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I've also read in a couple of publications [classic m/cycle mechanics?] that Honda themselves recognised the problem of grenading plastic fans during these bikes production run and started fitting steel fans.

I have never seen one of these on any bike, nor for sale on ebay or similar.

Has anyone else seen or heard of this?

I tend to think it's misinformation.

Misinformation for sure, Honda never offered anything except the plastic fan. I don't know how much of a useful endeavor it is to balance or find a replacement for the fan. It's still readily available brand new from Honda for about $25. Still have the factory originals on my bikes, inspected and there are no cracks or other signs of imminent failure.
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