Many models reach a peak of perfection just before they go out of production. The VFR750 is an exceptional example of that. Choose any VFR and you have one of the best-developed, most reliable machines you could ask for.Motorcycle News, December 1999. The VFR scored 90% and was rated "almost perfect". It was tested alongside models which were intended to be its rivals - Triumph's Sprint Sports and Ducati ST2. They also threw in the Suzuki RF900. The Triumph is based on components which were far from cutting edge when it was introduced in the early 90's, while the Ducati ST2 is a little more sporty (i.e. less of an all-rounder) in true Italian style. The RF900 is lamentably ugly but has a superbly powerful engine. Despite being unchanged in its 4 years, the VFR showed them all a clean pair of heels (or is that wheels?). It scored top for engine, reliability and build quality.
|1997 VFR750||90%||Almost perfect|
|1996 Triumph Sprint Sports  ||81%||Excellent all-rounder|
|Suzuki RF900||86%||Seriously underrated|
|Ducati ST2||81%||A touch too sporting|
The new carbs and re-profiled intake ports have injected fresh snap at the throttle. What was hardly a lethargic engine is now completely rampant through its upper midrange; from 7,000-10,5000rpm the VFR is frankly staggering - dominant in class, easy. It is so damn useful having a choice of 3 gears for any corner.It retailed at £7605, in the days before grey imports forced the UK importers to bring their prices down to realistic, non-ripoff levels. To put it in context the supposedly 'bargain bin' RF900 was still £6999, their decidedly old-tech GSX-R750 was £7790, while the FireBlade retailed at £8360.
The new VFR is no FireBlade, but after a model life spanning eight years and 100,000 sales it is certainly sorted. On the road they combine to make the VFR behave like the old one. On the Jerez circuit it was a minor revelation, hard work but eminently flickable and barely less responsive than a GSX-R750. On the GP circuit it was about ten per cent close to the RC30 than the old one, on the roads at least 5% more adept as a potterer. The only bugger is the expected 15% price hike
I can't think of another bike that demands such miniscule nit-picking when looking to find fault. And that's because, basically, the VFR's got it all: an astonishing, distinctive engine; the best 'compromise' chassis around and the highest quality of build, finish and integrated design of any bike on the road. Its paint is so creamy it's like molten wax. Its clocks are the clearest of the three with a fuel guage and a clock. It's got a mainstand. It's got everything. So does that make the VFR the best bike on the road? Well yes, it does. Sure, the Ninja is superb: a great all-rounder with that Kawasaki edge. Sure, the RF is wonderful: a great all-rounder, fast and cheap. But the VFR, still, has that something extra, that something special and that's what makes it worth every penny.And no-one even mentioned the Honda had 24 months warranty, against the 12 months of the other two manufacturers.
It scratches, it wheelies, it tours, and you feel good from the moment you first tootle up the street on it. Any worries about the chassis feeling soggy as the speed piles on are soon blitzed as the damping casually decides to control whatever antics you chuck its way. Next to the ST2 it looks dated, but it does everything well. The suspension is soft and relaxed, the engine needs revving harder than the rest, but the bike's agile, comfortable and easy to ride. It's also the best town machine. One of the highest accolades bestowed upon the VFR is that several members of the Bike office claim their fastest ever cross-country ride on one.
All it takes is an open mind. The VFR is worth the money for the engine alone... The chassis is the least racy here, but Billy Fireblade will have to be going some to lose a VFR750 on the road.
"It's the only road bike you'll ever need. OK, there's only 100bhp, but it's beautifully delivered. The handling may be soft but is fine for the road. On one memorable trip down a very twisty, bumpy B-road at night jumping from the GSX-R onto the Honda was like swapping a shopping trolley for a Mercedes. The VFR went much faster, needing far less effort."
"A profoundly uneventful Japanese 750, you might say. The most perfect all-round motorcycle yet made, I would reply. Bit slow for the 200mph era? I rather fear not, centurion. That honking 6,000-10,000rpm surge is far handier than a 120bhp top end. Besides, a 150mph bike that never tankslaps is a mental A-to-B weapon."When he considered the alternatives, none were found up to the task. The only one he thought was possible was the BMW R1100GS. However, his 18,000 mile VFR is still well ahead of the game and, he claimed, worth £4,000.
Tyres: I've tried Pirelli Dragon Corsas (stable, heavy, steering, ultra grippy, ace in the wet, wear fast); Metzeler MEZ4s (hideous, especially in the rain; ditched before they wore out); Bridgestone BT56SS (characteristic 'slimy grip' feel, ultra stable, wear fast); and the current Bridgestone BT56 (my favourite - fast-warming, stable, grippy, good wear rate).
Magnificently reliable, deceptively fast, astonishingly useful, Honda's VFR750 lasted 11 years before it was betrayed by its creator. Vanity, racism and overweaning stupidity are about the only excuses for not liking a VFR750. It's possibly the only motocycle every made that offers genuine satisfaction to the full range of riders, from knee-down freak to baggy old duffer.Recommended improvements are few and far between: braided steel hoses, and heavier fork oil if you ride hard and/or weigh over 95kg (15 stones).
On bumpy roads it's still one of the fastest vehicles you can ride for any money. A VFR will never tankslap.
It wears chains a little faster than an inline four due to the uneven firing intervals. Clutch life is as good as any, and even if you ride it through a salty, wet Winter it will hold up far better than most. Regreasing the suspension and steering bearings annually is recommended. Genuine pads and well-maintained brakes will help the brakes last (they are often rather soft and lack feel). Check the valve clearances. Rear shocks sag and lose their effectiveness, and watch for corroded header pipes - they're expensive and a pig to fit.
Bore & Stroke
70 x 48.6mm
4 x 34mm VP CV type
1994: red, black, aquamarine
1995: red, black, silver