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Thread: Thinking of a CB400F

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    At Work iansoady's Avatar
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    Default Thinking of a CB400F


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    Time for a change from the SLR650 and I'm considering CB400s. I must admit it's those lovely curvy exhausts that attracts me, being the shallow person that I am. Things to look out for?

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    Should Get Out More Julian_Boolean's Avatar
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    Default Re: Thinking of a CB400F

    Which CB400, the old single cam or the 90s onward twin cam?

    BTW there's the NC36 that looks a lot like the original 750/4

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    Default Re: Thinking of a CB400F

    Going from the description of lovely curvy exhausts, I'm guessing Ian means the CB400F form the 70's. I doubt if he means the 400T or $00N and I don't know anything about the later models except I wouldn't describe their pipes as lovely.

    If my guess is correct, please read on. If incorrect, please pass without wasting your time.

    The 70's 400/4 models.

    Things to look out for? I can't think of much that's serious unless there's been a lack of maintenance, which can be said for most bikes. Obviously, there will be normal wear and tear with any old bike.

    As with many Hondas of the time, the camshaft runs directly in the head so regular oil changes is a must to prevent dirt blocking the rather small oilways. Keep them well lubricated and the bearing surfaces show little wear after 100k miles.

    Cam chain rattle is a common occurrence. This is because it is (allegedly) self-adjusting whereby you release a locking screw(?bolt?) which allows a spring to push down on a rod that presses a pivoting u-shaped piece that pushes up on the tensioner. And breathe. After a time, the pivot sticks so you have to manually tap the top end of the rod which then....... Some owners aren't aware of how to do this, or snap off the bolt heads. Excessive rattle can wear through the tunnel between the barrels. A little bit for a shor time will be OK.

    The front disc brake's activating arm rotates on a pin when the brake is applied. It has a single piston so if the arm sticks ( more likely through the winter when crud gets everywhere), the efficacy of the brake is reduced because it doesn't press onto the disc properly. Couple this with the lovely, shiny, non-rusting disc that doesn't work when wet, it's worth a bit of practice using the rear brake. I think some of the bigger Hondas had a similar set-up at the time.

    They did have a reputation for having a bit of problem with the electrics in the wet because the coils are under the tank towards the front where water can be flung up onto them. Copious amounts of gasket goo round anything electrical that may be exposed stops that.

    Standard rear shocks were always soft but they can be changed.

    The chromed mudguards and chain guard rust.

    The CB400F has pillion footrests on the swinging arm so any passengers have a tendency to bounce about a bit. This was changed for the F1. The F2 had the more fancy paint colours. There are more Parakeet Yellow bikes on the road now than ever came out of the factory.

    A well sorted bike will top 100mph, just, but I've only done it once. It's the only time on any bike and it scared the doo-dah out of me. Not because it handled badly, which it doesn't normally*, but I kept thinking of what would happen if I got a front puncture on the tubed tyre. It will flick from side to side very quickly when you want it to.

    Many spares are readily available but the prices have gone up in the last few years. The worst thing is that when doing any engine work, because it has 4 cylinders and 4 carbs you often need to buy 4 replacements. This may not seem worth the input for a small old bike but that depends on how much you go on to use it.

    *I did have a full lock-to lock-tank slapper on mine but that was probably a mixture of badly loaded camping gear and a bumpy bend in Lincolnshire. I saved it through great skill and technical expertise. An alternative version is that while I was going through various stages of panic, the bike sorted itself out so I didn't come off.

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    Default Re: Thinking of a CB400F

    Many thanks Janet, I had an idea you were expert on these (just wait till I'm considering an LE.....)

    Yes it is the earlier bikes I'm considering. One thing that may put me off is that they always look a bit on the small side and I'm quite a large chap. However, many years ago I did run around on an S90...

    I probably won't be doing too much wet riding but take your points on board. ISTR that 70s disc brakes didn't work in the wet (and my Commando's certainly didn't). Do modern pads sort this out?

    Early days yet but I've never had a Japanese 4 so it's about time I did. This will be my "modern" bike so I may also consider the later models as mentioned by Julian but as I said I do like the look of the early ones and remember being very impressed when they first came out although at that time being a dedicated Brit bike owner.

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    Should Get Out More Julian_Boolean's Avatar
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    Default Re: Thinking of a CB400F

    The later twin cam 4s are a lot better, but they're 15 years newer so they should be, they're also a hell of a lot cheaper, but were only available as a grey import.

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    Default Re: Thinking of a CB400F

    I came past one parked up today with this thread in mine.
    They are tiny and although I lusted after them back in the day the later grey imports look nicer.

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    Should Get Out More KungFooBob's Avatar
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    Default Re: Thinking of a CB400F

    The JDM single cylinder CB400SS and CL400 are both proper smart looking retro bikes.

    Buy one with a blown motor and fit the engine out of your Vigor

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    Default Re: Thinking of a CB400F

    Quote Originally Posted by Julian_Boolean View Post
    The later twin cam 4s are a lot better, but they're 15 years newer so they should be, they're also a hell of a lot cheaper, but were only available as a grey import.
    It's not about being better, it's about the grin factor.

    Ian, regarding the size, I used to know a 6' 3" chap who rode one regularly. If it's not the image but the actual comfort, you need to check the distance between the seat and the footrest as that's what really matters, not how low to the ground it is. One thing to note is that the pegs seem set a little to the rear of the seating position but that could just be me because being a bit short in the limb, I have to sit forward to reach the handlebars properly. I can't put the balls of both my feet on the ground at the same time. It's either one foot solidly on the floor, or the toes of both feet.

    As for the brakes, I don't think modern pads make a great deal of improvement. I find gently applying the brakes at intervals when they're not needed helps to dry them off for when they are.

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    Default Re: Thinking of a CB400F

    I remember the 70s 400/4 being regarded as one of the most practical classics. The exhaust did look pretty period-trick.

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    Default Re: Thinking of a CB400F

    Quote Originally Posted by MyLittleStudPony View Post
    I remember the 70s 400/4 being regarded as one of the most practical classics. The exhaust did look pretty period-trick.
    Have you seen the pipes on the recent CB650F?

    Proper 400/4-a-like.


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    Default Re: Thinking of a CB400F

    Yes the pipes are nice but the bike as a whole looks a mess (which TBH most modern machines do in my eyes). They all seem to have that transformer-ish look about them and ridiculously high seats.

    WRT comfort I always find this site useful although it isn't absolutely comprehensive and seems to have been abandoned lately.

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    Default Re: Thinking of a CB400F

    Quote Originally Posted by iansoady View Post
    Yes the pipes are nice but the bike as a whole looks a mess (which TBH most modern machines do in my eyes). They all seem to have that transformer-ish look about them and ridiculously high seats.

    WRT comfort I always find this site useful although it isn't absolutely comprehensive and seems to have been abandoned lately.
    how dare you be so rude to my future bike.

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    Default Re: Thinking of a CB400F

    I had a 400/4 back in 1982, it was a '76 model from memory. It wasn't as quick as the CB400n (Superdream) and didn't handle as well. It was however, a much more pleasant bike to ride, to look art and to listen to.
    I'd have another in a heartbeat. but a 90's version would probably be more sensible..

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    Annoying The Idiots Yorick's Avatar
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    Default Re: Thinking of a CB400F

    Janet ?

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    Default Re: Thinking of a CB400F

    As it happens I (my wife TBH) have one for sale, just about to take it for an MOT this coming weekend.

    On top of the stuff BB has said, fuseboxes have a tendency to melt, especially if you put a more modern bulb in the headlight. Tinware (front and rear guards, seat base chainguard) rots, looms die, top rings have a tendency to break (makes them hard to start, but will still pull 85+) OEM pipes are heavy and ludicrously expensive. The headlight/indicator mounting frame up front rots out in the middle. Oil filter bolt hex is small and has a tendency to end up butchered.

    All of the above has been replaced on my wifes one, stainless pipe, braided brake lines, K&Ns and jetted to suit, top end recently done, rewired with proper relays etc.

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