If nothing makes you happier in your heart than tiny Japanese-market Honda V4s that are currently located in America, then you’ll want to take a look at this 1990 Honda VFR400R. Often referred to as the NC30, it’s essentially a minified version of the RC30—not only in looks, but also in character. Unlike some modern bikes where a race livery lives on top of a completely mild-mannered commuter, this bike is tiny, but mighty. 

The secret sauce, of course, is a 399cc liquid-cooled, dual overhead cam, 16-valve V4 engine with gear-driven cams. It’s also carbureted, so that’s certainly a consideration depending on your preferences in 2021. It produced just under 60 horsepower when new, while offering about 30 pound-feet of torque. Curb weight is 400 pounds, and the redline is all the way out there are 14,500rpm. Top speed is about 130mph.  

Other Honda innovations of the time can be found all over this bike. Like several OEMs in that time period, Honda experimented with anti-dive control. Feelings on its success (and these systems in general) are many, varied, and outside the scope of this piece. However, you’ll find Honda’s Torque Reactive Anti-Dive Control (or TRAC) is present and accounted for on this bike. 

1990 Honda NC30 VFR400R - Front Right Angle View
1990 Honda NC30 VFR400R - Rear Wheel Closeup

It’s also one of the Honda V4s with a 360-degree big bang firing order, as well as ELF’s Pro-Arm single-sided swingarm. The former feature makes a sound that enthusiasts find absolutely exquisite, while the latter gives you more room to appreciate the beauty of that rear wheel—and, you know, handling. The NC30 also features an aluminum twin-spar frame, as well as a four-into-one exhaust mounted on the left side of the bike that cooperates nicely with that single-sided swingarm.  

The NC30 was created for the Japanese market, but also found plenty of fans in Europe, where it also complied with licensing regulations quite nicely. Here in America, it was never officially released. However, as the wise Dr. Ian Malcolm once observed, “Life, uh, finds a way.” While NC30s are somewhat rare, they’re therefore not completely impossible to find in the U.S. 

This particular one has about 18,312 miles on it, and was acquired by the current seller in 2003 from New Zealand. Back in 2017, the seller rebuilt it, addressing a laundry list of general items you might expect to find on a bike of this vintage. That included a good carb cleaning and replacement of hardware stripped by previous owners, installation of larger radiators and a switch over to Engine Ice coolant, new and larger coils, spark plugs, spark plug wires, wiring harness, upgraded MOSFET regulator/rectifier, upgraded 2016 Suzuki GSX-R750 stator, new battery, sprockets, chain, and various cables and hoses. They also installed a Tyga triple clamp, stem, and steering head bearings at that time. 

Gallery: 1990 Honda NC30 VFR400R

If you’re wondering why no engine work was done, that’s because this engine had a complete overhaul by Mike Norman’s G-Force Engine Development in 2012. Other choice bits include all kinds of additional Tyga goodies, a Penske rear shock, a 17-inch rear wheel conversion, 310mm front rotor conversion with Galfer brake pads, a rear wave rotor, and lots of little carbon fiber bits including the mirrors.  

This is a rider, not a museum piece. There are stress cracks and chips and little things on the bodywork that show you it’s lived a life where it’s been ridden, not simply admired as a stationary piece of late-80s Honda craftsmanship. If all that speaks to your soul, it’s currently for sale on Iconic Motorbike Auctions, and it ends in just under three hours, on November 3, 2021 at 11 a.m. Pacific. At the time of writing, the current bid is $6,100, and the reserve has not yet been met. 

Got a tip for us? Email: tips@rideapart.com