Honda's VFR400 is legendary, and the best of the series, the NC30, is the weapon of choice for novice and expert alike. Patrick van Sleight gives some tips for servicing and tuning this popular model.

Honda's VFR400 is legendary, and the best of the series, the NC30, is the weapon of choice for novice and expert alike. Patrick van Sleight gives some tips for servicing and tuning this popular model.

Any four-stroke racing class below 600 cm3 is usually dominated by VFR400s. The only other 400 cm3 bikes able to compete in terms of quality, value and performance come from Honda's own stable; the NC35 and NC29. But, despite its higher price, the NC35 is not that much better, while the NC29 does not have the same quality feel to it.

The popular NC30 is ideal though since its service manuals are available and most workshops have experience working on them.

Being a superbike, the cost of maintenance items can be quite pricey. It is then best to buy these items yourself and supply them to your mechanic or workshop to avoid any additional mark-ups.

The cost of labour is high, too, mainly because it takes so long to work on a NC30. The bike's compact dimensions make accessing parts that need replacing a nightmare. Valves are shim-adjusted, which is fiddly and time-consuming, and clearances should be checked at every 24 000 km. The oil needs to be replaced every 4 000 km, while the oil filter should be replaced with every alternate oil change.

The eight-millimetre spark plugs are famously hard to reach, while being rare and expensive as well. Fortunately, these need only be changed every 10 000 km. You will need a special long-reach spanner for the job.

Carburettors should be synchronized and balanced every 8 000km, and the air-filter should be replaced every 18 000 km. A K&N item can be fitted, too, as it provides better airflow and seldom needs to be replaced.

As far as modifications go, replacing the 35 W headlight bulb with a 55 W is a good idea as many find the original light too dim on a moonless night.

The best place to start on the serious work would be the regulator/rectifier - it is known to fail or run too hot, and when this happens, it cooks the battery and burns the alternator. Improved aftermarket rectifiers are available, though fitting a CPU fan or heat-sink to the original device would suffice as a cheaper option.

Next is the suspension, which with most grey imports, is slightly bouncy. The standard rear shock is very soft, so you may want a firmer shock for better handling. The steering can be sharpened with a taller shock, or by lengthening the standard shock and raising the ride height. This also increases the ground clearance and lean-angle, since the footpegs are quite low.An after-market shock with a remote reservoir is advisable on Honda's pre-1991 VFRs. There is the problem of the exhaust running too close to the shock, causing the oil to become hot and thin, affecting the otherwise good damping. Later VFRs have remote r
Technical Specification

Dimensions

Overall length: 1 985 mm

Overall width: 705 mm

Overall Height: 1 075 mm

Wheelbase: 1 345 mm

Ground Clearance: 125 mm

Seat height: 780 mm