HONDA VFR800 (1998-2001) Review

Published: 24 November 2006

"Consumate all-rounder that looks great and goes better"

Honda VFR800i motorcycle review - Riding

"Consumate all-rounder that looks great and goes better"

Overall Rating 5 out of 5

The Honda VFR800i is the best version of the best motorcycle ever built according to some. Honda VFR800i is a consumate all-rounder that looks great and goes better whether you’re on a track day, commuting or heading on a two week holiday with pillion and luggage. Honda VFR800i is an evolution of the VFR750, which started life as a sports bike but ended as a super sports tourer.

Ride Quality & Brakes 4 out of 5

The Honda VFR800i is capable and stable in any situation. Nimble enough for the road no matter how fast your mates are. One step more towards the touring camp than say, a CBR600F. 90% of the time that’s great but if the fast group on track days is your aim, a Honda VFR800i is probably not the best machine for you.

Engine 4 out of 5

V-four layout is unusual – it’s more costly and no more powerful than the all-conquering in-line four. But the Honda VFR800i feels and sounds far more exciting and produces more grunt low in the rev range. Competitors like Triumph’s Sprint beat the Honda VFR800i for power and torque, though.

Build Quality & Reliability 4 out of 5

Not as good as people would have you believe – but still well above average. Rectifier issue (Honda’s Achillies heel) can cause the Honda VFR800i to stop, potentially with a boiling battery. Non-Honda units are cheap and solve the problem before it occurs – later Honda units also work well on the Honda VFR800i.

Insurance, running costs & value 3 out of 5

As it’s the pick of the Honda VFR750/800s used values are high. The later Honda VFR800 V-Tec model was heavier and needlessly complex. People know Honda VFR800is last and are happy paying top money for clean bikes, even with average or above mileages. At least you shouldn’t lose much when you sell. Find a Honda VFR800i for sale.

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

Equipment 5 out of 5

Honda VFR800i carries rider and pillion better than most machines except dedicated tourers and some big trailies. Superb headlights and decent mirrors. Honda VFR800i centre stand is nice in these weight conscious days. Clocks include fuel gauge and ambient temperature – impressive for the time the Honda VFR800i was made.

Owners' Reviews

29 owners have reviewed their HONDA VFR800 (1998-2001) and rated it in a number of areas. Read what they have to say and what they like and dislike about the bike below.

Review your HONDA VFR800 (1998-2001)
Summary of Owners' Reviews
Overall Rating 4.8 out of 5
Ride Quality & Brakes 4.6 out of 5
Engine 4.8 out of 5
Build Quality & Reliability 4.5 out of 5
Value & Running Costs 4.8 out of 5
Equipment 4.6 out of 5
5 out of 5

One of Hondas best

20 August 2016 by Michael

I've had all types of bikes ranging from sports, big sports touring, modern retro etc but keep coming back to the old faithful 5th generation and best model Honda VFR made. Read more

Ride Quality & Brakes
4 out of 5
Linked brakes are good but down on outright stopping power.
Engine
5 out of 5
These rack up high kms with simple maintenance. On my 4th VFR800fi and although they could do with another 30hp and 40nm of torque nowadays there's just something special about this 5th gen gear driven camshaft engine. Fit a staintune highrise pipe and you have one of the best sounding bikes still today.
Build Quality & Reliability
5 out of 5
Runs like a swiss watch. Simple mods make the charging system reliable
Value & Running Costs
5 out of 5
Valves rarely go out of adjustment
Equipment
5 out of 5
-
5 out of 5

13 year test on 2001 VFR

20 July 2016 by VegasVFR

does everything well enough. smooth, quiet, yet great V4 hum as the rpms rides. i have three givi bags and a custom windscreen. two HIDs, and two HPLEDs. Handles very well in wet and windy weather. Styling is still appealing. i have had it since... Read more 2003. i road test bikes, but this is still the only one in my garage. I do get 49 mpg on regular. AMSOIL makes it run smooth. Worst feature: center stand hard to get on when you have givi bags with stuff in them.

Ride Quality & Brakes
5 out of 5
rides very well even on bad roads. had others wanting to ride mine back on a trip. brakes are upgraded to EBC HH+ pads. Front and rear shocks have been upgraded. Front with heavier fluid, and rear Ohlins, all set up at the race track.
Engine
5 out of 5
love the quiet at start, and mid-range V4 hum at rpms. engine horsepower and torque curve is linear like an electric motor. Good torque from 2500 up. 4000 is a good rpm for cruise, and hot weather. i live in the desert and larger radiator option would be nice but i have not had it overheat yet. they say keep it below 240 degrees F. The cam driven engine is much better than the VTEC.
Build Quality & Reliability
4 out of 5
i only had a needle bearing changed at 45K. no rectifier problems even in this heat. i did put a 10$ computer cooling fan on it.
Value & Running Costs
5 out of 5
Overall it is a start and go bike. i don't do any repairs per say. Once in a while something needs attending to but it is every other, or every third or fourth year. I have 45000 miles on it so far. Runs better than the day i bought it. No plans to change.
Equipment
4 out of 5
great all around bike. i modified mine. HIDs, HPLEDs, custom touring windscreen, 3 givi bags, tail lights that go on during deceleration, and flashing lights when i apply the brakes. i put on six extra lights, and lots of reflectors. They see me at night and at day. i put a fan on the rectifier. i have a light telling me what my voltage is. i run pilot road 3s, came from pilot powers. loved them both. only 5k on the 3s, look brand new. great in wet weather, good stopping power, always in control, no drama. Easy to add accessories as no CAN-BUS.
Buying experience

i was renting bikes, and this was one of the rentals they were selling. i rode this one and a VTEC and chose this one, 13 years ago. still the only bike in my garage.

5 out of 5

Not the newest but the best

30 April 2016 by Dutillieux J

Never had a problem, performs well in every category Read more

Ride Quality & Brakes
4 out of 5
A real all rounder, a 200 miles trip is easy, suspension is comfy
Engine
4 out of 5
Perfect except in low rpm (under 3000) not so much torque
Build Quality & Reliability
5 out of 5
100% reliable
Value & Running Costs
5 out of 5
-
Equipment
5 out of 5
-
Buying experience

I found it the best VFR

5 out of 5

2001 Honda VFR800Fi

20 April 2016 by fasTTer

Been riding 40+ years, the 5th Gen VFR is the best all-around motorcycle I've ever owned or ridden. I've nothing negative to say about it. Read more

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
Oil, Oil Filter, Air Filter, Coolant, Brake/Clutch fluids, Chain cleaner
Equipment
5 out of 5
All I've added is a power outlet, a throttle lock, and a truck.
Buying experience

Bought my first VFR in 2001, sold it to a friend after 26K miles. Bought my second 2001 VFR in 2012 with 1245 miles on it. Currently about 6K miles.

5 out of 5

Awesome all round moto

29 February 2016 by jeffyjeff

Where else can you find a bike capable of 140 mph, 50 mpg, and a 250 mile range? There is a reason for all the five star ratings, the 5th gen VFRs are that good. I put 70,000 miles on two 5th gens in 66 months. My 98 had 117,000 miles on the odo... Read more when I sold it last year, and was running strong. I sold it to get a low mile Y2K bike for $2,400. These bikes run great, don't burn oil even at high mileage, and are solid, all around motorcycles. I am 6' tall with a 32 inch inseam, and have logged several 13 hour/500 mile days on the stock seat. Leg position gets a little cramped after 3 or 4 hours in the saddle, but by that time I'm ready for a pit stop anyway. If the ergonomics fit you, the 5th gen VFR is hard to beat.

Ride Quality & Brakes
5 out of 5
Used my bike for commuting and weekend rides (some of them 12 hours plus). Suspension is a little on the soft side. Forks have adjustable preload, Showa mono shock has adjustable preload and dampening.
Engine
5 out of 5
Bullet proof engine. Power really comes on above 7000 rpm. Gear driven cams sound fantastic. I have had Vance & Hines and D&D aftermarket exhaust, but the bike runs best with the stock can. Oil change requires removal of the front left fairing. Valve checks require removal of both radiators and the throttle body. Camshafts must come out to adjust the valves (shim under bucket).
Build Quality & Reliability
4 out of 5
The electrical issues are overblown. The regulator-rectifier is a well documented weak point on these bikes. The stator on my 98 lasted 68,139 miles before failure. Aftermarket wiring harness conversion is a popular upgrade: totally unnecessary in my opinion. However, a functional voltage monitor is recommended.
Value & Running Costs
5 out of 5
Cost for oil and filters, and a few parts here and there. I service the bike myself.
Equipment
5 out of 5
Pretty basic instrumentation: Tach and speedo. Idiot lights for high beam, oil pressure, neutral, and check engine light (FI light). LCD display has total miles odometer, two trip meters, and engine temperature.
Buying experience

Purchased used from a private party. 1998: 58,000 miles, paid $2,400 for it in 2010 2000: 24,900 miles, paid $2.400 for it in 2015

5 out of 5

Excellent bike, would buy another (and keep my current one!)

20 February 2016 by LL

Excellent all rounder that is top quality and engineered to last. If the VFR800 were a fine wine the 5th gen from 98 to 02 would be the vintage years. Look at the quality and standard of engineering. Get a good unmolested, well cared for bike and get... Read more better rate of return than you will get in a bank account.

Ride Quality & Brakes
5 out of 5
Excellent do-it-all-bike
Engine
5 out of 5
Check out how many hits are on Youtube of engine/exhaust compilations and decide for yourself! Engineered like a Swiss watch
Build Quality & Reliability
5 out of 5
Probably better quality that most bikes made since. After a period of some poorer quality bikes in the 80's, Honda completely over engineered the pre V-TEC VFR's.
Value & Running Costs
5 out of 5
With gear driven cam V4, this was Honda's showcase model
Equipment
5 out of 5
Everything you need with no silly gimmicks
5 out of 5

08 December 2015 by harry

fantastic bike which sums up this bike altogether Read more

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
4 out of 5
-
5 out of 5

Still the best..........

27 November 2015 by Happy Jack

Best sports tourer ever........ Read more

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
-
Buying experience

Purchased new in July 2000 from local Honda dealer. Only modification to extend the mirrors. Replacement tyres, chain and cogs are the only costs incurred apart from service costs. It is in showroom condition and when parked up draws attention from other bikers. In 2000 it was viewed as the best sports tourer, in 2015 nothing has changed, in my opinion.

4 out of 5

The best sports tourer you can buy

14 October 2015 by Rod Griffin

Used all year round but does have a few gremlins such as the electrics can let you down on high mileage bikes. Read more

Ride Quality & Brakes
5 out of 5
very sure footed, brakes are great, handling perfect and plenty of power when you need it.
Engine
5 out of 5
solid and faultless
Build Quality & Reliability
4 out of 5
mechanically perfect
Value & Running Costs
5 out of 5
I do my own servicing which is very easy, but have spare set of fairing fasteners handy.
Equipment
5 out of 5
-
Buying experience

bought in 2008 with 18000 miles for £2600 at the asking price

5 out of 5

Holy Grail of VFR800s

05 October 2015 by Atlas

Phenomenal overall bike. I doubt I will part with her easily. Read more

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
-
Buying experience

Purchased privately from original owner with only 1800 miles on the clock and 8 oil changes over the lifetime of the motorcycle. Yes 8 changes in 8 years and only 1800 miles.

Read all 29 owners' reviews in full

Facts & Figures

Model info
Year introduced 1998
Year discontinued 2001
Original price -
Used price £1,500 to £5,500
Warranty term (when new) Two year unlimited mileage
Running costs
Insurance group 14 of 17
Annual road tax £82
Annual service cost £130
Performance
Max power 108 bhp
Max torque 61 ft-lb
Top speed 155 mph
1/4-mile acceleration 11.3 secs
Average fuel consumption 38 mpg
Tank range 145 miles
Specification
Engine size 781cc
Engine type 16v V-four, 6 gears
Frame type Aluminum twin spar
Fuel capacity 22 litres
Seat height 800mm
Bike weight 208kg
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 170/60 x 17

History & Versions

Model history

1998: Original Honda VFR800i introduced.
2000: Honda VFR800i gets minor update; slight frame changes, modified clutch, refined fuel injection, more durable electrics, improved mirrors, HISS security system.

Other versions

Honda VFR800i Anniversary: Sold in 1999 – identical to the regular Honda VFR800i except for special colour scheme.

Photo Gallery

  • Honda VFR800i motorcycle review - Riding
  • Honda VFR800i motorcycle review - Side view
  • Honda VFR800i motorcycle review - Instruments
  • Honda VFR800i motorcycle review - Front view
  • Honda VFR800i motorcycle review - Front view
  • Honda VFR800i motorcycle review - Rear view
  • Honda VFR800i motorcycle review - Engine
  • Honda VFR800i motorcycle review - Engine
  • Honda VFR800i motorcycle review - Engine
  • Honda VFR800i motorcycle review - Riding
  • Honda VFR800i motorcycle review - Riding
  • Honda VFR800i motorcycle review - Side view
  • Honda VFR800i motorcycle review - Side view
  • Honda VFR800i motorcycle review - Side view
  • Honda VFR800i motorcycle review - Riding
  • Honda VFR800i motorcycle review - Side view
  • Honda VFR800i motorcycle review - Instruments
  • Honda VFR800i motorcycle review - Front view
  • Honda VFR800i motorcycle review - Front view
  • Honda VFR800i motorcycle review - Rear view
  • Honda VFR800i motorcycle review - Engine
  • Honda VFR800i motorcycle review - Engine
  • Honda VFR800i motorcycle review - Engine
  • Honda VFR800i motorcycle review - Riding
  • Honda VFR800i motorcycle review - Riding
  • Honda VFR800i motorcycle review - Side view
  • Honda VFR800i motorcycle review - Side view
  • Honda VFR800i motorcycle review - Side view
All related reviews
All related bikes for sale