Weekly Visordown Marketplace watch

We pick out one of the thousands of bikes on the Visordown Marketplace for a closer look...

Marketplace Focus

THE VISORDOWN Marketplace classified section is packed with sweet wheels for every pocket, and every two-wheeled desire! Each week, our man Tony Middlehurst is going to pick out a bike for sale, and give it the once-over. This week - it's a smart original Honda VFR800 from the turn of the millenium. Low miles and one owner means it's not super cheap but should be a corker.

Some bikes are sensible. Some are mad. Some are quick. Some are steady. Some are great tourers. Some are good at scratching. 

Honda’s VFR crammed all of the above attributes into one sensible, mad, quick, steady, touring scratcher. Its basic recipe of a gear-cammed V4 engine hanging from an aluminium twin-spar frame (with a single-sided swingarm on gen-two models) clearly struck a chord, as it’s hardly changed in over 30 years. 

Sadly, I have. My memory is largely shot these days, but I’ll always remember the VFR world press launch at Suzuka in 1986. Then, Honda’s carbed 750 was supposed to compete with out-and-out sportsbikes like the GSXR-750 Suzuki and the Yamaha FZ750. The notorious ‘chocolate camshafts’ of earlier V4 Hondas had been more or less sorted, so why not? 

Unfortunately, Honda foolishly brought the also-new CBR600F to Suzuka, plus the CBR1000F. The fast but soft 1000 was quickly re-categorised as a tourer, but the 600 was a proper smasher. After being forcibly prised off it at Suzuka, I had it in for the VFR750, convincing myself it was too top-heavy for fun. In truth, it clung on doggedly despite my hamfisted riding and grumpiness caused by not being on the 600. 

1987’s genuinely fabulous VFR750R RC30 shuffled the VFR750 into the CBR1000’s touring/do-it-all niche, where it delighted thousands of owners until 1998 when it became a fuel-injected VFR800. Re-engineered for extra torque and better road manners, this 1998-2002 VFR is the sweet spot of the entire 30-year VFR dynasty, as the post-02 VTEC models aren’t universally loved.  On cars, Honda’s variable valve timing system is a good thing, but the jolting dollop of ‘coming on cam’ power it brought to the bike wasn’t a big hit among the VFR faithful. Nor was the extra expense involved in adjusting the VTEC’s valve clearances. 

For £2,199, our 20,000-mile 2000-reg Marketplace bike is a safe, versatile, low-cost, low-risk purchase that will see you right o’er hill and dale, or any other blokes you care to name. It follows the un-barried VFR trend by being (apparently) totally original. Still, who could resist fitting a really loud aftermarket pipe, tracking down a Ducati rideout and then watching the Ducatistis’ faces crease up in disgust as you roar in astride your two grand Honda?

2000 Honda VFR800Fi £2,199 (8 out of 10)

Cheery Stuff

No camchain tensioners to snap on these pre-VTEC bikes. Linked brakes may appeal to those too idle to use their hand and foot at the same time. Paint and finish are good, as is general reliability. 

Leery Stuff

Image is a bit Derriboots/BMF. In the finest Honda tradition, regulator/rectifiers fail. Water can damage the PCB board for the LCD panel. Check that the big 16k service (with valve adjustment) has been done.