Practical Sportsbikes (UK) - - Bikes of Your Life -

Hon­davfr750 run­ner Brian Hop­wood is hop­ing for bet­ter things in ’18 af­ter his de­but ended pre­ma­turely in a big off last year. “I only rode it a cou­ple of times and crashed at Croft,” the Lon­doner re­calls. “So it wasn’t fan­tas­tic, to be hon­est.

“It’s an ’86VFR750 – the first model. I’d used it to do the first clas­sic en­durance race at Snet­ter­ton in the rain a cou­ple of years ago and it was still on the same tyres. I was just fi­nally get­ting used to it, lost the back end and then ba­si­cally smashed it to bits.”

Not that it’s put him off. “I’ve re­built it all ready for this sea­son, put some new Met­zeler rub­ber on and it’s ready to go.

“I’m go­ing to try to do the full se­ries. I’ve got a lit­tletz250 I’m try­ing to put to­gether as well and also my Du­cati Paso for the Pro­duc­tion Class so it’s go­ing to be busy.

“Last year was my first with thevfr and I went in just to see if it was go­ing to be com­pet­i­tive and how I got on with it be­cause I’ve only re­ally raced smaller stuff be­fore.

“But it’s not down on power at all. I thought it would be com­pared to the EBC brake pads in stock calipers GSX-RS but it doesn’t seem to be. Most of the bikes – and it’s mostly FZS, GSX-RS and VFRS – seem fairly level on per­for­mance.

As for am­bi­tions and tar­gets… “I just want to try and push it hard and get up the sharp end if I can. I haven’t done a full sea­son on any of the big­ger bikes. Last year I was on my air-cooled Honda 500 and I got third in that cham­pi­onship so all be­ing well I should be in the top 10 in all the re­sults and hope­fully get a few in the top three, but we’ll see how it goes...

Any changes with the bike? “The plan was to put in beefier forks ’coz ev­ery­one else Stan­dard VFR discs VFRS are the cheap­est way into Su­per­stock – and com­pet­i­tive too


No, it’s not the pret­ti­est ma­chine you’ve ever seen, but it’s a race­bike, and as race tackle goes, the VFR is plenty strong and quick enough to win

seems to – off the CBR600 I think. But I just haven’t got round to it.the sea­son comes up so have an idea to do some­thing in the win­ter and then be­fore you know it it’s time to race. In­stead all I’ve been do­ing re­ally is re­pair­ing the body­work from where it got smashed up at Croft. I’ve done all the re­pairs but no real per­for­mance im­prove­ments, just putting it back to shiny.

And the chas­sis? “Han­dling-wise it’s got a Hagon shock at the rear and Hagon springs in the front. But it hasn’t got Max­ton in­ter­nals or any­thing fancy. It’s still pretty ba­sic so there’s still room for im­prove­ment. So if I get on with the bike and it does start to progress there’s def­i­nitely still room for im­prove­ment.

So tell us ex­actly what hap­pened at Croft.

“It was be­tween Sunny-in and Sunny-out – I think it was Sunny-in. It’s a sort of righthander and I just touched the throt­tle when leant right over. On the last lap I think it was. I just lost the back-end, but it went over the rum­ble strip so hard it re­ally smacked the tank and clip-on, twisted the forks a bit and the fair­ing was ruined. It was a real mess, re­ally. I was OK – just bumps and bruises. But it was frus­trat­ing be­cause I was just get­ting up to the sort of lap time I felt I should be at af­ter pro­gress­ing through the week­end. It was def­i­nitely the tyres’ fault, fair and square.they were a few years old and past their best. I’ve changed them. That’s def­i­nitely not hap­pen­ing again!”

So did it go back to­gether OK? “The re­pairs weren’t too bad – I man­aged to pretty much fix ev­ery­thing. I got a sec­ond­hand side­panel for the fair­ing ’coz that was in loads of pieces and ev­ery­thing else I just re­paired, re­ally. It’s not im­mac­u­late, but it’s a race bike. It’s go­ing to to get scuffs and scrapes. I think I paid 30 quid for the side panel and al­ready had the other bits I needed lay­ing around, and that was it. Oh, and half a tub of filler. I did the paint­work – I do a bit of paint – it’s in the sameam­er­i­can red/white/blue In­ter­cep­tor colours…

And what’s he look­ing for­ward to most? “The Don­ing­ton round in­au­gust I think. The Clas­sic week­end at Don­ing­ton. It’s the best round of the sea­son re­ally. But I haven’t got a par­tic­u­lar tar­get in mind or some­one I’m go­ing to try and beat.

“Re­ally I’m just look­ing for­ward to rid­ing the bike again.when thevfr’s work­ing cor­rectly it’s got good lin­ear power – it’s not peaky or any­thing like that. It’s a good bike. I just need to get used to it, a case of me get­ting up to speed.”

17-inch CBR600 wheels front and rear

New Met­zeler M7RRS front and rear £30 for sec­ond­hand side­panel af­ter Pem­brey get-off. All paint by Brian Sec­ond­hand stain­less steel ex­haust sys­tem and end can off ebay for £30 Hagon shock and Hagon fork springs, oth­er­wise stan­dard sus­pen­sion

That un­mis­take­able square early VFR tacho sur­round, a con­tem­pla­tive man at peace in his man hovel, and HRC back­ing for this sea­son – no pres­sure then­mfy seat

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