“I tested one of the first ones!”
At this point, we normally introduce somebody of impeccable pedigree who was intimately involved with the model one way or another: this time round though, you’ve got me again. Back in 1983 when the first VFS appeared in the UK, I was working as editor of a monthly magazine called Motorcycle Mechanics, still alive in its present day guise of Performance Bikes or PB as some call it. I had a blue and white model on test for two weeks. Other staff members, including the late and much missed technical guru, John Robinson, had a tough time getting the keys away from me. It was such a radical bike for the time, V4, liquid-cooled and (for a 750) blisteringly quick. We recorded 137.94mph through the timing lights at MIRA. Honda were so chuffed that they bought a double page advertisement in the magazine to shout about the fact. We took it to Snetterton back when it was a proper track, two monster straights, no stupid bus stop to diminish the sheer exhilaration of Russell’s chicane and no car pleasing infield modifications after Riches. I forget what other bikes we had with us on that occasion, but I do remember that Don Morley, without doubt one of the best action photographers of the day, took the pictures. John Robinson was the quickest rider among us and I was happy to hand him the keys for half the session to get his opinion on the handling. We agreed that it set new standards for the time. It marked the beginning of a new phase in bike development, centring on better handling, reduced weight and more power. Bikes began to get lighter, faster and more agile. In rapid succession we had the GPZ900R from Kawasaki (1984), Yamaha’s delightful FZ750 in 1985, Suzuki’s GSX-R750 the same year – jaw-dropping bike after jaw-dropping bike. By the time Suzuki’s air/oil cooled marvel hit the streets, Honda’s original V4 was consigned to the scrap bin of history, betrayed by a dodgy top-end. It was replaced by the VFR750 in 1986, twin spar frame, gear driven cams and all. I was Editor of Motorcycle News by then and rode the bike at its launch on the recently opened Jerez race track in Spain. That’s a story for another page… page 32 to be exact.