Forget the triple, the V4 is the best combination of a twin and a four.
With photos emerging of the new Ducati V4, everyone is getting excited about V4 bikes again. V4s have scored countless race wins from way back in the 500cc two-stroke era to modern day MotoGP and while there are countless examples of Japanese exotica or ludicrous race reps, these are our favourite V4 bikes that you could actually own.
Honda VFR800 (1998-2001)
According to some the VFR800i is the best version of the iconic sports-tourer that Honda ever built – in fact there are three in various MCN staff garages right now. While the styling didn’t blow people away at the time and the linked brakes are fussy at best, the engine is an absolute peach. It feels more like two v-twins bolted together than a modern V4, but the power curve is lovely and it’s not spoiled by the later VTEC power step. A messy example can be had for peanuts but you can get a lovely one for less than £2000.
Yamaha V-Max (2008-on)
Somewhere in Japan, sometime in the 1980s, someone at Yamaha had the idea of sticking a muscular V4 engine into a cruiser chassis and thank god they did. The redesigned V-Max, which was released in 2008, has a face-contorting 197hp - the same as the Ducati Demosedici RR (more on that later). The fancy bits include a servo-activated airbox, inverted forks and beautiful build quality. The only downside is the price when new but used examples can be had for as little as £5500.
Aprilia RSV4 (2010-on)
Monstrously fast, the 180bhp RSV4 is a proper Italian missile. The all-singing, all-dancing Factory model has more advanced electronics and Ohlins suspension throughout, but the R model is no slouch. As well as going like the clappers, it looks great and sounds even better – especially with a new pipe. Despite Aprilias of old having a bad rep for reliability, and some dodgy con rods blotting the launch, the RSV4 has had no real problems. Used bikes start from £7600 but expect to pay quite a bit more for a minter.
Ducati Desmosedici RR (2007-2009)
The Desmo, as it’s come to be known, was the closest thing to a MotoGP bike you could buy until Honda came along nearly eight years later. The 200bhp featherweight is based on the 2006 MotoGP machine and features the same 989cc V4 ‘long bang’ engine. The devilish motor makes power from almost zero but it really gets going over 10,000 rpm. The frame is stiff as a board, which is how the racers like it, and incredibly stable in the corners. In fact the only thing more stable is the price, as they were £40,000 new and they’re about that now.
Honda RC213V-S (2015-on)
Okay so we’re pushing the limits of what you could actually own, as the Honda is £137,000 but you’re basically buying a MotoGP bike with some lights. While the engine doesn’t match the power figures of some of the other bikes in road trim, it’s the weight that wins us over. No other bike comes close to its 400cc proportions and hollowed-out race feel. Fit the optional sports pack and it’s a different beast altogether with 216 rampaging horses trying to tear you out of the saddle every time you turn the throttle. Put simply, it’s absolute perfection.
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