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Honda VFR400F

Price new – £1895

The World’s first production water-cooled V4, boasted Honda when the shaft-drive VF750S was unveiled in 1982. Great, but somehow forgotten to finish designing the engine. It was a disaster, a warranty claim on wheels. After a year a hasty rethink produced the much-improved VF750F, along with the smaller VF400F.

Apart from the fact that Honda’s reputation was in tatters, the 400 had several sales obstacles to overcome. Above all, it cost £1895, £50 more than a fast, reliable Kawasaki GPz550, and, crucially, £200 more than the brilliant new Yamaha 350 Power Valve.

The VFR400F actually handled and went very well but it was no surprise that it didn’t sell in an already shrinking UK market. Neither did the later VF500F, which, despite appearances, was a completely different machine.

Meanwhile, the Japanese were buying sports 400S by the thousand, thanks to stringent license restrictions for bigger bikes.

While the British model came with onboard disc brakes and a nosecone fairing, by 1984 the Japanese home market Integra came with normal brakes and a full fairing.

RWHS’s VF400F is one of these, imported in 1991 when the grey market was getting into swing. Apart from the obvious, a kph speedo is the main difference from a UK bike, and most spares will be as easy, or hard, to find.