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Honda VF700S Sabre V40: history, specs, pictures

The Honda VF700S is a motorcycle produced by Honda from 1984 to 1985.

Honda VF700S Sabre V40
Also called Sabre
Production 1984-85
Class Power Cruiser
Four stroke, 90°V-four cylinder, DOHC, 4 valve per cylinder
Compression ratio 10.5:1
Top Speed 121 mph
Ignition Transistorized
Spark Plug NGK DPR8EA-9 '84-85
Battery YUASA YB14L-A2 '84-85
Transmission 6 Speed
Final Drive Shaft `84-85[1]
Suspension Front: 37mm Air adjustable forks
Rear: Swinging arm, single shock
Brakes Front: 2x 274mm discs
Rear: Single 160mm disc
Front Tire 110/90-18 '84-85
Rear Tire 130/90-17 '84-85
Seat Height 810 mm / 31.9 in
Weight 235 kg / 518 lbs (wet)
Recommended Oil Honda GN4 10W-40
Fuel Capacity 18.2 Liters / 4.8 US gal
Manuals Service Manual

Brochures ·



The engine was a Liquid cooled cooled Four stroke, 90°V-four cylinder, DOHC, 4 valve per cylinder. The engine featured a 10.5:1 compression ratio.


Power was moderated via the Wet plate.


It came with a 110/90-18 front tire and a 130/90-17 rear tire. Stopping was achieved via 2x 274mm discs in the front and a Single 160mm disc in the rear. The front suspension was a 37mm Air adjustable forks while the rear was equipped with a Swinging arm, single shock. The VF700S Sabre V40 was fitted with a 18.2 Liters / 4.8 US gal fuel tank.


1984 Honda VF700S
1984 Honda V45 Sabre VF700S in Black with Pleiades Silver Metallic and Red
1984 Honda V45 Sabre VF700S in Black with Pleiades Silver Metallic and Red
1984 Honda V45 Sabre VF700S in Black with Pleiades Silver Metallic and Red
1984 Honda V45 Sabre VF700S in Black with Pleiades Silver Metallic and Red
1984 Honda V45 Sabre VF700S in Black with Pleiades Silver Metallic and Red
1984 Honda Sabre VF700S in Black/Silver
1984 Honda Sabre VF700S in Black/Silver
1984 Honda Sabre VF700S in Black/Silver
1984 Honda Sabre VF700S in Black/Silver
1984 Honda Sabre VF700S in Black/Silver
1984 Honda Sabre VF700S in Black/Silver
1984 Honda Sabre VF700S in Black/Silver

The VF700S'84 Sabre was sold in 1984 in one of two color schemes: Black with Maroon or Black with Pleiades Silver Metallic and Red. The black and marron model had silver stripes; but the black and silver bike had red stripes. The "HONDA" and "SABRE" emblems were gold. The engine was a 699cc DOHC 4-valve liquid-cooled V-4 linked to a 6-speed transmission and a shaft drive. The serial number began JH2RC220*EM000007.


1985 Honda VF700S

The VF700S'85 Sabre was sold in 1985 in one of two color schemes: Black with Monte Rosa Silver Metallic and Blue or Black with Monte Rosa Silver Metallic and Red. The color difference is only in the stripes (red or blue). The "HONDA" and "SABRE" emblembs were silver. The serial number began JH2RC220*FM100001

  • Honda VF700S Sabre
  • Years produced (U.S.): 1984-1985
  • Total production: N/A
  • Claimed power: 76hp @ 10,500rpm
  • Top speed: 121mph
  • Engine type: 699cc, liquid-cooled, four-stroke V-four
  • Weight (dry): 224kg (494lb)
  • MPG: 28-48
  • Price then: $3,398 (1985)
  • Price now: $750-$2,000
  • Specifications
    • Engine Type: 699cc liquid-cooled 90° V-4
    • Bore And Stroke: 70mm x 45.4mm
    • Compression Ratio: 10.5:1
    • Valve Train: DOHC, four valves per cylinder
    • Carburetion: Four 32mm diaphragm-type CV
    • Ignition: Solid state
    • Transmission: Five-speed plus overdrive sixth
    • Driveline: Shaft drive
    • Suspension Front: 37mm air-adjustable forks with dual Syntallic™ bushings and TRAC
    • Suspension Rear: Air-adjustable Pro-Link with four-way adjustable rebound damping
    • Brakes Front: Dual disc with twin-piston calipers
    • Brakes Rear: Drum
    • Wheels: Cast alloy
    • Tires Front: 110/90H-18 tubeless
    • Tires Rear: 130/90H-17 tubeless
    • Wheelbase: 61.8 inches
    • Seat Height: 31.1 inches
    • Dry Weight: 493.9 pounds
    • Fuel Capacity: 4.8 gallons, including 1.1 gallon reserve
  • Colors
    • Black/Red
    • Black/Blue


When the Honda Sabre was unveiled just three short years ago, it was a 750cc definition of the word "new." Its engine was a type that hadn't been seen in modern motorcycle history, a 90-degree, liquid-cooled V-Four, with twin cams for each cylinder bank and four valves for each cylinder. Its bodywork was free-flowing Japanese modern, dipped in bright, candy-apple red paint. The Sabre didn't have simple instruments; instead it had a pod that used techy, grid-pattern instrument faces crammed with LCD displays for everything from fuel capacity to a stopwatch. The Sabre was Honda's entry into motorcycling's future, and it drew crowds just sitting in the showroom. But that was three years ago. A 1985 Sabre sitting on a showroom floor, or anywhere else, attracts no crowds, creates little excitement. The motorcycle that was 1982's show-stopper has become perhaps the most conservative bike in Honda's lineup. Some of the change in the way the Sabre is perceived is due to the way the motorcycle market has changed since the bike's introduction. Street-legal road-racers like the Interceptors and the GPzs have pushed the definition of a sportbike far beyond the reach of the Sabre. At the other extreme, factory cruisers have developed a loyal audience that bikes like the Sabre can't touch. And this turn of events has left the Sabre sort of drifting around in the middle. But the fringes didn't just spring up around the Sabre; Honda has helped move the bike toward the center, as well. The video-arcade instrumentation was banished for the 1984 model year, replaced with traditional, round instruments, and LCD displays only for the water temperature and gear-position indicator. Gone were the fuel gauge, the self-canceling turn signals and the stopwatch. A traditional round handlebar also showed up in 1984, replacing cast handlebars that couldn't be changed by the owner. Some of the plastic body parts were replaced with metal ones by the factory, and the paintwork became more subdued. All of this was intended to place the Sabre closer to the motorcycle, mainstream, to make it more like what buyers thought a motorcycle should be and less like what someone at Honda thought it should be. Other changes were made in response to reliability problems or owner complaints. The 1982 Sabre wasn't the best-handling motorcycle around, especially once its tires became somewhat worn. Honda responded in 1983 with a new frame and different steering geometry. At the same time, the twin airbox extensions mounted alongside the engine were consolidated into one large airbox above the engine. That, along with new carburetor jetting, cured a midrange flat spot. And because early Sabre suspension was particularly harsh over smallish, sharp bumps (freeway expansion joints, for example), improving ride quality was another goal. The cure involved the fitting of slightly stiffer springs. How, you might ask, did stiffer springs improve ride quality? Well, first-year Sabres relied on a combination of coil and air springing, the air offering easy adjustability of overall spring rate. Unfortunately, the air also increased seal friction and thereby reduced suspension compliance. So, with stiffer coil springs, the Sabre could use less air pressure under most conditions, and the suspension could be more responsive.

Most other Sabre updates are invisible, the kinds of small fixes that make well-developed models more reliable than brand-new designs. New mufflers appeared in 1983 that were less likely than earlier ones to have their baffles rust and fall out. The cams received a new hardfacing in 1984 to improve durability; and needle bearings replace bushings in the shock linkage in 1985 models for the same reason. Of course, the biggest change to the Sabre over the last three years came in 1984, and it had nothing to do with customer wishes or reliability. The 748cc version of the Sabre was replaced by the 699cc version, a move made to avoid the over-700cc tariff that went into effect in April of that year. Shrinking the displacement was simple enough, requiring only a destroked crankshaft, along with longer rods and pistons with slightly higher domes. No changes were made to the engine block, but camshafts with less duration were used to recapture some of the low-end and midrange power lost by the displacement reduction. Peak horsepower suffered through this detuning, dropping from 82 bhp at 9500 rpm for the 750 to 76 at 10,000 for the 700. That may help explain why the 700's engine performance doesn't seem particularly impressive, although 76 horsepower is nothing to scoff at. The V-Four is rubber-mounted, unlike an Interceptor's engine, and is extremely smooth, about as free of perceived vibration as a motorcycle engine can be. And the Sabre always starts easily and carburates cleanly. But it just doesn't feel particularly willing or powerful. The exhaust note is uninspiringly flat, and the power curve is so smooth that nothing spectacular ever seems to happen. Peg the throttle open with the engine turning 5000 rpm, and the bike gathers speed rather than lunging forward. It gathers its speed quickly, mind you, so much of the non-willing feel is due to the rider's perception of performance rather than to any actual lack of performance. The 750 Sabre was deceiving in that same way, and the 700, due to its lesser displacement, is even more so. Handling is similarly deceptive. The Sabre can be made to go fast down a twisty road, but it never feels as though it encourages such behavior. The motorcycle is long, and its steering geometry indicates stability rather than light steering. But the steering is, in fact, fairly light and, at a moderate pace, perfectly acceptable. Go faster, though, and the steering will also feel tentative, as though the front wheel isn't completely sure of what line to follow. When the Sabre is cornered smoothly, this imprecision serves mostly to keep the rider from feeling completely confident. But if the rider delivers a jerky input into the steering anywhere in a turn, the Sabre will punish his indiscretion with a low-frequency wobble, at least when the suspension is at the soft end of its adjustment range. Using the proper suspension settings helps steady the Sabre's handling. With the air pressure in the rear shock up to 30 psi, the rear rebound damping on No. 3 and 5 psi of air in the fork, the Sabre is a lot more forgiving of a less-than-smooth pilot. Ground clearance is much improved with the stiffer settings, too, with nothing more than footpegs dragging when the Sabre is cornered hard. Actually, the tires might impose the greatest limit on cornering speeds, for they're biased more toward long life than traction, and the rear tire often slips noticeably when exiting corners. Those increased suspension pressures only marginally impair ride quality. The ride is a little firmer over small bumps, but that's partially offset by the fact that the rear suspension no longer bottoms over large dips in the road. But while Honda has succeeded in improving the 700's ride, no one will be likely to mistake the Sabre's handling for an Interceptor's, and no amount of suspension tuning will change that. Then again, no one will ever mistake the Sabre's seating postion for an Interceptor's, either. The Sabre is a throwback to the days of standard motorcycles, bikes that were neither choppers nor roadracers. The Sabre rider sits just short of bolt-upright, feet slightly forward, arms extended, hands high. It's a position that works well around town and while cruising the highway at or near legal speeds. At speeds much above 75 mph, though, wind blast can be countered only by hanging on tighter to the handlebar, and that alone discourages scofflaws from practicing their highspeed trade for very long. Despite the near-touring-bike seating position, however, Sabre comfort could be better. The seat is flat, but narrow and slightly hard. It's an acceptable saddle, but certainly not plush or inviting enough to encourage anyone to spend an entire day sitting on it. And for a motorcycle with a wheelbase almost 62 inches long, the Sabre could have a more expansive seating position, with more footpeg to-seat distance to prevent leg-cramping during a long ride. If you're starting to get the impression that the Sabre is a middle-of-the-road motorcycle, it's only because that's what it is. Aside from engine smoothness, the Sabre isn't outstanding in any category, be it power or handling or over-the-road comfort. But it's also far from being the worst in any of those categories. The Sabre is like the decathlon competitor who wins no single event, but places highly overall by consistently good, if not spectacular, performances. What the Sabre might be is the most versatile and least specialized motorcycle in its class. It will travel down a twisty backroad easier and faster than most custom bikes, drone down an endless interstate more comfortably than most sportbikes, andVc this all while requiring little routine maintenance or regular care. And unlike a cruiser or a sportbike, the Sabre can easily be tailored to suit an owner's needs or wants. Honda offers a CBX-style fairing and saddlebags, allowing the Sabre to be molded in a sport-touring shape. And there are numerous aftermarket companies offering other alternatives that allow a Sabre owner to inject some of his own personality into a motorcycle that doesn't come with a strong pre-defined image. So it's true: The Sabre no longer defines "new," in the 750 class or in any class. Instead, it defines "versatile" by offering competent all-around performance in a package that can be tailored to suit the wants and needs of a wide variety of riders. All that the bike asks is that the rider have middle-of-the-road tastes in motorcycle performance; because that's the only flavor that the 700 Sabre is able to provide.


Make Model Honda VF700S Sabre
Year 1984-85
Engine Type Four stroke, 90°V-four cylinder, DOHC, 4 valve per cylinder
Displacement 699 cc / 42.6 cu-in
Cooling System Liquid cooled
Bore X Stroke 70 x 45.4 mm
Compression 10.5:1
Induction 4x 32mm Keihin
Ignition Transistorized
Starting Electric
Max Power 81 hp / 59. kW @ 10000 rpm
Max Torque 62 Nm / 6.2 kgf-m 44.8 lb-ft @ 8500 rpm
Clutch Wet plate
Transmission 6 Speed
Final Drive Shaft
Front Suspension 37mm Air adjustable forks
Front Wheel Travel 150 mm / 5.9 in
Rear Suspension Swinging arm, single shock
Rear Wheel Travel 116.8 mm / 4.5 in
Front Brakes 2x 274mm discs
Rear Brakes Single 160mm disc
Front Tire 110/90-18
Rear Tire 130/90-17
Seat Height 810 mm / 31.9 in
Wet Weight 235 kg / 518 lbs
Fuel Capacity 18.2 Liters / 4.8 US gal


  1. 2019 Western Power Sports Catalog. Western Power Sports. 2019. 

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