Honda CB400 – Small Size, Big Smiles



The Honda CB750, it is widely agreed, changed the landscape of the Motorcycle industry forever, often pointed at as the defining moment that toppled the British motorcycle empire from dominance and redefined the industry standard. Honda, knowing it was on to a good thing, thought what if we made it smaller? The CB550 Four was the answer, in 1971. Then the CB350 Four in 1972 – but the 350 Four was outshone by their own CB350 Twin (more on that another day!), that proved to be a little too much over-correction, and so they arrived at their answer in 1974, with the release of the Honda CB400 Four.

The 400/4 does a lot right – It looks attractive even today, with certainly one of the sexiest looking factory exhaust systems of all time, paired with a classic minimalist style that is yet to go out of fashion. Chrome in all the right places, spoked 18 inch wheels at each end and factory colour schemes that were straightforward but eye catching. Honda made improvements to the forks and swingarm over the 350/4, and upped the engine capacity to 408cc. Performance wise, the motor produced 37 horsepower getting to the back wheel through a 6 speed transmission, a first for a Honda road bike. While that might not sound a lot given today’s standards, pushing this light package through to the 10,000prm redline gives a surprisingly exhilarating experience even for riders used to larger more modern machines – in short it is a perfect recipe for classic fun. With the improvements available nowadays in suspension and tyre choices, these 45 year old machines are a few upgrades away from being, in our opinion, one of the most enjoyable small capacity classics on the road today.

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Retro Moto

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