Austin and his 1989 Honda VFR400R (NC30)

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To celebrate our Bike Nights one year anniversary this month it was only fitting that our next Re:Fuelers Rides blog would feature a motorbike! Here at Re:Fuel we are lucky enough to have Austin regularly attend our events in his eye-catching Honda VFR400R (NC30). Despite it’s humble bhp figure thanks to its flat torque curve, cornering ability and low weight the VFR400R was and still is a force to be reckoned with.

This is my ‘ride and joy’, my 1989 VFR400R, a small capacity sports bike with more character than your average crotch rocket. Between the twin spar frame, fantastic exhaust note and iconic single sided swingarm (with the 18” centre lock rear wheel) is turns heads and attracts attention wherever I take it, especially Re:Fuel!

I didn’t realise I wanted a VFR until about August 2022, when my dad finally got another bike. His choice? A 2012 VFR1200FD, a big, mean sports tourer, which revealed to me the Honda V4 series. My first proper motorbike at 17 was a Suzuki Intruder 125, and my plan for my next bike was a Harley Sportster 1200 at 19, but that all changed once I looked into the VFR lineage.

Always preferring something more unique, that can stand out in the crowd, I went with this little gem. By the late 90s the VFRs were all sports tourers, however their reputation, and roots, were solidified in their sports bikes, most famous of all the VFR750R RC30, which mine (the NC30) is a 400cc derivative of, made for the smaller category of licenses in Japan. There are many colour schemes, but I wasn’t too picky, however one of the red, white and blue schemes felt right, to fully embody the Honda Racing heritage.

My favourite part about the VFR is the noise. With a much less common V4 configuration it is a sound normally reserved to the likes of Aprilia or Ducati, with a low, throaty growl, it is quite unique when put against almost any other sports bike – most being straight 4s. But alongside the exhaust is the screaming whine of the gear driven cams, giving the bike a noise akin to a supercharger. Both together is a magical experience, both in the hot seat, or to onlookers whilst it flies by!

For anyone that would be in the market for one of these pocket rockets, the number one thing I will recommend is to not be afraid of a project, or at least some work. The carbs are a nightmare to access and the tuning is very fiddly (glad I haven’t needed to do any yet). Looking for something on a budget can almost guarantee a certain level of work needed, as good examples can get quite pricey depending on originality, colour scheme, and maintenance history (which is crucial). However, if you aren’t perturbed by some wrenching, or have a healthy enough budget, a VFR (of any generation, but especially these 400s) will be one of the most enjoyable rides you can experience.

I haven’t been on too many rides just yet, the furthest has been to Beaminster in Dorset, then up to Somerset and home. A usual ride for me is along the south coast, starting on the Exmouth seafront, a stop at Budleigh Salterton, then finishing in Sidmouth. Recently a ride to Lyme Regis was excellent, and a spot for bikes to park makes a perfect stop for a ride with buddies!

Bike Facts:

Make: Honda

Model: VFR400R (NC30)

Year: 1989

Engine: 400CC V4

BHP: 54 (limited to 47 restricted)

Top Speed: 125mph

0-62mph Time: 4.5 Sec (slightly higher with restriction)

Weight: 170kg

Additional Mods: GSXR600 lightweight Flywheel and Stator, Tyga Performace Race exhaust
and Viper Racing end Can, Nitron Performance Rear Shock, full HEL brake lines, Ignitech
ignition system, SES Racing rearsets