Honda’s V-4 History

The new VFR1200 has a lengthy legacy of V-4 heritage

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As Honda prepares its new VFR1200 for its official unveiling, the red-wing company has set up a website detailing its long involvement in V-4 engines. It began back in 1979 with the introduction of the NR500 grand prix racebike. Rather than fielding a 500cc two-stroke engine, Honda used a four-stroke oval-piston V-4 motor – essentially a V-8 with four cylinders that could be revved to 19,500 rpm! The oval cylinder area was so large that it used eight valves in each!

1987_NR750_pistonsEach oval-shaped piston in the NR500 utilized two connecting rods to support its lengthy cross-section. Eight valves per could flow a lot of air!

The V-4 engine made its first appearance in a Honda streetbike in the 1982 V45 Magna cruiser and V45 Sabre standard, then made a big splash the following year with the debut of the game-changing VF750F Interceptor sportbike. A VF1000F and VF500F Interceptor rounded out the lineup in 1984.

1984_VF500F_InterceptorOne of the sweetest small-displacement sportbikes ever, the Interceptor 500.

The legendary RC30 sportbike surfaced in 1988 and set new levels for superbike power and handling while the VFR750 evolved into a sporty all-rounder rather than a hardcore sportbike. The sport-touring ST1100 showed up two years later, later transforming into the ST1300 and still with us today.

With the ST1300 and VFR800 Interceptor, Honda has an uninterrupted history with V-4 engines that will expand this fall with the introduction of the highly anticipated VFR1200. Big power and high technology are on the way, including the availability of a dual-clutch gearbox as reported here. We’ll have lots more on the most powerful VFR ever during the next couple of months, so stay tuned.

Related Reading:
VFR800 Interceptor Shootout
ST1300 Shootout

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  • http://amateureconblog.blogspot.com/ Speedmaster

    Great post! ;-)

  • Kenneth

    It suprises me that more bike manufacturers haven’t done V-4s. If I were to hazard a guess, it might be that the cost of manufacturing is why; although the chassis benefits in packaging seem huge. I truly loved my much-maligned 02 V-Tec Interceptor; it was an incredibly fun bike to ride. It was perhaps overly confidence inspiring as I had no qualms whatsoever taking the bike to an indicated 140 mph whenever I thought I could get away with it (which in Arizona was pretty often!).

    It would be neat to work up a list of V-4 bikes that have been produced over the years and see how they fared in the market and the track.

  • Bill Hawley

    You left out the V65, SHAME!