This is the fourth post in a series about the motorcycles I have owned.
The F4i was my first bike purchase that I didn’t actually see myself riding. At the time, I still had the TL1000R and the Kawasaki zx-6r so the F4i would have been my second inline 4 added to the garage. On paper, the zx-6r was lighter with more horsepower. The zx-6r was also better looking, in better condition, and an overall better quality bike. So why did I purchase the F4i? The conditions were just right.
At the time of the purchase, my wife (girl friend at that time) had taken an interest in learning to ride. The F4i was lowered two inches for the previous owner and I knew the zx-6r would put my wife on her tip toes. The thought was that she could learn on the F4i and I wouldn’t be too worried about the Kawi taking a parking lot tumble. The other main reason I wanted to pick up the Honda was because I knew the owner from Youtube. I met him and his wife when we went to the Indy Motorcycle Expo. We kept in touch and for a variety of reasons, he needed to sell the bike. He was trying to sell it with a broken radiator which did not allow the bike to run for very long for the potential buyers. This made it pretty difficult for him to find a buyer because very few people will pick up a used bike with 12k miles without hearing it run. I knew he was asking around $3k for it, but more importantly I knew what I wanted to spend on it. I sent him a message that said something to the effect of “hey I hope you can sell the bike for what you are asking. I saw you lowered the price on it already once, but let me know if you can’t find a buyer. I’d be willing to give you $2100 and go out to that burrito joint for the bike as it sits today.”
What I didn’t realize was how badly he wanted to get rid of the bike. I got a message about 4 days later saying that a few people came to check it out, but no one made the purchase, or had the cash. He told me if I wanted to pick it up for the $2100 + dinner it was all mine. I hopped in my truck, picked a buddy up, and made the hour trip to go pick it up. I felt bad that I was unable to grab dinner due to a time constraint of having work early in the AM, so I settled on buying the F4i for $2200. This was a fair price for a bike that I couldn’t test ride, needed some work, and was in a worse shape than I originally thought.
I knew the tank had a pretty good sized dent in it from an accident, but I didn’t realize the tires were about shot, and the rear shock was ultra soft. The photo above shows the original condition of the chain and sprocket vs. what the exact same chain and sprocket looked like after a little scrubbing. The first thing I did was order a new radiator off of Ebay. Upon taking the bike apart, I realized the crack in the radiator happened when the front suspension was bottomed out hitting the curb of his driveway and force the aftermarket Nautilus horn right into the radiator. The front fender had a hole the size of a post-it note from the incident as well. The next step was to sand down the tank and bondo the small dent that couldn’t be popped out. This process was a much longer undertaking than I expected.
I had a ride planned from Indianapolis down to Louisville for a charity ride and was up against the clock. Ultimately I decided not to attempt the tank painting and then put 500 miles on it the next weekend so I opted for the plastic dip as a temporary solution. I sprayed the tank, put a new set of Pilot Powers on, flushed all fluids, changed the oil/filter, and took off down towards Louisville. I decided to take the F4i instead of the zx-6r to stretch its legs a bit and put it through its paces before my girlfriend rode it. 500 miles later and it was still in one piece.
That summer I alternated riding the F4i and the zx-6r around town and down through southern Indiana. I loved the more upright position of the F4i, and the deep undertone of the exhaust that the Honda I-4’s are well known for. This particular example of the F4i was in much need of some proper suspension. The lowering of the bike by 2 inches through the use of a modified dog-bone wasn’t helping its case either, nor the 1.75 inches the forks were moved up in the triple clamps. The bike was noticeably slower in a straight line than the 636, but by no means would I call it a slow 600. It required a few small maintenance items that summer, including a new cam chain tensioner, which are known to weaken on these Honda’s over time, but nothing major.
At the end of the summer, I ultimately would have liked to keep the bike for some touring purposes. At the time however, my girlfriend told me that she didn’t want to ride a sportbike, but wanted a more upright and standard bike to learn on. This was some good, sound logic that I had to agree with so I listed it for sale. I had around $2850 wrapped up in the bike and ultimately sold it for $3200. The owner I bought it from would have liked to buy the bike back from me on a payment plan, but I had just purchased an engagement ring at the time and needed to build the ol’ savings account back up for my piece of mind.
Pros: This bike just felt light. On paper, it was heavier than my Ninja, but while riding, it wanted to hit the twisites. Comfort was also it’s middle name. I remember putting 300 miles or so in a day full of spirited riding. The longest I put on this bike was the first trip i mentioned earlier to Louisville, KY from Indianapolis, IN and back. Another benefit is that these are commonly used for stunt bikes so the stock OEM parts can be picked up pretty cheap. The F4i is also a decent chunk of change below the 600rr market value, around $500-1K less in my area. I also like the metal tank on the F4i as opposed to the plastic covers on the 600rr because this allows the use of a magnetic tank bag much easier for commuting or touring.
Cons: These are notorious for the cam chain tensioners going bad. If you go a quick google search, its a VERY common thing for the cct to go bad and then be replaced with a manual cct. The problem I had with this is the area where the cct gets installed on the F4i is tucked right inside the frame and very difficult for those with large hands to get to it without dropping the motor. My example of the F4i also needed a serious rear shock upgrade. I have been on a later model F4i, an 06, and that example had a much nicer, tighter setup so I think it was unique to my bike having some terrible suspension and being setup way too loose.
Overall: 7.5/10. The performance of this bike was down from my 636, but what it lacked in raw power band goodness, it more than made up for in comfort on the road. I was choosing to ride this 2:1 over the Kawasaki for the specific reason of comfort along with the increased capacity of the cargo compartment. I tend to recommend this bike a lot of times to people who have a little bit of experience and want to dabble in the super sports, while remaining comfortable enough to ride all day. I miss my Honda.
One thought on “2002 Honda CBR F4i: Review”
I miss my Honda too. 🙂 I have no idea how I stumbled upon your post, but I recognized the picture immediately! Glad you were able to enjoy her. I just picked up a new one last weekend. Just discovered the lovely cct placement too. Here’s a pic of her: https://instagram.com/p/5TLC0cQWfH/. I’m noticing a color theme. 😉