HONDA VTR1000 FIRESTORM (1997-2005) Review

Published: 24 November 2006

"A brilliant all-rounder with few foibles"

Honda VTR1000F Firestorm motorcycle review - Riding

"A brilliant all-rounder with few foibles"

Overall Rating 4 out of 5

The Honda VTR1000F Firestorm is a brilliant all-rounder with few foibles: you’d be hard pushed not to have a ball on it. Regular refuelling’s a drag but better on post-01 Honda VTR1000F Firestorms, when capacity went from 16 to 19 litres, but it’s still thirsty. The Honda VTR1000F Firestorm has wonderful pull when you open it up in the midrange and sweet handling in town and on the twisties.

Ride Quality & Brakes 4 out of 5

Some Honda VTR1000F Firestorm owners complain of the forks diving too much under heavy braking but, apart from that, it works a treat. Handling is sharp yet forgiving, the brakes are great, it’s pretty comfortable (somewhere between sporty and relaxed) and the grunt provides huge fun. The Honda VTR1000F Firestorm is very stable at higher speeds yet easy to manoeuvre nearer a standstill, too.

Engine 4 out of 5

Honda VTR1000F Firestorm's engine is well tried and tested in a number of 1000cc Honda v-twins (most recently the SP-2), it thunders out mountains of low to midrange grunt, powering through traffic or around corners. There’s less “up top” than a full-on sportsbike but the Honda VTR1000F Firestorm’s more of an all rounder and the engine does the job beautifully. Very smooth delivery.

Build Quality & Reliability 4 out of 5

Great but not perfect. Honda VTR1000F Firestorm is well built and sturdy but problems have been reported with cam chain tensioners, failing water pumps and corroding downpipes. In the main, however, keeping it clean and serviced should ensure years of trouble-free service and most Honda VTR1000F Firestorms are in pretty good nick.

Insurance, running costs & value 5 out of 5

Honda VTR1000F Firestorms are great value and there are plenty of bargains to be found. Perhaps because they were never really regarded as “sexy”, they were largely overlooked, hence some bargain machinery being available. Suzuki’s SV1000 could be a major distraction if you’re think of buyinga Honda VTR1000F Firestorm, though, and at a pretty good price, too. Find a Honda Firestorm for sale.

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

Equipment 4 out of 5

The Honda VTR1000F Firestorm seat’s a little bit hard, but fairly comfy, whilst the fairing provides some good protection against the elements. The clocks are dominated by a huge, analogue rev counter plus there’s an analogue speedo and digital screen with fuel reserve, clock etc. Extras on the Honda VTR1000F Firestorm included heated grips, luggage and a rear hugger.

Owners' Reviews

31 owners have reviewed their HONDA VTR1000 FIRESTORM (1997-2005) 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 VTR1000 FIRESTORM (1997-2005)
Summary of Owners' Reviews
Overall Rating 4.4 out of 5
Ride Quality & Brakes 4.4 out of 5
Engine 4.7 out of 5
Build Quality & Reliability 4.5 out of 5
Value & Running Costs 4.6 out of 5
Equipment 3.9 out of 5
4 out of 5

18 July 2016 by Chik69

Plenty of low down torque but too easily stalled in low gear slow speeds around town. Read more

Ride Quality & Brakes
5 out of 5
Riding on the open road is great but the bike tends to make the ball of the thumbs numb when ridden in town as all the weight is on the wrist, thumbs.
Engine
5 out of 5
Once you get used to the stroke of the engine it's faultless, but it takes a wee while to get to grips with the power outlay, particularly around town.
Build Quality & Reliability
5 out of 5
Front end too soft under stress, brakes are excellent and ride position is very comfortable.
Value & Running Costs
4 out of 5
You have to keep on top of the brake calliper maintenance as it can be costly to replace all those seals and pots.
Equipment
5 out of 5
I find that tyres with a hard centre and a medium side work best for the VTR1000 F, also dyno jetting the carbs and fitting aftermarket cans make a vast improvement to the top end power delivery.
Buying experience

I bought privately for £2000 for my VTR with less than 16000 miles and a full service history, very good value bike and definitely under rated and overlooked.

5 out of 5

27 April 2016 by Billy16

A qualifier for the 5th star - the suspension on both ends has to be re-valved, with stiffer front springs added to get the most out of this bike. Once that is done, this thing really rides and handles well. Read more

Ride Quality & Brakes
4 out of 5
Suspension works well, but you'll never get top performance from the stock set up. Brakes do what they are supposed to and have good feel.
Engine
5 out of 5
Killer torque, sounds fabulous with aftermarket cans!
Build Quality & Reliability
4 out of 5
Anyone who has a VTR1000 is always hoping the R&R and the CCT's hang in there...
Value & Running Costs
5 out of 5
Keep the oil changed and the air filter clean - easy.
Equipment
4 out of 5
V-Twin Hondacati. All the fun with a quarter of the maintenance.
4 out of 5

Bestvlow budget bang available

19 April 2016 by Ron Bed

Best feature: engine! Lot of torque Worst feature: front suspension is too soft and it also affects the braking Read more

Ride Quality & Brakes
3 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

Brilliant bike

11 February 2016 by Steve

Great bike to ride. Mine is in excellent condition with only 5k on the clock. Love the v-twin power delivery. Plenty of torque. Handles well. Overall a great bike - just a shame about the tank range. Read more

Ride Quality & Brakes
4 out of 5
-
Engine
4 out of 5
Nice power delivery. Plenty quick enough. Standard exhausts don't sound great though in my opinion.
Build Quality & Reliability
5 out of 5
No problems with mine.
Value & Running Costs
3 out of 5
Carburettor model, a tank of fuel only lasts about 100-115 miles. Makes me think twice about long journeys.
Equipment
3 out of 5
-
4 out of 5

Good budget buy.

21 October 2015 by Zeypher

This is my first V-Twin having owned most other variants over my twenty nine years of biking it was a box I had to tick. After much deliberation with my myself and my bank manager (no Ducati) I opted for the Firestorm. Unlike the typical Japanese... Read more sewing machine like fuel injected in-line four, this engine has character and a bit of soul! The grumble from the Scorpion system at idle is impressive, roll off the the throttle at low revs and it gurgles farts and pops, lovely! I`m not sure what they run like on the standard carb exhaust set up and how the fuelling is but my experience is all good. You can plod along in first gear at tick over in heavy traffic. If you give it a big handful the front will lift and 2nd gear tops out at 85 just under the redline. There is no point in redlining this bike in any gear as it runs out of grunt above 7500rpm. Overtaking is effortless and stress free in any gear just twist and go! Its not a quick turning bike but the handling to me feels neutral and stable and lighter than my FZ6 at lower speeds. Its never going to lead the fast group on the twisties but you can keep up with R1`s and the like as long as the road ahead has a long straight! Easy to service and I`ve had no issues after 4000 miles. Paint is still gleaming at 15 years old. Comfort is good for me especially as I`m a short arse with long arms. I've got a double bubble screen and I`ve done a couple of 500 mile plus trips with no complaints except the numb bum every 150 miles or thereabouts. Easy big bike for someone coming up from a 600 no nasty surprises pulls the same in every gear with no need to chase the surge! Honda quality good all round road bike with character. Great value for money in my humble :)

Ride Quality & Brakes
4 out of 5
Neutral centralised handling with planted solid cornering. You can get away with a little back brake mid corner and will go lower on its side than you would believe for this type of bike. Lots of grunt for powering out of corners although the back end can squat a bit (standard rear shock) but never felt unsafe. Brakes are good enough most of the time but the front brake is too powerful for the standard front suspension set up. The initial plunge is scary! Once you know its going to happen you try not to brake so hard.
Engine
4 out of 5
Lots of grunt all the time just don't red line
Build Quality & Reliability
5 out of 5
Not a single issue over a year and 4000 miles. Paint, forks, swingarm and frame all look like almost new some minor corrosion on adjuster bolts on the swingarm but no where else.
Value & Running Costs
5 out of 5
Oil filters plugs fluid pads obviously its going to vary.
Equipment
3 out of 5
Poor fuel tank and range no gauge no panniers high exhaust.
5 out of 5

Nearly all pros little cons for the VTR

16 October 2015 by Simon Hardy

I would undoubtedly recommend the VTR to any of my friends seeking a high powered sports ride comfortable enough for the older rider Read more

Ride Quality & Brakes
4 out of 5
For a sports bike, the riding position doesnt feel as though you are trying to get your ankles behind your neck, as so many do! Although no sissybar fitted as standard and the fact the seat hump (for solo riding) makes it awkward to fit one means your pillion is forever sliding down the seat. Cool if its some bike loving bit of fluff you take for a spin... However not so cool if its the wife and your on a long run to a festival etc...
Engine
5 out of 5
What can I say.... Its a legendary Honda V-Twin and provided any mods are matched and shared equally between tuning, sound and spark delivery it performs at least as well as you would expect it to, under all conditions.
Build Quality & Reliability
5 out of 5
-
Value & Running Costs
4 out of 5
Thats self servicing and doesnt include tyre wear, as that would be difficult to in clude on a year in-out basis! Also if I had to have a grouch about running cost it would be only that I don't find it particularly fuel efficient... eg: at 108ppl £18 equates to 100miles.... So not too bad considering you have 1000cc engine under the tank! Just being picky through lack of any major issues to mention lol
Equipment
4 out of 5
-
4 out of 5

Honda VTR Firestorm. honestly recommended

29 September 2015 by Geoff Morgan

After 10 years off 2 wheels (GSXR 750 slingshot was the last bike) I decided I wanted something cheap and cheerful that would not spit me off due to lack of practice. A 17 year old bike... Cheap, Yes.. £1250. Cheerful, smiles all round. The engine is... Read more brilliant, I short shift a lot and it just keeps going. 2 up with a 100KG mate over the mountain during the TT was a joy. By myself it was a blast, I was by no means the fastest and certainly no where near the slowest. Diablo cans make it sound wonderful, a blip of the throttle and everyone looks to see what made the BOOM..

Ride Quality & Brakes
4 out of 5
Front suspension was a bit soft for me so a stiffer spring kit was fitted and forks raised 8MM which made it much better. Rear needed to be softened and also jacked up by 6MM. much better riding position and handling. Too stiff a rear and the rear tyre loses grip when the engine fires you out of a corner... Fun to certain extent.. Tyres get shredded though. . A full set of braided hoses, calliper service and Brembo pads transformed the brakes from adequate to V good.
Engine
4 out of 5
Engine is awesome.. it has grunt to spare and as I short shift it suits my style... That's said it runs out of steam at the top end. Not a problem 99% of the time but at the TT I could keep up with newer bikes in the twisty's and corners but any fast straights I was simply out gunned.. not the bikes fault at all but did leave me feeling deflated.. but it only cost 1/10th of the bikes my mates have so overall I am very very happy..
Build Quality & Reliability
5 out of 5
So far totally reliable. I have Manual Cam Chain tensioners ready to fit this winter. Rear hugger has kept most of the muck off the rear shock and linkages but one linkage is within MM of the rear exhaust header pipe and was seized solid. it didn't cost much for new bearings and seals and nothing for the bearings to be pressed out as I have a hydraulic press (they went with a bang). The rear sub frame was slightly corroded where it goes wheel side of the rear plastics, £25 for a spare from Ebay and £10 to have it powder coated has sorted that out. Front fork stanchions where showing their age so were painted when the fork springs were replaced. Starter is in direct firing line of the front wheel so can get damaged, corroded. terminals need cleaning periodically to get the best out of it
Value & Running Costs
5 out of 5
Less than 100 to service, I do it myself and keep all receipts. A family of mechanics. Fuel economy is no worse than any other bike, the small tank makes it seem worse.
Equipment
4 out of 5
Plenty of aftermarket parts available. Belly Pan gives it a much more sporty look. I have a custom seat that's sculpted and has lettering stitched into it. looks lovely. Rear grab rail is a must for pillions, engine breaking will have them head-butting the rider without. Rear hugger, looks great and keeps things clean. LED rear light replaces the twin bulb OEM, uses less power and does not suffer blown bulbs. Clear lens also looks better than the red OEM one. Top yoke is a rough aluminium cast affair. £10 from EBay for another and polished it, the Honda logo is 'engraved' so it has been filled with the same red paint as the bike, looks much better. Makes the bike looks more expensive. Stainless bolts replace many of the 'blued' and corroded OEM ones. (no anodised bolts for me, looks cheap in my opinion)
Buying experience

Cost £1250. Bought privately, History check came back clear. Its a very clean example with 22k on the clock. It looks almost new after being stripped and various components replaced, Painted or polished.

4 out of 5

A reasonable all rounder,but buy one with upgrades!

21 June 2015 by Achmed The Dead Terrorist

Hmm, maybe just me,but although it's a great day to day bike and i'd been lead to believe it was brilliant, it just wasn't the bike for me. Good mid-range grunt,handling ok,brakes ok, but it didn't endear itself to me,or blow me away. That said,it... Read more was functional and did the job with reasonable standard brakes. Mine was immaculate and i mean immaculate...but standard! For me, it needs all the extras to get the best out of it: New pipe,power tweaks,braided lines,but especially decent shock and i'd suggest linear springs! If you're buying,get one with the bits already on.

Ride Quality & Brakes
3 out of 5
Brakes ok,but upgrades won't hurt. Ride ok,but even though it's not an outright racer,it became achy on the wrists and butt after a few miles;Not a bike i'd like to tour on and bar risers might help along with a comfier seat. This may just be me; yes i managed to get it quite low on the bends,but standard, i just could not get it 'dialled in' to my liking,always feeling it wasn't quite right...too jittery on the front. I've no doubt with a decent rear shock,linear springs and set up properly,it would transform the bike, but Honda should have done a better job with the standard set up.
Engine
4 out of 5
Good grunty engine,lifts the front up at will for grin factor :) uses a little oil,but no issues,although i'd heard of a few probs with Reg/rectifier and water pump, but the main thing everyone will warn you about on these,are the dreaded Cam tensioner issues. Don't risk it,fit manual tensioners,or machine the originals...it can be done!
Build Quality & Reliability
3 out of 5
Front forks 'pit' easily. Tank range woeful. Fill up every 100miles to be on the safe side. Needs to be pampered and waxed to avoid it becoming shabby. Only issue,it needed carbs cleaned and balanced.
Value & Running Costs
3 out of 5
Regular fill-ups a pain and not great on juice. Use super unleaded.
Equipment
3 out of 5
Had Avon Storms,which were ok'ish. Wet...take it easy,they snatch away. Same when cold and need warming up. Great in hot weather. Battlax were recommended,but can't comment personally.
Buying experience

Paid a fair price...it was a low-mileage minter. They can be had pretty cheap,so bargains about.

4 out of 5

Storm!

29 June 2014 by Hillar

I guess I liked it when I first saw but fell in love when it heared it running(with Leo Vince Exhausts!).Looks awesome for 1998 year bike, good handling for newbie biker like me. Fairing and windshield(bulk or double bulk) protect you from... Read more wind/elements. Riding at rain or heavy wind is no problem also, side radiators keep your legs nice and warm. Powerful but a bit thirsty V-twin with only 16L tank is the only minus I would add.

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
4 out of 5
-
5 out of 5

The Grunt!

28 February 2014 by CiaranSherry

I bought one of these Honda V-twins five years ago on a bit of a whim, it was yellow with full fairings, and impressed me with the savage low down grunt. All of these years later, it still brings a smile to my face. I put it up for sale two days ago... Read more due to the recent acquisition of a twin axle caravan for family holidays, and the small detail of owing the radiant Mrs. Sherry a not insignificant few pounds she lent me towards the cost of same purchase. I jumped it two days hence, as the battery was flattened by the HISS since I last took it out six months ago, and drove it back to town where we live from my farm buildings where it is permanently garaged. Boy, does the VTR1000 bring a smile to your face. It has enormous low down grunt, coupled with fantastic engine braking, and is hugely responsive to all minimal inputs by the rider. I'm sorry to see it go, but wifey is secretly thrilled, because she knows it could be a serious 'widow maker' given the speed it is capable of, and because of course it doesn't have airbags like her Vauxhall Insignia SRI which has greater than 50% more horsepower. :) Some posters have commented on the front end 'diving' under hard braking, but my experience is that intelligent reading of the road ahead nullifies this, in the same sense that a pilot will never fly through airspace his brain hasn't visited previously. The feedback this twin gives is hugely rewarding, in large part due to its responsiveness, and also the soundtrack it gives under both acceleration, and perhaps even more under fuel starvation when slowing down for a bend. The Firestorm is pure 'grunt', and prefers country, to city or town.

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
-
Read all 31 owners' reviews in full

Facts & Figures

Model info
Year introduced 1997
Year discontinued 2005
Original price -
Used price £1,800 to £23,500
Warranty term (when new) Two year unlimited mileage
Running costs
Insurance group 14 of 17
Annual road tax £82
Annual service cost £100
Performance
Max power 97 bhp
Max torque 64 ft-lb
Top speed 144 mph
1/4-mile acceleration 11.8 secs
Average fuel consumption 35 mpg
Tank range 146 miles
Specification
Engine size 996cc
Engine type 8v V-twin, 6 gears
Frame type Aluminium twin spar
Fuel capacity 19 litres
Seat height 810mm
Bike weight 193kg
Front suspension Preload and rebound
Rear suspension Preload and rebound
Front brake Twin 296mm discs
Rear brake 220mm disc
Front tyre size 120/70 x 17
Rear tyre size 180/55 x 17

History & Versions

Model history

1997: Honda VTR1000F Firestorm launched.
1999: Honda VTR1000F Firestorm gets new, silver wheels.
2001: An overhaul increased Honda VTR1000F Firestorm's fuel capacity to 19 litres, raised the bars for a more upright riding position and installed a new HISS security system. There were also minor tweaks with both suspension and carb/ignition settings plus the dash was redesigned and new, smaller indicators installed. Black wheels.
2005: Honda VTR1000F Firestorm discontinued.

Other versions

None.

Photo Gallery

  • Honda VTR1000F Firestorm motorcycle review - Riding
  • Honda VTR1000F Firestorm motorcycle review - Side view
  • Honda VTR1000F Firestorm motorcycle review - Brakes
  • Honda VTR1000F Firestorm motorcycle review - Rear view
  • Honda VTR1000F Firestorm motorcycle review - Suspension
  • Honda VTR1000F Firestorm motorcycle review
  • Honda VTR1000F Firestorm motorcycle review - Instruments
  • Honda VTR1000F Firestorm motorcycle review - Front view
  • Honda VTR1000F Firestorm motorcycle review - Side view
  • Honda VTR1000F Firestorm motorcycle review - Front view
  • Honda VTR1000F Firestorm motorcycle review - Side view
  • Honda VTR1000F Firestorm motorcycle review - Riding
  • Honda VTR1000F Firestorm motorcycle review - Side view
  • Honda VTR1000F Firestorm motorcycle review - Brakes
  • Honda VTR1000F Firestorm motorcycle review - Rear view
  • Honda VTR1000F Firestorm motorcycle review - Suspension
  • Honda VTR1000F Firestorm motorcycle review
  • Honda VTR1000F Firestorm motorcycle review - Instruments
  • Honda VTR1000F Firestorm motorcycle review - Front view
  • Honda VTR1000F Firestorm motorcycle review - Side view
  • Honda VTR1000F Firestorm motorcycle review - Front view
  • Honda VTR1000F Firestorm motorcycle review - Side view
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