Rich man or poor man: we can find a V4 for you!
Every month we take a look at the classic motorcycle market with a range of industry experts. This month, Paul Jayson from The Motorcycle Broker and our very own Scott Redmond look at Honda’s wonderful V4s: cheap and not so cheap!
In the 1980s Honda delivered unlimited cash to the development of race bikes for podium domination. Perhaps the cash came from booze and tobacco sponsors back in those heady, carcinogenic days and Honda blew it all on delivering race technology to the public. In 1984 Honda delivered the VF1000R which offered 122bhp and one of the first machines with gear-driven cams, but it lived in the shadow of the camshaft failures of the earlier VF750F. Bad reputations travel quickly and the stink always lingers, so the VF1000R was viewed as ‘the bike that blew up’. Also, 122bhp did lead to a few riders crashing and the bike was also very expensive, so sales weren’t great and the bike was made in very limited numbers. It also had another problem, it was a porker at 230kg, BUT this bike started a trend that continues to this day: homologation specials. I believe the strangely sexy (okay, when wearing beer-goggles) Phil Read Replica was the very first machine to initiate this idea and the VF1000R carried it onwards. The motor is incredible and reminds me of Kate Moss: red hot and ready to party; just like those amazing little VFR400S. Unfortunately, the rest of the bike does feel more like Hattie Jacques, but they are great to own and ride (Hattie trained as a ballet dancer Paul! Bertie). And like Buckfast Tonic, they are relatively cheap, but not for much longer. As an investment, they haven’t really fully caught on yet, but prices have been rising at quite a rate. In the future, I think they will become very costly. Now to the size zero: just a couple of years after they discontinued the VF1000R, Honda served up the svelte VFR750R, RC30. It was a masterpiece, yet produced ten brake horsepower less than the VF1000R at 112bhp. But it was super-light, tiny and handled like a dream. Racers of today still hanker after such agile handling. It looks iconic, sounds iconic and won loads of races and titles. The Japanese models require de-restricting, but have very small, mean headlights. Honda built nearly 5000 RC30S so there are more around to choose from than VF1000RS. Apart from the VF’S weight problem, you can see how the RC30 came from the same DNA. It’s a V4 with gear-driven cams and spins to over 14,000rpm. The Japanese market 400cc motorcycles also loaned a lot of technology to the RC30. The big problem with RC30S is there are numerous ex-race bikes in the market posing as investment-grade road going machines. While they’re not cheap, they’re still a great investment which is ripe for a price increase and (if you can afford one) then now is a good time to buy and they are going to increase in value again soon. Both of these machines are great to own and a great place to park your money for a tax-free return. The RC30 is the Kate Moss and the VF1000R is the drunk curvaceous kinky one. You pay your money and take your chance, but whichever way you go, you’ll have great fun.
Uk-spec RC30 is pricey!
VF1000R: very special.