The Honda CB400F Is a Classic 1970s Japanese Sportbike

Today, sportbikes are just one of several kinds of motorcycles available to buyers. But, like with any other kind of bike, they didn’t just spring up out of nowhere. For example, the modern standard motorcycle evolved from the UJMs of the ‘70s. And while several sporty motorcycles came before it, the Honda CB400F Super Sport arguably kick-started the sportbike segment.

The CB350 Four wasn’t enough, so Honda made the 1975-1977 CB400F

A black-and-gold 1973 Honda CB350F with an X-taped headlight in a yard next to a graffitied wall
1973 Honda CB350F | Bring a Trailer

After the launch of the CB750, Honda tried to offer some of the large-capacity bike’s engineering in smaller-capacity models. The 1971 CB550 Four was the first such attempt, followed by the even smaller 1972 CB350 Four, aka CB350F.

Unfortunately, while the CB350F was technologically impressive, it was more expensive and slower than the two-cylinder CB350, Motorcycle Classics reports. As a result, it didn’t sell well, and Honda dropped it after 1974. But the Japanese company wasn’t done with its littlest four-cylinder bike quite yet. Instead, it turned to the tried-and-true performance formula: when in doubt, add a bigger engine.

The side view of a yellow 1976 Honda CB400F Super Sport in a parking lot
1976 Honda CB400F Super Sport side | Mecum

That’s essentially what the 1975 Honda CB400F Super Sport, aka ‘CB400 Four,’ is, SOHC4 explains, “a refinement of the CB350.” It has a larger 408cc version of the CB350’s air-cooled inline-four engine, and even uses the same four carburetors. However, combined with the increased capacity and some new parts, it makes 37 hp, MC reports, roughly 10% more than the CB350F.

But that wasn’t the only difference between the CB400F and the CB350F. For one, the CB400F Super Sport was the first Honda bike with a six-speed transmission, ADV Rider reports. It also had a distinctive four-into-one “‘waterfall pipes'” exhaust system, Bike-urious reports. Plus, the CB400F has an upgraded swingarm and front forks, Motorcyclist reports.

And, crucially, the Honda CB400F Super Sport doesn’t look quite like the CB350F. With its lower handlebars and rear-set footpegs it draws inspiration from café racers, Ultimate Motorcycling reports.

However, the CB400F isn’t technically a café racer. It’s just that, at the time, the term ‘sportbike’ hadn’t been properly coined.

The Honda CB400F Super Sport is “the first real sportbike,” Motorcyclist says

The side view of an orange-and-silver 1973 BMW R90S
1973 BMW R90S side | BMW

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There were sporty bikes before Honda released the CB400F Super Sport, such as the BMW R90S, Motorcyclist reports. And in many ways, Honda’s bike apes it and similar European bikes.

But while those earlier motorcycles helped set up the notion, the CB400F codified it, RM Sotheby’s and Bike Exif explain. Trace the sportbike tree of life back far enough, Motorcyclist explains, and you’ll end up at the CB400F.

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By modern standards, the Honda CB400F Super Sport isn’t fast, Motorcyclist reports. But that inline-four engine is extremely smooth, all the way up to the 10,000-RPM redline, Motorcycle Daily reports. Plus, because it only weighs about 400 pounds, it’s a nimble and fun bike to ride, Bike-urious reports.

With some suspension and brake pad upgrades, the CB400F can be a predictable, enjoyable, and even daily-rideable, MCN and Classic Motorbikes report. No wonder Top Gear’s James May owned one, MCN reports. And you can, too.

It’s a vintage sportbike that’s still relatively affordable

The rear 3/4 view of a blue 1975 Honda CB400F Super Sport on a snowy driveway
1975 Honda CB400F Super Sport rear 3/4 | Bring a Trailer

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Unfortunately, while the Honda CB400F Super Sport offers sophisticated, stylish fun, its contemporaries were simply faster. As a result, like the CB350F before it, it didn’t sell well or last long. Motorcyclist reports Honda only sold 6200 CB400F Super Sports from 1975-1977, making minor changes to the handlebars and footpegs along the way.

However, no doubt partially due to its styling, more people are clueing into the CB400F. And while the bike itself is somewhat rare, replacement parts aren’t. Maintenance is also relatively straightforward, apart from the cam chain tensioner. Luckily, as with the brakes, suspension, and ignition system, you can improve its reliability, 4into1 reports.

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Honda CB400F Super Sport pricing is somewhat variable. Naturally, pristine and well-restored examples command a premium, like the 1977 example that sold on Bring a Trailer for $14,500. Luckily, most CB400Fs sell for closer to $5000, even at places like Bonhams and RM Sotheby’s. And as of this writing, there’s a 1977 example listed on BaT for $3000.

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