Built for a blast


by classic-bike |
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Reassembled from boxes of bits, this 1985 Honda VF1000R was rebuilt to be enjoyed – and ridden hard

Scrapes on the bellypan attest to the fact that this classic ’80s superbike has been used for the purpose of serious fun since its rescue from a dismembered state.

The trouble with old bikes,” Leo Tandoh tells me, as we sup coffee in the bright April sunshine, “is that far too many of them don’t get used. They need to be ridden, not parked up or treated like trinkets.” Couldn’t have put it better ourselves. Leo’s 1985 Honda VF1000R is proof. Only days before we rock up to see him, Leo was on a trackday at Castle Combe, grinding his V4’s footpegs to dust – a sight even the late Soichiro Honda wouldn’t have been able to behold without raising a wry smile, we’re sure.

Back in the mid-1980s, the VF1000R was Honda’s range-topping sports bike – a nod to the firm’s ferociously powerful, tyre-shredding RS1000RW TT-F1 racer. Like the RS, the VF-R was a technical tour de force, boasting a box-section perimeter chassis, an intricately-braced aluminium swingarm, the latest air-assisted anti-dive front end, NS500-style ComStar wheels, and a 16-valve dohc 90° V4 engine featuring gear-driven cams. Claimed power was an eyebrow-raising (for the time) 120bhp.

But when Leo first clocked eyes on his VF, thoughts of glamour and exotic engineering were in short supply. “My father-in-law, Cary, bought it off a guy he knows in the CBX1000 club – big sixes are the focus of our business, The Super Sport Shed,” he explains.

“The seller had bought it as a project, but the restoration stalled after he lost his storage facility during lockdown, so what we ended up with was a chassis housing the bottom end of the engine and several boxes full of bits. That was 2020. By the start of 2022, Cary was sick of it taking up space in the shed, so he said: ‘Right, it’s about time we did something with that – you can put it back together’.”

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