Honda VFR History: Part II- Honda V45 Interceptor History Feature

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Honda Interceptor

Honda VFR History: Part II – Feature CW Archives: No, Honda’s V-Four machines weren’t sportbikes. But the V45 Interceptor that was.

Honda was in a state of manic engineering experimentation 1983. Maybe it was the lingering it and all the Japanese manufacturers were following the gluttonous success of the Honda introduced a 52-degree V-Twin and a 750cc 45-degree one (in the of the Shadows); a pair of new Nighthawk in 550 and 650cc sizes, the new V65 Magna bone-crusher 1100cc V-Four, the Turbo, CB1100F, several bikes including the new XL600R—and the one all been waiting for: the V45 Interceptor.

Okay, sportbike had been waiting for it. Most of the feedback in the following months in CW . dealt with readers (or incensed at other readers for incensed) that the new V-Twins blatant H-D ripoffs. The more change…

But even if you had been attention and were expecting V-Four to find its way into race-inspired, you were still away by what was at the time, the first Japanese repli-racer its frame brazenly on the outside—like first exotic dancer just slipped from the layer, in an era when Private involved driving downtown to the House. Whaaaa?!

The first wasn’t just a matter of the Sabre/Magna engine into a frame. For one thing, the cylinders rotated rearward in order to the wheelbase; the Interceptor’s front was set at 30 degrees from horizontal of 23.5, allowing the front to tuck in tighter to the engine. For adapting chain final instead of shaft meant the V-Four to spin in the same as the bike’s wheels.

A five-speed replaced the Magna’s six-speed overdrive top—and it’s a thing that 90-degree ran so smoothly, because it was then 4700 rpm at 60 mph. It’s solid-mounted like with the racer it resembles. Decades the slipper clutch became the bike had a two-piece clutch with a sprag arrangement so the plates would disengage engine braking.

So trick we didn’t yet know it.

to the airbox added 6 horsepower the Magna, thereby boosted to 86 hp at rpm, thanks also to bringing cool air from and ahead of the cylinders—forerunner to today’s “ram-air” deals. Coolest of the tricky new “perimeter frame” aluminum but is in fact steel, a removable section to allow the to be extracted. Split radiators are racy and make room for the front wheel inside a of 59.8 inches.

An exotic swingarm mounted an air-adjustable while a 39mm Showa bristled with TRAC and an array of air-pressure adjustment and knobs. Strangely enough, a 5.8-gallon fuel tank, full, helped the bike 532 pounds (on probably the same we still use at CW HQ).

Honda V45 revealed.

Stiff competition year from the Kawasaki and Suzuki GS750E turned out to not be enough: The steamy VF ran 11.67 in the at 115.23 mph, topped out at got 44 mpg and MSRP’d at $3498. (All performance numbers, interestingly, the Honda right in the running the five standard bikes we for our May, ’11 issue: Aprilia BMW F800R, Ducati Monster Triumph Speed Triple R and FZ8.)

From “The New CW . May ’83:

The biggest, the heaviest, the powerful, the quickest, the fastest. The has a combination of strengths which the can put to his advantage, along with an that makes it the most of the three and yes, we all like to looks don’t matter but do and the Honda dazzles the eye. The wins.

At the time, it really did dazzle. and all, the poster of the new Interceptor was tucked into my issue of looked great hanging on the of the palatial ex-Hitler Youth I inhabited while stationed in Germany when I was in the U.S.

The Interceptor was so high-tech with its frame, quick-fill-looking petcock and two banks of cylinders… I think it me there was no way the East was going to the West in the Cold War if our side build stuff like Cold what . Why did no one inform me of when I enlisted?

Racing up CW ’s impressions: In the first season for 750cc superbikes, Freddie won the ’83 Daytona Superbike race, and left for Europe to become World Champion. Meanwhile, Baldwin won four Nationals on his VF and was for the big trophy—right up until a crash at (in the Formula 1 race) broke his before another big get-off at Springs put an end to his season and to his factory which was last seen 130-mph flaming cartwheels Willow’s back straight. Merkel and Sam MacDonald also up factory Hondas that day, leaving a kid named Rainey on a heavily overmatched and Kawasaki GPz750 tuned by Rob to snatch the ’83 Superbike championship.

Baldwin was so close to being ’83 champ he could taste it… by Tom Riles)

After ’83, a Kawasaki pulled the roadrace for ’84, leaving the VF750F to win all but one national to take the championship Fred Merkel. In fact, Kawasaki left, Honda was the only factory team, and took the championship again in ’84 and

Was Honda content with its new Interceptor? Hell no. One year here came all-new in 500 and 1000cc displacements.


Stroking the engine 5mm to 53.6mm, and boring it 70 to 77mm produced a 998cc that ran a 10.90-second, 123.96-mph and topped out at 138, in a package weighed but 20 pounds more the 750. The 1000 used the engine cases and bore as the 750, but with pressed-in wet instead of cast-in ones.

rods, bigger main and bigger (36mm) carbs fed the valves and pistons, and a bigger radiator hidden behind the helped keep it cool. And in an to assuage fears about the failures some Magnas and suffered, Honda’s engineers oil flow to cams with faces.

Though it looked identical on paper, the 1000 didn’t have the handling of the smaller VF: 25 years ago, engineering wisdom had it that a low of gravity was good for handling, and so the engine was lowered about an in its frame compared to the 750. later did we figure out the benefits of centralization,” and that lower is not better. Also, maybe the was just tougher in the Open In CW ’s July ’84 test, the VF1000F was with faint praise being just plain

The Kawasaki Ninja is a livelier, specialized pure-sport bike. The 1100 has more peak feels smaller and possesses a smoothness, almost a gentle that the Honda does And the 1150 Suzuki?

Well, it’s just a pure and simple… The 1000 does a commendable job of following the performance of 1983. It’s that some other seem to have done at as well. If not better.

Fine, seemed to say, throwing the into our cage a month try this one on for size, then. And was what the 500 was all about. Honda it made just 68 hp (at 11,500 but this VF weighed a whopping 100 less than the 750—432 lb. a half-tank of fuel. The critics it.

CW compared it to Mikhail Baryshnikov, and went on to explain who Mikhail is (an internationally renowned and immensely ballet dancer).

Honda Interceptor

Cycle ’s staff is as diversified a group of enthusiasts as you’re likely to and to a man they picked the Interceptor as the bike to have when it time to blast down a country two-lane. The GPz550 be a better choice for all-around because of its more-spread-out seating and rubber engine mounts. But for out the kinks in a twisty piece of the 500 Interceptor is the best bike in its

Or, for that matter, maybe in any class.

In 1985, Honda the 750 engine 3.2mm to create the and sidestep the tariff on bikes 700cc. A one-tooth-smaller countershaft and camshafts with less saw to it we didn’t miss the extra much at all. Especially it was priced at $3598—$800 less the 750.

And Honda was still not done with 1985. In a bunch of second-generation FWS1000s, RS850 (and later had been built to contest races and the TT F1 World Championship, one of which was the Isle of Man TT. In ’83, Dunlop rode an aluminum-framed RS to a new lap of 19 minutes, 33.6 seconds at a of 115.7 mph, handing V-Four its first world at the venue that had been Mr.

Honda’s first big international implanting Dunlop even firmly in Island lore in the and making V-Four Victory the video of all time in an era when cameras were like a stuffed badger atop gas tank.

Video window may a few moments to load…

Whether the ’84 was inspired by Dunlop and the mighty RS or it certainly looked it, and after a abroad the highly coveted R was to the U.S. where it was promptly as being a heavy pig. maybe not reviled, but heavily At around 600 pounds with its fuel tank half the R was about 50 pounds heavier the F—heavier even than the

And though you can argue that the was the first modern superbike, it hadn’t prepared us for real-live handlebars, rearset footpegs and . no centerstand. What the first did have, though, was the first VF engine with gear-driven along with more cam timing, a higher redline and compression. Honda said the R was for 116 hp at 10,000 rpm, and our test went an honest 150 mph.

still wasn’t enough to the critics. But time has a way of making performance numbers moot, and we a sneaking suspicion that if any Honda V-Fours ever collectible (and they this rare, expensive and beautiful bird might be the VF to

1985 VF1000R: Instead of endurance style headlights, the version got a big rectangular job, a bias-ply rear tire of the Euro-bike’s radical new Bridgestone both tires mounted on ComStar wheels.

Carried from the FWS race bikes and that preceded it, the VF1000R’s cams would become an signature for VFRs to come: valve timing, no chains or to go south in the heat of battle, and catnip for the gearhead.

In its test of the big Cycle magazine (July, attempted to apply positive by conjecturing that Honda had missed the boat by not slotting the big into the sport-touring niche occupied at the time by the BMW K100RS: “… has left a gaping hole in the where sport-touring machines stood; the VF1000R could been Honda’s reply to the a damn good one.

somebody was listening. Only a of a century later, Honda respond with the VFR1200F. But not a few more exciting VFRs and went.

Next time: III: Rs for the taking, RC this and etc… Honda flexes engineering muscle with very trick V-Fours

Honda Interceptor
Honda Interceptor
Honda Interceptor
Honda Interceptor
Honda Interceptor
Honda Interceptor

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