This is a Honda VF1000R, it’s a relatively rare motorcycle as it was only sold for two years – 1985 – 1987 – and it was originally intended as an homologation special that would allow the Honda V4 to race in production racing classes.
By all accounts the VF1000R was an impressive looking machine thanks to its race-bred styling and full fairing. It also had an impressive spec sheet that had American riders clamoring for it in 1985 after it was released in Europe.
Fast Facts – The Honda VF1000R
- The Honda VF1000R was released in Europe in 1984 as a 1985 model year. It was closely related to the Honda VF1000F Interceptor however it had a full fairing and a number of performance modifications that Honda wanted to homologate for production superbike racing.
- The first V4 in this series from Honda was the 1982 Honda V45 (known as the Sabre in the USA), and the Honda VF750S.
- Yamaha, Kawasaki, and Suzuki were all nipping at Honda’s heels in the 1980s superbike war – and the Honda VF1000R was intended to give the Japanese motorcycle manufacturer an edge.
- The 998cc V4 used in the VF1000R was related to the engine in the Honda FWS1000 race bike which was designed to compete in the Daytona 200 and AMA F1 class. The VF1000R kept many of its features including the gear driven double overhead cams.
The Honda VF1000R
When the Honda VF1000F Interceptor was released into the North American market in 1984 for the 1985 model year there were many who were outraged, as they saw the Interceptor as a lower-performance version of the bike they really wanted – the race bike derived Honda VF1000R which had been offered for sale initially in Europe.
The similar model names shared by the VF1000F and the VF1000R were no mistake, the bikes were closely related and shared a very similar engine and transmission, frame, suspension, and styling.
The easiest way to tell them apart is by the fairing as the VF1000F has a half fairing around the handlebars only and the VF1000R has a full fairing that covers the whole front and sides of the bike.
Under the skin the two models have a number of significant differences. This is because the VF1000R needed to homologate a number of features for production-based superbike racing including a larger fuel tank for endurance racing, a higher performance version of the 90º V4 engine, an uprated frame and suspension, and that aforementioned aerodynamic fairing.
Rather than start with a blank slate Honda engineers had taken many of the successful ideas from the Honda FWS1000 race bike which had raced in the Daytona 200 and AMA F1 class. Unlike the normal production V4s from Honda with the chain driven overhead cams, the FWS1000 had gear driven overhead cams that allowed for more precision and higher rpms.
The race bike contributed this nine gear cam drive system to the later production VF1000R, along with its redesigned heads which brought power up to 117 bhp at 10,000rpm which resulted in a period tested top speed of 149 mph.
The Honda VF1000R certainly looked the part however there were some issues under the surface. That complex gear driven double overhead cam system had added some weight, further weight gains elsewhere on the bike saw the final curb weight (with a 6.2 gallon/23.5 liter tank of fuel) climb to over 610 lbs (277 kgs).
This weight was 40 to 50 lbs heavier than its closest competition from Kawasaki and Yamaha, and it did have a negative impact on both the Honda’s performance and sales.
The Honda VF1000R does have a dedicated group of enthusiasts today who love the race-derived engine and suspension, and who insist that the weight isn’t really an issue if you know what you’re doing.
The 1985 Honda VF1000R Shown Here
The bike you see here is a first year 1985 Honda VF1000R with just 11,000 miles on the odometer. It appears to be in exceptional condition throughout considering its age of almost 40 years, and its clear to see why the model still has such a strong following today.
This VF1000R is said to have spent time in California before it was acquired by the dealer in late 2022 who is now offering it for sale.
Before placing it for sale the bike was given a once over and some needed maintenance including flushing the brake fluid and changing the oil.
It’s now being offered for sale out of Fort Myers, Florida on Bring a Trailer. If you’d like to read more about it or register to bid you can visit the listing here.
Images courtesy of Bring a Trailer.
Articles that Ben has written have been covered on CNN, Popular Mechanics, Smithsonian Magazine, Road & Track Magazine, the official Pinterest blog, the official eBay Motors blog, BuzzFeed, Autoweek Magazine, Wired Magazine, Autoblog, Gear Patrol, Jalopnik, The Verge, and many more.
Silodrome was founded by Ben back in 2010, in the years since the site has grown to become a world leader in the alternative and vintage motoring sector, with well over a million monthly readers from around the world and many hundreds of thousands of followers on social media.