Honda CB400F – A Classic Honda Motorcycle

The Honda CB400F motorcycle was a big-bore version of the old 350 Four built by Honda but often accused of being underpowered. With the advent of the Honda CB400F the 'classic four' line up gave Honda the 400, 550 and 750 fours that a lot of their early reputation was built on for fast reliable bikes.

Certainly compared to things like the old British vertical twins which by the late seventies were really beginning to show their design age.

A great bike for shorter people -Women loved it

The Honda CB400F was immensely popular with both those short in the leg and ladies as its more compact dimensions made it easier to cope with without having to balance on tip-toe at every set of lights or stop sign you came to.

Although it had more poke than the 350 it replaced it still couldn't be described as a fast bike but it was adequate for a lot of people and affordable for the rest who might have preferred the CB750 if finances had allowed.

Top speed was just over the ton but it was always going to be working hard on fast open roads. Cruising at 70 mph would have 7,000 rpm on the tacho, even with the new six-speed 'box that the 400 had instead of the 350's five-speed. The red line was at 10,000 rpm and it helped to keep it between 6,000 rpm and 9,000 rpm if you wanted decent performance.

On the other hand, it was a motorcycle where if you wanted decent economy and rode it steadily it would easily give you 60mpg (imperial).

Handling was also excellent. It was a bike ideally suited to Britain's narrow twisty back lanes were it could be flicked from one side to the other with ease and confidence. Brakes were adequate rather than awe inspiring in the dry and slightly less appealing in the wet.

Fast, fun and reliable...

The Honda CB400F became something of a cult classic in the three years it was sold in the UK and people were disappointed when Honda dropped it from the line up. But, unfortunately, the bike hadn't proved as popular in other countries and without better sales it was doomed.

Reliability was never a problem, although it had the usual Honda malady of short-lived cam chain life, but most were more than willing to put up with that as they were usually good for 20,000 miles which would have taken may UK owners several years to rack up.

The ignition was old fashioned contact breakers, two sets and twin coils. A single disc at the front and a drum at the rear meant most of the cycle parts were pretty straight forward keeping maintenance cheap and easy for those who liked to work on their own bikes.

The sadness many felt when it was deleted from the line up was hardly displaced by its replacement the uninspiring CB360 twin.

Alston Seymour
 

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