Model Info
Service Info
Tuning Info
Project Info Dedicated to the thorough proliferation of information regarding the technical aspects of (mainly) Honda V4 motorcycles.
Legal Info

VFR400RK-N (NC30) Model Info


The NC30 was built and/or sold as new by Honda dealers in Japan from early 1989 to sometime in 1994 (possibly later). "NC30" is not the official name for the bike Honda designated the "VFR400R", but this is how they are commonly known. (The NC30, after all, is a 400cc version of the RC30, which is officially the "VFR750R".) Honda built domestic ("J-spec") models as well as export models built for a few markets (such as the United Kingdom, Germany and, apparently, Austria) during the early 1990s. NC30s were so popular in Japan that they eventually overflowed and found their way (as "grey imports") into the UK and, in much smaller numbers, into other markets—including the United States. Apart from the first-year models and the market-specific modifications made on the export models, the NC30 stayed basically the same throughout its model run, except for color changes. Below are illustrations of the eight NC30 color schemes available throughout its production:

Type 1, VFR400RK (NH-196) Type 2, VFR400RK-II (NH-259M) Type 3, VFR400RL (NH-196) Type 4, VFR400RL (NH-177M)
Type 5, VFR400RL (NH-1) Type 6, VFR400RN (NH-196) Type 7, VFR400RN-II (NH-1) Type 8, VFR400RN-III/IV (NH-196)

Although not factory options, many NC30s have been painted to resemble various factory-sponsored Grand Prix and Superbike race bikes. Some of the most common of these paint schemes have been the Repsol, Smokin' Joe's, Castrol, NSR, Shell Advance and Nastro Azzurro (Rossi) schemes shown below:

Repsol Smokin' Joe's Castrol
NSR Shell Advance Nastro Azzurro


NC30 model letters can be found on a small white sticker located under the passenger seat (and also on the bar code sticker behind the license plate). Because many NC30s were not imported through "official" channels, their registration documents are notoriously unreliable as a means of determining their year of manufacture. This is because registration documents on 'grey' imports are often intended to reflect the year a bike was first sold in the country of import, which is usually not the year the bike was manufactured. In addition, many NC30s appear to have been sold by dealers as new in Japan some time after being manufactured, so the year that ended up on even the Japanese registration document may not correspond to the bike's actual year of manufacture. Consequently, the most accurate way of referring to NC30s (and other 'grey' imports) is by model letter.

Model letters used by Honda appear to correspond with the VIN model letters used in the United States since the early 1980s (although the same cannot be said for the frame numbers themselves). (Here is a bit more about VINs.) As a result, bikes manufactured in 1989 carry the model letter "K", 1990 bikes are "L" models, etc. (with the letters "I", "O", "Q", "U" and "Z" being skipped). Some Honda models, however, have additional sub-designations (possibly relating only to color scheme) using roman numerals, and the NC30 is one of these.

The first NC30 was the "K" model introduced in 1989. Although Ks are not much different than the later models, they have at least two significant differences that make them somewhat less desirable. The first difference is the standard Showa forks, which, in addition to being of an older design, lack external rebound damping adjustment. Because these forks use the older damping-rod design, they work less well than—and are more difficult to modify than—the now-conventional "cartridge" forks found on the later models (and on most later model Honda sport bikes). (For more information about the differences between the two kinds of forks, an excellent primer is RaceTech's Paul Thede's article on cartridge forks.) The second less-desirable aspect of the "K" models is their rear shock design. Later NC30 models came equipped with remote reservoir Showa shocks, while the earlier models lacked this, and they are known for having very soft suspension. Apart from the suspension differences, Ks had relatively small same-size carburetor jets (Keihin 110s) in all four carburetors, rather than the different (115s in the front carbs and 118s in the rear carbs) jets found on the later models.

Paint schemes on the NC30s evolved from emulating the RC30's angular red-white-and-blue design into an RC45-esque (also known as 'OKI' colors) red-white-and-blue—with several color variations within each of these basic themes. The only other obvious cosmetic differences between the "K", "L" and "N" models related to the colors of the braking components (i.e., the brake calipers and disc carriers), which went from gold on the "K" to black on the "L" and early "N" and finally to gold on the final "N" variations, the "N-III" and "N-IV".

Although their numbers are relatively few, it is clear that there were NC30s produced for official sale in a few markets outside of Japan. The NC30 was sold in the United Kingdom and Austria, as indicated in the UK-spec Owners Manual and Microfiche, from 1990 through sometime in 1993, and in France and Germany from late 1991 through sometime in 1993. In the UK and Austria, there were no more than two color schemes available, the "RC30"-like red-white-blue on the "L" model and a different red-white-blue scheme (very similar to the red-white-blue J-spec "L") on the "M" model. France and Germany, in which only the "M" model was oficially imported, had a similar red-white-blue paint scheme as on the UK and Austrian "M" model. As a rule, officially exported NC30s sold through official Honda dealers in Europe were very expensive, compared to other Hondas being sold in the same showrooms—and compared to what the bikes sold for in Japan. Not surprisingly, they didn't sell very well, which may account for the mis-matched model letters and sales dates.

UK-spec VFR400RL by [?] German-spec VFR400RM recently offered for sale on eBay Austrian-spec VFR400RL by Peter French-spec VFR400RM by Jean-Michel

Apart from the color schemes, country-specific differences are minor, but can be noticeable. In general, UK- and Austrian-spec bikes, had larger, hinged mirrors (similar to the RC30's), market-specific carburetors, oil coolers and (in the UK) MPH speedometers. German-spec and French-spec NC30s had significantly larger headlights, hinged mirrors, different carburetors and oil coolers. Export models also lacked the Japanese home market's speed restrictions, so they were not restricted and, accordingly, were equipped with higher-reading speedometers.

The following table details the beginning serial and engine numbers for most of the NC30 production run:

Year Code Region Colors Beg. Engine #s Beg. Frame #s Carb ID #s
1989 K Japan Ross white/Fighting red/Wisteria blue Accurate (seed) silver/Granite blue NC13E-1200001 NC30-1000001 VDE3A-A
1990-91 L Japan Ross white/Fighting red/Dakar blue Vostok silver/Granite blue Black/Monza red NC13E-1300001 NC30-1050001 VDE3D-A
1990-91 L U.K. Ross white/Fighting red/Wisteria blue NC13E-2100007 NC30-2000006 VDE3B-A
1990-91 L Austria Ross white/Fighting red/Wisteria blue NC13E-2100009 NC30-2000009 VDE3C-A
1991-93 M U.K. Ross white/Fighting red/Dakar blue NC13E-2200001 NC30-2100001 VDE3F-A
1991-93 M Austria Ross white/Fighting red/Dakar blue NC13E-2200006 NC30-2100006 VDE3G-A
1991-93 M France Ross white/Fighting red/Dakar blue NC13E-220000? NC30-210000? VDE3?-A
1991-93 M Germany Ross white/Fighting red/Dakar blue NC13E-220000? NC30-210000? VDE3?-A
1992-on N Japan Ross white/Fighting red/(blue) Black/Fighting red Ross white/Fighting red NC30-1100001 VDE3D-B


Item Specifications
Dimensions: Overall length 1.985m (78.1 in.)
Overall width 705mm (27.8 in.)
Overall height 1.075m (42.3in.)
Wheelbase 1.345m (53.0 in.)
Ground clearance 125mm (4.9 in.)
Dry weight 175kg (385.8 lb.)
Curb weight 192kg (423.3 lb.)
Maximum weight capacity 347kg (765.0 lb.)
Frame: Frame type Twin-spar aluminum
Front suspension 41mm Showa cartridge forks2
Front wheel travel 120mm (4.7 in.)
Rear suspension Single-sided swing arm
Rear wheel travel 120mm (4.7 in.)
Rear damper Gas-filled damper with remote reservoir2
Front wheel size 17x3.5 in.
Rear wheel size 18x4.5 in.
Front tire size 120/60 VR17
Rear tire size 150/60 VR18
Front brakes Double floating disc; 4-piston Nissin calipers
Rear brake Single solid disc; 2-piston Nissin caliper
Caster angle 25-deg 20'
Trail 96mm (3.8 in.)
Fuel tank capacity 15 liters (4.0 U.S. gal., 3.5 Imp gal.)
Fuel tank reserve capacity 2.0 liters (0.5 U.S. gal., 0.4 Imp gal.)
Engine: Bore and stroke 55.0mm x 42.0mm (2.16 in. x 1.65 in.)
Displacement 399 cm³ (24.3 cu in.)
Compression ratio 11.3 : 1
Valve train Gear driven DOHC; 4 valves per cylinder
Intake valve opens @ 1mm lift 15-deg. BTDC
Intake valve closes @ 1mm lift 35-deg. ABDC
Exhaust valve opens @ 1mm lift 35-deg. BBDC
Exhaust valve closes @ 1mm lift 5-deg. ATDC
Lubrication system Forced pressure and wet sump
Oil pump type Trockoid
Cooling system Liquid cooled; dual radiators and cooling fan
Air filtration Paper filter
Crankshaft type Unit-type; 4 main journals; 360-deg.
Firing order #1 @ 90 deg.; #4 @ 270 deg.; #3 @ 90 deg.; #2 @ 270 deg.
Cylinder arrangement 4 cylinders; 90-deg. V
Cylinder numbering
Carburetor: Carburetor type Constant velocity Keihin; 4 carburetors
Throttle bore 32mm (1.3 in.)
Drive train: Clutch system Multi-plate, wet
Clutch operation Cable operated
Transmission 6-speeds
Primary reduction 2.117 (34/72)
Final reduction (sprockets) 2.666 (15/40)
Drive chain slack 15-25mm (5/8-1 in.)
Drive chain size/links 525/104
Gear ratio, 1st 2.928 (14/41)
Gear ratio, 2nd 2.166 (18/39)
Gear ratio, 3rd 1.800 (20/36)
Gear ratio, 4th 1.591 (22/35)
Gear ratio, 5th 1.435 (23/33)
Gear ratio, 6th 1.318 (22/29)
Gearshift pattern Left foot operated return system: 1—N—2—3—4—5—6
Electrical: Ignition system Digitalized full transistor ignition
Starting system Electric starter motor
Charging system Triple phase output alternator
Regulator/rectifier type SCR Shorted/triple phase full wave rectification
Lighting system Battery (YTX7A-BS)
Lubrication: Engine oil capacity at draining 2.4 liters (2.54 U.S. qt., 2.11 Imp. qt.)
Engine oil capacity at disassembly 3.0 liters (3.17 U.S. qt., 2.64 Imp. qt.)
Engine oil capacity at oil filter change 2.5 liters (2.64 U.S. qt., 2.2 Imp. qt.)
Recommended engine oil viscosity SAE 10W-40
Oil pressure at oil pressure switch 490-588 kPa (5.0-6.0 kg/cm², 71-85 psi) @ 5,000 rpm (80 deg.C, 176 deg.F)
Fuel system: Main jets (Front cylinders) # 122
Main jets (Rear cylinders) # 120
Slow (idle) jets # 35
Pilot screw initial opening 2 turns out
Pilot screw final opening 1/4 turn out
Float level 6.8mm (0.28 in.)
Carburetor vacuum difference Within 40 mmHg (1.6 inHg)
Base carburetor (for carburetor synchronization) No. 2 carburetor
Idle speed 1,300 +/- 100 rpm
Throttle grip free play 2-6mm (0.08-0.24 in.)
Clutch system: Clutch lever free play 10-20mm (0.4-0.8 in.)
Clutch disc thickness 2.92-3.08mm (0.115-0.121 in.)
Clutch disc service limit 2.8mm (0.110 in.)
Clutch plate warpage limit 0.30mm (0.012 in.)
Cooling system: Coolant capacity (radiators & engine) 2.1 liters (2.22 U.S. qt., 1.85 Imp. qt.)
Coolant capacity (reserve tank) 0.2 liter (0.21 U.S. qt., 0.18 Imp. qt.)
Radiator cap relief pressure 108-137 kPa (1.10-1.40 kg/cm², 16-20 psi)
Thermostat begins to open 80-84 deg.C (176-183 deg.F)
Thermostat fully open 95 deg.C (203 deg.F)
Thermostat valve lift 8.0mm (0.23 in.) min.
Wheels/Tires: Cold tire pressure (driver only, front) 33 psi
Cold tire pressure (driver only, rear) 33 psi
Cold tire pressure (driver & pass., front) 33 psi
Cold tire pressure (driver & pass., rear) 36 psi
Front suspension: Fork spring free length 277.3mm (10.92 in.)
Fork spring direction Tighter coils on bottom
Fork oil weight 10W
Fork oil level 122mm (4.8 in.)3
Fork oil capacity 390cc3
Steering bearing pre-load 1.0-1.5kg (2.2-3.3 lbs.)
Rear suspension: Shock spring free length 158.7mm (6.2 in.)
Shock spring installed length 147.7mm (5.81 in.)
Nitrogen gas pressure 98 kPa (142 psi)
Brakes: Brake fluid type DOT 4
Front brake disc thickness 4mm (0.16 in.)
Front brake master cylinder I.D. 14.000mm (0.5512 in.) (9/16")
Front brake caliper cylinder I.D. (upper) 32.030mm (1.2610 in.)
Front brake caliper cylinder I.D. (lower) 30.230mm (1.1902 in.)
Rear brake disc thickness 6mm (0.24 in.)
Rear brake master cylinder I.D. 14.000mm (0.5512 in.) (9/16")
Rear brake caliper cylinder I.D. 25.400mm (1.0000 in.)
Battery/Charging system: Reg/rec regulated voltage/amperage 13.5-15.5v (0-6A) @ 5,000rpm
Battery capacity 12v (6AH) YTX7A-BS
Battery charging rate (normal) 0.7A/5-10 hr.
Battery charging rate (quick) 3.0A/1 hr.
Battery voltage 13.0-13.2v
Ignition system: Spark plug (standard) NGK ER9EH or ND Y27FER
Spark plug (racing) NGK ER10EH or ND Y31FER
Spark plug (cold climate) NGK ER8EH or ND Y24FER
Spark plug gap 0.6-0.7mm (0.024-0.028 in.)
Ignition timing "F" mark 18-deg. BTDC @ 1,200rpm
Advance starts 1,800rpm +/-200rpm
Advance stops 12,000rpm +/-200rpm
Full advance 37-deg. BTDC +/-2-deg. @ 12,000rpm
Lights/Meters/Switches: Main fuse 30A
Fuse 20A x 1; 10A x 3
Headlight (high/low beam) 12v 60/55w (H4)4
Tail/brake light 12v 5/21w5
License light 12v 5w6
Position light 12v 5w7
Turn signal light 12v 21w8
Instrument light 12v 1.7w x 5
Oil pressure warning indicator 12v 1.7w
Oil temperature indicator 12v 1.7w
High beam indicator 12v 1.7w
Turn signal indicator 12v 1.7w
Neutral indicator 12v 1.7w
Starting system: Starter motor brush length 12-13mm (0.47-0.51 in.)


  1. These specifications pertain mainly to the UK-spec "L" and "M" models; some J-spec differences are noted.

  2. J-spec "K" models are equipped with Showa damping rod forks and are not equipped with a remote reservoir rear shock.

  3. For "K" models, fork oil level is 90mm and fork oil capacity is 450cc.

  4. J-spec is 12v 60/35w.

  5. J-spec is 12v 5/18w.

  6. N/A to J-spec bikes.

  7. J-spec is 12v 1.7w.

  8. J-spec is 12v 15w. Home Copyright © 1999-2011 [Sources: Honda VFR400RL-M Service Manual, Parts Manuals and Microfiche; Honda CBR VFR, Guido Saliger and Thomas Beyer, Art Motor Verlag 1994]