Model History/Identification
by Steve Fischer

In the US, there were three different VFR700 models sold, each with a California variant. The California version is easily identified by the presence of extra plumbing attached to the front head that runs to an AICV diaphragm valve under the right lower fairing (among other various emission control additions).

In 1986, the red, white and blue VFR700F was introduced as a tariff-beater for the tax imposed on Japanese imports above 700cc. As I understand it, this tariff was intended to protect Harley-Davidson since their product was over-priced and under-engineered when compared to most imports.

The VFR700F looked nearly identical to the VFR750F, but cost some $800 less (in ’86 that difference was huge). The 86VFR700F sported the look of the 750, with round instruments (and detachable speedometer). The only cosmetic difference was the lower fairing graphics now read "VFR" as opposed to "VFR 750".

In mid-1986, the VFR700FII (aka F2) was introduced. This model was only available in a solid pearl white with dark gold decals and striping. It acquired ‘square’ automotive-style instruments with an integrated fuse box (previously on top triple clamp), and kept the zinc-style engine covers.

In 1987, the VFR700F2 was the only model sold in the US. The blue/silver model was introduced featuring black engine covers, a midnight blue finish and silver wheels, seat and decals. Functionally, the ’87 included many improvements. The ignition became fully digital and no longer required the Cam Pulse Generator. The tachometer no longer fed into the spark unit. The gear shift-arm was shortened for more positive shifting. The front forks were given more damping (though this still left much to be desired). The rear suspension linkage was improved. A new Pro Link shock was intrroduced. Many engine components were strengthened and lightened. The valve rocker arms were redesigned to cause less friction.

Many VFR700 owners, such as myself, have bought restored bikes that have many non-original parts. This can make it especially hard to figure out which model you have as some parts may be newer than others. Compound this with the fact that the ID plate on the frame reads VFR700F for all models, and you are left with quite an identification challenge. In some cases, the color ID sticker (located under the seat on the registration holder) will identify the model as an F2. This is NOT, however, always the case. So the only way to be absolutely sure of your model is to check your VIN against the chart below:

Model Variant Applicable Engine# Frame#
86VFR700F 49 State RC26E-2000004 to 2004121 RC260*-GM000003 to GM001826
86VFR700F California RC26E-2000008 to 2004359 RC261*-GM000002 to GM001036
86VFR700F2 49 State RC26E-2000065 to 2001875 RC262*-GM000001 to GM001000
86VFR700F2 California RC26E-2000237 to 2001470 RC263*-GM000001 to GM000500
87VFR700F2 49 State RC26E-2100001 to 2101798 RC262*-HM100001 to HM101781
RC262*-HA105001 to HA105781
87VFR700F2 California RC26E-2100002 to 2102665 RC263*-HM100001 to HM100940
RC263*-HA105346 to HA105615
* The asterisk represents a fourth number that varies depending upon the factory