The Honda VTR 1000F motorcycle, better known as the Superhawk in the United States and the Firestorm worldwide, was a “1 liter” (1.00CC) sport motorcycle with a 90º V-twin engine manufactured by Honda from 1997 to 2005. and this post we bring you the common failures of the VTR 1000.
The Superhawk was part of the history of sports bikes. Ducati brought the V-twin back to the sportbike scene with a bang, and Honda heard the call to action to offer something similar. If you are interested in this motorcycle keep reading this post.
Common failures of the Honda VTR 1000
Today’s sportbike standards consider the technology of the VTR 1000 to be outdated, but there are purists out there who believe that Superhawk bikes are streetbike quintessential; If you are a motorcycle lover and you are interested in this model, it is good that you know about some of the most common problems of the VTR 1000.
1. Front cylinder runs cooler than rear
First of all, this is not a faulty issue with the VTR 1000 engine, just a common mishap. If you search the SuperHawk forums and you will find cases like this:
The front cylinder exhaust is much cooler than the rear. What should I look at to fix it?
This is something that happens with the bike stopped, the spark plugs are new, the plug cap is new and the K&N that is on is also clean.
In my experience, front cylinder valve clearances get larger when the valves are bent because they can’t fully seat in their seats. So if the clearances are too small, it seems unlikely that you have valve damage.
This VTR 1000 owner did not specify if the clearances were set on the intake or exhaust and what measurements he was getting, which would be pertinent information if we were to use his example to solve the problem.
- The first concern would be a burned valve seat. Burnt valve seats cause the valves to sit deeper in the head, effectively closing up the clearances.
- Burnt seats can also decrease compression, giving the results mentioned by the pilot above.
- If the exhaust side is the one that is pinching, the common source of the problem at hand, indicates that the exhaust is also the culprit.
In these cases, it is not that the cylinder is running cold. The exhaust is running hotter in one cylinder than the other.
This mismatch of heat signatures is often the result of scorching combustion traveling down the tube, in addition to the spent exhaust gases that are intended to be released. These active combustion gases are much hotter and transfer heat to the cylinder.
- If it’s the intake side, you’ll experience pitting through the carburetors.
- That being said, bites are a circular problem. Intake gaps close, and when things heat up, there’s a narrowing of the gap.
- Due to the gap, the valve cannot close properly; further burns the valve seat, increasing heat and decreasing clearance repeatedly.
How about the carburetor?
Before you run out to change and reattach all the valves, how’s the carb?
If a minute has passed, it might be a good idea to take the carbs apart to see if they are equipped with the proper jets.
Another possibility is that the valve timing is off by a fraction on one cylinder; Valve timing is always a solid place to start troubleshooting on one of these engines.
If the carburetors and valve timing pass basic preliminary inspection, it’s time to remove the cylinder heads. If the basics are checked off the list, inspect the affected cylinder:
- head gasket
Don’t stop at an inspection; do a compression test to get a good picture of whether the rings or the valves are the culprit. Perform a dry compression test first, then a wet one:
- A wet compression test consists of adding a little oil through the inlet port and then turning the gauge to help the rings seal for a few revolutions. You will get a different reading, wet or dry, on the rings, but the valve reading should be the same.
A compression test can also help indicate whether carburetion or compression is the culprit.
It is important to note that this is not indicative of a design flaw in Honda’s VTR 1000F engine. In most cases we have found, the Superhawk was purchased new and had minor valve damage, usually to the front exhaust due to demanding track, technical or stunt driving.
The problem is often the result of the previous owner putting a new cam chain tensioner on a battered power head and thinking it’s okay to sell it rather than pay the labor or bill to rebuild the head. burnt head
Like we said, you should always check the timing chain first.
Just for your peace of mind, the case above turned out to be a seized valve seat that needed abrasive paste and proper readjustment. Once the owner got into the engine they claimed the valves and seats had never been replaced, adjusted, or even touched before they got to him.
Once he adjusted the valves and fixed the seats. Both cylinders started and problem solved.
2. Clogged front cylinder drain hole
This situation is similar in that it involves a malfunction with the front cylinder, but the cause, solution, and complexity of the problem are narrow and direct.
As mentioned, another common failure on the Honda VTR 1000F Superhawk Firestorm is that the front cylinder bore can become clogged with debris or dirt. The problem is especially common when driving in dusty or wet conditions, as exemplified by the following situation:
I have a 2007 Firestorm, and on at least three occasions it has cut me off in the rain. It starts running on one cylinder and then dies within 10-15 seconds after that. I can usually sit there for 5-10 minutes, and it will power up again, and I’m good to go in no time, but the other day when I managed to get it going again, it was running exceptionally rough, and any attempt to twist the throttle would kill him. In the end, the battery died.
After drying it for a day, now it doesn’t work well. Sounds good (a little different) and if you give a big twist to the throttle it goes as usual, but when you are running off the throttle it feels like it is bumpy and brakes slightly.
inspection of the basics
The pilot goes on to specify that they have already inspected the basics, things like:
- Inspected the reservoir vent tube to be sure it is not blocked and is draining properly.
- He checked the plugs to make sure nothing is wet so the wires in the plugs should be sealing properly.
- He inspected the side stand switch, although a side stand sensor malfunction would not cause the bike to misbehave in neutral, only when in gear.
- Checked the off switch and the on switches to be sure there is no moisture electronic interference.
- He lifted the tank to locate the ignition coils and check for any exposed, cracked, or wet components.
This pilot was just as lost in reading it as we were until we found a little sign that went something like this:
Always carry a bottle of WD40 or 3in1 etc. with a straw under the seat (you need the straw without it not much you will do)
All the road salt thrown at the front head had blocked the front cylinder weep hole, not long ago I had cleaned it.
Not a big problem if you’re a dry weather rider, but if the bike is going through a storm and the front end is getting water and some of it is going through the plug, you have nowhere to go.
The water boils in the cylinder head and causes the front cylinder to fire intermittently, making drivability impossible.
This means the clog is to blame, a disaster if you’re a long way from home in the middle of nowhere and don’t have access to oil to help clear the clog.
Consider this your sign; I know how the Superhawk pilot above and rolls with the tools you need to clear that clog on the side of the road through the Mojave desert if you have to.
Clear the clog
The weep hole that gets clogged by moisture or debris is just behind the front header exhaust outlet. To get to it:
- Remove the lid of the stopper.
- Insert the straw of your oil sprayer into the drain hole.
- Twist the straw in the hole quickly (if the bike has been running, any moisture in the hole will be very hot).
- Drizzle the oil through the straw and into the drain hole.
- Spray the spark plug.
- Lightly spray the inside of the spark plug hole.
- Replace the spark plug cap, start the bike, and intermittent ignition will be a nuisance of the past.
If your Superhawk doesn’t have any electrical issues, you’ve probably been scratching your head about this weird intermittent behavior. Once you check it a few times, you will be able to identify the culprit as soon as you notice that it is raining or dusty. Carry a can of spray oil and keep the drain hole clear, and you’ll never experience this common VTR 1000 problem again.
General Pros and Cons of the Honda VTR 1000 Superhawk
Now that you have familiarized yourself with the common faults of the Honda VTR 100 motorcycle, now it is time for you to know some positive aspects of this motorcycle:
- Collectible/vintage sports bike
- comfortable driving position
- exceptional handling
- Low Demand Power Delivery
- Sounds really good
- 1-liter track bike with a vintage V-twin versus a classic 4-cylinder
- Front cylinder runs cooler than rear
- Clogged front cylinder drain hole
- Worn wiring harness
What do the reviews say about the Honda VTR 1000 motorcycle?
The most relevant criticisms and comments about the Honda VTR 1000 motorcycle are the following:
Despite the name’s similarity to the four-cylinder FireBlade, the “F” designation pointed less to the big 900cc sportster and more to the CBR600.
Still, it had plenty of punch, with about 100 horsepower coming from the liquid-cooled 996cc 90 V-twin engine, which used side-mounted radiators to help keep the front cross section as small and as “V-twin” as it was. possible. The chassis was fairly standard, using an aluminum spar frame with a bit of a “grille” aesthetic effect as a nod to the steel frame of the Italian machines. One of the novelties was the pivotless connection between the swingarm, engine and main frame. The suspension was “normal” so while the Suzuki TL1000S used an independent spring and rotary shock, the Honda had a proven up-rate Showa shock in the rear with Showa forks up front.
The four-cylinder engine has plenty of oomph at low revs, before emissions drop at 5,000 rpm. It then takes off again, making peak torque at 7,000 and peak horsepower around nine. 70mph is seen on top at just 3750rpm, 120mph at 6250rpm and redline is at 9500rpm. Overall, a pretty robust engine.
The series exhausts (too quiet and very heavy, but desirable for the very important ITV) are usually discarded. Dynojet kits and filters are also common.
Some owners bore through the carb slides for quicker, crisper throttle response. With the phase 1 modifications, about 110 hp can be obtained at the rear wheel.