16 versus 18 - which is better?

My VF is the later model, first registered mid-87, and has the 18" front wheel.

As the first ones had the 16" wheel, I’ve been wondering which is best.

I know the Bol D’Or that won the production TT would have had the 18" hoop too, but I was wondering from an owner’s perspective, has anyone rode both, back to back, to see which is best?

Also, are the rim widths the same for the 16" and the 18" wheels?


I’ve got both. An 86 Bol and an 86 FF
The Bol doesn’t feel so nervous at low speeds, but the FF seems to turn a bit quicker.
They are both very alike, other than at low speeds. I’ve noticed little difference.
Given a choice, i’d take the 18" front, its less work i’d say.

So how does your 750 compare to your FF,16 inch wheel versus 18?
The Bol carries a lot of weight up front compared to the FF so tends to feel ponderous at low speed,it works for you at high speed tho feeling very stable.
The FE with the 16 on the front and shorter wheelbase is a lot lighter (even with the wider tyre) at low speed without sacrificing much in the way of high speed stability.
For me the FE is a bit of a hooligan and the F2 more relaxed
Rim widths are the same for both at 2.5 inches
Regards Bif

I agree with your observations there, Bif.

The VF750F is a very different animal, it’s a lot lighter for one, and an awful lot smaller.
A Honda Varadero 125 is physically bigger, for a start.
It feels like a far smaller bike, and that very much dictates how you ride it.
You still get the “slightly nervous” feeling with the small front wheel but you very quickly get used to the fast tuck in at slow speeds. It’s very predictable, and very easy to adapt to, especially once you start goosing around with the antidive, preload and pressures.

It handles exceptionally well for a 30+ year old motorcycle.

Handing wise, the VF500F2 absolutely nails it, its completely confidence inspiring and handles neutrally despite the 16" front. It encourages you to throw it into corners and it copes very capably with anything i’ve thrown at it so far.
Apparently (I would not know) if you change the rubber sizes in any way it borks the handling completely.
Something i am very loathe to do!

Obviously the riding position leaves quite a bit to be desired on long distances.

I’ll add observations on the others.

VF1100C. Handles surprisingly well for something the length of a goldwing. It’s quite neutral, but you have to adopt the cruiser approach of constant speed corners, and constant lean angle all the way through otherwise the bike feels unsettled and wants to oversteer or understeer.
Under power it squirms a bit and will lift the front wheel easily with no clutch up to 3rd with little effort. The thing that ruins it is the rear shocks are far too hard, and don’t feel “soft” enough to absorb bumps comfortably. I’m looking at resolving this currently.
Other than that, its a cruiser thats fast and handles reasonably well, which surprises a lot of much newer bikes.

VF400…Very much the same as the 500, but the riding position is far more upright and more akin to an adventure tourer. Great little bike, very easy to ride, very predictable and the inboard disks are surprisingly good despite all the bad things said about them.
Comfortable for 1 1/2 hrs in the saddle too, i could ride that thing all day.

Hope this helps someone.

Thanks for the responses all, that’s very informative.

To be honest, it only took a day or two to get used to the way the bike turns in, and now it feels natural enough, and doesn’t feel like it’s falling in, or ready to tuck.

That said, I still haven’t managed to get new tyres on. The BT45s on it are there for nearly ten years, but feel surprisingly OK.

I’m going to go with BT45s again before I go experimenting with other types.

I had occasion recently to ride a Triumph Explorer 1200 and the VF feels very similar. It is very close, vital statistics-wise, which is odd that what was a sporty bike 30 years ago is now an adventure tourer!

Still, it means that it can boogie still :slight_smile: