This Japanese classic motorcycle will deliver great profits

This Japanese classic motorcycle will deliver great profits and here’s why. Back in 1984 Honda delivered these homologation specials to the European market only much to buyer’s wonder. Derived from the tyre shredding FWS1000 and offering gear driven camshafts the Honda came with a very hefty price tag. The V four offered a compact, slender package but it was rather heavy with a steel square section frame painted to look like aluminium. The homologation special delivered 122 BHP, which was highly respectable and the racing quality fibreglass body work was of the quality spotted only on race circuit start grids and only on the factory racers. These machines were hand built by HRC (Honda Racing Corporation) and the paint scheme matched the specification of the motorcycle. The motorcycle today is still striking and offers respectable performance. So why has it gone under the radar for so long?

1985 Honda VF1000R for sale
The VF1000R had a stunning paint job.


The truth is that the VF1000R was a great motorcycle and, although Honda had really pulled out all the stops, it was overshadowed by the Kawasaki GPZ900R and Suzuki GSXR750 and 1100. The Honda was hitting 150 MPH, which was beyond respectable, but the GPZ900R blitzed the bike at a fraction of the cost. Honda had also poorly handled a recall issue around the lower specification Honda VF1000 which also tarnished the VF1000R’s reputation. This was compounded by either owners, or dealers, when servicing these machines failed to change the coolant every year. This caused slugging in the coolant, which is also held in the frame rail, and caused coolant starvation to the cylinder heads which would cause engine failure. This entire V four series was tainted with a poor reputation which it didn’t deserve and the VF1000R was replaced by the iconic RC30, the motor of which was a redesign of this stunning piece of engineering. Once owners of RC30s realise that the daddy of their iconic homologation special is harder to acquire in investment grade condition, the prices of the VF1000Rs will really pop and rise fiercely.

IMG 2674

Excellent to ride

The VF1000R is excellent to ride, even by today’s standards, it’s sure footed and accelerates very respectably. The gear driven cams make the most delicious whine all the way up to the motor’s 11,000 RPM red line and the motor howls impressively once above 6,000. Power delivery is steady, torquey and inspires confidence in any rider and yet delivers an exciting acceleration rush. It is far more civilised, useable and sophisticated than the brutish Suzuki GSXR750 or 1100 which were just outright hooligans by comparison. Although the Suzukis are fun, they’re just not really useable on modern roads, in the same way that a two stroke motocrosser is just not useable on modern roads. The Honda will keep up with a lot of machines and there’s plenty of feedback from the state of the art, at the time, racing ancillaries which adorn the chassis. The wheels are NSR500 type Comstars, brakes were the pinnacle of stopping power in their day, the Pro Link rear suspension was ready for the race track and the quick release front wheel was state of the art. The anti dive forks were seriously high tech, but in reality I couldn’t notice any confidence spurts induced from the front end. The 16″ front wheel makes the bike turn very quickly and feels more sure footed than on other machines I’ve ridden with a small front wheel.

1985 Honda VF1000R for sale LHS

Very rare

It’s very rare to find an investment grade Honda VF1000R as they fell out of favour very quickly and the carbs were very difficult to access to fix so many rusted away in owners’ back gardens. The cost of restoring such a machine will be in the region of buying a decent Honda RC30, so finding a really nice example is almost impossible today. Anything you buy from auction houses, auction sites or even bike dealers will need a lot spending on them, however lovely they look. Frame paint is prone to failing, the fibreglass body work will have shrunk, so you won’t be able to fit the fairing or seat unit after removing them. The remedy for this is extensive and very careful surgery to the fibreglass to move the fixing holes in the fairing and seat to the correct place and to repair the old oval shaped holes.

Honda VF1000R frame and engine finished
Frame paint is often failing underneath the bodywork.

Buyer beware

Buyer beware of pretty looking examples with promises that what you’re looking at is the best example anywhere and someone else is coming up to buy it. If you’re buying one of these machines, it is much better to pay more for something that is spot on, rather than trying to save a few quick and fix problems. You cannot line the petrol tanks on these machines, because they have complex plumbing inside them and also a fuel pump. Remove all of the bodywork before buying any of these, if in doubt walk away and bear in mind that it’s a very expensive paint job these machines carry, so any paint repairs will be very costly. Drain out the coolant and check it flows easily from the drain plug, any restriction in flow will cause expensive engine problems. Once you’ve bought one, remove the coolant and blast the inside of the frame rails out with a pressure washer. Look out for failing frame paint underneath the body work. Do not get involved with bikes that have stale fuel as dealing with the carbs and fuel tank is very costly indeed. We have already restored one of these stunning machines and I can assure you that the cost of restoration far outweighs the value of the motorcycle. They are very costly and difficult to restore and values cannot remain this low for much longer. Get the best possible example that has been really well looked after rather than buying one that seems cheap, or it will most certainly cost you more in the long run.

Paul Jayson

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