aboard

Author Topic: '77 Honda CB400 - should I buy it?  (Read 395 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

mattsz

  • Grand Gearhead
  • *****
  • Posts: 5,161
  • Karma: 0
  • moto-gurdyist
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

  • Grand Gearhead
  • *****
  • Posts: 2,143
  • Karma: 0
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.
2011 Royal Enfield B5 500, 2018 16.6 kWh Zero S, 2016 BMW R1200RS, 2009 BMW F650GS, 2005 Triumph Bonneville T-100, 2002 Yamaha FZ1


mattsz

  • Grand Gearhead
  • *****
  • Posts: 5,161
  • Karma: 0
  • moto-gurdyist
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

  • Grand Gearhead
  • *****
  • Posts: 2,143
  • Karma: 0
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?  ;)
2011 Royal Enfield B5 500, 2018 16.6 kWh Zero S, 2016 BMW R1200RS, 2009 BMW F650GS, 2005 Triumph Bonneville T-100, 2002 Yamaha FZ1


Carlsberg Wordsworth

  • Grand Gearhead
  • *****
  • Posts: 532
  • Karma: 0
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

  • Grand Gearhead
  • *****
  • Posts: 5,161
  • Karma: 0
  • moto-gurdyist
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

  • Scooter
  • **
  • Posts: 86
  • Karma: 0
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

  • Grand Gearhead
  • *****
  • Posts: 5,161
  • Karma: 0
  • moto-gurdyist
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

  • Grand Gearhead
  • *****
  • Posts: 12,972
  • Karma: 0
  • World leaders in performance/racing Bullets
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

  • Just some guy
  • Grease Monkey
  • ****
  • Posts: 422
  • Karma: 0
  • 2005 Bullet 500ES in "Mean Green" Military Trim
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.
So badass my Enfield's actually illegal  in India.


mattsz

  • Grand Gearhead
  • *****
  • Posts: 5,161
  • Karma: 0
  • moto-gurdyist
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

  • Just some guy
  • Grease Monkey
  • ****
  • Posts: 422
  • Karma: 0
  • 2005 Bullet 500ES in "Mean Green" Military Trim
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 »
So badass my Enfield's actually illegal  in India.


mattsz

  • Grand Gearhead
  • *****
  • Posts: 5,161
  • Karma: 0
  • moto-gurdyist
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

  • Grand Gearhead
  • *****
  • Posts: 2,143
  • Karma: 0
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 »
2011 Royal Enfield B5 500, 2018 16.6 kWh Zero S, 2016 BMW R1200RS, 2009 BMW F650GS, 2005 Triumph Bonneville T-100, 2002 Yamaha FZ1


mattsz

  • Grand Gearhead
  • *****
  • Posts: 5,161
  • Karma: 0
  • moto-gurdyist
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...).


Stanley

  • Scooter
  • **
  • Posts: 86
  • Karma: 0
Reply #15 on: October 18, 2018, 08:24:50 pm
Battery?
My CB750 was sensitive to battery condition. Otherwise, tiny jets are likely plugged.
« Last Edit: October 18, 2018, 08:30:23 pm by Stanley »
It's the right part number so it might fit.


mattsz

  • Grand Gearhead
  • *****
  • Posts: 5,161
  • Karma: 0
  • moto-gurdyist
Reply #16 on: October 19, 2018, 04:33:34 am
The bike seemed to run well at that time - the current owner claimed the starter switching was intermittent.  Anything goes, now, I guess, since it's been sitting...


Arizoni

  • Grand Gearhead
  • *****
  • Posts: 7,020
  • Karma: 2
  • "But it's a dry heat here in Arizona
Reply #17 on: October 19, 2018, 06:46:40 pm
My 4th motorcycle was a 1975 CB400F.
Fantastic motorcycle.  It's only shortcoming was the Yamaha RD 350 could clean its clock.

I rode my 400F well over 25000 miles and when I sold it, it was running just as good as it was when I first got it.

Jim
2011 G5 Deluxe
1999 Miata 10th Anniversary


Richard230

  • Grand Gearhead
  • *****
  • Posts: 2,143
  • Karma: 0
Reply #18 on: October 19, 2018, 07:20:08 pm
My 4th motorcycle was a 1975 CB400F.
Fantastic motorcycle.  It's only shortcoming was the Yamaha RD 350 could clean its clock.

I rode my 400F well over 25000 miles and when I sold it, it was running just as good as it was when I first got it.

I traded-in my 1973 Yamaha RD350 to buy the 400F. My RD had constant problems with gorped up rings and fouling spark plugs. I thought the Honda was a better motorcycle than the Yamaha, although it wasn't quite as fast as it wouldn't rev over 8,500 rpm.  ???
« Last Edit: October 19, 2018, 07:25:13 pm by Richard230 »
2011 Royal Enfield B5 500, 2018 16.6 kWh Zero S, 2016 BMW R1200RS, 2009 BMW F650GS, 2005 Triumph Bonneville T-100, 2002 Yamaha FZ1


Bilgemaster

  • Just some guy
  • Grease Monkey
  • ****
  • Posts: 422
  • Karma: 0
  • 2005 Bullet 500ES in "Mean Green" Military Trim
Reply #19 on: October 20, 2018, 02:05:15 am
I don't recall seeing hardly  any  RD350s in Britain in the '70s. However, the RD250s were simply everywhere in obnoxious wailing ring-diggydee swarms because of the then motorcycle license (or, rather, "licence") laws, whereby basically any pimply doofus or spotty wanker could get a so-called "Provisional Licence," like a kind of Learner's Permit, with no testing whatsoever, valid for any bike up to 250cc to "learn on" for a year before testing for the full licence. These laws may have made some kind of sense when a "hot" BSA or Triumph 250 could muster up maybe  20 hp or 70 mph flat out on a good day with a brisk tailwind. But the RD250, more than any other motorcycle, was probably responsible for all the subsequent changes to the law, to the point where one nowadays needs to create a spreadsheet to understand what bikes one may or may not now ride.

Capable of over 100 mph, glorious suspension-bashing wheelies down the High Street, and typically indifferently maintained by a succession of inexperienced owners who seldom held onto them for much longer than the year or so it took to take the driving test, get a full license, and then buy something bigger and frankly, nicer, the RD250 was the original "organ donor special" and probably killed or crippled more British kids than German Buzz Bombs did during the War. Usually falling apart and/or weirdly bent and/or brakeless by the third or so owner, poxy fucking death traps, they were...And just marvelous for some, I suppose.
« Last Edit: October 20, 2018, 02:08:43 am by Bilgemaster »
So badass my Enfield's actually illegal  in India.


mattsz

  • Grand Gearhead
  • *****
  • Posts: 5,161
  • Karma: 0
  • moto-gurdyist
Reply #20 on: October 20, 2018, 04:11:00 am
Oh, man... I want one of those for free instead!