Reviews of this mid 90’s Honda VFR750F RC36-2 convinced me that this was the sports tourer to get as I didn’t want fuel injection and lots of electronics. After searching the classifieds it seemed likely that I would have to spend time/money getting one to a decent standard. I’d just retired and the obvious solution with time on my hands, was to start from scratch.
The starting point for the build was a HPI clear frame complete 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 sub frame and lower fork yoke were the first of many components to be dropped off at the local powder coaters. The headraces in the frame were badly worn and replaced with a taper roller set.
Next I found a 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 and these were surplus parts. The swing arm took 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 the hub and sprocket carrier bearings needed replacing. A new Nitron NR1 shock with custom spring replaced the tired standard part. The forks were fitted with new bushes and raised 10mm through the yokes to sharpen up the handling. The wheel was powder coated in gloss white and a new Bridgestone fitted.
I located a nice engine that had done 33,000 miles complete with a full service history and in good cosmetic condition. 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 enamel engine paint
Regulator and associated electrical problems are well documented. It seems to be a Honda weakness probably made worse by poorly maintained wiring connections and earths on older bikes. The wiring loom sourced from a breakers yard had a badly burnt regulator connector. The three yellow stator wires with the regulator positive and negative wires were stripped from the harness and a “VFRness” from wiremybike was fitted together with a R/R unit from a 98-99 VFR800. The kit is a plug and play installation and includes plug to suit R/R, uprated wires to battery, starter relay, ground wire and stator wires to plug. A starter relay repair kit is also included for good measure.
The VFR800 regulator needed a very minor modification to fit in the stock location; the top mounting hole needed elongating and the lower one was countersunk to accept a 6 mm nut.
Most of the connectors on the wiring loom had varying degrees of corrosion and where possible these were carefully unpicked from their plastic blocks, cleaned and reassembled.
With charging problems in mind many VFR owners fit voltage meters / monitors as a precaution. I decided on a Gammatronix LED charge and standby battery monitor discretely fitted in the fairing.
Late into the build I ran into an electrical problem with the instrument cluster. Some of the lights didn’t work and it wasn’t possible to set/adjust the time. This turned out to be due to some corroded tracks on the flexi PCB located underneath the cluster. The PCB is not protected in any meaningful way from damp and some of the tracks were badly corroded. Continuity testing confirmed that a number of tracks had been compromised which I couldn’t bridge with additional wiring as some of the corrosion was at the junction where the plug locates with the PCB. Fortunately I had a job lot of spares containing a damaged instrument cluster and I was able to use the flexi PCB from it. This showed light signs of corrosion but continuity between all connections checked out ok and the cluster functions as it should.
Many of the instrument cluster components are no longer available new and even if they were the prices the prices are ridiculously high. Under case assembly £320, complete instrument cluster £1244 – no thanks! If there are any problems in the future then I’ll probably look into an after market solution such as one of the Koso units.
Collecting the various side and fairing panels took a long time. I was fortunate in getting some new old stock fairing panels quite cheaply. However some of the remaining used panels were badly scuffed and cracked – to be expected I suppose as they are around 25 years old. These were expertly repaired and painted by Rapier Paintwork in Hull.
Towards the end of the build I snapped up a 3rd generation, 8 spoke rear wheel which I’d been looking out. The eight spoke wheel has a 5.5″ rim in contrast to the standard 4th generation wheel of 5″.
The bike handles well, there are no surprises and it soaks up the bumps well. A lot of reviewers mention a slightly soft suspension but then again I’m lighter than average and the rear shock is set up for my weight. The rebound and compression damping on the Nitron rear shock is adjusted by a single combined damping adjuster. After a few trials it seems it was set exactly right for me out of the box.
I found the clutch a little heavy causing wrist ache in town centre traffic. After reading some positive online reviews the standard clutch slave cylinder was replaced with an Oberon unit. This was an improvement although the lever travel took a while to get used to. The Oberon clutch slave cylinder piston is 38 mm diameter compared to 35.8 mm for the standard Honda unit.
The slave cylinder comes with instructions, copper washers and gasket. Fitting was easy and straight forward. I bought the silver version but the unit is also available in black, blue, gold, orange, titanium and red if you fancy blinging it up. Its worth mentioning that Oberon clutch slave cylinders come with a lifetime (return to base) warranty.