HONDA VFR800 VTEC (2001-2012) Review

Published: 23 November 2006

"Rides, goes and handles superbly but the V-Tec's variable valve timing has caused some controversy"

Honda VFR800 V-Tec motorcycle review - Riding

"Rides, goes and handles superbly but the V-Tec's variable valve timing has caused some controversy"

  • At a glance
  • 781cc  -  107 bhp
  • 38 mpg  -  170 miles range
  • Insurance group: 14 of 17
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  • Medium seat height (805mm)

Overall Rating 4 out of 5

In the late 90s the old VFR800 was a great bike but needed updating. Its replacement, the Honda VFR800 V-Tec, is a beautiful thing and rides, goes and handles superbly too, but the Honda VFR800 V-Tec's variable valve timing caused some controversy - it's clever, but is it really necessary?  

Ride Quality & Brakes 4 out of 5

The Honda VFR800 V-Tec steers a little slower than some rivals, like the Sprint ST, or ST4S, and offers a plusher ride than average. But the slightly soft suspension doesn't dive at the front too much under braking, as the CBS system puts some braking force to the rear disc to balance things up a bit. In a word, the Honda VFR800 V-Tecs handling is neutral. 

Engine 4 out of 5

A wonderfully even spread of power is the hallmark of the VFR and the Honda VFR800 V-Tec doesn't disappoint, making a claimed 107bhp at 10K. Along the way you might notice the V-Tec gizmo making a little step up around 7000 revs, but it's hardly a Kawasaki ZX-10R style lunge for the horizon. Like VFRs of old, the Honda VFR800 V-Tec motor simply gets on with the job, but is deceptively quick while it does it.

Build Quality & Reliability 3 out of 5

Anyone who has owned a gear driven cam VFR will wonder why Honda went back to camchains on this V-4 cylinder engined Honda VFR800 V-Tec. Sadly, they're in danger of being able to say `told you so' to owners who have had the Honda VFR800 V-Tec recalled for camchain associated work under warranty. Apart from that, the Honda VFR800 V-Tec looks built to last 100,000 miles, but does need some expensive servicing along the way.

Insurance, running costs & value 4 out of 5

Available new in ABS and non-ABS braked versions, the Honda VFR800 V-Tec is a bike that impresses you from the moment you see it `in the metal.' It oozes class and sharp-edged purpose from every fairing panel. Honda VFR800 V-Tec resale values are pretty good too. Find a Honda VFR800 V-Tec for sale.

Insurance group: 14 of 17 – compare motorcycle insurance quotes now.

Equipment 3 out of 5

There's a big problem with going touring on the Honda VFR800 V-Tec - there's no luggage space whatsoever. It costs about a grand extra to buy the hard luggage set from Honda, then add on more cash for heated grips, perhaps a replacement screen too as the stock screen is a bit low. On the upside, the Honda VFR800 V-Tec has a 22 litre gas tank, comfy saddle, a grabrail and a centrestand.

Owners' Reviews

50 owners have reviewed their HONDA VFR800 VTEC (2001-2012) and rated it in a number of areas. Read what they have to say and what they like and dislike about the bike below.

We’re currently improving the way this section works, which means we’ve had to suspend the submission of new owners’ reviews for a short period. Please check back soon.

Summary of Owners' Reviews
Overall Rating 4.1 out of 5
Ride Quality & Brakes 4.1 out of 5
Engine 4.1 out of 5
Build Quality & Reliability 4.5 out of 5
Value & Running Costs 3.7 out of 5
Equipment 3.9 out of 5
5 out of 5

VFR800 Vtec

30 July 2014 by JasonOwen

Now done two months of touring and covered just over 10,000 miles. Sensible modifications -Rear mudguard,front fender extender,double bobble screen,givi ruck and 45 litres top box and soft oxford panniers. Rider previous experience:14 years of... Read more riding. I am 5'9 and 79kg. Fuel consumption: if you ride the bike on the motorway with reasonable speed 70-80miles an hour.It will return 45 -54 miles per gallon assuming that you do not get the vtec kick in from start.Bike sits at 80 miles very confortably.In the city and riding fast the fuel consumption can drop down to 36 miles per gallon. Service charges: I was really worried before buying this bike because I have read really bad comments on how expensive maintenance cost of running the bike. One of my friend’s brother owned several VFRs and currently working as mechanic. I have spoken to him when I was in holiday he has assured me that the VFR800 vtec model does not require valve clearance at 15000.Hedid valve clearance checked over 10 vtec between 15000 to 20000miles ridden bikes of the customers and never had to change shims.He did his bike clearance at 32,000 miles and had to change 2 shims. So there is no need to worry about the valve clearance as far as I am concerned. I do ride 8000 miles per year so once in every 4 years of valve clearance cost of 500pounds from local bikes shop is not bad. Besides from that you can do most of your services yourself at very little cost. Buy Haynes manual or watch videos on you tube you can easily carry out oil, air filter, break pad change yourself. Handling: I found the seat very comfortable when riding and handle bar slightly forward so if you are taller rider than you can buy the handle bar raiser to improve comfort. I usually place bag between myself and the tank and lean towards it.I feel so relaxed when riding I do 600 miles a day with no ache at all.Rear suspention is adjustable so that you can make it hard or soft as you like. The bike feels so good on the motorway as its stable at high speed. Wind protection is excellent as long as you add taller screen. When it comes to sport riding it feels bit slow and heavy on the corners if you are thinking of leaning the bike down but the power is there when coming out of the corners. Other important qualities: The head lights are brilliant.The centre stand comes as standards, must have for touring bikes and makes the life easy when adjusting and lubricating the chain. I have purchased the bike year and half ago and had no problem with it so far did long trip to Istanbul and back.Just changed the oil,oil filter,air filter and before the trip I have put Pilot Road 3 tires on it too. It still has 3 to 4000 miles left on the rear tire. You can get between 9000 to 14000 miles from the good known brand tires. Little comparison: I did over 1000 miles on the Blackbird before purchasing my VFR800 vtec.As the bike is commented on many forums as best sport touring bike. It feels much more powerful than VFR and it eats up the mileages really well. But the bike is more on the sport touring side. It does not look good as VFR very old dated looking bike. It overheats really badly in the city and difficult to filter through. So if you are looking for ALL rounder than Vfr800 will tick all the boxes.

Overall Rating 5 out of 5
Ride Quality & Brakes 5 out of 5
Engine 5 out of 5
Build Quality & Reliability 5 out of 5
Value & Running Costs 5 out of 5
Equipment 5 out of 5
4 out of 5

Real user review

30 July 2014 by Anonymous

Now done two months of touring and covered just over 10,000 miles. Sensible modifications-Rear mudguard,front fender extender,double bobble screen,givi ruck and 45 litres top box and soft oxford panniers. Rider previous experience:14 years of... Read more riding. I am 5'9 and 79kg. Fuel consumption: if you ride the bike on the motorway with reasonable speed 70-80miles an hour.It will return 45 -54 miles per gallon assuming that you do not get the vtec kick in from start.Bike sits at 80 miles very confortably.In the city and riding fast the fuel consumption can drop down to 36 miles per gallon. Service charges: I was really worried before buying this bike because I have read really bad comments on how expensive maintenance cost of running the bike. One of my friend’s brother owned several VFRs and currently working as mechanic. I have spoken to him when I was in holiday he has assured me that the VFR800 vtec model does not require valve clearance at 15000.Hedid valve clearance checked over 10 vtec between 15000 to 20000miles ridden bikes of the customers and never had to change shims.He did his bike clearance at 32,000 miles and had to change 2 shims. So there is no need to worry about the valve clearance as far as I am concerned. I do ride 8000 miles per year so once in every 4 years of valve clearance cost of 500pounds from local bikes shop is not bad. Besides from that you can do most of your services yourself at very little cost. Buy Haynes manual or watch videos on you tube you can easily carry out oil, air filter, break pad change yourself. Handling: I found the seat very comfortable when riding and handle bar slightly forward so if you are taller rider that you can buy the handle bar raiser to improve comfort.I usually place bag between myself and the tank and lean towards it.I feel so relaxed when riding I do 600 miles a day with no ache at all.Rear suspention is adjustable so that you can make it hard or soft as you like. The bike feels so good on the motorway as its stable at high speed.Wind protection is excellent as long as you add taller screen.When it comes to sport riding it feels bit slow and heavy on the corners if you are thinking of leaning the bike down but the power is there when coming out of the corners. Other important qualities: The head lights are brilliant.The centre stand comes as standards, must have for touring bikes and makes the life easy when adjusting and lubricating the chain. I have purchased the bike year and half ago and had no problem with it so far did long trip to Istanbul and back.Just changed the oil,oil filter,air filter and before the trip I have put Pilot Road 3 tires on it too. It still has 3 to 4000 miles left on the rear tire. You can get between 9000 to 14000 miles from the good known brand tires. Little comparison: I did over 1000 miles on the Blackbird before purchasing my VFR800 vtec.As the bike is commented on many forums as best sport touring bike. It feels much more powerful than VFR and it eats up the mileages really well. But the bike is more on the sport touring side. It does not look good as VFR very old dated looking bike. It overheats really badly in the city and difficult to filter through. So if you are looking for ALL rounder than Vfr800 will tick all the boxes.

Overall Rating 4 out of 5
Ride Quality & Brakes 4 out of 5
Engine 5 out of 5
Build Quality & Reliability 5 out of 5
Value & Running Costs 5 out of 5
Equipment 5 out of 5
4 out of 5

vtec

07 June 2012 by baldonerabbit

now done 48,000 miles ,servicing done by local garage costing a round £230 for major service(shims)as yet nothing changed .next outlay for new front/back suspention but not bad for 48,000 miles.what can i say its a honda!! Read more

Overall Rating 4 out of 5
Ride Quality & Brakes 4 out of 5
Engine 4 out of 5
Build Quality & Reliability 5 out of 5
Value & Running Costs 4 out of 5
Equipment 4 out of 5
4 out of 5

Right for me

10 May 2012 by vitesse20

In my opinion, I can't fault it. Got a back full of rods and screws and find it most comfortable. Must add that I had to get a Sergeant seat, Vario screen and Heli-bars to make it this comfy. Stock seat and handlebars are too low and too hard. That... Read more said, went France last year and did a 450 mile day to get to Caen and was surprised that I had no ill effects. I can't fault the running or handling of the bike as I don't need it to get round corners on the hero studs, though I don't doubt it's capable, though I'm probably not. It is heavy to get on to the centre stand, particularly with the luggage on. Can't say any different from a lot of the other comments and reviews. Would like to change up to a newer one, but can't justify the money when there is no problem with mine and don't know what I would replace it with to get a different bike, though CBF1000 would be a strong contender.

Overall Rating 4 out of 5
Ride Quality & Brakes 5 out of 5
Engine 5 out of 5
Build Quality & Reliability 5 out of 5
Value & Running Costs 4 out of 5
Equipment 5 out of 5
5 out of 5

Grows on you

17 March 2012 by Scapegoat

Some one else here also commented that they traded their CBR600 on the VFR, same here. I have owned the VFR since last June & at 1st I was a bit overwhelmed by its techno complexity compared to my previous carbed in line 4. Their has been a lot of... Read more negative things written about it here & on forums & I was worried about how much it was going to cost for servicing & what would be the 1st thing to cr*p itself, I happy to say that I think its all BS. I fitted an aftermarket rack, bag(s) & a wool seat cover and its now the perfect long distance hauler. The motor has freed up beautifully & since its 1st service, runs cooler with an adjustment of the throttle cable getting rid of the low speed throttle snatch. After my last bike, its taken a while to get used to the handling differences & some of the quirks of a V4 motor. That said, it holds its line & rock steady in corners. It maybe a fat b*stard at over 200kg wet, but it disappears when your moving, although you will pop a hernia trying to put it on it's center stand. I asked my mechanic how much the 1st service will cost (non Honda) & since they have never had one where the valves needed adjusting! about a 3rd of what a Honda dealer will quote. I've grown to love this bike, it took a few good rides, have had no problems. It's not a sports bike, its a bike to let loose on over week end away, but your not going to be to far behind & your not the one that will be complaining about a sore back & wrists. Buy one

Overall Rating 5 out of 5
Ride Quality & Brakes 4 out of 5
Engine 4 out of 5
Build Quality & Reliability 5 out of 5
Value & Running Costs 4 out of 5
Equipment 5 out of 5
5 out of 5

Back to the best.

25 February 2012 by boroboy

Traded in my Versys for another VFR, should never have sold my last one. These bikes are superb, if you want a bike that will stonk along fully loaded two up safely for miles, this is still the best out there by miles. I spend a lot of time on the A1... Read more and I don't think another bike would do the job any better, fast, safe, versatile, and still has curb appeal, it may be a tad heavy but I love it. Don't understand some of the comments. These are superb handling bikes and despite what is written will still mix it up when you want to. If they are that poor why do they cost so much!!!

Overall Rating 5 out of 5
Ride Quality & Brakes 5 out of 5
Engine 5 out of 5
Build Quality & Reliability 5 out of 5
Value & Running Costs 4 out of 5
Equipment 5 out of 5
4 out of 5

Almost perfect

22 November 2011 by 00snook

I absolutely adore my VFR. The engine is smooth, the VTEC provides a good woop of power and the suspension (once fiddled with a bit) is firm enough to be sporty whilst comfortable for cruising. That being said there are a couple of niggles. 1) I... Read more struggle to do more than about 200 miles a day on it. Sore bum and bars a bit low so wrists start to hurt. 2) Standard screen means the wind hits me right in the neck, so long motorway journeys at speed can be a bit tiring. Really those are the only negatives. Would strongly recommend this bike.

Overall Rating 4 out of 5
Ride Quality & Brakes 5 out of 5
Engine 4 out of 5
Build Quality & Reliability 4 out of 5
Value & Running Costs 4 out of 5
Equipment 4 out of 5
2 out of 5

Terrible

20 October 2011 by Chris132

Following on from my previous review 'not a bike you'll love' it has gone from bad to worse. This bike is awful it has not cost me nearly £2000 in just over a year just to keep it on the road. There is now a horrible noise coming from the clutch and... Read more I can't give a good reason for this because it has had regular dealership services. It is just an allround terrible machine. The point when the vtec kicks in I had previously stated that it wasn't anywhere near as bad as other people had suggested well it is now very noticeable to the point of making the rear wheel skip out on bends, dangerous and not necessary. Aviod.

Overall Rating 2 out of 5
Ride Quality & Brakes 3 out of 5
Engine 2 out of 5
Build Quality & Reliability 2 out of 5
Value & Running Costs 3 out of 5
Equipment 2 out of 5
5 out of 5

A few thousand miles with a 2007 RWB

20 August 2011 by dankatz

I purchased my first VFR a special edition 2007 that was setup for touring (panniers, trunk, GPS, Givi screen) used as an upgrade to a Yamaha 2008 FZ6 fazer. I love the looks, comfort, fuel tank size/range, suspension, transmission and Honda quality.... Read more The VTEC transition is not abrupt, but is noticeable and the bike acquires quite the kick to it. I have ridden two up in comfort as well as done some sport oriented touring. It is a little on the heavy side, so walking pace is noticeable. I wish the 800CC engine had even more torque down in the low end(noticeably less than it's ST1050 and F800ST rivals). Overall, love the bike and plan to keep it for a long time.

Overall Rating 5 out of 5
Ride Quality & Brakes 5 out of 5
Engine 5 out of 5
Build Quality & Reliability 5 out of 5
Value & Running Costs 4 out of 5
Equipment 5 out of 5
4 out of 5

Not what they used to be...

20 July 2011 by happylemon666

I'm on my second VFR, this one an 05 vtec, previously an 01 gear driven cams engine. The older one had much more charecter, but decided to get the 05 bike when I saw a bargain for sale. It's when you first get to the big service and the shop says... Read more it'll take 2 days to do the valve clearances! It ain't cheap, and still has a 4kmiles service interval - even ducati beat that! My other problem is that I now mostly just tour, been down to italy this year, sweden last year, spain/france before that. It does the job but everytime I've got home I tell myself - I should get a BMW for all this. But I never have done. So all in all, it's done everything I ask of it, but probably cost me more in ownership than I really anticipated. It's this all things to all men thing that I think is the achilles heal. It's too uncomfortable after a while for all day motorway trips, yet too heavy when you arrive at the mountains (it's about the same wieght as an RT!). For me I need to decide which I like best - going places, or riding the bike when I get there. Leaning towards the former right now.....

Overall Rating 4 out of 5
Ride Quality & Brakes 3 out of 5
Engine 4 out of 5
Build Quality & Reliability 5 out of 5
Value & Running Costs 4 out of 5
Equipment 3 out of 5
Read all 50 owners' reviews in full

Facts & Figures

Model info
Year introduced 2001
Year discontinued 2012
Original price £9,950
Warranty term (when new) Two year unlimited mileage
Running costs
Insurance group 14 of 17
Annual road tax £80
Annual service cost -
Performance
Max power 107 bhp
Max torque 59 ft-lb
Top speed 155 mph
1/4-mile acceleration 12 secs
Average fuel consumption 38 mpg
Tank range 170 miles
Specification
Engine size 781cc
Engine type 16v V-four, 6 gears
Frame type Aluminium twin spar
Fuel capacity 22 litres
Seat height 805mm
Bike weight 218kg
Front suspension Preload
Rear suspension Preload, rebound
Front brake Twin 296mm discs
Rear brake 256mm disc
Front tyre size 120//70 x 17
Rear tyre size 180/55 x 17

History & Versions

Model history

2001: Honda VFR800 V-Tec launched.
2003: ABS option for Honda VFR800 V-Tec appears.
2006: Honda VFR800 V-Tec's Reworked V-Tec system now kicks in 200rpm lower down range, Honda claims it works smoother too. Clear indicator lenses, fairing panel tweaks and new colour schemes too. 

Other versions

Honda VFR800 V-Tec ABS: Same as standard model but with ABS braking.

Photo Gallery

  • Honda VFR800 V-Tec motorcycle review - Riding
  • Honda VFR800 V-Tec motorcycle review - Side view
  • Honda VFR800 V-Tec motorcycle review - Instruments
  • Honda VFR800 V-Tec motorcycle review - Brakes
  • Honda VFR800 V-Tec motorcycle review - Side view
  • Honda VFR800 V-Tec motorcycle review - Riding
  • Honda VFR800 V-Tec motorcycle review - Riding
  • Honda VFR800 V-Tec motorcycle review - Riding
  • Honda VFR800 V-Tec motorcycle review - Riding
  • Honda VFR800 V-Tec motorcycle review - Side view
  • Honda VFR800 V-Tec motorcycle review - Instruments
  • Honda VFR800 V-Tec motorcycle review - Side view
  • Honda VFR800 V-Tec motorcycle review - Front view
  • Honda VFR800 V-Tec motorcycle review - Rear view
  • Honda VFR800 V-Tec motorcycle review - Side view
  • Honda VFR800 V-Tec motorcycle review - Riding
  • Honda VFR800 V-Tec motorcycle review - Side view
  • Honda VFR800 V-Tec motorcycle review - Instruments
  • Honda VFR800 V-Tec motorcycle review - Brakes
  • Honda VFR800 V-Tec motorcycle review - Side view
  • Honda VFR800 V-Tec motorcycle review - Riding
  • Honda VFR800 V-Tec motorcycle review - Riding
  • Honda VFR800 V-Tec motorcycle review - Riding
  • Honda VFR800 V-Tec motorcycle review - Riding
  • Honda VFR800 V-Tec motorcycle review - Side view
  • Honda VFR800 V-Tec motorcycle review - Instruments
  • Honda VFR800 V-Tec motorcycle review - Side view
  • Honda VFR800 V-Tec motorcycle review - Front view
  • Honda VFR800 V-Tec motorcycle review - Rear view
  • Honda VFR800 V-Tec motorcycle review - Side view
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