Books - Videos - DVDs

"Honda's V-Force" by Julian Ryder

V-Force book cover
This is a hardback book written by journalist Julian Ryder, who has been writing about motorcycles since 1982. He will be known to British viewers as one half of the team who used to commentate on Sky Sports' coverage of World Superbikes. The other was ex-GP racer Keith Heuwen. Anyone hearing his commentary during World Superbike races will know he is a mine of information, both technical and general, on the bikes, the riders and many of the less obvious aspects of top level motorcycle competition. He has also written "World Superbikes - the first ten years" and "Carl Fogarty, the complete racer". To say that Ryder knows his subject well is an understatement.

It was published in February 1999 by Haynes Publishing. The ten chapters (listed below) cover both the road and racing machinery using the v-four four-stroke engine layout. The race machines are discussed in detail - everything from the NR500, through the RVF750 which dominated World Championships in the 1980s, to the RC45. The chapters on road machines spend some time on the original Interceptor, the VF1000 and "the great camshaft crisis" before a detailed chapter on the VFR750. The book is thoroughly researched, and the insights into Honda's practice, the ups and downs of their racing exploits as well as the success of the road-going machines, makes it an involving read. This is not a corporate brochure trumpeting Honda's success, but a thoroughly involving dissection of the history behind this 'family' of motorcycles. Below I have given a brief precis of some of the more fascinating chapters.

The NR500 was the first oval-pistoned GP machine. Grand Prix rules had limited 500cc motorcycles to 4 cylinders, and the current state of the art were Sheene's RG500 and Roberts' YZ500 Yamaha. Both were two-strokes, with tubular steel chassis. The NR had a twin-skinned aluminium exoskeleton, rising-rate rear linkage and upside-down forks - in 1979! The NRs were bristling with new ideas, but while some of these ideas were ahead of their time, the bike as a whole was not ready for competition.

In 1985 the new-generation V4, the RVF750 won Honda all the races they considered important: the Suzuka 8-hours, the F1 TT and the Bol d'Or. Freddie Spencer won the Daytona 200 on a two-stroke. Joey Dunlop, already having won the World F1 championship three times in a row, won every round of the 1985 F1 championship. Despite this great success, consumers stayed away from the seemingly stricken v-four engined road bikes. That all changed with the VFR750. On a memorable day at Donington Park Ron Haslam won the Transatlantic Challenge Trophy on a stock VFR750. Then the VFR was voted "International Bike of the Year" by a group of leading journalists from 14 countries. Thus began the legend of the VFR, which is still regarded as the best all-round 'real world' motorcycle you can buy.

The chapters on the RC30 and RC45, like all the others, don't simply list the achievements of those models. It discusses in detail the successes and failures - where and when it won or was beaten, and the stories behind some of those events. Even if you are not a fan of Honda's v-fours but interested in four-stroke racing during the last 20 years, you would surely get plenty out of this book. There is a vast amount of information packed into the 157 pages, as well as great photographs, many by top photographer Kel Edge. Highly recommended reading.


  1. The NR500: a strange beginning
  2. The Sabre and the Water Whale
  3. The flight of the Interceptor
  4. The great camshaft crisis
  5. Perfection at last: the RVF750
  6. V4 vindication: the VFR750
  7. NR750: some kind of ultimate
  8. RC30: rewriting the rules
  9. VFR750, 400 and Magna development
  10. RC45: all change
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Other books

Mick Doohan story Mick Doohan - The Thunder From Down Under by Mat Oxley

The nearest we will get to an autobiography of the man who dominated GPs in the 1990s, considered by many to be the greatest motorcycle racer ever (at least until Rossi's domination in the following decade). This is a well-written book by journalist and racer Mat Oxley, and goes some way to describing the ups and downs of Mick's career, his attitude to racing, and gets behind the mask of the man who won five consecutive World Championships on the Honda NSR500.
US Dollars   /  UK Pounds
Rossi Moto Genius
Valentino Rossi - Moto Genius by Mat Oxley was originally published in the summer of 2002. The second edition was updated to tell the story of the 2002 and 2003 MotoGP seasons, adding to what was already an excellent account of the rise of arguably the greatest GP motorcycle racer ever.

The last time I checked (April 04) Amazon UK were offering an impressive 30% discount on this title. Click the Amazon links to take a look:

US Dollars or UK Pounds.

500cc World Champions book
The 500cc World Champions by Michael Scott.

This 160-page volume chronicles the greatest riders in the 500cc class, from the early days before the World Championship was founded in 1949, right through to the 2001 title winner. Heroes from the past such as Stanley Woods and Jimmy Guthrie, Giacomo Agostini, Geoff Duke, John Surtees and Mike Hailwood as well as those from the modern era.

US Dollars   /   UK Pounds

VF/VFR book by Clement Salvadori Honda VF and VFR Interceptor by Clement Salvadori

Veteran journalist Salvadori traces the history of the legendary VFR, from its roots in the V45 and V64 Magna, through the troublesome times of the VF750 to the VFR models that have consistently won awards and the hearts of riders all over the world.

Published by White Horse Press, the softback book (21 x 25cm or 8¼ x 9in) is available via Amazon in US Dollars or UK Pounds.
Magic of the TT by Mac McDiarmid The Magic of the TT by Mac McDiarmid

2004 saw a new volume devoted to the story of the TT, and who better to write about the magic of this island than Mac McDiarmid? The author of Joey Dunlop's biography and the annual Island Racer is an Isle of Man resident and has attended every TT since 1976. An updated version was published by Haynes in 2007.

The 2007 book is available at Amazon both in UK and USA.

Joey Dunlop

There have been a number of books about Joey Dunlop - read about them and much more on the Joey Dunlop page.

Haynes and Clymer manuals
Haynes manual for VFR750 VFR700 and VFR750
Haynes manual (1986-1997): US Dollars   /   UK Pounds
Clymer manual for VFR750 The Clymer manual for the VFR700 & VFR750 is also available.
US Dollars   /   UK Pounds
Haynes manual for VFR800 VFR800
Haynes manual: US Dollars   /  UK Pounds
Haynes manual for VFR400 & RVF400 VFR400 (NC30) and RVF400 (NC35)
Haynes manual: UK Pounds
Haynes manual for ST1100 ST1100 Pan European
Haynes manual (1990-2001): US Dollars   /   UK Pounds
Clymer manual for CBR900RR Fireblade CBR900RR Fireblade
Haynes manual for CBR900RR (1993-1998): US Dollars   / UK Pounds
Haynes 'Great bikes' series - The Fireblade: US Dollars   /   UK Pounds
Clymer Manual for CBR900RR (1993-1998): US Dollars   /   UK Pounds

The 1999 model Fireblade was virtually identical to the 1998 model, so it can be safely assumed the manuals cover this model (CBR900RR-X) too.
Haynes manual for VFR800 VTEC VFR800 VTEC
Haynes manual (2002-2009): UK Pounds   /   UK Pounds

Video & DVD

Rossi - MotoGP Trail of Glory DVD Valentino Rossi - Moto GP Trail Of Glory
A video to complement the 'Moto Genius' book discussed further up the page, Duke Video have released this story of Rossi's rise to fame.

Available from Amazon UK in DVD or VHS (PAL format)
There is plenty of coverage of Honda's v-fours on video. Any TT video from the 80's or 90's is likely to show RVFs or RC30s winning races. There are on-bike TT videos that will scare you witless. The two I would suggest are here.

V-Four Victory / The Road Racers on video and DVD V-Four Victory, from 1983, is the most revered, and features Joey Dunlop on his RS850, including his F1 victory at the Ulster GP and footage from the Isle of Man. It was the beginning of the V4 domination of the TT. Joey blew them all away, setting new lap and race records. It also records the first even 100mph+ lap with a camera on board, accompanied by Joey's laid back description.

It has recently been released on DVD with The Road Racers, and is still available on VHS video. The Road Racers includes spectacular riders-eye-view of racing on roads barely wide-enough to take a car, and a behind the scenes look into the lives of road racing legends Frank Kennedy, Mervyn Robinson and Joey Dunlop. Irish Bike said this about the videos:
"The Road Racers portrays Irish road racing in its purest form and director David Wallace captures the essence of road racing at the time to perfection. The film has a very nostalgic feel, especially when compared to the commercialised world of road racing that exists today.
V-Four Victory was directed by David Wood, it is a tribute to the fearless skills of Joey and indeed all who take up the TT challenge."

DVD review

We now have a copy of this DVD. The Road Racers is an intimate documentary of young men who just want to race. The roads are obviously dangerous, but racing is in the blood. Over time it has become a valuable slice of racing history, not least for recording the racing exploits of a young Joey Dunlop.

V-Four Victory combines Joey's 1983 Formula 1 world championship victory, showing his clear superiority on damp country roads, with the on-bike footage from the Isle of Man. This makes for a breathtaking view around the Island circuit. You don't have to be a Dunlop fan to enjoy these two films, but if you are they would be compulsory viewing.

You can use these links to Amazon UK to order the DVD and the VHS video (PAL format). The DVD is also available from Amazon USA.
TT On Bike 2 video On-Bike TT 2 features Allan 'Grandad' Warner on an RC30, and master of the 37-mile course TT Steve Hislop lapping at over 122mph on the RC45.

Having obtained a copy, I can agree with the cover quote, that it is " The only video I've ever watched that genuinely gave me that 'oh-me-gawd-I've-overcooked-this-one' feeling in the pit of my stomach." Steve Hislop's lap is mind-blowing (he rides it like a short circuit scratcher), while Grandad's slightly less frantic lap aboard an RC30 allows you to recognise a few bits of scenery and appreciate the sound of the V4. There is a 600cc supersport ride and Mick Boddice's sidecar too, adding up to 80mins of on-board action.

Details of all the on-bike videos can be found under 'Bikes' on the Duke Video website, while you can order a copy from Amazon UK.
One Man's Island DVD One Man's Island is a documentary tracing one man's lifetime dream, to enter the 2002 TT. It features on-board footage as well as scenes away from the circuit. It is available directly from, where you can also read his chronicle published in Motorcyclist magazine.

We have our own review of this fascinating story on this page.
TT Documentary DVD TT - A Film Documentary features footage and Radio TT broadcasts from the 2003 Isle of Man TT. According to producers Duke Video, "This is the closest you’ll get to the unmistakable experience of a TT fortnight without crossing 70 miles of Irish Sea.". Naturally it shows the racing, but tries to capture why many racers and fans make the effort to travel there year after year.

The footage of riders tackling the world's most demanding circuit alternates with clips of island life, the party atmosphere and interviews. It gives an accurate taste of what it's like to be there, though of course comes nowhere near replicating what it's like at the bottom of Bray Hill during a race! If you want to know what it's really like you have to go. And most people won't stop at going once.

Update late 2005:  the documentary has won the Audience web award and received an Honourable Mention at the Sports Movies and TV Festival in Milan, which attracted 900 entries.

Duke Video produce both PAL and NTSC formats. The PAL version is available through Amazon UK.