Honda Sabre V4

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Honda produced the V4 Sabre motorcycle from 1982 to 1985.

Model designation:

  • VF750S - V45 Sabre (1982-1984)
  • VF700S - Sabre 700 (1984-1985)
  • VF1100S - V65 Sabre (1984-1985)

V4 Engine

The V45 Sabre was introduced in 1982. It shared its V4 engine design with the Magna and Interceptor. The engines in the Sabre and Magna were so similar to be almost completely interchangeable except for a few fuel and carburation-related differences. The Interceptor engine was angled differently in the frame and had a chain drive instead of shaft, but shared the same 90-degree-V four-cylinder, DOHC configuration.

The V4 engine combined the high-revving power of an in-line four cylinder with the narrow width of a v-twin. The 90-degree angle of the V also gave the engine perfect primary balance, which helped avoid the vibration problems that plagued many in-line four cylinder motorcycle engines without the need of heavy solid rubber mounts.

In 1984 import tariffs were changed, causing the "V45" engine to be modified. Honda reduced the displacement to 698 cc and changed the model name to VF700S. The VF700S models continued for only one more year.

The 750 cc "V45" engine produced 80 hp. The 1100 cc "V65" engine, which was introduced in 1983, produced 116 hp. Both were slightly detuned throughout the run of the 1st gen engine to cope with customs and EPA regulations. However, Honda reported the same Horsepower figures throughout the whole generation even through the actual dyno-proven, detuned, figures showed up lower than advertised.

The engine's downfall was premature camshaft wear in some early models; both V45 and V65. In retrospect, the wear was caused either by production problems, sub-quality steel alloys, or by inadequate oiling flow. Owners have often modified their oiling systems and successfully eliminated the wear problem, and some companies sell kits to do this modification.

But this came too late to save the engine's reputation. Honda itself at first denied there was a problem, then blamed inadequate or incorrect maintenance for the problem. They changed the maintenance interval, and developed and sold a special tool for 'proper' valve-lash adjustment. They eventually made changes to the design and production methods of the engine which eliminated the problem.

But it was too late. The 1st generation V4 was discredited, and the first V4 revolution failed. While Yamaha (The Vmax) and Suzuki (the Madura) had both responded to the Honda V4s with V4 engines of their own.

Eventually, Suzuki dropped the Madura, and the production of the Yamaha V-Max was continued for over 20 years but never updated.

Technology

V65 Sabre with Rifle fairing

The Sabres, especially the V45, were technology showcases for Honda. Not only did they feature revolutionary water-cooled, DOHC, 90-degree-V four-cylinder engines, but they also featured hydraulically-actuated, one-way clutches, TRAC anti-dive front suspension, Pro-link rear suspensions, and electronic speedometers and tachometers.

The original V45 came with a fibre-optic anti-theft system, self-canceling turn signals, built-in lap timer, and an electronic instrument cluster that included an LCD gear indicator that doubled as an electrical fault display.

Many of these electronic features were dropped from later V45s, and the VF700, though most of the mechanical features remained.

Brethren

Honda introduced the V4 engine in three motorcycles, representing the three types of street bike. The Interceptor was a sportbike, the Magna was a cruiser, and the Sabre a standard.

Both the Interceptor and Magna continued in production for decades after the Sabre was discontinued.

Speed

In 1983, Cycle magazine reported that Jay Pee-Wee Gleason made a 10.92 second, 124.82 mph 1/4-mile run with a V65 Magna, which had the same engine as the V65 Sabre. [1]

The V65 Magna appeared for several years in the Guinness book of world records as the "fastest production motorcycle" with a top speed of over 160mph (176 Calculated).

According to Honda: "the mighty V65 Sabre could launch from a standstill to 50 miles per hour in just 2.31 seconds!" [2]

V-twin Sabre

Honda resurrected the Sabre name for a model of their Shadow v-twin cruisers. Inside the context of motorcycles, the v-twin Sabre has nothing in common with the V4 Sabre. This has led some V4 Sabre enthusiast to derisively refer to the v-twin motorcycle as "a Shadow of a Sabre."

See also

External links