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March 24th, 2017

There are few motorcycles that can embody the character of the Honda 400s from the 90s. They were the perfect machines, for beginners as well as for experienced riders who wanted adequate, yet usable power. They came at a time when Honda’s drive to make well-engineered motorcycles was at its peak. Gear driven cams, single sided swingarms and glorious engines, specially the V4 that would surround the rider in a theatre of sound as the engine revolution climbs up to peak out at 14,000rpm.

It was quite a similar story for Rhory, when he decided that he needed to upgrade to something sportier than the Honda DT125 back in the day. Since most of his friends were learning the art of motorcycles on 400cc machines, Rhory thought it would be apt to join them with a similarly spec’ed motorcycle.

Rhory acquired a Honda VFR 400R in 2003. The motorcycle was a 1991 VFR400R3 L “NC30” that came painted in a special Castrol livery, something the machine still wears to this day 14-years on. The Honda VFR400’s were not just the perfect small machines to perfect one’s riding skill on, but they had one of the most sorted chassis that compensated for the lack of stiffness in the motorcycle’s suspensions. The machine was perfect for getting up to pace while going about quickly; a fantastic engine that howled as you twist the wrist, deceptively quick, yet comfortingly forgiving.

The Honda VFR 400R makes for a perfect Honda motorcycle to take for a track day. The 60bhp of power was easy to manage, yet potent enough to give litre bikes a run for their money around corners and narrow B Roads. While we all enjoy track days on a machine thats quick enough to have fun, there is nothing that beats the ecstatic feeling of having your wife join in with a striking machine of her own. In Rhory’s case, his wife would soon join him with a Honda RVF400R, while his father-in-law chose to continue with the bigger boys aboard a Honda CBR929 Fireblade.

“The sound, the hollow drone from the V4 motor is something else, every time I ride the VFR400R I feel like I’m doing a lap of the isle of man TT, up and down the gear box and spinning the motor up to 14,000 rpm. Really makes you feel special.”

While the faithful old NC30 Castrol Honda VFR 400R was doing perfectly fine on track and around the twisty B roads, Rhory thought it would be a better if he had a dedicated machine for the track. By this time, he know his way around the Honda 400s, and in no time a new-to-him 1990 Honda VFR400R was added to the garage. The VFR wasn’t in the best shape though with random bolts holding things together and parts from other bikes used to keep things working. With the amount of knowhow Rhory had gained about VFR400s, it wouldn’t be tough for him to source everything to make the motorcycle proper again.

As Rhory went about fixing the grey/black 1990 NC30 VFR400R, there were quite a few spares left over. Along with an another set of VFR parts that were left behind while upgrading the original Castrol VFR400R, Rhory figured that he have enough to put together a third Honda VFR400R.

Honda VFR400R Endurance Racing Special Top View

By now it was looking like fitting everything into the garage would be a bit of a squeeze, but then, there were more machines that would join.

Five years after Rhory’s first Honda 400 things had started to slow down. He found himself less around track days and more at home next to his newly started family. Having three VFR400Rs, parked in the garage wasn’t making much sense at this point. Coincidentally, a member of 400greybike approached Rhory if he was interested in an exchange. It entailed swapping Rhory’s grey/black VFR400R with a track-prepped 1994 NC29 Honda CBR400RR. Everything went as expected, and the garage had now started shaping up as collection of Honda’s greatest 400cc hits – two Honda VFR 400Rs, One CBR400RR and a RVF400R. The only thing missing was a street focussed machine.

“Then their is the history of the 400’s, having spent years looking for parts and talking to owners I found out there used to be a race series in japan where the bikes competed in 4hr endurance races. Now it all starts to make sense as to why then have such high standards of build quality and engineering!”

Shortly after the CBR400RR was acquired, another friend of Rhory’s had some VFR400R bits for sale. Having no shortage of VFR400R parts with him already, Rhory bought off all the parts that were available and casually (by now a veteran in VFR400Rs) assembled himself yet another 1989 specification “NC30” VFR400R, this time in red and black.

If you are someone who knows and loves the 90s Honda’s 400s, then there is no way that you can ignore the charm of the Naked motorcycle in the range. Rhory, well aware of this, was waiting for a good opportunity to come by. Being someone with such deep connections with Honda 400s it wasn’t long before Rhory found himself a nicely maintained CB400SF. It was the perfect motorcycle to casually potter around town, specially with its low-milage smooth VTEC engine.

The perfect Honda 400 garage was now complete with three- VFR400Rs, one- CBR400RR, a CB400SF and a RVF400R.

Honda 400c Garage. CB400 CBR400RR VFR400R RVF400R

Rhory says that his bikes are seldom used thus don’t need much maintaining. He believes in the ‘if it needs it then it gets it’ policy. Since there is no rush for using them, they get worked on casually one after the other over a period of weeks.

Honda 400c Garage. CB400 CBR400RR VFR400R RVF400R 2

Rhory stands proud next to his beautifully curated machine collection

Since the Honda VFR 400s were available in UK for a very short period, specially the NC30s (mostly available as grey imports), Rhory sources most of his parts directly from Japan with the help of all the Honda part manuals and HRC manuals.

After his Honda VFR 400 collection is complete, he came across his friend’s Kawasaki ZXR400R which he liked quite a lot as his next project bike. In the meanwhile Rhory is also thinking of acquiring an early Honda CB400SF that he can make into a NK4 class racing replica where the bikes ran on larger radiators, FCR Carbs, braced and reinforced swing arms.


1991 “Castrol” Honda VFR400R NC30

Honda VFR400R NC30 endurance Racer

When the bike arrived, it was a standard road bike with a Castrol paint job already done to it. Since Rhory had just learned about the VFR400s taking part in 4hr endurance races in Japan, he thought it would be a great idea to build an endurance bike for the road.

First to go on the Honda VFR400R was a single headlight as no endurance motorcycle is complete without one. An American acquaintance working in japan helped Rhory source a silhouette nose cone and the high level titanium TSR system. Rhory then went ahead to change standard plastic parts with carbon fibre ones as it helped carry the factory race bike look.

Once it had the solo seat, rear sets, steering damper etc and was looking like a race bike it needed to handle like one. New suspension was needed. One thing that bothered Rhory was that once all the panels all came off, it still looked like a road bike. A 400Greybike member called Rick Oliver sold various road and race parts that Rhory started gathering. Such as the alloy meter stay, mirror stay and the solo sub frame.

While Rhory went on to research more about the 4hr endurance racers, he came across the HRC manual which had complete instruction on how to convert a road bike to a race bike, including the list of parts that were needed for the conversion. Although, none of these parts could be bought anymore and had to be sourced from the used market or from other retired racing replicas. It was a slow, patient process of acquiring one part after the other which took Rhory a couple of years. Now, the 1991 “Castrol” Honda VFR400R NC30 is almost fully built according to the specifications of the HRC manual.

1991 Castrol Honda VFR400R Specs


1991 VFR400R3 L “NC30”
Engine

399cc 90degree V4 16v
TKR composites carbon fibre rep HRC air tray
Modified HRC Spec carbs
NC24 Carb slides
NC24 needles
Twin high level TSR cans with carbon fibre sleeves and Tyga can straps
Stainless steel/titanium exhaust pipes
Open air box 
Performance engineering flywheel
Firestorm clutch master cylinder
Custom braided clutch line
Modified NC24 sprocket cover
Modified VFR750 clutch push rod
HRC over flow bottle
Uprated fuel pipe
Uprated vacuum hose
Yellow tank breather hose
Uprated battery
TKR composites carbon fibre/kevlar engine armour
JT 15t sprocket / JT 14T sprocket


Frame
Aluminium twin spar
Carbontek rear sets
DHM carbon fibre heelplates
Carbon fibre frame protectors
Alloy risers
Rick Oliver gear change rod
NHK steering dampener
Rick Oliver alloy screen brace
Rick Oliver alloy steering head plug
Tyga-performance alloy meter stay
Alloy swing arm spacer
Rick Oliver RVF alloy sub frame
Alloy engine spacers
Alloy fairing spacers


Front end
Rick Oliver alloy clip-on bars
Goodridge braided hoses
Forks reworked by PLR with
Ohlins revalving
Ohlins fork springs
Standard master cylinder
Rebuilt brake calipers
Carbon Lorraine pads
EBC prolite discs
HRC reservoir band
Preload adjusters
Fibrelite carbon fibre yoke protector
Stainless steel bolts
Alloy capitive wheel spacers
Bridgestone 090 120/60/17


Rear end
Rick Oliver alloy rear wheel spacer
Goodridge braided hose
HRC rear brake reservoir
EBC rear pads on new O.E. disc
Hyper-pro “race” shock
RVF ‘dog bones’
Alloy ‘sharks fin’
Carbon fibre swingarm protector
JT 40t sprocket / Talon hard anodized 43T sprocket
Stainless steel bolts
Alloy R clip
Bridgestone 090 160/60/17


Bodywork
ART carbon fibre front hugger
Skidmarks carbon fibre rear hugger
Carbon fibre tank portector
MC28 white indicator housings
Posh-Firm clear indicator lens
BEET smoked rear lens cover
NC35 solo seat unit
NC35 seat pad
NC35 rear light unit
Silhouette Japan “endurance” nose cone
Tyga-performance racing double bubble clear screen
Carbon-factory carbon fibre fairing infil panels
Modified NC30 undertray
Harris quick release filler cap
Stainless bolts and d-zus clips


Wheels
Front 3.5/17 black
Rear 4.5/17 black
Electrics:
Pressure banjo bolt
Rick Oliver earthing lead kit
180KPH derestrictor mod
Redail MPH speedo face
Single headlight conversion
Silver indicator bulbs that flash Orange 
5mm Wegde L.E.D. sidelight


Paint
One off Castrol “8hr endurance” paint job


1990 Grey/black VFR400R Specifications

1990 VFR400R3 L “NC30”


Engine
399cc 90degree V4 16v
RVF400R carbs
Yamamoto single can system modified with twin link pipes and carbon fibre cans by Dyno-pro racing
Stainless steel exhaust pipes
Standard filter
Modified air box
Uprated fuel pipe
Uprated vaccuum hose
Uprated battery
JT 15t sprocket / JT 14T sprocket
CBR900 oil/water cooler with Rick Oliver modified pump cover


Frame
Aluminium twin spar
Frame and swingarm powder coated black
Black Alloy multi adjustable rear sets
Rick Oliver alloy screen brace
Tyga-performance alloy meter stay
Rick Oliver NC30 alloy sub frame
Alloy fairing spacers


Front end
Rick Oliver alloy clip-on bars
Goodridge braided hoses
Forks reworked with Rick Oliver spring and spacers kit
Preload adjusters
Stainless steel bolts
Alloy capitive wheel spacers


Rear end
Goodridge braided hose
HRC rear brake reservoir
Hyper-pro “race” shock
RVF ‘dog bones’
JT 40t sprocket / Talon hard anodized 43T sprocket
Stainless steal bolts


Bodywork
Tyga RC211V front hugger
Fibreglass NWS rear hugger
HRC tank portector
Clear indicator lens
Tyga RC45 look-like solo seat unit
Tyga-performance racing double bubble clear screen
Modified NC30 undertray
R&G mushrooms
Stainless bolts and d-zus clips


Wheels
Enkei front 3.5/17 black
Enkei back 4.5/18 black
Delkevic rear 4.5/17 black


Electrics
Pressure banjo bolt
Rick Oliver earthing lead kit
180KPH derestrictor mod
Redail MPH speedo face
Silver indicator bulb at flash orange
5mm Wegde L.E.D. sidelight


Paint
decals by theimageworks
Paint by Nicebike


1994 CBR400RR specifications

1994 CBR400RR “NC29”

Engine
399cc IL4 16v
rebuild motor from graeme France 
motor painted silver with grantite side casings and allen head bolts
graeme france race road system with ART can
K&N air filter
dyno jet kit
set up on a dyno with 65bhp
JT 15t sprocket


Frame
Aluminium twin spar
powdercoated satin black
All brackets painted gloss black
Front end:
Goodridge braided hoses
powdercoated satin fork legs


Rear end
Goodridge braided hose’
CBR600 shock
powdercoated swingarm
swingarm bobbins
JT 40t sprocket 


Bodywork
all standard bodywork
matt black air tubes
Aftermarket clear screen
Stainless bolts and d-zus clips


Wheels
Enkei front 3.5/17 black
Enkei back 4.5/17 black


Electrics
coils moved to meterstay as the bike had ramair at one stage
MPH speedo face
5mm Wegde L.E.D. sidelight


Paint
metallic black with pearl lacquer
hugger painted metallic black with pearl lacquer
matt black air tubes
matt black headlight surround


 1989 Red/black VFR400R specifications


1989 VFR400R3 K “NC30”


Engine
399cc 90degree V4 16v
Standard carbs
Standard system/ART can
Standard filter
Modified air box
Uprated fuel pipe
Uprated vaccuum hose
Uprated battery
JT 15t sprocket 


Frame
Aluminium twin spar
All brackets painted gloss black


Front end
Goodridge braided hoses
Early spec forks rebuilt by Graeme France with powder coated satin black lowers
Rick Oliver fork springs


Rear end
Goodridge braided hose’
JT 40t sprocket 


Bodywork
Tyga RC211V front hugger
Aftermarket clear screen
Pyamid plastic solo seat cover
Modified NC30 undertray
Stainless bolts and d-zus clips


Wheels
Enkei front 3.5/17 red
Enkei back 4.5/18 red


Electrics
Pressure banjo bolt
Rick Oliver earthing lead kit
180KPH derestrictor mod
MPH speedo face
5mm Wegde L.E.D. sidelight


Paint
Standard paint 
Tyga guard painted with tins

Honda CB400SF

Fairly standard with YSS Shocks, braided lines and a custom end can

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