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"

  • At a glance
  • 781cc  -  108 bhp
  • 38 mpg  -  145 miles range
  • Medium seat height (800mm)

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.

Value & Running Costs 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

12 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.

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 4.7 out of 5
Ride Quality & Brakes 4.6 out of 5
Engine 4.7 out of 5
Build Quality & Reliability 4.3 out of 5
Value & Running Costs 4.6 out of 5
Equipment 4.5 out of 5
5 out of 5

why buy new?

01 September 2014 by boybergs

After many years of only buying the latest machines,this bike has opened my eyes to the wonderfully rich world of older machines.the last two bikes i owned were a 2008 mt03 and a 2012 fz1n. The Vfr is way more practical than the fz1 and I genuinely... Read more don't notice the reduced displacement at all and nearly as much fun as the mt03 (itself a seriously underated machine which I still sometimes miss). The overriding impression on the Vfr is one of pure quality with a truly sublime engine.I had to replace the reg/rec after 1300 miles of ownership (no surprises there) but other than that (and 4000 miles later) it has run sweetly and trouble free. The sound is exquisite (fuel can and snorkel removed); the control are creamy smooth and the riding position is perfect. And I think it looks really stunning (red). Mines in good nick but as soon as I'm able I'm gna treat her to a full respray and bring her back to showroom condition. A truly magnificent motorcycle.

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

Iconic

14 December 2013 by PanagiotisKavala

This bike epitomises what bikes should be like. No nonsense, pure fan in any road (or track), either solo or two up with full travelig paraphernalia. Great engine, great brakes, great chassis, buit quality out of this world, could do with a better... Read more shock. Mine is 14 Y.O. and still looks like new.

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
3 out of 5

don't make sense

04 December 2011 by pinkerton2964

I had a 2001 model I did 39,000k on it. The exhaust rotted away at 30k and was one of the most difficult jobs I have ever had to do. The valve clearances were hard to do. As for the riding the fuel economy was poor and the range limited the rear... Read more shock needs uprating if you carry a passenger and luggage. The regulator rectifier let me down on a country lane at 1am on the isle of man. I de linked the brakes but it did not really work well after that the calipers need changing if you do. After 39k I failed to see the point it was not as well built as it should be, the chain needs carefull adjustment if it is to last mine had a scott oiler. I brought a 2003 fazer 600 and that did everything the VFR800 could but was cheaper to run easier to maintain had better brakes more comfortable and the performance is not far behind. As for the VTECH VFR800 that's a ridiculous waste of cash. My advice buy a Blackbird or a z750

Overall Rating 3 out of 5
Ride Quality & Brakes 4 out of 5
Engine 3 out of 5
Build Quality & Reliability 2 out of 5
Value & Running Costs 3 out of 5
Equipment 3 out of 5
5 out of 5

Do you need anything else?

12 October 2011 by mervatbournemouth

I bought a 1998 model in 2009. It was not my first choice of bike to return me to biking after a very long break. It was bought at a bar-b-q at a friends and I fell in love with the look of it. After renewing the exhaust system, getting hold of a... Read more Fuel end can off e-bay, putting some bar risers and an MRA touring screen on it, I cannot think of any reason why I would want to go out and buy any other bike. I would not want to go any faster, would not want to accelerate any quicker and I think you would be hard pushed to find anything more reliable. I have not rode the latest R1 or GTR 1400 because this bike does everything and more I could possible want from it. I love the way it looks, love the sound, great headlights, beautiful at motorway speeds and easy around town. I still look in showrooms and other bikes at bike meets due to my passion for all bikes but I am so glad that I get on my VFR to ride back home. Perhaps one I ill get something newer but I know the VFR wil always be my favourite.

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
5 out of 5

Best bike on the Planet

16 August 2011 by John451

We'll thats what it said in a Mag review I read back in 2000 which sold me on my '99 50th Anniversary which I purchased in '05 with 2000miles after totalling my previous '03 VFR Vtec. 32000 mainly fun Sport touring miles on must say besides replacing... Read more the original SH579A11 R/R with Honda Upgraded SH689DA R/R in '08 has been 100% reliable. Good points brilliant Sound both from GDCs and Arrow end can enjoyed both through twisties and city commuting, great tank range, comfort for up to 750mile days, competent handling everywhere enough to stay with sainly ridden Superbikes especially good on iffy surfaced unknown back roads. Absolute contentment after 6 years with the expectation I'll remain contented for another Six. Negatives only the thought it may not last me forever which only surfaces in my minds background whenever a mate trades their Gixer/blade in on yet another new model.

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 4 out of 5
5 out of 5

Perfect do it all bike

27 November 2010 by stevieboyni

As the review says, this is the best version of the VFR and the RC45 derived V4 gives this bike some soul! And lovely strong strong torque through the rev-range. Handling is very decent for a heavy(ish) bike and the linked brakes are up to the... Read more job. I bought mine 99' model earlier in 2010 and have already added 8'000 miles having toured through Ireland, the UK and Europe, the bike has been a complete joy. All-day comfort, good instruments and not such a stretch to the bars making a good first sportsbike as well as a decent tourer. The only problem i've experienced with the bike is a blown rectifier which ruined the battery. Luckily i was close to home as the bike completely died! So make sure you check this if looking at a pre-2000 model as the rectifiers are made of chocolate. These bikes are becoming pretty cheap now and parts are not a problem. High miles aren't an issue with these bikes either. Buy a clean one, fit a decent exhaust and look after it. You won't regret it! :)

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

Utterly Brilliant

04 December 2009 by MarcusMarsh

Of all the bikes I have owned this stands out as a brilliant machine. I own a '98 VFR800 and it still gets regular use even though I also have an '05 FZS1000 in my garage. The V4 engine is like no other and an absolute joy to ride. The fact that... Read more the bike carries a bit of extra weight compared to a full-on sportsbike gives it an advantage both in terms of road holding and comfort. Despite being 11 years old mine is still used for touring and this year covered over 2000 miles in two weeks of riding around Spain. A lot of bikes get a lot of hype and this is one of the few machines about which it is all true! Other bikes will come and go but this will always have a place in my garage.

Overall Rating 5 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

Great first big bike

12 May 2009 by RIchCL

A fantastic bike for long distance commuting on motorways and cross country for a bit of fun. This is my first big bike and I am really happy with it. Read more

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 4 out of 5
4 out of 5

What a superb machine

23 April 2009 by KimLondon

I had an evening swap from my Yamaha FZ6 fazer to a VFR800. Riding position takes a bit of getting used to after the wide handlebars on my FZ, and it's a while since I've leaned on the bars as well so that was a bit odd. Also, that one's done 34k,... Read more not too much for a VFR but I think they've been hard miles so it feels a bit tired, but still rampant. So, what are the plusses? Well, it goes like a scalded cat. My god, the torque is fabulous. It snaps away from lights, really, like it's trying to get away from me. It is super comfortable, especially for a "sports" riding position. The noise, well, what can I say about the harmonising of the gear cams and the V4 burble. Do you know what? It reminds me of the V8 cars I've driven - Rover V8, BMW X5, Bentley Arnage - it sounds like them and, strangely, it feels like them too. It's so smooth. The instrument panel is very good, scary how high the numbers go on the MPH bit. Maneuvrability is surpisingly good for such a big, heavy machine, but then Honda's have always impressed me with their ergonomics. What are the minuses? Well, the main ones have to be that it is a smidge high. I didn't have any problems with it, but if it were mine I'd fit a new rear shock and lower it by 15 or 20mm. The engine braking is REALLY noticable. After an inline-4 it is shocking how it snaps you forward when you let off the throttle. I do miss the big whack of power that comes in on my FZ6 around 6k though. All the oomph lives up the dusty end of the rev counter and I did think that the VFR had all of it's party tricks at the lower end of the rev counter. I have to confess (and I know you'll not be too harsh on me when I say this) that the VFR did make me behave a bit like a hooligan. I found my self gunning for gaps I'd not attempt in the FZ as that whack of low-end torque really makes you feel nimble and I rode in a much more positive way. There was no need for the constant dancing on the gears. I really, really want to try one of the newer VFR800s now to see what they are like with variable valves. I'd also like to see what a fresh one feels like. What's more I can really see my self moving up to one of these towards the end of the summer.

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

Stunning!

09 June 2008 by Projectevo

This is my first bike and so I can't speak yet with years of experience, however, if you're looking for a bike (like I was) that handles like a dream, eats motorway miles, has a great level of performance, is comfortable and is good on insurance too... Read more - then the VFR800i is the one for you! ..I read tons of reviews about the VFR800i before buying and after finding the 'one' I made the leap of faith.. no regrets! If you have found 'the one', then don't hesitate. Have fun and be safe!

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
Read all 12 owners' reviews in full

Facts & Figures

Model info
Year introduced 1998
Year discontinued 2001
Original price -
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 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 bikes for sale