® Ten things every first-gen V4 owner should know

The 1982 through 1985 Magnas, Sabres and Interceptors are great bikes. But buying one of these iconic machines will make some demands on your time and resources. Almost all of these suggestions are supported by factory bulletins.

  1. First thing, before buying if possible, remove the valve covers and inspect the cams and followers. If raunchy, remove both and have Megacycle or Webcam do their thing by welding up and regrinding both. Remember, the problem is the followers, it is not the oiling system. While in there, check the cam timing. Most of these engines have been apart at some time in their history and getting the cams timed properly can be difficult. Timing of one tooth off on any of the four cams is not unusual and will result in an unsteady idle with no affect anywhere else.

  2. Adjust the valves. The tandem feeler gauge method is best, but whichever is used, do it carefully.

  3. Look for replacement cam chain tensioners. The early ones with the smaller diameter locking rods backed up and loosened tension. Very noisy. These are hard to find for any V4 models now, so replacements will all be used.

  4. Do a good carb sync, which very few of these bikes ever get. No one seems to know how and it makes all the difference in the world. For that matter, good carb rebuilds are rare too.

  5. Run an MA spec 10W-40 engine oil. Use only OEM filters. One problem with the oil level on these bikes is the carbs don't have an overflow system, so there is a ready source of fuel into the crankcase, fuel-polluting the oil. A very good reason to use only factory carburetor float valves.

  6. Find a replacement rear wheel driven flange. You'll have to buy used as all of the new ones are gone. Improper removal and replacement of the rear wheel on these bikes tears up the flange. Most of them are bad. Always use the factory procedure and factory high metal content moly lube.

  7. Rebuild the brake system, using factory seals, silicone fluid and full-metallic brake pads.

  8. Check the crankcase behind (and below) the alternator for a loose oil gallery plug, a common thing on the bikes the first couple years. Even if not loose, stake and epoxy it.

  9. On Magnas and Sabres, check for a leaking clutch pushrod seal or third member (right angle drive unit) leak. Both are very involved fixes and common on these bikes.

  10. Repair the alternator connector. And do it the right way. Honda actually had available a repair kit for a while. It included solder, a connector, wire, the whole deal. But they still didn't instruct in how to prevent the problem from recurring. You do that by soldering the terminals.

More early V4 assets on this site:
The introduction of Honda's V4
V4 cams: what really happened
First-generation V4 fallacies
A review of Julian Ryder's book
Early VF750 cam supercessions
V4s in the shop
VF1100C resto
Honda first-generation V4 bulletins
V4 carb rebuilding service
V4 cam chain tensioners
V4 carb rebuilding how-to booklet

Last updated September 2021
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