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Which Bike? Comments and Questions on what is the best bike for YOU, for YOUR trip. Note that we believe that ANY bike will do, so please remember that it's all down to PERSONAL OPINION. Technical Questions for all brands go in their own forum.
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  #1  
Old 23 Oct 2011
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Touring on a Honda CB400T from 1978

Has anyone experience with long distance touring on a Honda CB400T (a 400 cc two cilinder from 1978).

What are the things that I should modify or take extra care of ?
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The bike I ride is a Honda GoldWing GL1200 Aspencade and sometimes a 1978 Honda CB400T
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  #2  
Old 23 Oct 2011
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How far are you thinking of going on it? Presumably people toured on them in 1978 when they were new but for a bike now over 30yrs old I would have thought the condition yours is in would be the most important factor rather than any inherent weaknesses.

Having said that I'd be checking the electrics and making sure the battery charging system is up to spec - particularly when its under a bit of stress. I have a number of bikes from around that time and almost all of them have shorted out their alternator rotors - the varnish insulation breaks down with age. If that does happen the regulator is usually the next thing to go. You can get the rotors rewound easily enough. The one bike that hasn't (so far) is the 400T's predecessor, a 1978 400/4. I'm currently setting that up for a tour of France next summer and trying to use period accessories such as Craven racks / panniers -

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  #3  
Old 23 Oct 2011
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The bike is in very good shape (only 22000 km).
I'm thinling about touring to France and maybe Spain from the Netherlands. I like this bike very much. It is fun to ride and cheap to maintain.
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Jan Krijtenburg

The bike I ride is a Honda GoldWing GL1200 Aspencade and sometimes a 1978 Honda CB400T
http://jkrijt.home.xs4all.nl/ (my personal homepage with trip reports)
http://www.krijtenburg.nl/HU_BoZ/ (The HU Motorcycle Travellers Community in my area)
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  #4  
Old 29 Oct 2011
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Jay:

Way back when I was much younger and much poorer (early 1970s), I rode across Canada on a Honda CB360 Twin.

I made it, but it was not fun. The bike barely kept up with the flow of traffic on main highways (it had trouble maintaining 110 km/h in winds and up hills), and it had no wind protection. It would not have been possible to put wind protection on it, the bike could not have handled the aerodynamic loads.

My suggestion to you is that you confine your trips with your "classic" to within a few hundred km's of home. If anything every breaks while you are away, you are going to have an awful time getting parts for it. Plus, unless you restrict your travel to a couple of hundred km's a day, I think you will get fed up with the performance of the small bike pretty quickly.

Consider also that "only 22,000 km" might be considered low mileage for a Gold Wing or a ST1100, but it is pretty darn close to the design service life of a small bike like a 400 - especially one that is 30+ years old.

Michael
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  #5  
Old 29 Oct 2011
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I am have to confess to having owned a couple of Honda superdreams in the past which are the same bike with different bodywork and while they were pretty boring to ride were reliable so if your bike is in reasonable condition I see no reason not to take it on tour.
I have to disagree with PanEuropean on the 22,000 km being too much for a 400, it all depends on how it has been ridden and maintained in that time, I have had a Honda 400 four that had done 90,000 km and ran well, I actually did 1,500 km in a day on that bike and it was still running well when I sold it.
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Last edited by mark manley; 29 Oct 2011 at 12:41. Reason: additional comment
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  #6  
Old 29 Oct 2011
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I agree with Mark and backofbeyond. I too used to own one in the 80's. It was reliable but a bit unexciting. I wouldn't let the engine size put you off. It's well able to keep up with the legal speed limits if you avoid the motorways. As regards spares, there is no reason why you can't get them posted out to you from your usual supplier if you need anything while on the road.
ps nice looking 400/4 in the above photo
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  #7  
Old 29 Oct 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PanEuropean View Post
Plus, unless you restrict your travel to a couple of hundred km's a day, I think you will get fed up with the performance of the small bike pretty quickly.

Michael
I think that is very much a North American perspective. My expereince of riding through China on a local 125cc bike was that 500k, per day at an average of 40kmh was that it was an absolutely brilliant experience - so much to see, do and enjoy at low speeds, both off, and on, the major roads.

Away from the autoroutes in France would be very similar to this.
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  #8  
Old 29 Oct 2011
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Thanks for yor input.
Freeway riding is no problem on the CB400T. I sometimes took it to work, 110 km away. Doing 120 km/h on the freeway, I had no problem keeping up with the other traffic.
On long trips, I try to avoid freeways as much as possible anyway.

This is the bike
Touring on a Honda CB400T from 1978-cb400t.jpg

I was wondering if anyone used a CB400T for a real long trip and I am curious about their experience.
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The bike I ride is a Honda GoldWing GL1200 Aspencade and sometimes a 1978 Honda CB400T
http://jkrijt.home.xs4all.nl/ (my personal homepage with trip reports)
http://www.krijtenburg.nl/HU_BoZ/ (The HU Motorcycle Travellers Community in my area)
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  #9  
Old 30 Oct 2011
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Jan, I don't think you're going to find too many other people currently using a 400T for touring. They were only on the market for a year or two before being replaced by the "Euro-line" version with the much more slab sided look so they were not that common even at the end of the 70's. I think the best you'll do is to find people who have used something similar in the past or who own similar size "classics" now and use them for short trips in the summer.

Back in the 70's I did a lot of touring round Europe on similar sized or smaller bikes - Morocco (from the UK) on a Yamaha 250, Athens on a 300cc Honda, Rome on a 350cc Suzuki, Venice on a 550cc Honda. Most of those trips were done 2-up with huge amounts of luggage and the bikes were perfectly adequate. I've also recently toured the French Alps on my 400/4 without any problems. OK you have to flog it a bit on the steeper climbs and altitude affected the carburation but other than that no problem. Comparing the 70's with now though there are a few things that are worth mentioning. Firstly both cars and bikes have got bigger, faster and more powerful so the 400T feels slower by comparison. When it was new it was just under half as powerful as a top of the range bike (like a Honda CBX). Now the top end stuff is twice as powerful again (roughly) so the 400T feels like a toy by comparison. Nothing much has changed though, it's still just as quick as it ever was, it's just that it feels slower by comparison. If I had confidence in the bike (you'll need to do a few miles to get that) I'd happily do the distance that you're considering (about 2000 miles round trip?). As I mentioned earlier the electrical system, particularly the charging circuit, is something I'd look at very carefully but as long as the rest of the bike checks out I'd not have any worries. You said it'll cruise at about 120kph - my 400/4 will also - and that's good enough for all roads up to and including motorways.

Pic of my 400/4 in the Alps (no luggage on it though) -



Touring on a 350cc Suzuki in the 70's -


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Old 30 Oct 2011
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Touring on a 350cc Suzuki in the 70's -


[/QUOTE]


Those were the days!
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Old 30 Oct 2011
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Quote:
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Those were the days!

None of your Touratech bling and Metal Mule kitchen sink cases in those days! (although the 400/4 pic was only two years ago ). I did seem to own an awful lot of bungie straps though
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Old 30 Oct 2011
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I also used a craven setup as per your Suzuki, I see you also have the pannier rails and QD 'clips'. I used this setup on both a CB350 and '78 Bonnie.
Still have the panniers in the garage.
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Old 31 Oct 2011
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I also used a craven setup as per your Suzuki, I see you also have the pannier rails and QD 'clips'. I used this setup on both a CB350 and '78 Bonnie. Still have the panniers in the garage.

Back then the Craven stuff was about as good as it got. The first couple of trips we did just used normal "Tower" style chrome racks and we had loads of problems with breakages. The Suzuki was the first Craven rack we used and I was really pleased with it. We bought them for just about everything until Craven stopped production about 10yrs later.

I'd been looking for a Craven rack for the 400/4 as I bought a set of small Craven panniers some time ago and wanted to set it up for touring - as per Jan's original question. A friend in the US found one when I was over there in the summer and I brought it back as hand luggage. It's needed a few mods to fit the 400/4 and I've had to hand make all of the fittings but it's just about there now. Can't get the quick release pannier fittings though.

Since Ken Craven called it a day the manufacturing rights have gone through a number of small companies who promise a lot but never actually produce anything. A pity really as I'm sure there's a market there in the classic bike world.
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Old 31 Oct 2011
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I think you may well find some of the QD fittings and even genuine craven racks at some autojumbles, many craven topboxes turn up there, I have long since 'lost' my pannier rails, but when I rebuild my workshop, you are welcome to the QD's if they appear.
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Old 31 Oct 2011
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I think you may well find some of the QD fittings and even genuine craven racks at some autojumbles, many craven topboxes turn up there, I have long since 'lost' my pannier rails, but when I rebuild my workshop, you are welcome to the QD's if they appear.
I do keep an eye out for Craven stuff at autojumbles but most of the stuff I've seen has been total junk with the vendors asking silly money. I've been lucky with the pannier rails as the panniers came with a set and I turned up another pair in the darker recesses of my garage, from a Gold Wing I owned many years ago. Both sets work on the 400/4 but the Wing ones are a slightly better fit so they're the ones I'm using.

If you do turn up the QD fittings, even if it's some time in the future (and you can resist the siren call of ebay ) then they'd certainly be put to good use here.
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