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cdl723

5th Gen vs 6th Gen VFR800

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Currently, I have a Ninja 400 KRT and want to upgrade to a VFR800. I love the sound of the V4 and was wondering which bike was better overall? I understand the differences between the two (VTEC, Gear driven cams, undertail exhaust, etc.) I just want to know how they feel and compare in the real world to each other. I've been leaning towards the 5th gens because of the cams and no VTEC, but they are hard to find in clean condition while i see tons of 6th gen bikes out there.

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Oh man what a question for this group 😉 all though a great one,  you will see a lot of varied opinions.  in the short from what I feel and experience  the 5th gen 98-99 actually came in two versions 98-99 and 00-01 though on the outside they look the same, its under the skin that's different, not a lot   as the 00-01 got a revised EFI and ECU with a cat and a cold start system,  00 are Yellow state side. The 6th gen has it's foot way in the door here, being made from 02- 09ish, longer in Europe.   so there are way more of them and users. first off there's the preferred looks.  But the way I look at it is the 6th gen leans more for the touring side, where the 5th is more sport.   One really can't go wrong with either, just more of which strikes your eye.  That said I'm a little biased as I have a pretty dolled up 5th gen,  IMO be really hard to do better.  

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Going to just say it; 5th gen is a better bike than the 6th in my experience, having owned both.

 

I own a 1998, and a 2014. I sold my 2002 to get the 2014 and *never looked back.*

 

If it were me though, I'd tell you to look at a 2014/2015 leftover VFR on showroom floors instead of buying a 20 year old used bike and having to deal with the maintenance associated.

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5th gens were only made for 4 years (1998-2001), but I only saw one 2001 model for sale in the entire Pacific NW this past year.  Not sure if that means they tailed off production in 2001 (getting ready for the 6th gen), or if the people that bought 2001's kept them and took really good care of them.  I'll give my experience between the two:

 

2007 RWB test rode from a local dealer:

Bike was very smooth, even the vtech transition was smooth such that I didn't notice it the first time.  It was rock solid on the freeway, very composed.  Steering felt a little heavier, though this particular bike had squared off tires (stupidly I only looked at them post-ride).  I came away from the ride feeling very "meh" about it, and at the time I was riding a Ninja 500 (one of the most "meh" bikes every produced).  

 

1998 VFR that I bought 8 months ago:

Much more visceral riding experience.  The cam gears are intoxicating and give the bike a very mechanical sound.  It feels lighter and more flickable, however I had new tires put on immediately after purchasing it so it isn't a fair comparison.  It definitely feels more sporty than the 6th gen, and there is some property of the engine that makes it more exciting.  I can't put my finger on it, but on the 5th gen I want to rev it and accelerate hard.  The 6th gen felt much more magic carpet-like, and so doesn't goad me into hooning around.  

 

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The Ninja 400 is not a meh bike.  I test rode a 2018 model and came away mighty impressed what a 400cc parallel twin as tuned by Kawasaki can do.  

 

No, it's not as fast as VFR800.  Not even close.  But it wasn't slow either.  Rode it on the street, freeway, a few twisties.  The bike really surprised me.  I was on the freeway cruising at 75 mph, rolled on the throttle and the bike easily accelerated up to 95 mph without the engine screaming and without a downshift either.  Not bad at all.  It was surprisingly competent and I would buy this bike as a 2nd bike for commuting, and all around fun riding.  I'd even tour on it!  Had great wind protection and was very comfortable.

 

As for 5th Gen vs 6th gen, get the cleanest bike you can find in a 5th Gen.  You can still find them if you're patient.  But I believe you there are way more clean, low miles 6th Gen's around for less than $4k.  Also, Honda still sells many parts for 6th gens at this time.  Although some things are getting harder to get, or there is a wait to get parts...mostly odd parts that don't normally break often.  If at all possible, make the stretch to get a 2014-2015 VFR800.  New 2015's are still on showrooms for big discounts.  Saw two locally for $8k new.

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2 hours ago, thtanner said:

 

If it were me though, I'd tell you to look at a 2014/2015 leftover VFR on showroom floors instead of buying a 20 year old used bike and having to deal with the maintenance associated.

 

 

I agree with this 100%.  The newest 6th Gen's are approaching 10 years old in the US.  Low miles example won't be an issue.  High miles examples will have issues for sure unless it was my 2007.  LOL!!!!  Only because I fixed all age/mileage related issues when they happened.

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I’m not scared to work on things, as i have lots of tools and experience with cars and even the ninja. I’ve been leaning towards the 5th gen because of the cams and the sportier feel. I want something similar to the ninja in sportyness, but faster and better suited for long trips(comfier). 

 

Also as much as id like a brand new (2015) model i don’t have the budget to buy one as i am still in college. I am going to try and sell my bike and use that money to buy a 5th gen and have some left over for maintenance and fixing it.  

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I currently have both Gens but I have them setup for two distinct roles. My 5 Gen is essentially my "play" bike. I use it for track days and weekend canyon rides and I have it modified with DMr front suspension, a Penske rear shock (updated by DMr also), cat-less headers, Piper Cross air filter and Rapid Bike tuning module, as well as a removed PAIR valve system, although the snorkel and flapper are still intact. I used it to commute a couple of days while I waited for some 6 Gen parts to come in, I almost only use it for sport riding.

 

My 6 Gen has essentially the same mods with the exception of an updated OEM rear shock, some comfort add-ons like the Sargent seat, Heli-bars and MRA windscreen. I also have a GIVI top case, GIVI tank bag for when I tour or holding my work tools. For a commuter, I really couldn't ask for anything more, at least as far as I use it. Similar to the 5 Gen, I use it mostly for it's role I have for it, however, I will use the 6 Gen more for fun than the 5 Gen for commuting.

 

Both bikes have a similar feel but as mentioned by others, the 5 Gen feels more suited for sport riding, perhaps it's the gear driven cams, a more linear power delivery (i.e. no VTEC engagement/cutoff) or just something in the back of my head that says, this is "your sport bike" so use it like one! It also kind of works in reverse too, when I'm on my 6 Gen I tend to take it a little more easy, as in the back of my head I can hear "this is your commuter, so take it easy". With that, I have taken the 6 Gen to the track and used it pretty hared but I will turn to the 5 Gen if I really want to push my limits.

 

As stated too, the 5 gen is at least 17 years old or older and even the 6 Gen is at least 9 years or older. I will say that even though they share some parts, there are a few 5 Gen parts that are now becoming unavailable from Honda, so aftermarket or used are going to be the place to find replacement parts. I had considered upgrading my 6 Gen to an 8 Gen but when I weight all that I had done to it and how much I like how it runs/performs now, I decided to keep it a bit longer. At ~80k miles and still feeling strong, I'll probably keep it until I run it into the ground. Conversely, since the 5 Gen is mostly for sport riding, I probably would not have an issue selling it or trading it in for something more modern but at this time I don't see any bike to make me want to do that, especially considering how much I paid for the 5 Gen and how much I'd have to pay to get a more modern bike.

 

 

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As another that owns both, my $.02 is that it's maybe more a question of  "what are your preferences and priorities" vs "is one better than the other"?   You have to weigh the differences between them based on what's most important to you.   The main absolute differences are that if you want factory luggage and / or ABS, you'll need a 6th gen which can be a real value for a bike that you can pick up for about $4,000.  If you want the GDC's, you have to go 5th.   I can ride either just as readily and have ridden both long distances.  Past that things become more subjective depending upon intended use and personal preferences and abilities.    I like that my '99 does not have a wax unit to cause trouble, a cat or cam chain tensioners that can fail.   In an ideal world I'd take the two and meld them together keeping what I like best about both.  Several years ago there was a post from someone, I think in Ohio that did essentially that.  Actually in my ideal world Honda would still be producing the 5th gen - ah well. As I think of the two, while I like my 6th gen and will probably sell it as the miles pile up, I love my 5th gen and do not intend to ever part with it.   I plan to leave it on the center stand in my garage and let it remind me of all the fun rides I had on it.   YMMV. 

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If you're comparing to the 5th gen, I like my 6th gen for the:

- Excellent quad headlights
- Quiet low speed/low rpm operation
- Hard luggage
- The styling
- The delightful undertail exhaust
- The VTEC howl

There are technical changes that I suppose could be appreciated but that's neither here nor there. Both bikes are tremendous.

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I like mine for above plus it's cheap to own. If only I can figure out my running issues lol. Also, 6G got ABS.

 

The biggest bonus for the 5g is the gear driven cams. Sounds Fantastic.

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And you never have to do a valve adjustment on a 6th Gen

 

Well, actually... you're supposed to do valve adjustments on the 6th Gen but when you find out how technical and intimidating the job is and how much the Honda dealership wants to charge to do it in the shop you'll quickly join the "I've got a 6th Gen with XX,XXX miles on it and I've never done a valve adjustment and it runs just fine" club, and then you'll post here on the forum about how your 6th Gen has XX,XXX miles on it and you've never done a valve adjustment and it runs just fine.

 

Problem solved.

 

(onward to Democratic Socialism and world peace!)

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As far as the valves, on the 5ths you'll find they need done less often than 6ths. At 84k miles, some valves did need adjustment though 🙂

Our 87k mi 5th runs as nice as our 8k mi 5th, if that says something 😄 

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16 hours ago, GreginDenver said:

And you never have to do a valve adjustment on a 6th Gen

 

Well, actually... you're supposed to do valve adjustments on the 6th Gen but when you find out how technical and intimidating the job is and how much the Honda dealership wants to charge to do it in the shop you'll quickly join the "I've got a 6th Gen with XX,XXX miles on it and I've never done a valve adjustment and it runs just fine" club, and then you'll post here on the forum about how your 6th Gen has XX,XXX miles on it and you've never done a valve adjustment and it runs just fine.

 

Problem solved.

 

(onward to Democratic Socialism and world peace!)

I adjusted my valves at 40k miles and it absolutely needed it. 2002, 15 years after it was released. VTEC valves were quite low on the adjustment.

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