I know. This is of no interest to anyone but me. I’ve given up imagining anyone but me reads this, so that’s alright, then.
It’s been a rollercoaster ride.
I was trying to be sensible and sell the two bikes to pay for that gorgeous, fully sorted one. But I kept looking at it, then looking at every other VFR750 up for sale, then back at it. None of the others were sorted. Some were tidy, some were low miles, but I would have still had to splash out on fork springs (£118), rear shock (£300), on some of them the stainless steel exhaust system (£300) etc…
I drove Wendy nuts with my obsessing. She told me to get the bike just to shut me up. Win!
I texted the guy, but it was an 18 day old advert. No reply. I was despairing thinking he’s sold it. Tried an email, some people don’t like texts. He replied, still had it! Joy unbounded!
I arranged to go and see it, arse-end of beyond. Got the cash out, bought the train ticket, (£47, nearly 5 hours trip) arranged the insurance, went to bed all full of new bike joy. Woke up to “DO NOT TRAVEL, BIKE SOLD!”
Devastated beyond words.
My perfect bike, sat there unwanted for 19 days, I was on my way to make sure it was as described then hand over the cash, and some bastard snapped it up.
I lost £20 cancelling my insurance, and the £47 for the train ticket because I’d booked it in advance. But that was just salt in the wound. So gutted.
So, as ever, I changed my plan.
I thought, “Bugger it. There is nothing wrong with my bike. It’s a bit scruffy but the engine is solid as rock, I’ll just sort that out on the cheap.”
I window shopped all the prices, it came to over £600 in bits, some of which were hard to fit, the mechanics charge £63 per hour labour, so over a grand. And I’d still have a scruffy bike. I was up for it. But Wendy who is, as I say, (justifiably) heartsick of me fucking about about with bikes, said “Why not just bite the bullet and buy the new (2014, £6,500) one? You won’t have to do anything to it. For ever.”
I was sorely tempted. I want, I want. But it’s so much money.
I spent hours googling. It turns out the reason the VFR750 is a legend of reliability and bulletproof engine over-engineering is the gear driven cams. There is no cam chain to slap, stretch or snap. But cam chains are much cheaper and easier to manufacture. So after a decade or so of utterly redeeming themselves Honda went back to cam chains in 2002. Cue cam chain issues. It’s Honda, so I expect they quickly got it right, but it was the cam chain model that nearly ruined their reputation, and after they stopped the gear driven cams they had to do a model recall for the cam chain.
The consensus is, the last generation before cam chains, the ‘98-‘01 model VFR800, is the pinnacle of human achievement. Amongst VFR owners at least.
So then it was back to the grind, googling.
I was applying the same criteria. Tidy, low mileage, sorted rear shock, exhaust, screen, etc.
I came up with this:
A 1999 VFR800i. Fuel injection, gear driven cams, immaculate, genuine and provable (by all MOT’s) 17,000 miles, rear shock upgrade, hugger (a sort of mudguard tight over the back wheel. Stops crap flying up and rotting your shock) upgraded ECU so more power, race can and original end can, and RED!
Red ones are faster.
The only down side is it doesn’t have a full stainless steel exhaust system. But if it’s only got 17K miles after 18 years on the road, I’m guessing it’s not seen much rain. Or winter salt.
I was so chuffed. I rang the guy and we talked about it. He confirmed all of the above. I watched a video of a guy doing a 111, 000 mile review on his 2002 (cam chain! Boo-hiss!) model. He said with slightly raised handlebars and a bit wider seat he’d done loads of endurance events. 1000 mile ride, 24 hours marathon, etc. He’d had two electrical problems since new, but apart from that, he said change the oil every 5,000 miles, the chain and sprocket set every 20,000- 25,000 miles, and (over those kind of miles) flush the brakes, radiator, etc periodically. But he said that was it. Just get on and ride for ever.
So I text the guy for written confirmation of miles, MOT proof, etc. It’s not like I can just nip around and view the bike, it’s in Littlehampton, which is basically as far as you can go down South without getting your feet wet.
OK, “buy now”.
Text him again, saying “OK, I’ve committed when can I come down?”
He text me back an hour later saying someone has made an offer an is coming to view it on Thursday. NO! This can’t be happening again.
I said I’d clicked “buy it now”, 50 minutes ago.
He is an eBay noob, apparently. Away from his PC and unaware of the sale. Who doesn’t have eBay on their ‘phone? Or at least email to get your eBay notifications?
Anyway, he said, somewhat reluctantly I felt, that I had won. The bike is mine and he is in for an awkward ‘phone call today. Tough.
Now I’m waiting for him to tell me when I can pick it up.
That’s me sorted.
Ultra reliable, tiny mileage, smart as a carrot bike, runs forever.
The CB750 has already been bid up from £100 to £310 with 2 days to go. When we get back from our hols I’ll list the VFR750, and that’s that.
A bike that runs for ever, eats miles, has a good tank range, relatively comfortable, (can easily be made very comfy) will plod about, stable and predictable, but will shoot off like a scalded cat if asked. Perfect.
I’m happy. Wendy will be ecstatic. Life is good.
PS I went and got the bike yesterday. Right on the goddamn channel coast. £108 train ticket. Transfer by tube in London. All in all, less than ideal. I had seen one for £800 less, that was in Oldham. I showed it to Wendy, to be fair. It was tidy, same age, none of the desirable upgrades mine has. And it was bright yellow. I had to show Wendy as I was wanting to spend £800 more just for what it looks like. Wendy hated it thankfully. I’ve spent a bit more, travelled the length of the country, paid £108 for a train ticket, but it’s a bike I want. If I’d have bought the yellow one, every morning I would be getting on it knowing I’d settled, and I would have resented it.
So I kept a chipper disposition through the hardship and expense yesterday knowing this was exactly the bike I wanted.
It has every MOT since new, the miles are a genuine 17,000. The original owner was a minted perfectionist. He imported the endcan from Australia,and it is actually useable. Nice sound, not deafening. Then spent £700 getting the rear shock upgraded and the forks fettled. I wish I’d have got the bike off him. The guy I bought it off, the second owner, Huw, clearly had no idea. The rear brake is wooden. You can stand on it and it won’t lock up. The front tyre had plenty of tread left on it, but the MOT advisory said it was perished. A tyre that had rotted from old age before it had got worn out! Unbelievable. The tyre still looked OK to me, but you don’t want to be doing 140 (not that I ever would, m’lud) and be proved wrong. For the sake of peace of mind I got a new tyre today.
As Huw had let the tyre rot and the back brake go to shit I’ve put it in for a full-on service, (and change the front brake pads, –worn, on the advisory- and bleed the brakes) so I know I’m starting from a totally sorted platform.
I asked them to check and adjust the valve clearances. It’s 17,000 miles, supposed to be checked at 16,000. He said it was a 2 day, big job, and these bike don’t need one before 25,000 anyway. He’ll have a listen when servicing it to make sure there’s nothing amiss.
Then that’s it. I just have to ride and enjoy it.
The CB750 that I was going sort the back brake, MOT and sell for £850, I put up spares/ repair for £100. It’s already had 31 bids and is currently standing at £510 with a day to go!
Then sell the VFR750 when we get back from holidays and all is well.
Just look at the engine for an 18 year old bike.
And the view from the cockpit