1977 Honda CB400F
Frame no. CB400F2102881
After introducing the game-changing four-cylinder CB750 Superbike in 1969, Honda followed with a string of smaller capacity four-cylinder models; the CB500 Four in 1971 and the CB350 Four in 1972. The CB350F was available for two years until Honda announced the CB400F model.
For the most part, the CB400F was simply an upgraded version of the 350 model from the previous year. At the time Honda’s R&D department had devoted much of its resources towards automobile models. This meant that motorbike development was limited to mechanical changes. In order to develop the CB350F into the CB400F, Honda increased the bore and modified the cylinder head to raise the compression ratio. In a first for Honda, a sixth ratio was fitted to the gearbox. Instead of copying the styling of the bigger CB750, like the 350F, the CB400F had a more café racer-look with lower handle bars, rear set footpegs and more svelte styling. It also gained one its most recognizable attributes, a swooping four-into-one exhaust system.
Although aimed at the sporting segment of the market, the four-stroke CB400F did not have the acceleration of the competition’s two-strokes, particularly the triples from Kawasaki. But what the CB400F engine lacked in power it made up for in refinement, the small-displacement four-stroke being smoother, quieter and much more economical than the two-strokes. However, Ron Haslam won the 1980 Formula 3 title on a CB400F prepared by Honda dealer Nettleton Motorcycles. He also came third in the F3 class at the Isle of Man TT on the same machine.
The CB400F was well received by the motoring press and reviewers. They praised its renewed focus over the previous 350F model, preferring its clean lines and sporty café racer looks.
The bike offered here, of 1977 vintage, is in truly stunning condition. Fully restored, the bike runs perfectly. Little is known of the exact details of the restoration, but from the power and ease of the engine, I suspect a full rebuild was undertaken. It shifts smoothly and is a blast to ride. All electrical systems work as they should, as do brakes and suspension.
Cosmetically, the bike is excellent with fresh paint, powder-coating and chrome finishes throughout.
The Hondas of the era continue to win the hearts of collectors, a sandcast 750 just taking Best of Show at the Quail Motorcycle Gathering. So, this is a rare opportunity to buy a truly excellent example of Honda’s iconic ‘4’ in the more diminutive capacity than the big brother 750.