The Honda Interceptor, or lovingly known as the “Viffer” because of the VFR800 engine, is a popular series of sports-touring bike produced from 1998 onward.
A favorite in the sports-touring community, the Interceptor is Honda’s fiery and fierce answer to fans of high-tech, high-powered sport riding as well as long distance touring aficionados looking for comfort.
It might seem tough to find any problems with a bike held in such high esteem, but even a legend like the Interceptor does have a few blind spots to keep an eye on.
Model and generation-specific problems include regulator/rectifiers, cam chain tensioners, and some owners complained about the expensive service on the VTEC models. Electrical system recalls were reported for the 2002-2005 models, as well as brake/hydraulic systems for the years 2002-2004, which we will cover in this article.
The regulator/rectifier is an integral part of a Honda Interceptor’s charging system. I’d like to take a moment to take a deeper look at how a regulator/rectifier works so you can properly diagnose and fix any issues you might be having on your Interceptor.
A regulator/rectifier changes AC (alternating current) to DC (direct current) so that the alternator can charge the battery with the proper amount of voltage.
The regulator/rectifier makes sure that the right amount of current is flowing through your charging system.
The regulator/rectifier also turns all the incoming AC power into outgoing DC power that can flow back into your battery and keep it charged.
Many Honda Interceptor owners reported the most common problem being premature regulator/rectifier failure.
To be fair to Honda, regulator/rectifiers on any make or model of motorcycle will wear out over time and aren’t specific to the Interceptor alone but do certainly pop up as one of the significant issues with the series.
How Does a Regulator/Rectifier Fail?
If your regulator/rectifier is sending too low a current, the battery will begin to drain slowly. On the other hand, if a regulator allows too much voltage through to the battery, the battery can get hot enough to fry it completely and even explode.
Here are some symptoms of a regulator/rectifier that is not sending enough voltage to the battery.
- Difficulty starting the bike.
- Bike not starting at all because of the low-voltage slow drain on your battery.
- Engine failure while riding if a battery becomes fully drained.
- Headlights that are dimmed or fluttering.
- Inconsistent voltage readings.
Most riders who experienced a malfunctioning regulator/rectifier that was sending too much voltage to a battery reported feeling a lot of heat from the regulator/rectifier.
This is due to its closeness to the Interceptor’s VFR800 engine in an unvented, high-heat area. The powerful V4 engine can generate enough heat to overload the sensitive regulator/rectifier.
More commonly, Interceptor owners/riders said the regulator/rectifier was more likely to be sending too low of a current, and had issues with starting, battery drain, and even engine failure due to the drained battery.
If your Interceptor is experiencing these symptoms, it’s well worth it to test your charging system because chances are you have a failed or failing regulator/rectifier.
You can buy an inexpensive voltmeter at virtually any auto parts store, and you don’t need to be an electrical whiz to use one!
How to Test the Regulator/Rectifier on Your Honda Interceptor
Here are the simple steps to test the regulator/rectifier:
1. To start out, test the battery voltage. Using your handy new or borrowed voltmeter, test the battery’s voltage reading by placing the meter probes on the battery terminals (red to red, black to black!).
You should be getting a reading of voltage between 13v and 15v.
If your voltmeter is showing a reading above 15v, your regulator/rectifier is allowing too much current through to the battery.
If you get a reading below 13v, the regulator/rectifier isn’t pushing enough current through.
2. Next, detach the Honda Interceptor’s wires.
3. Change your voltmeter to the diode setting.
4. Check your regulator/rectifier by attaching the voltmeter’s positive probe to the Interceptor’s positive diode and the negative probe to the Interceptor’s stator input.
This test should produce no reading or ‘0.’
5. For the following test segment, place the voltmeter’s negative probe to the positive diode on the Interceptor and put the positive probe on the stator input.
You should get a reading here, but the number’s not so much relative as just getting a reading in general.
6. Now repeat steps 4 and 5 on the Interceptor’s negative diode.
The positive voltmeter probe to negative diode and negative probe to stator input should still produce ‘0’ and the negative probe to negative diode and positive probe to stator input should give a general voltage reading.
If either of these readings is incorrect, or if your battery is reading outside of the acceptable range of voltage (13v-15v), it’s probably time to replace your Interceptor’s regulator/rectifier.
There’s plenty of aftermarket regulator/rectifiers that can be used to replace Honda’s stock regulator/rectifier and it’s relatively easy to do.
My guess is you’ll call your trusted service professional about servicing your Honda Interceptor and they’ll ask right away if you’re bringing it in to replace the regulator/rectifier!
2. Cam Chain Tensioners on 2002-2013 Honda Interceptor VFR800 VTEC models
In 2002, Honda replaced the Interceptor’s VFR800Fi engine with the VTEC model, a supposed improvement to its predecessor, to mixed reviews.
The VTEC models came with an automatic Cam Chain Tensioner (CCT) made of an alloy that seems to wear out in an untimely fashion.
How very like the innovative scientists and engineers to replace the more common manual CCT on the tech-y Honda Interceptor with the automatic CCT!
Unfortunately for Interceptor riders, there are ‘glitches’ with this cutting edge technology that need to be worked out.
An automatic CCT works just like it sounds-it adjusts immediately to the changes in cam chain tension as needed. The Interceptor’s timing chain connects the camshafts with the motor crankshaft, so they pump in harmony with one another.
As the automatic CCT begins to wear down and malfunction, it cannot keep up with the automatic adjustments to the cam chain, causing a loose or slapping cam chain. The noise this creates should be enough to make you cringe!
The downside to all of this is that an automatic CCT cannot be adjusted by hand, making the part a useless hunk of alloy if the automatic function of the tensioner is too worn to work.
You’re going to have to replace the worn out CCT with any number of more reliable aftermarket Cam Chain Tensioners.
The good news is that replacing your Honda Interceptor’s Cam Chain Tensioner will keep it on the road for a lot longer with no worry about the malfunction of your cam shaft or crankshaft.
On a final note concerning the Honda Interceptor’s automatic CCT-these automatic units can just as easily be replaced with a manually adjustable version by a Honda mechanic or certified service professional.
The manually adjustable CCT is considered to be a much more reliable alternative and can extend the life of your engine.
3. Expensive 16,000 Mile Service for VTEC Models
Although the VTEC engines manufactured to replace the once-popular VFR800Fi in the Honda Interceptor were greeted less-than-warmly when introduced, these VTEC models have become more popular over the years.
Honda recommends a valve inspection and adjustment where needed at the 16,000 mile mark, a servicing that many forum contributors found to be costly and often unnecessary.
One Australian user posted the following about the expense of the 16,000 mile service on his Honda Interceptor:
“VFR’s are renowned for their longevity, so it sounds total BS to me. I am in the same situation with my Eighth gen, only done 24,000km ( I am sure the first valve service is recommended at 24,000km) I will almost certainly wait another 12,000km though. Have been quoted AUD$1000 for the full service, including valves.”
Although it is always recommended to stick with the manufacturer’s recommendation for mileage or time-table services, the Honda Interceptor is an incredibly reliable motorcycle. Many reports suggest you can do the valve-and-cover service at 32,000 miles instead of 16,000.
4. Thermostat Malfunction
Honda Interceptor thermostats tend to stick in the closed position.
When this happens, the thermostat isn’t sending the signal for the coolant temperature sensor to switch on the fan and your engine overheats.
Whether this is due to a faulty thermostat that came stock with the Honda Interceptor, or just to the age of these bikes (older models are getting up in the decades), it is highly recommended to replace the thermostats, especially in the older models.
Something as small as a coolant thermostat should never be the reason you have catastrophic engine failure. The thermostat is manageable for an amateur, mechanically inclined person to replace.
If you don’t feel comfortable doing this to your Honda Interceptor, plenty of seasoned mechanics are all-too-aware of this common problem with the model and can fix it at a reasonable rate.
Any model produced as long as the Honda Interceptor is bound to have some parts recalls and many are fixable at Honda dealerships even if your bike isn’t under warranty.
If you are buying a used Honda Interceptor, be sure to ask the seller about the following general recalls:
- Electrical system recalls on 2002-2005 Honda Interceptors
- Service Brakes/Hydraulic recalls on all 2002-2004 Interceptor models
General Pros and Cons for the Honda Interceptor
Here are some of the pros and cons of the Honda Interceptor:
- Honda Interceptors are one of the longest lasting runs of bikes, spanning 8 generations from 1998 until the present because of their incredible, powerful V4 engines.
- Sporty enough for the street rider.
- Comfort and durability for longer road adventures.
- Each Interceptor generation has offered updated tech keeping the bike on the cutting edge, but is still user friendly.
- Sleek design-the ultimate sport bike look.
- Recent survey shows Honda Interceptor regulator/rectifiers are faulty parts about 1/3 of the time.
- Automatic Cam Chain Tensioners wear out too quickly, causing loud engine noise and costly repair
- Expensive (and potentially unnecessary) valve and cover service at 16,000 miles on the VTEC model engines.
- Thermostat malfunction causing overheating on engines that don’t have the appropriate amount of coolant flowing through them.
What the Reviews Say
“…be comfortable on your daily commute, join the boys on a fun weekend ride, and take that long road trip you’ve been talking about…all on your VFR. I have, and I highly recommend it.”
It tracks like it’s on rails, and feels a bit lighter to ride in the twisties than expected. It’s easy to toss from side to side, and ground clearance is impressive. Easy to change lines mid-corner, and it feels sporty and very willing to be ridden aggressively. Very stable in the corners, yet responsive. On the highway, it is very stable and tracks extremely well with no twitchiness.
All prices are considered used in good condition with average mileage:
- 2002 Honda Interceptor $2,720
- 2003 Honda Interceptor: $3,010
- 2004 Honda Interceptor: $3,055
- 2006 Honda Interceptor: $2,930
- 2007 Honda Interceptor: $3,790
- 2008 Honda Interceptor: $3,955
- 2010 Honda Interceptor: $5,420
- 2014 Honda Interceptor: $6,300