Reliable Excellence | Honda CB400
If a manufacturer set out to design a naked learner bike, hitting that category smack-bang between the eyeballs, they’d present the CB400 to the company board and sit back with smug satisfaction. It really defines the genre at its most pure. Very Japanese, very Honda.
The bike cleverly pays homage to one of Honda’s most successful mid-capacity offerings, the CB400F Supersport, which was an instant hit, both here and indeed globally at release in 1975. Interestingly, that bike is as popular today as ever and you’ll pay too much for a second-hand one. This bike also represents a significant investment, at $9999 (plus on-road costs). Something to consider.
Ergonomics are simply perfect. Knees sit nice and neutrally against the narrow tank and the seat to footpeg relationship is just about spot-on for my 178cm frame. Fit and finish is classy, as is Honda’s way. The criticism that Honda gets about being ‘boring’ must keep the lads in Hamamatsu awake at night. What are they supposed to do? Make them rougher? Design in a couple of annoying idiosyncrasies? One of motorcycling’s great ironies.
Our test bike’s Candy Red two-tone livery was very attractive and of benchmark quality. Adding to all that is the red Showa springs fitted to the preload adjustable rear suspension. The bike comes with combined ABS, a great plus for the peace of mind offered by the set-up.
The engine is buzzy at 6000rpm, especially on the overrun. This manifests in vibrations in the seat, the ’bars remaining unaffected. Considering you’ll be at 5000rpm at 80km/h and 6000rpm at 100km/h, it becomes a consideration. The horn button is also oddly placed above the blinker switch. On three occasions I hit the horn, rather than the blinker. That’s not great, considering the on-road situations it could create.
The whole deal is geared short, which keeps you nicely in the power when pushing around town. The Hyper VTEC offers variable valve timing to optimise power across the rev range. It operates almost imperceptibly, the spread of power very linear indeed. Good news again for the newcomer.
The front end was a little soft and divey under brakes, but the upside is a plush ride.
The bike is a great option for the less-experienced rider. It’s user-friendliness and virtually guaranteed reliability is its calling card. Whether there is enough excitement on offer for a more experienced rider is questionable. The linear power delivery is wonderful for the newbie and a little sleepy if you’ve been ’round a bit. Again, an unfair criticism, but that’s what you get for being so profoundly competent.
Configuration In-line four
Cylinder head DOHC 16-valves
Bore/stroke 55 x 42mm
Compression ratio 11.3:1
Power: 39kW at 9000rpm
Torque: 38Nm at 9500rpm
Final drive Chain
Frame layout Double cradle
Front: 41mm Showa telescopic fork with preload adjustment
Rear: Twin remote reservoir Showa shocks with spring preload adjustment
Wheels 10-spoke cast aluminium | Front: 3.5 x 17, Rear: 4.5 x 17
Tyres Bridgestone BT-50
Front 120/60ZR17 (55W)
Rear 160/60ZR17 (69W)
Front: Twin 285mm discs with six-piston Nissin calipers, ABS
Rear: 235mm disc with single-piston Nissin caliper, Combined ABS
Weight 200kg (claimed, wet)
Seat height 755mm
Max length 2040mm
Fuel capacity 18L
Fuel USE Not given
Top speed Not given
CONTACT & SALE INFO
Test bike Honda MPE
Colour options Graphite Black two tone, Candy Red two tone and Pearl White two tone.
Warranty 24 months/unlimited kilometres
Price From $9999 (plus on-road costs)
High-end fit and finish
Vibrations intrude at 6000rpm
LCD display hard to read
Quick Fang by Greg Leech