The VF500F (badged as ‘Interceptor’ for the American market) was part of Honda’s family of first-generation V4 engine motorcycles (VF400F, VF500F, VF700F, VF750F, VF1000F) and sold from 1984 through to ’88 – the full fairing V500FII was a European (and clearly SA) market option. The formula was simple, with a 498cc engine slotted into a square-tube steel frame and conventional front forks, and a rear mono-spring/damper (both adjustable in stiffness with air pressure) kept the rubber on the tarmac. To save weight an aluminium swingarm held the 18-inch rear rim, but the front was dropped to 16-inch to reduce the rotational inertia and make steering a breeze. And it worked a treat, with the V500 widely regarded as one of the finest handling bikes of the ʼ80s.
Added to this nimbleness, the over-square water-cooled V4, which featured four valves per cylinder, mixed fuel and air via a quartet of 32mm Keihin carburettors and was good for 70 horses, 43Nm of torque and a 12 000rpm redline – 1500rpm more than the Yamaha FJ600, which had up until then been the rev-leader in the class. If kept above 8000rpm the acceleration impressed, running a ¼-mile in 12.66 seconds and up to a max of around 196km/h – a higher top number than the Yamaha FJ600 and GPZ550.