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Honda RVF400 Sports Motorbike Review

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Honda RVF400
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MCN overall verdict rating is 5

Honda’s RVF400 was a pin-up race replica that had sports bike fans dribbling down their paddock jackets in the mid-nineties. The trouble was that Honda never officially brought the NC35 (its ‘factory’ code name) into the UK, which was a crying shame, although many have found their way here as ‘grey’ imports. Replacing the VFR400R (NC30), which Honda did officially import, the NC35 is a V4 400cc baby version of the mighty RVF750R (RC45). It looks almost the same as its big brother, but it has tiny fox-eye headlights, compared to the RC45’s ‘moon eyes’. It sounds great, is beautiful to look at and handles like a demon. Many can still be found tearing up the circuit on trackdays and club racing. A low seat height and lightweight makes the RVF400 a manageable machine for shorter riders. It’s also an ideal donor bike for a 33bhp kit for new riders.

Engine

MCN rating rating is 5
Owners' rating rating is 4.5

This liquid-cooled, 399cc, DOHC, V4 motor with gear driven cams and four 28mm carbs, may be small but it’s beautifully formed. The NC35 doesn’t make peak power (59.4bhp) until the rev needle sweeps all the way to 13,000rpm. You have to thrash it mercilessly to get anywhere fast, which let’s face it, is the thing that makes the RVF400 so exciting to ride. 

Ride and Handling

MCN rating rating is 4
Owners' rating rating is 4

By today’s standards the RVF400 is a little bit soft around the edges, but in its day it handled with all the agility and precision of a 250cc Grand Prix bike compared to old litre-sized buses like the GSX-R1100, and relatively big supersports machines like the FZR600. Compared to the out-going NC30, Honda’s new pocket rocket it had upside forks and a 17” rear wheel replacing the old 18-incher for improved handling. It’s still good today and can be made even better with a suspension overall and fitting the latest sticky tyres.

Equipment

MCN rating rating is 4
Owners' rating rating is 3.5

The RVF400 came with all the latest kit: a stiff aluminium frame, single sided swingarm, 17” wheels, upside down forks and big brakes. There are no creature comforts here, just everything you need for going fast on track. Compare and buy parts for the RVF in the MCN Shop.

Honda RVF400 (1994-1996)

Detail Value
Used price range View Honda RVF400 bikes for sale to see current asking prices
Engine size 399 cc
Power 59.4 bhp
Top speed 125 mph
Insurance group 12 of 17
  MCN ratings Owners' ratings
Overall rating is 5 rating is 4.5
Engine rating is 5 rating is 4.5
Ride & Handling rating is 4 rating is 4
Equipment rating is 4 rating is 3.5
Quality & Reliability rating is 5 rating is 4.5
Value rating is 4 rating is 4

Quality and Reliability

MCN rating rating is 5
Owners' rating rating is 4.5

This is Honda at their very best, so fit and finish is superb. Reliability isn’t an issue and there are some super-high mileage machines still pounding our streets. Because these bikes weren’t officially imported here there are some scrappy ones about and those that have been raced have obvious pitfalls.

Value

MCN rating rating is 4
Owners' rating rating is 4

Good condition RFV400s are still holding their money. Low mileage, good condition examples are fetching around prices around £6000. You can get pick up a high mileage model for as little as £1450. Find a Honda RVF400 for sale.

Insurance

Insurance group: 12 of 17

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Model History

Produced from 1994-1996. Not officially imported into the UK

Other Versions

None

Specifications

Top speed 125 mph
1/4-mile acceleration secs
Max power 59.4 bhp
Max torque 26.6 ft-lb
Weight 165 kg
Seat height 780 mm
Fuel capacity 18 litres
Average fuel consumption 39 mpg
Tank range 154 miles
Annual road tax
Insurance group 12 of 17
Engine size 399 cc
Engine specification V4 four-stroke
Frame Twin spar aluminium
Front suspension adjustment Preload and rebound damping
Rear suspension adjustment Preload and rebound damping
Front brakes Twin 269mm discs
Rear brake
Front tyre size 120/60 17in
Rear tyre size 160/60 17in

See all Honda RVF400 motorcycles for sale

Honda
RVF400

22597 miles

£3,995

Honda
RVF400

21681 miles

£4,395

Honda
RVF400

22650 miles

£1,800

Honda
RVF400

14225 miles

£4,995

Honda
RVF400

18778 miles

£4,595

Owners' Overall Rating rating is 4(2 reviews)

  • Brilliant Bike

    em2evol

    Average rating rating is 4

    Show Details

    Overall
    Ride and Handling
    Equipment
    Quality and Reliabilty
    Value
    Engine

    I've had two RVF400s now... Reliable, great build quality, great looks... brilliant bike!

    21 August 2012

  • nc35

    eoinmurphy

    Average rating rating is 4

    Show Details

    Overall
    Ride and Handling
    Equipment
    Quality and Reliabilty
    Value
    Engine

    i have owend RVF400rr now for last two years and stil get good enjoyment out of it. The bike has never giveng any trouble and does everything you ask of it. Has few mods just to free up few trapped horses. AS do be surrounded by the mate's on their 6oo's an 750. The RVF can still hang with the bigger boys on the tight an twisties. Great fun bike

    09 November 2011

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speedy231278

speedy231278says

As an owner of an NC35 for a bit over a decade and 80000kms, can I point out a few errors in the article?

 

Power is allegedly 53bhp due to the Japanese licence laws of the time, down from the 59bhp of previous years (although I reckon it was a paper exercise to be honest).  Peak is supposedly 12500rpm.  However, you don't really need to thrash the bike to get anywhere fast, it's just not going to be AS fast as a 600 or bigger for obvious reasons.

Carbs are 30mm, not 28.

Fuel capacity is 15 litres, not 18.

Front discs are 296mm, not 269.

Rear tyre is 150/60-17, not a 160.

Rear disc is 220mm.

The only thing I have ever been able to fault the bike on is that like every other Honda of the era, the charging system is rubbish and the reg/recs fail with monotonous regularity due to them using resistance to dissipate the excess energy from the alternator, leading to them burning out and/or frying the wiring if any crud gets into the connectors.  Which it does because they are in places crid gets flung into!  Mine now has a new stator, a reg/rec that doesn't use the dissipation method to regulate the output, and a mere 124000kms on the clock.  It's tatty as hell due to the age and a contremps with a couple of deer, but hardly anything ever goes wrong now the charging system has been 100% replaced with non-Honda components.  I might possibly ride other bikes, but I'd never part with it.

14 August 2014 18:37

weeds

weedssays

love these pocket rockets

Its great to see grey bike reviews you guys have been doing recently, i live in asia where 400cc jap import bikes are very popular, and its pretty hard to get "official" reviews for these bikes, so its very informative and refreshing to see these. Hope you can carry on and review other little jap imports (that i personally love ! such as Suzuki's Bandit 400 and the Honda's Hornet 250 or even the 250 - 400 cc mini blade, NSR 250 RR 2 stroker etc.

 

 

16 January 2010 06:57

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