are a good £20 a side!
Next time up, I’m going to give the bike a good steam clean and get those carbs off: they’ve been sat so long with a good half a tank of gas in the tank that these will need a good ultrasonic clean. I also need to get a carb kit and replace those parts in the carbs: it’s the first port of call to get any bike’s engine working right. After that it’s getting that rear shock in and the forks sorted.
WORDS: Bertie Simmonds PICS: Bertie Simmonds/Kar Lee
Luckily this isn’t a ‘scratch and sniff’ shot: the hound was parked next to a litter tray.
TOP LEFT: ABOVE LEFT:
It’s taken a while to get this project started. Giving the hound a bath seemed like a sensible first step. TOP RIGHT: May replace hoses. They can’t stay like this. ABOVE RIGHT: Can clamp close to tyre!
Wheels and engine cases need to come off. For now, it needs to be wheeled around...
TOP LEFT: Rear wheel scabby. TOP RIGHT: Bar ends and levers. MIDDLE: Caliper/forks in good nick. ABOVE LEFT: Springless footpegs and lever will go. ABOVE RIGHT: ‘Classic’ tax disc clearly dates the bike.