Rapid Transit: The 1986 Honda VFR750F Interceptor

A lot was riding on the Honda VFR750F, and its manufacturer was determined to get it right.


| July/August 2015



1986 Honda VFR750F

Fully restored to original condition, this 1986 VFR750F Interceptor belongs to Laf Young, who lives on the island of Maui, Hawaii.

Photo by Robert Smith

Top speed: 144mph (period test)
Engine: 748cc liquid-cooled DOHC 16-valve V4, 70mm x 48.6mm bore and stroke, 10.5:1 compression ratio, 82.55hp @ 10,500rpm (period dyno test)
Weight (wet):
505lb (229kg)
Fuel capacity/MPG:
5.3gal (20ltr)/45-55mpg
Price then/now:
$5,298/$4,000-$7,500

It may not be the longest running current production motorcycle in history — that honor goes to Harley-Davidson’s Sportster — but if you went to your Honda dealer today and peeled the plastic off a 2015 VFR800, it wouldn’t be that much different from the VFR750F that first went to market in 1986.

Along the way, the VFR750 won Cycle World’s Best Sportbike award six times, while its basic design was extrapolated into the World Superbike winning VFR750R/RC30 and RC45. The VFR750 was born of disaster, yet went on to salvage Honda’s reputation as a builder of reliable, high-quality motorcycles. How come? 

Rising tide

At the end of the 1970s, Honda’s technical prowess was unchallenged. The company had created such extravagant engineering exercises as the flat-four GL1000, the 6-cylinder, 24-valve, double overhead camshaft CBX and the oval-piston NR500 Grand Prix racer. However, Honda’s mainstream CB750 and CB900 were losing ground to the competition. So to compete with Suzuki’s Katana and Yamaha’s FJ1100, Honda upped the ante with a range of double overhead cam, 16-valve, liquid-cooled V4s.

First came the 750cc V45 Sabre cruiser for the U.S. market, and the sporty VF750S for Europe. Both had liquid-cooled, over-square engines of 70mm x 43mm, 6-speed transmissions and shaft drive. The engine’s short stroke and the 4-valve heads with narrow included valve angles were all state-of-the-art for high-revving, high-power performance.

To demonstrate the potential of its new powertrain, Honda management decided to build a sport bike that could be homologated for the 750cc AMA Superbike class. The 1983 VF750F Interceptor was the result, and although based on the V45 Sabre, the Interceptor also borrowed from Honda’s FWS1000 U.S. Formula 1 racer.

tonyc
8/5/2016 3:50:26 PM

His neck gets tired on long rides? He lives on Maui. How long a ride can he do!


tomn
7/9/2015 8:42:37 AM

"It may not be the longest running current production motorcycle in history — that honor goes to Harley-Davidson’s Sportster." Wrong, that honor goes to Royal Enfield's Bullet!


skidmark
6/23/2015 1:45:50 PM

That's my old bike !!! Glad she still looks well taken care of. LOTS of blood sweat, tears and impossible to find and VERY expensive spares in that restoration !! ALOHA !!!


josephn
6/14/2015 3:23:55 PM

Excellent job, Mr. Smith. JOE in IL v4dreams.com






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