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Honda VF 1000R
Honda's enthusiasm for the V4 engine layout in the early 1980s was such that by 1984 the VF range comprised six models with capacities ranging from 400 to 1000cc. The fastest and most glamorous was the VF1000R: a limited-edition super-sports machine that was created, with little expense spared, to dominate production racing in the way that the straight-four CB1100R had done three years earlier. With its full fairing and racy red, white and blue paintwork, the VF1000R looked every bit the street-legal competition machine. Its specification list was mouth-watering, based on a liquid-cooled, 90-degree V4 engine, that incorporated gear-driven overhead camshafts and produced no less than 122 hp @ 10000 rpm.
That peak power output was 6bhp up on that of the VF1000F, the standard 998cc, 16-valve V4 from which the R model was derived. The 1000F, also released in 1984 was an impressively fast and sophisticated bike. Its styling was similar to that of the original VF750F sportster, which had promised much before suffering widely publicized engine reliability problems.
The VF1000F handled well and its engine was flexible, powerful and reliable. The exotic VF1000R cost roughly 50 per cent more than the F and oozed quality from every pore. Its fairing was reinforced with carbon-fibre, its adjustable handlebars were made from polished alloy, its streamlined seat hump fitted perfectly. Its engine's gear-driven cams allowed more precise valve timing at high revs, which accounted for some of the extra power.
Like the other VFs, the R had a frame of square-section steel tubes, but its chassis specification was decidedly upmarket. Big 41mm front forks incorporated air assistance, adjustable damping and TRAC anti-dive. Hinged fork bottoms allowed easy front wheel removal. The Pro-Link rear shock was easily adjustable: the impressive front brakes comprised sturdy four-piston calipers and large, floating discs.
Stability and power
For road riding the VF1000R was a seductively fast and comfortable
companion. Its fairing combined with the racy riding position to
give excellent wind protection. High-speed stability was absolute,
and the engine was superbly powerful and torquey. The 1000R cruised
effortlessly at well over 100mph (161km/h) and surged smoothly to a
top speed of 150mph(241km/h).
Unlike its all-conquering CB1100R predecessor, the VF1000R was
rarely seen on a circuit, let alone in the winner's circle. That hit
sales, especially as the V4's price put it on a level with race-bred
exotica from firms such as Bimota and Harris. It was fortunate for
Honda that ill intended to produce only a small number. The VF1000R
was fast, sophisticated and easy on the eye, but underneath that
sleek bodywork it hid too much weight to be a success.