Buying used: Honda RVF400
When you’re looking for a used sportsbike or a track toy, you might be tempted to head straight for the 600cc class, which for years has featured the sharpest tools in the motorcycle pallete. And, on most days, I’d be right there beside you.
However, there are some really entertaining alternatives out there, none more so than Honda’s brilliant little RVF400.
Styled to look like Honda Racing Corporation’s premium RC45, the RVF shares a V-four engine configuration with liquid-cooling, running four valves per cylinder and boasting gear-driven cams.
The latter gives the powerplant a very distinctive growl that becomes a shriek as it climbs towards the 14,500rpm redline.
It doesn’t take a zillion revs to get off the line and there’s a decent midrange, something Honda tuned in specifically.
Built from 1994 to 1996, the RVF featured a bank of 30mm carburettors and a single exhaust at the other end. Power was in the region of 39kW (53hp) – ample for a package weighing in at a fairly svelte 165kg.
The chassis also came in for serious modification, including the frame, steering geometry, an upside-down front end (still 41mm and made by Showa), a revised swingarm (still single-sided), and new wheels. There’s a 17in item on the rear, enabling a much bigger tyre selection than the previous 18 incher.
Really, the big news with an RVF, for those who haven’t ridden one, is how tiny it is. It’s low, narrow and weighs bugger all – which adds up to big fun.
A brief spin on the bike shown here reminded me of just how good the RVF is. It’s a pukka sportsbike with ample performance (top speed is a touch over 200km/h), decent quality suspension, pin-sharp steering and strong brakes.
The six-speed gearbox is a no-fuss affair, while the clutch is light and progressive.
Buy a good one and you’ll be rewarded – and they’re learner legal bike in most states.
This one was for sale at Melbourne’s Stafford Motorcycles and presented as a solid offering, with 13,700km on the clock. It’s priced at $7000.
– Tiny and light
– Loads of character
– Pin-sharp handling
– Tiny (not so great for taller folk)
– It’s a grey import
Type: liquid-cooled, four-valves-per-cylinder, four-stroke V-four
Bore x stroke: 55mm x 42mm
Compression ratio: 11.3:1
Fuel system: 4 x 30mm CV carburettors
Type: Six-speed constant mesh, wet clutch
Final drive: Chain
CHASSIS AND RUNNING GEAR
Frame type: twin-spar aluminium
Front suspension: USD 41mm Showa fork
Rear suspension: Showa monoshock
Front brakes: Twin 269mm discs with four-piston Nissin calipers
Rear brake: Single disc with twin-piston Nissin caliper
DIMENSIONS AND CAPACITIES
Dry weight: 165kg
Fuel capacity: 15lt
Max. power: 39.5kW (53hp) at 12,500rpm
Max. torque: 36Nm (26.6ft-lb)) at 10,000rpm
Max speed: 200km/h-plus
Test bike supplied by: Stafford Motorcycles, Melbourne,
Tel: (03) 9459 3427