Honda VF and VFR
The Honda VF and VFR series (VF meaning Vee-Four, and VFR meaning Vee-Four Road) is a line of production motorcycles made by Honda featuring V4 engines. The VFR was used as Honda's homologation racing platform in the 1980s, however the introduction of lighter inline-four powered competitors in the 1990s prompted Honda to transition the VFR into a mid-sized sport touring bike.
The VFR is often used by Honda as a showcase for technological innovation. The VFR800 was the first to utilize Honda's VTEC system, as well as the first Honda motorcycle to feature ABS and a linked braking system. The subsequent VFR1200 became the first motorcycle to feature a Dual-clutch transmission.
The V-Four engine was prominent in Honda's model line-up in the early 1980s with engine capacities ranging from 400 cc to 1,000 cc. The V-Four design had only been used a few times in the history of motorcycles, most notably by Matchless. The V4 cylinder arrangement achieves perfect primary balance giving a smooth and nearly vibration-free operation. Primary balance of the engine requires fewer balance shafts cutting down on weight and internal friction. The V4 engine is often described as a balance between the low end torque available in V-Twin engines with the high end power available in Inline-four engines.
The earliest Honda VF series engine was designated the V45 for its size (45 cubic inches or 740 cubic centimetres) and was very narrow being only 16 inches (406 mm) wide. A smaller V30 (500 cc) engine and a larger V65 (1,100 cc) engine were later available. Since the mid-1990s engine displacement has grown with each successive model from 750, to 800, to 1200 cubic centimeters.
In 1982, the first year of the VF models 'first gen', reliability and quality control problems occurred due to new automated production equipment at Honda's plant in Hamamatsu, Japan. Regardless, Honda sold out its first year's inventory of Sabres and the Magnas were not far behind. 1983 saw the engine revised to correct the problems from the previous production year and the introduction of the V65 and the Interceptor. Cam-wear problems surfaced during 1984 in the larger displacement bikes, which, by the time it was corrected, led to eight factory cam revisions over the course of just one year.
The chain-driven valvetrain was dropped from the VFR, with the 1986 'Second Generation' VFR750, in favor of gear driven camshafts to help distance the VFR from the reputation of the earlier VF engine faulty cam-chain tensioners. The sixth generation VFR800 introduced variable valve timing. The seventh generation VFR1200 has since replaced the original VTEC variable valve timing system with the unicam system originally developed for the CRF450R dirt bike.
The RC30 was developed as a homologation racing version and was successful worldwide from 1988 to 1993. It introduced the single sided swingarm to mass-produced large capacity motorcycles. The RC30 was small and fast and was still a competitive racing machine in 2009. It was replaced in the production series by 1994 with the RC45 which, while arguably one of the finest racebikes ever built, never quite achieved the same success as the RC30.
The "Second Gen" VFR750 of 1986 continued with various running improvements through the model of 1988. In 1990 the radically updated "Third Gen" VFR750 was released with the iconic single sided swingarm taken from the RC30 race model, a full four years before the Ducati 916 which became a signature design feature for Ducati. The "Fourth Gen" VFR750 arrived in 1994 with styling inspired by the Honda NR race bike and minor internal changes.
In 1998 the 749 cc VFR750 was replaced by the re-designed VFR800Fi which had a displacement of 781 cc and fuel injection. The engine was for the most part the same as used in the RC45 racing bike. A notable change was the relocation of the cam gear drive system from the centre of the motor to the side which slightly increased the sound of the cam gear whine. This revision also featured Honda's DCBS linked brake system.
In 2002 Honda released the sixth generation VFR engine which dropped the gear-drive for the cams in favour of cheaper, lighter and quieter chain-drive. The new engine also adopted a VTEC system which operates only two valves per cylinder below 6,800 resulting in improved torque, fuel economy and emissions compared to non-VTEC engines. Above 6,800 rpm the VTEC allows all four valves per cylinder operate for maximum power.
Early in the summer of 2009, leaked photos were published of what was claimed to be the next generation of VFR. Honda announced that a new large capacity VFR model, to be called the VFR1200F, would be shown publicly at the Tokyo Motor Show in October 2009. Honda have already confirmed some details of the 1,200 cc (73 cu in) V4 engine as well as a new optional six-speed push-button operated dual clutch transmission with three modes: automatic, sport and manual. The modes are similar to those on the Honda DN-01 but with a conventional gearbox shifted automatically, similar to a "Tiptronic" system, and without a hand-operated clutch rather than a hydrostatic drive.
List of models
- VF500F 'Interceptor'
- VF700F 'Interceptor'
- VF750F 'Interceptor' (C45)
- VF1000 'Interceptor'
- V45 VF750S and V65 VF1100S 'Sabre'
- Madson, Bart (5 April 2010). "2010 Honda VFR1200F Comparison". Motorcycle USA. Retrieved 6 July 2012.
- Porter (2009)
- Press release—"Honda Announces Overview of Display for the 41st Tokyo Motor Show 2009", Honda, September 30, 2009, retrieved 2009-10-06
- Downs (2009)
- Frank (2009)
- Westlake (2009)
- Downes, Andy (14 September 2009), Honda reveal more engine details of VFR1200, Motorcycle News, retrieved 17 September 2009
- Frank, Aaron (September 2009), "2010 Honda VFR1200 – Auto-Interceptor; Honda confirms its 2010 VFR will feature an automatic transmission", Motorcyclist
- Porter, Marc (24 June 2009), "UK Exclusive: New Honda V4 spied in action", Motorcycle News
- Westlake, John (8 September 2009), Honda confirms dual clutch on new VFR1200, Motorcycle News, retrieved 17 September 2009