The First Sport Bike? The 1983 Honda VF750F Interceptor

The first Honda VF750F Interceptor had its issues, but today they’ve become surprisingly collectible.


| May/June 2012



Honda VF750F Interceptor

1983 Honda VF750F Interceptor

Photo by Jeff Barger

Honda VF750F Interceptor
Claimed power: 86hp @ 10,000rpm
Top speed: 132mph (period test)
Engine: 748cc liquid-cooled 16-valve DOHC 90-degree V4, 70mm x 48.6mm bore and stroke, 10.5:1 compression ratio
Weight (wet): 551lb (250.5kg)
Fuel capacity/MPG: 5.8gal (22ltr)/37.3mpg (period test)
Price then/now: $3,498/$3,000-$5,500

An Interceptor is a fighter aircraft specifically designed to repel enemy missions. Relying on high speed and powerful armament, they were once seen as the first line of air defense. So did Honda’s first Interceptor, the 1983 VF750F, have the fleetness and firepower necessary to beat the competition?

It’s been said that Honda rushed its V4s to market after the launch of the Suzuki Katana, and in anticipation of a new world-beater from Yamaha that became the FJ1100. As the Eighties dawned, Kawasaki, Suzuki and Yamaha seemed bent on deposing Big Red as the default Japanese brand. Honda appeared to have taken its eye off the ball, perhaps because of its new range of four-wheelers. Its mainstream bikes were seen as sturdy and reliable, but stodgy and dated. While Honda relied too long on its single overhead cam design from 1969, Yamaha, Suzuki and Kawasaki, formerly 2-stroke dependent, had all developed dual overhead cam inline 4-stroke fours. Though technological tours de force, neither the Honda Gold Wing, nor the CBX — not to mention the CX twin — were considered mainstream: Honda’s volume marketplace lead was slipping.

Then the V4s arrived, like a squadron of F-22s to intercept and scatter the intruders, creating a sensation along the way. In 1982, Honda introduced the V45 Sabre and Magna for the U.S. market, and the VF750S for Europe. All had liquid-cooled, hugely over-square 70mm x 43mm bore and stroke engines, 6-speed transmissions and shaft drive. The short stroke, 4-valve V4 was state of the art, and buyers anticipated high-revving, high-power performance.

The VF750F joined the U.S. range a year later, in 1983. Aping Suzuki’s 1981 Katana, the VF sported a frame-mounted headlight fairing. But while the Katana was in many ways a dressed-up late-Seventies GS1100, the Honda was just about all new. Though based on the V45 Sabre, the VF featured an all-new GP-derived frame, a revamped power train and several other race bike goodies.

Race on Sunday . . .

The Honda VF750F Interceptor was the offspring of a metaphorical marriage between the revolutionary 996cc V4 FWS1000 U.S. Formula 1 Championship Superbike racer Honda introduced in 1982 and a change in AMA Superbike rules. For the 1983 season, 4-cylinder bikes were limited to 750cc and were required to be production based. Honda management decided to build a new street bike around the Sabre engine, but with the right stuff to form the basis of a Superbike contender. The 1983 Honda VF750F Interceptor was the result.

TIM KERN
6/29/2012 4:03:48 AM

I bought (my first-ever eBay purchase) the actual VF750F that won the 24 Hours of Nelson Ledges its first year out (and was club-raced for years thereafter), and put enough street stuff back on that I rode it on the street for two years. It had a huge flat spot between 5000 and 6500rpm, so you had to pick your riding mode. Below 5000, its engine felt kinda like an 883 Sportster -- no kidding. Between 5000 and 6500, there was so little that it wouldn't pull through that range in 4th or 5th; but if you got on top and stayed there, it was a wonderful demon! Don't wish I had her back, but I'm glad she was part of my life.


Sarge
6/28/2012 9:22:15 PM

While this model Honda may be a milestone in many ways, it certainly is NOT the first "sport" bike. Virtually every generation of bikes has had it's sport bikes. Actually, many features of more modern bikes were already used in the past...Manx Nortons, BSA Gold Stars.....the Scott Flying Squirrel, with a water cooled two-stroke...Vincent with a horizontal single rear shock....Moto Guzzi singles with the shocks laying under the engine...not to mention the original Guzzi V7....a 125 mph sport bike in the early 70's....may not have had the power of the first Honda four, but was definitely better handling and more sporting....The Tonti frame of the V7 is so good, it is the frame under my 2000 Guzzi Jackal, a cruiser that handles like a sport bike....


Magic
6/28/2012 7:10:45 PM

I had a 83 CB1100F when a friend across the street from me bought a VF750F. I took it for a ride through our local hills and it was like the bike was on rails. I was really impressed with the handling more then any other bike I'd ever ridden. It was impressive.






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