Honda VFR750 RC36 Project

Honda VFR750F RC36 (94-97)

Needing a new project I thought I would have a go at another Honda V4, this time a fourth generation VFR750F RC36 (94-97), generally regarded as the best of this line. I decided I would put together a decent rolling chassis and then complete it using a donor bike, hopefully selling unwanted parts on the way to finance it. As a starting point I got hold of a HPI clear frame with sub-frame, fork yokes, under tray and the all-important V5 document. Apart from light corrosion and peeling paint on the sub frame all were in excellent condition. The frame is from a 1994 VFR750FR American import, which I don’t think differs significantly from the UK model – we’ll see in due course!

Frame and swing arm on Abba stand

The sub frame and lower fork yolk were the first of many components to be dropped off at the local powder coaters. The headraces in the frame had seen better days and I replaced them with a taper roller set. Next I found a 97 swing arm complete with wheel, shock, chain guard and caliper for sale locally at a good price. The seller had bought a rolling chassis for his own project but didn’t need the back end. Unfortunately the tyre had a cut in it and the disc was badly worn so these went in the bin. The swing arm took me a week to dismantle, the hub assembly had seized badly and I had to soak it daily with penetrating oil, patiently dismantling it part by part. The swing arm pivot bearings were fine but I replaced the hub and sprocket carrier bearings as these were rough. The wheel was powder coated in gloss white and a new Bridgestone fitted.

The top fork yoke was badly scratched and looked really bad so I cleaned it up as well as I could and removed the carefully removed Honda wing logo with a scalpel blade. The logo which is fixed to the yolk with a double sided adhesive pad came off fairly easily and I cleaned it up using wet and dry paper to get a fresh brushed finish before lacquering it. The yoke was powder coated in satin black (along with the bars) and the logo glued in place. In my opinion the this looks much better than the standard polished alloy finish.
Overheated r/r plug
VFR800 r/r
Homemade caliper piston pump
Chinese radiator replacement
Radiator fitted
Powder coated fork yolk
VFR750 rolling chassis
VFR750 rolling chassis
VFR750 Lapis Blue
VFR750 Lapis Blue
VFR750 lapis Blue

The rear brake caliper was in good condition externally but the pistons were stuck fast. I managed to remove them with my Heath Robinson foot pump attachment - basically I made up a short hose which bolts as normal to the caliper and the other end connects to a footpump as shown in the photo above. It's then a simple job of gently pumping to push the pistons out. I use a series of wood spacers in the caliper to be sure that both pistons were pushed out equally. Once the pistons were removed I could see that the seals had disintegrated and were surrounded by corrosion deposits. The components were carefully cleaned and reassembled with new seals lubricated with red rubber grease.

I'm using a Datatag security kit as the bike comes together. Although all used parts are legitimate I don’t want to end up with a random collection of unrelated transponders and markings causing confusion and sure enough I’ve found and removed three hidden transponders already.

The shock appeared barely usable and when I priced in the cost of a service, re-plating the body and powder coating the spring it made sense to go for an aftermarket job. Searching through the forums it seemed that Nitron shocks were a popular choice and I contacted T W Suspension Tech after reading good reports of their service. Teut Weihn was very helpful and recommended it as the best performance shock for my budget. This confirmed everything I’d read and a Nitron NR1 shock with custom spring to suit my weight was duly ordered.

I located a nice '94 engine that had done 33000 miles complete with a full service history and in good cosmetic condition. It was some distance from home and rather than risking damage by using a courier, I collected it myself. Its only when you lift one out of a car boot that you realise how heavy a VFR750 engine is! There was very little to do with the motor other than to thoroughly degrease it, replace a couple of weeping seals and to spray the covers with engine paint. 

Regulator and associated electrical problems are well documented on the net and in forums. It seems to be a Honda weakness probably made worse by poorly maintained earths on older bikes.I found a wiring harness on eBay and sure enough the regulator connector was badly burnt at the stator pins. I stripped out the three yellow stator wires with the regulator positive and negative wires from the harness and fitted a VFRness from wiremybike together with a R/R unit from a 98-99 VFR800. The quality of the quality of the VFRness is excellent and fitting was easy especially as I installed it at the same time as the wiring harness The regulator needed a little work to fit, the mounting holes needed elongating as well as countersinking the lower one. There is a trend for VFR owners to fit voltage meters / monitors and I initially intended to fit a Sparkbrite LED but after two unanswered emails to their website I gave up and I opted for a Gammatronix unit off eBay instead.

I got hold of a radiator and fan with the intention of cleaning it up but like most its seen better days. I’d seen new Chinese radiators on eBay for £110 from a seller with good feedback and decided to give it a go. It arrived nicely packaged which was just as well because the postal service had done there best to break it, the outer cardboard packaging was badly dented and perforated. Thankfully the radiator was intact. The appearance is good and the welds are reasonably neat and tidy. However its let down by the mounting lugs which are out of line and the fan didn't fit. I had to make a spacer for the bottom securing bolt and the fan ended up being slightly higher than intended and I also had to make a new slightly longer bottom radiator stay. I suspect that that each radiator will have different bracket alignment issues. A set of blue Samco hoses completed the cooling system.

Next a set of stainless steel Motad pipes with a high level Delkavic link pipe and silencer were installed. It took a fair amount of pulling and pushing of the loosely installed parts to get everything to line up satisfactorily. I couldn't however get the Delkavic silencer to line up flush against the bike and it splays out slightly. Its not that noticeable as the silencer is only 350mm long but it might have been one of those irritating things if I had got a 450mm version.

A seat cowl finished it off nicely and then it was time for its MOT. The headlight needed aligning but other than that there were no problems.

I've read that raising the forks 10mm through the yokes improves steering significantly, the standard setup apparently resulting in lazy steering. Rather than go the whole hog in one step I've raised them initially by just 5mm to see how it handles and first impressions are good. The handling is far better than I expected and the riding position suits me perfectly.

Theres still a little work needed to finish it off properly - I need to get a Morgan Carbtune as the carbs seem slightly out of sync and I need to sort out the lower fairing panels.