How Long Do Honda VFR 800s Last?

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Key Takeaways

  • The history of the eighth-generation VFR800 is a story of improvement for longevity.
  • The VFR800 is durable because of its liquid-cooled, 90-degree, VTEC engine.
  • The VFR800 has an increased lifespan when maintained properly, ridden carefully, and stored well.

The eighth-generation cult classic VFR800 by Honda is an absolutely beautiful motorcycle that was built for power, handling, and durability.

The VFR800 will last about 30 years and last between 150,000 to 175,000 miles depending on the maintenance, driving style, and storage of this uniquely designed V-4 machine produced between 1998 and 2013 winning “Motorcycle of the Year '' by Rider and Motorcyclist magazines.

To know how far this bike can go you need to know how far it's come. Studying the history of the Honda VFR800 from reputable review sites, spec sites, forums, and friends that have owned this bike, I have gained insight as to what makes it so durable. Some owners suggest there is no limit to how many miles you can squeeze out of this machine. My years of expertise in taking apart engines also give me an insider understanding that this is an engine that will run for ages.

In this article...


The History of the VFR800

The Honda VFR800, a.k.a. Interceptor, is a sport tourer manufactured between 1998 and 2013 which was the successor to the VFR750F sharing the same engine configuration as the earlier generations of the Honda VF and Honda VFR motorcycles.

Honda chose to upgrade the power and durability of the VFR800 going from a 748cc V4 to a 782cc V4 engine with a better compression ratio; it has a twin-spar aluminum frame, while the VFR750 has a perimeter aluminum rear subframe; it has an adjustable rear shock, while the VFR750 does not, and it has a more modern, angular styling compared to the VFR750's more rounded, classic look.

The VFR800 morphed from a VFR750 carburetor to a closed-loop fuel injection design from the 1994 RC45, and unlike other bikes and earlier models, the new gear-driven cams were moved to the engine’s right side instead of the center, and it had two radiators mounted on each side instead of the front of the engine like the VFR750. The torque curve and compression ratio were improved throughout the rev range and the new VFR800 was born.

The last iteration was the eighth and final generation which debuted in 2013 and came in 22 lbs lighter. The deluxe version of this new bike was a great bike and featured a two-stage traction control in both the rear and front brake, a new instrument panel with oil pressure gauges, upgraded fuel mapping, fuel gauge, fuel pump, gear indicator, and upgraded gear-driven cams.

It also included an adjustable fork preload with new fork seals, and the stock seat riding position was an upright riding position perfect for taller riders. It had linked brakes, upgraded brake pads with optional ABS, and even had heated grips on the handlebar risers and self-canceling turn signals.

From the linked brakes to the revised exhaust tuning, this sport-touring bike was the only bike to really compete with the Harley-Davidson Sportster 1200 and the Harley-Davidson Dyna Super Glide Sport. Before Honda dropped this model, many VFR owners had a friendly rivalry with Harley owners.

The Honda VFR800’s Durable V-4 Engine

Heat is the enemy of durability, and the liquid-cooled V-4 is perfect in hot weather and stop-and-go traffic and increases the longevity and high mileage of the VFR800. Because of the 90-degree angle, the engine provides a balanced but powerful efficiency that creates an incredible torque curve and a longer-lasting motor.

One of the most important factors of this engine’s durability that separates it from other bikes is the VTEC (Variable Valve Timing and Lift Electronic Control) technology developed by Honda for the VFR800. This sport touring bike was the first motorcycle by Honda designed to provide improved performance and fuel efficiency by varying the valve timing and lift depending on the engine's speed and load.

The VTEC valve actuation operates by using two variable speed camshaft profiles. At low speeds, the engine uses a mild cam profile that provides good fuel efficiency and low-end torque. However, when the engine reaches a certain speed, a solenoid valve is activated, which switches to a more aggressive cam profile that provides improved high-end performance.

The use of VTEC valve actuation in the VFR800 oxygenates the engine with starter valves allowing it to breathe more efficiently further extending the lifespan and longevity of the engine.

The Honda VFR800’s Lifespan Improved

Maintenance of the Sport-touring VFR800

Proper maintenance is crucial for ensuring the longest life of the engine in a Honda VFR800 so it rides like a new bike. What is considered high mileage for the VFR800? It all comes down to how well you take care of the engine. If performed regularly, you will get thousands of more miles from this efficient, powerful motor.

  • Change the oil and oil filter regularly to reduce wear on the components (mineral-based oil: 2,000 miles / semi-synthetic oil: 5,000 miles / fully-synthetic oil: 7,000 miles.)
  • Air filters should be cleaned or replaced every 10,000 miles to ensure that the engine is receiving clean air for proper combustion.
  • Valve clearance should be adjusted every 3,000 miles or if you hear tapping from the engine to ensure that the valves are opening and closing properly and efficiently.
  • Spark plugs should be replaced every 15,000 miles to ensure proper ignition and to prevent misfires.
  • The gear-driven drive chain should be checked every 500 miles for wear and tension, and lubricated as needed to prevent premature wear and reduce stress on the engine.
  • The cooling system should be checked yearly for leaks and the coolant should be replaced to prevent overheating and damage to the engine.
  • Regular inspection by qualified mechanics of the clutch, brakes, and transmission can help to identify potential issues before they become major problems.

Riding Style of the Sport-touring VFR800

Even the most durable, bullet-proof bike can be ridden to an early grave by mis-clutching, high-revving, dirt-and-rain riding, and blasting past traffic at every light. The four riding styles have costly consequences and longevity implications depending on your lifestyle choices.

  • Sport-touring on the VR800 involves long-distance rides at higher speeds. This is my personal riding style and can put some additional wear and tear on the engine, particularly if the bike is ridden hard for extended periods. However, as long as the bike is maintained properly and not abused, it should not significantly impact the engine's longevity.
  • Commuting on the VFR800 is a practical use of the bike but can involve slower speeds and frequent stops, which can be easier on the engine. However, if the bike is not allowed to warm up properly or is frequently subjected to stop-and-go traffic, it can increase wear and tear on the engine over time.
  • Spirited riding is pushing the VFR800 to the limit and is the most stressful to the engine and can lead to premature wear and tear on these parts. Like most sport bikes, it will lower the life expectancy; however, in my opinion, it’s totally worth it.
  • Track riding on the VFR800 is not typical like most sport bikes, but with some upgrades and modifications racing on a closed circuit race track is intense and the dopamine rush can be worth the reduction in the engine’s lifespan.

Storage of the Sport-touring VFR800

Before storing the bike, give it a thorough cleaning to remove any dirt, grime, or debris that may have accumulated to prevent corrosion. Change the oil and filter and check tire pressure, and then remove the battery unless storing it short term.

If storing for a more extended period, it's important to prepare the fuel system to prevent the fuel from going bad and clogging the system. This can be done by adding a fuel stabilizer to the tank and running the engine for a few minutes to circulate the treated fuel through the system.

Where you store the motorcycle is paramount to extending the life of your VFR800. Ideally, you want to store it in a garage as it provides the most protection from the elements, including sun, rain, and snow. A garage also helps to prevent theft and allows for easy access to the bike when needed.

However, if a garage or shed isn’t available a storage unit offers similar benefits including protection from the elements and theft prevention. However, storage unit rentals can also be expensive, and may not be easily accessible depending on the location.

If no indoor storage options are available, outdoor storage can still be a good option if you cover your VFR800 with a vented cover to protect it from condensation and corrosion. Remember to secure it with a lock or other anti-theft device and store it in a well-lit place.