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19th Pictures

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Honda CB 400 Four.

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Honda CB 400 Four.

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Honda CB 400 Four.

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The owner of the Honda CB 400 Four is Adrian Stemmler.

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A rare sight: The NC36, only offered in Japan in 1997 and 1998, in front of German masonry, because only a few copies made it to us.

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Honda CB 400 Four.

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Honda CB 400 Four.

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Honda CB 400 Four.

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Honda CB 400 Four.

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Honda CB 400 Four.

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The four-cylinder does not look particularly slim.

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Thanks to cooling fins, a small radiator and hoses largely hidden under the engine cover, the water cooling is not noticeable.

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Honda CB 400 Four.

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Honda CB 400 Four.

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Eye-catchers are the beautifully designed round clocks in the cockpit

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Honda CB 400 Four.

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Honda CB 400 Four.

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High-sheen aluminum hubs in the spoke wheels and symmetrically laid mufflers reveal Honda’s will to perfection.

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Honda CB 400 Four.

Focus on the Honda CB 400 Four

Homage to the legendary 750

Content of

To mark the 50th anniversary of its founding, Honda presented the Japanese market with a Honda CB 400 Four in the classic style of the legendary 750 series. The homage to the great model was so coherent that the 400, which is very rare in this country, has long since become a sought-after young timer.

Four cylinders, four work cycles and four mufflers – what the reinterpretation of a classic Honda should look like was obvious when Honda launched the Honda in mid-1997 VS.B 400 Four with the model code NC36 presented to the public. The little Honda didn’t just make the traditional ingredients, with which the four-hundred-year-olds so harmoniously and skilfully paid homage to its legendary model from 1969, something special, but also an outstanding workmanship down to the smallest detail. It’s just a shame that hardly anyone in this country could enjoy it. The NC36, which was only offered in 1997 and 1998, was to be reserved for the Japanese home market, where the 400 class is still very popular today due to the special driving license regulations.

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Focus on the Honda CB 400 Four
Homage to the legendary 750

Lines are absolutely timeless

Fortunately, at that time, however, some independent importers recognized the potential of the Honda CB 400 Four and brought the little beauty to Germany. At prices around 11,500 marks, however, only real enthusiasts struck, so that in this country hardly more than one or two handfuls of the NC36 were sold. Which is why you need a lot of luck today to even find a specimen. Adrian Stemmler was with Fortuna last year. Honda’s CB series had long been a hit with the 48-year-old Hessen. “For me, a motorcycle just has to look like a classic motorcycle,” he says. And of course means the CB 750 Four. "Their lines are absolutely timeless, I’ve always liked them."

Honda CB 400 Four is truly a feast for the eyes

The interior decorator didn’t have to think twice when he received the offer to buy the new red CB. “That was pure coincidence. A targeted search for an NC36 makes little sense because there are too few of them and most of them are in the hands of enthusiasts. ”Adrian had wasted his first chance because he hesitated too long. “That was a blue CB. But the seller had another one, this red one, in the garage. So I left all of my contact details, but without much hope. But after half a year the Lord actually answered. And of course I struck right away! ”Without negotiating, of course, there was no reason for that, given the excellent condition. “For me, this Honda CB 400 Four is a dream come true. Everything just fits together here, the harmonious proportions, the classic style and the great workmanship. ”I can only agree with that on site. The 400 is truly a feast for the eyes. Looks like the owners of a current CB 1100 would want their motorcycle to be. With the NC36, you could actually spend hours in the garage without looking enough.

Up on the comfortable padded bench

Adrian’s jewel looks even more beautiful in the sun, where the polished aluminum of the rims and hubs as well as the engine cover with the chrome of the mudguards, exhaust and instruments shine in competition. The fingers stroke over brushed surfaces and a rich application of paint – even on the welded seams of the frame – everything looks dignified. And so coherent that I didn’t even notice the water cooling of the four-valve quadruple. Which is also due to the fact that most of the hoses are hidden under the left engine cover. Enough admiration, get up on the comfortably upholstered bench. To my surprise, the small Honda CB 400 Four offers me enough space, there is no pinch anywhere. The feet find their notches by themselves, which are attached so that you can support yourself against the wind pressure. In addition, I would like to have a flatter handlebar, the standard one forces me into a fairly upright position.

The 400 rolls off without a murmur

The short stroke starts spontaneously at the push of a button, hums discreetly at a slightly increased idle. Pull the easy-to-use clutch, step down the left toe, release the clutch after 2,000 tours – and the 400 rolls off without a murmur. With its bassy timbre in the lower rev range and the sonorous babbling in push mode, the Honda CB 400 Four initially suggests more displacement and zest for action than it really has. Even in fifth gear, it pulls out of idle without any problems and with a clean throttle response – everyday test passed. Of course, the four-cylinder booth only really comes to life at high engine speeds, as a glance at the red area at eleven suggests.

From 7,000 rpm the fun begins, the propulsion changes from leisurely to emphatic, from the 9,000 mark onwards, things get more energetic. Sure, the four-cylinder needs revs and turns willingly. But he never seems really liberated. Compared to the Honda CB 400 Four from the 70s, I miss something like a sporty bite in the extremely cultivated and well-mannered engine of the NC36 with all the vigor, which gives the pilot the right kick when squeezing such a small four-cylinder . The weaker two-valve oldie has this verve, so it feels even more lively than the four-valve engine of the much younger CB 400, which cranks almost uniformly towards the redline.

Maybe just a matter of habit?

It may be that the NC36 lost one or the other of the 53 horsepower specified in Japan when it was naturalized almost 20 years ago in order to adapt it to local emissions regulations. In any case, in the test in MOTORRAD 18/1998, the test bench only attested it to 48 hp. Enough to accelerate the 213 kilogram machine and its driver from a standstill to the country road limit in less than six seconds. So there is enough power for enjoyable curve surfing, but it should come across a bit more explosive for my taste. Much more than the kick on high tours, however, I miss a sixth gear to reduce the high speed level. At 100 km / h, the crankshaft of the Honda CB 400 Four rotates 6,000 times per minute in the fifth, and at 130 km / h it is almost 9,000 turns. Despite the excellent running culture, this brings unnecessary hectic activity into the action, because you don’t really want to be on the go at such high speeds when you go out on a classic naked bike. Maybe it’s just a matter of habit.

Sit down and feel good is the motto

The always predictable driving behavior does not require any acclimatization. Sit down and feel good is the motto, typically Honda. The Honda CB 400 Four needs a conscious steering impulse, but then it works willingly in an inclined position, dashes neutrally through curves and shows no signs of nervousness even on undulating asphalt. Even the feedback is okay, although the non-adjustable fork and the two shock absorbers lack a bit of damping. To do this, you can comfortably walk over rag rugs. And when things get tight, the easy-to-dose and – with decisive action – powerful disc brakes are reliable stoppers.

After all the facts have been mentally stored, I let myself drift a little on the return journey. I deliberately take a few detours, avoid the last third of the speed, enjoy the subtle hum, the view of the landscape and the classic round clocks. OK then. Now, in relaxed pleasure mode, the pretty Honda CB 400 Four unfolds all its charm. Show me why it is so popular today. Because even the small NC36 has everything that Honda once made great. Above all, of course, four cylinders, oven work cycles and – very importantly – four mufflers!

Opinion of the owner Adrian Stemmler


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Adrian Stemmler: Owner of the Honda CB 400 Four.

I have always been fascinated by the four-cylinder Honda CB series. Above all, of course, the CB 750 Four with its timeless, classic lines. This is what motorcycles should look like to me! That’s why, in addition to my CB 1100, I was also looking for an NC36, which stylistically comes closer to the big model than any other machine before or after. My red Honda CB 400 Four from Honda’s anniversary year 1998 was a lucky chance hit – for me it was a dream come true!

Technical data Honda CB 400 Four

Honda CB 400 Four (NC36, 1997-1998)

Engine: Water-cooled four-cylinder four-stroke in-line engine, two overhead, chain-driven camshafts, four valves per cylinder, actuated via bucket tappets, bore x stroke 55 x 42 mm, displacement 399 cm³, compression 11.3: 1, power 53 hp at 10,000 / min, max. Torque 40 Nm.

Power transmission: Multi-disc oil bath clutch, five-speed gearbox, chain drive.

Landing gear: Double loop frame made of tubular steel, telescopic fork, Ø 41 mm, two-arm swing arm made of steel profiles with two spring struts, wire-spoke wheels with aluminum rims, tires 110/80 H 17 at the front and 140/70 H 17 at the rear, double disc brake at the front (Ø 295 mm), rear disc brake.

Measurements and weight: Wheelbase 1,455 mm, weight with a full tank 213 kg, tank capacity 15 l.

Top speed: 158 km / h (measured value from MOTORRAD 18/1998).

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