HONDA RVF400 (1994 - 1996) Review
At a glance
|Owners' reliability rating:|
Overall ratingNext up: Ride & brakes
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.
Ride quality & brakesNext up: Engine
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.
EngineNext up: Reliability
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.
Reliability & build qualityNext up: Value
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 vs rivalsNext up: Equipment
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.
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.
|Engine type||V4 four-stroke|
|Frame type||Twin spar aluminium|
|Fuel capacity||18 litres|
|Front suspension||Preload and rebound damping|
|Rear suspension||Preload and rebound damping|
|Front brake||Twin 269mm discs|
|Rear brake||Single solid disc; 2-piston Nissin caliper|
|Front tyre size||120/60 17in|
|Rear tyre size||160/60 17in|
Mpg, costs & insurance
|Average fuel consumption||39 mpg|
|Annual road tax||£44|
|Annual service cost||-|
12 of 17
How much to insure?
Top speed & performance
|Max power||59 bhp|
|Max torque||26.6 ft-lb|
|Top speed||125 mph|
|1/4 mile acceleration||-|
|Tank range||154 miles|
Model history & versions
Produced from 1994-1996. Not officially imported into the UK
Owners' reviews for the HONDA RVF400 (1994 - 1996)
4 owners have reviewed their HONDA RVF400 (1994 - 1996) and rated it in a number of areas. Read what they have to say and what they like and dislike about the bike below.
Summary of owners' reviews
|Ride quality & brakes:|
|Reliability & build quality:|
|Value vs rivals:|
I bought my RVF400 (1999 model) after searching for a year or so to find a good example in Japan (Which is where I live). Finally found one that had never lived outside and had only minimal scratches, which I'll be repairing and perfecting. It came with Coerce rearsets, HRC CDi and an Ethos exhaust, as well as all original parts too. I felt sorry for the owner who I'd bought it off (On Yahoo auctions) as I drove away with it loaded onto a bike carrier on the back of my van to return home. I knew he was already regretting letting this gem go... But he needed the money. With 35 years experience riding & a fettish for beautiful machinery, I own 8 other bikes, mostly Hondas - including a perfect but heavily modified VTR SP2, so was surprised the first time I rode the RVF, that it was actually so much fun. Engine's performance is just enough to remain entertaining and the handling is good as standard too. The only thing I didn't really like was how much lever travel the front brakes had, but this was found to be some shortie levers fitted by the previous owner - which I've replaced with originals, since. The brakes do need some effort to work well, so I'll be fitting VTR SP2 original calipers and possibly master cylinder if I don't get a Brembo RCS instead, together with braided hoses etc. I've got a set of NC35 forks with Maxton 20mm cartridges and a set of Carbon CA5 Dymags intended for an NSR250 MC28 project, but that's likely to take a year or so at least to finish building in my spare time, so I'm probably going to fit these parts as well as Braketech cast iron front discs onto the RVF and swap the OEM parts onto the NSR (Which will have u/d NC35 forks). May get a Maxton GP rear shock too, but the suspension isn't at all bad as standard, so maybe I won't... It's a bit cramped to ride, especially with rearsets fitted, but comfortable enough to use a full tank of fuel without any discomfort for a 50 year old.. The first time I rode it I took my kids on the back (private road) and they loved it - comfortable for them and safe, as they lean forward when sat on the back. Will be fun to ride back on country roads after delivering my son to school on it, during good weather. It's a beautiful machine as standard, so I intend to keep it, improve and never, ever sell it. Will sit proud beside my SP2, as a sort of HRC homologation bike, since I can't afford a real RC45. Even for riders of larger bikes, I'd recommend having one - before they get really silly in their values...
I've been riding 20+ yrs and this is the smallest bike I've ever owned. To put it into some kind of perspective, my previous 3 bikes were an R1 (still got that), a YZF750 and a Ducati 900SS. I bought my RVF on a whim - because it is *tiny*. I'm in the fortunate position of being able to get pretty much any bike I want - problem is, I am short (5'6") - and when I tried a Panigale at the bike show I couldn't even get it off the side stand! Paid £3800 for a mint, 1 owner RVF400 from 2000. So that makes it the youngest bike I've ever owned - I bought my R1 in '98... I was expecting the 400 to be gutless on the road compared to my R1 - but cruising around sub 40mph it is fine - plenty of power - yes, above 80mph (obviously one only goes above 60mph on a closed private road - m'lud) it is very slow compared to the R1 - but it is *a lot* more fun. I've had to readjust my riding style - on the R1 you can (if you wish) cruise around all day in one gear, but on the RVF you need to change down for every corner and overtake. Once I've got used to this it is great - and to be honest, a great deal more interactive. I do a regular run over the country lanes to the lake district - it takes me the same kind of time (to within 5 mins) to do this 90mile trip as on my R1 - and never once did I think "I wish I had more power". I've owned it for 3 months now - and have the choice of which bike to take out when I go playing - and the R1 hasn't had a look-in. I'll be selling that in Spring. The ride was harsh when I got it - it had been set up for a much heavier rider, but after adjusting the suspension correctly it is fine. It requires no pressure to get round the tightest corners - indeed at first I was arriving at the apex early - riding it in the same as I did on my R1. Equipment wise - nothing flash - it is the same era as my R1, but that has all the digital displays and automatic reserve-fuel display - this is back to old school wind-up trip counter and fuel tap. Can't really speak on reliability - it seems very well built. A couple of dashboard bulbs were out when I got it - but they've been replaced. For the road - this is ideal. Yes, it isn't as "badass" as my R1..but in no way is it a "beginner bike". I wish I'd bought one of these from new - but back then I was in the "bigger is better" mode... If they made a similarly sized (physically) modern bike (with all the trick stuff) I'd buy one in a shot. I never thought I'd say it - but on the road the 400 is plenty (with a top speed of 120+mph - again, on a private road) and enough acceleration to get me in trouble if I want to... The only downside that I can think of is - taller & bulkier people will have no chance on them and will ache after 10 minutes. The RVF400 is fun. If you can fit on one - buy one.
I've had two RVF400s now... Reliable, great build quality, great looks... brilliant bike!
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