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Author Topic: '77 Honda CB400 - should I buy it?  (Read 396 times)

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mattsz

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on: October 14, 2018, 04:18:20 pm
I'd like some input if anyone is interested...

A friend was selling this bike three years ago, and I looked at it and rode it.  It needed some tuning, but it ran pretty well.  It had some condition issues.  I didn't buy it.  Now, he's contacted me via email to tell me it's stored at a friend's who wants it gone - it's still for sale, and "the price is right!"

I don't know what he means by that (three years ago, he was asking too much, assuming it would sell easily to some cafe racer dreamer), but before I talk to him about it, I thought I'd run it by you guys to see what you think the "right price" might be.  I understand that it's difficult or impossible to judge based on some photos and video, but it's all I have.  I imagine I could get my hands on it again to look it over, but I don't know if it's running (maybe) or road-legal (probably not!).  At least I can quiz him on what storage steps were taken...

I'm not sure I would want to own such a bike long-term, but it could be fun to buy and work on... "if the price is right"...

Here's a google photos album of the pics I took three years ago - interestingly, I didn't bother to take a photo of the whole bike, side-on:

https://photos.app.goo.gl/KAHnNEBDir375PbSA

And here's a little youtube video of it running - it was a warm start -  it took a few kicks and some throttle juggling to get it to catch, but it idled well once it did...

https://youtu.be/Szxke8bD_dg



Richard230

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Reply #1 on: October 14, 2018, 04:51:06 pm
I sold my red 1975 Honda CB400F, with 10K miles on the clock in 1977. I bought the bike new for $1,400. I traded it in on a 1977 Honda CB550 and received $800 in trade-in credit for the 400.  Frankly, I thought the 550 was a much better motorcycle, smoother, more powerful and it handled better.
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mattsz

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Reply #2 on: October 14, 2018, 09:12:16 pm
Good to know, Richard!  You've got some experience with these things; any thoughts on pricing?  I'm looking around the internet for sales examples to use as a guideline, and I'm not finding much...


Richard230

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Reply #3 on: October 15, 2018, 08:14:10 am
Good to know, Richard!  You've got some experience with these things; any thoughts on pricing?  I'm looking around the internet for sales examples to use as a guideline, and I'm not finding much...

Sorry, I don't have a clue about "classic" Japanese motorcycle pricing. That will require some internet research. But in my limited experience, it really depends upon the market for a particular model, how many are still around and how desirable they are felt to be by riders who want to relive their motorcycle experiences of 40 years ago. Plus, it also depends upon how many of those bikes are on the market at any particular time, how many parts are still original and what condition the bike is in. Those factors might affect the price of the bike by plus or minus 100%. Keep in mind that old Japanese motorcycles are not Brough Superiors or Vincents and their value depends more on owners who want to relive their youth and not on collectors who are investing in old motorcycles because they are a lot cheaper than buying classic cars and who just want to make a profit in the future.

The Honda CB400 has always been a nice looking bike and that tends to color the memories of people who want to buy one. But once you get on one and start riding it you might find that, compared with modern motorcycles, it doesn't quite fit your 40-year old memories. Plus, parts can be hard to source and expensive. Having said that, the CB400F is probably a good investment that won't cost too much and is likely to increase in value in the future (as the value of the dollar drops). The bottom line is how does the bike grab your heartstrings and what is that worth to you?  ;)
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Carlsberg Wordsworth

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Reply #4 on: October 15, 2018, 03:00:55 pm
Hey mattz this place could help you should you buy.

https://www.davidsilverspares.co.uk/CB400F-SUPER-SPORT-1977-USA/

Also a US site.

https://www.davidsilverspares.com/

No idea what you should pay though.


mattsz

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Reply #5 on: October 17, 2018, 11:24:59 am
Thanks guys!

Carlsberg Wordsworth, I'll make a note of those sites.  And, it looks like I'll be looking for winter storage for another bike, as the current owner of this one just informed me that I misunderstood his joke about the price being right: he wants to give it to me outright.  Doesn't get much right-er than that!  When I look back at his original email, he didn't say it was "still for sale," he wondered if I was still interested in it.  I just assumed...

I'm cuurious to see what two years of uncared-for storage has done since I last rode it.  Anyway, I'm happy to have the (now obviously very fortunate) opportunity to fiddle with a fun little bike while I've already got a decent rider...



Stanley

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Reply #6 on: October 17, 2018, 12:40:23 pm
You're lucky to find such a nice example in original condition with the genuine exhaust.
Enjoy!
It's the right part number so it might fit.


mattsz

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Reply #7 on: October 17, 2018, 06:19:33 pm
You're lucky to find such a nice example in original condition with the genuine exhaust.
Enjoy!

Yup!  Thanks!


ace.cafe

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Reply #8 on: October 17, 2018, 06:38:01 pm
I had a friend who bought a new red 1977 CB400F. We rode together from DC to NYC,  and he continued on to Boston.

His bike handled highway speeds just fine, and we did a few high speed runs along the way. His bike seemed to be able to do about 90 mph.

It was a nice looking bike, and I always liked them. Probably can do about the same general things that a RE 500 can do. Maybe a little bit faster than the RE.


Bilgemaster

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Reply #9 on: October 18, 2018, 03:50:05 am
Well, the price is certainly right! If it's still ANYthing near as pretty as your video of yore, you've done very well indeed. Even though my tastes have always tended towards the British or mid-century German stuff, I've always had a sneaking admiration for that whole CB line of the '70s, with that CB400F Four and the earlier twin CB350s (particularly the gold and black ones of '71 and '72) never failing to press all my like buttons. They're just great-looking reliable no-drama bikes.

In their day in Britain the "400 Four" was pretty much regarded as THE mount to have for smaller gals or "vertically challenged" gentlemen who wanted to be able to get both feet firmly on the ground. For such diminutive folks the power-to-weight ratio of that silky-smooth little 400 was also more than adequate.  Frankly, for anyone happy on a Bullet it will be too. Sure, many folks prefer the extra "oomph" of the 550s and 750s, but hey, if you don't want that 400, I'd give it a fine home. It's kinda like what, I think, crime novelist Raymond Chandler said about 45s: "If you have to use a 45, why not just use a pickaxe?" A 400 Four's got more than enough gumption to get you down the tarmac smartly. And if you have an adventurous ladyfriend who's maybe up for a little touring, well there's her mount. It and a Bullet wouldn't be too woeful a pairing on those Maine byways of yours, I'd say. Just try to keep the Bullet on lead.
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mattsz

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Reply #10 on: October 18, 2018, 09:33:44 am
In their day in Britain the "400 Four" was pretty much regarded as THE mount to have for smaller gals or "vertically challenged" gentlemen who wanted to be able to get both feet firmly on the ground.

I'm not exactly a heavyweight, but I'm not what you'd call "vertically challenged," either, at over six feet tall...


Bilgemaster

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Reply #11 on: October 18, 2018, 10:41:48 am
Oh, it's still all good. I'm 5'11", and I'd LOVE to have one. Just saying that back in its day the 400 Four was the go-to ride for those whose little piggies needed to really stretch to hit asphalt. Otherwise, its refined smoothness will be a superb contrast to the Enfield's thuckety-thuck. Both are nice. Different and nice.
« Last Edit: October 18, 2018, 10:45:34 am by Bilgemaster »
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mattsz

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Reply #12 on: October 18, 2018, 11:20:09 am
As I recall, it felt comfortable and fit OK last time I rode it...  8)


Richard230

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Reply #13 on: October 18, 2018, 04:19:09 pm
Seeing that video of the 1977 Honda CB400 start with a kick reminded my that I never kicked me 1975 400 over and I wondered why?  So I looked through my old photo album and found a closeup of my bike's engine.  It didn't have a kickstarter on it.  Just a kick starter rod sticking out of the side of the engine where a kickstarter lever would be attached.  Someone stole my kickstarter before my new bike was sold to me.  :o
« Last Edit: October 18, 2018, 07:13:56 pm by Richard230 »
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mattsz

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Reply #14 on: October 18, 2018, 07:08:00 pm
Bummer!  I was kicking it because the starter wasn't working - apparently electrical failures of this system are common (starter switch? relay? I can't remember...).