What to look out for...

Own­ers and me­chan­ics high­light the weak spots

RiDE (UK) - - Used Bikes -


The VFR’S V-four is very sim­i­lar to the pre­vi­ous model’s, and the only thing they’ve ever been prone to is a bit of top-end rat­tle at high mileages. With the old­est new-style VFRS still only five years old and few hav­ing cov­ered huge miles, we weren’t ex­pect­ing many com­plaints and in fact, we didn’t get a sin­gle hint of any me­chan­i­cal woes.


The clutch it­self is pretty re­li­able (though oc­ca­sion­ally noisy) and un­less you’re mainly in town or fond of clutch-based wheel­ies, should last 35-50,000 miles no prob­lem. The pushrod be­tween the slave cylin­der and clutch mech­a­nism can rust and stick in its bush­ing though — clean and grease oc­ca­sion­ally. Also, keep an eye on the state of mas­ter and slave cylin­ders — a build-up of gunge can cause the slave to stick — and ide­ally change the fluid at least ev­ery year, even if the sched­ule says ev­ery other year.


When buy­ing a used bike, make sure you get both orig­i­nal keys, along with the tag which car­ries the key num­ber and a bar­code — you’ll need this to get re­place­ment keys coded by a dealer. Keep the spare key and tag safe — if you lose them you’re stuffed. The only so­lu­tion is to change the bike’s ECU, plus a com­plete lock set and new keys. The new ECU alone is £1113.56…


Most own­ers were happy with the VFR’S gen­eral build qual­ity and fin­ish but some com­plained of tar­nished ex­haust head­ers and flakey paint on the front of the en­gine, as well as on the fork legs. There were a cou­ple of re­ports of badly cor­roded front brake bob­bins and bolts as well.


Here’s where you start to see the ben­e­fits of hav­ing stumped up for a pre­mium-priced mo­tor­cy­cle — the sus­pen­sion is re­ally very high qual­ity (though we did hear sev­eral re­ports of fork seals blow­ing at rel­a­tively low mileages) and gen­er­ally well set-up. That’s not to say it can’t be im­proved though. Dar­ren from spe­cial­ists MCT Sus­pen­sion knows how: “We’ve done maybe 40 or 50 of them. They’re great bikes. The only real prob­lem is the forks — they’re not fully ad­justable but there’s too much re­bound damp­ing com­pared

with com­pres­sion. The springs are hideously soft as well. So we fit bet­ter springs, change the oil and mod­ify the re­bound damp­ing be­hav­iour — we don’t need to touch the com­pres­sion at all. The rear shock’s fine — for the road it’s just a case of get­ting the set­tings right. The work on the fork and set­ting up at both ends is £290 plus VAT, ride-in, ride-out, and you won’t be­lieve the dif­fer­ence it makes.”


The stan­dard setup gives a good mix of power and feel for av­er­age road rid­ing but at the ex­pense of a very soft feel at the lever, which some own­ers don’t like. Up­grad­ing to braided hoses will firm things up a bit but ex­per­i­ment­ing with some harder Hh-grade pads will make the big­gest dif­fer­ence. You’ll never get a truly ‘hard’ feel at the lever though — that’s down to the ra­tio of mas­ter cylin­der to caliper pis­ton area. Best bet is learn to live with it — the ex­tra feel/mod­u­la­tion it al­lows, es­pe­cially in the wet, is bet­ter on the road than a harder setup.


Quite a few own­ers have up­graded to a lighter, fruitier ex­haust, with Akrapovic com­ing out as a clear favourite (and Ar­row as a close sec­ond). Com­fort-wise, bar-riser blocks are pop­u­lar and the good news is you can raise the bars by around 30mm with no need for ex­tended hoses and ca­bles, and no clear­ance prob­lems at full lock. For some own­ers this has been the dif­fer­ence be­tween keep­ing the bike or hav­ing to step away — it makes a huge dif­fer­ence to long-dis­tance com­fort.

Add in a taller screen to keep the wind off and that’s an­other step to­wards ache-free tour­ing. Don’t go too tall though — we’ve heard some re­ports of very tall screens mak­ing the tur­bu­lence a lot worse at cer­tain speeds. Some own­ers com­plete the pack­age with footrest low­er­ing kits, but you’ll quickly eat into your avail­able ground clear­ance.

On the prac­ti­cal side, a front mud­guard ex­ten­der is more or less es­sen­tial, as is a rear hug­ger — Honda sup­plies one as an ac­ces­sory but it re­ally should have been stan­dard. One of the most use­ful mods you can make, though, is to fit a chain oiler — prop­erly set up, it can make the dif­fer­ence be­tween ad­just­ing the chain ev­ery week and ad­just­ing it ev­ery few months, and be­tween re­plac­ing the chain and sprock­ets at 10,000 miles or teas­ing them out to three times that. We’ve heard of OE chain/sprock­ets last­ing 40k miles, which is im­pres­sive.

“We didn’t get a sin­gle hint of any mech­ni­cal woes”

En­gine, chas­sis and sus­pen­sion are well up to the task of a sporty ride

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