We’ve been running some interesting bikes on Insidebikes this year. From our Honda Africa Twin to an electric Zero motorcycle, we’ve brought you stories of what it’s like to live with our bikes in the real world. But now our contributor Scott Redmond has only gone and bought a 20-something year-old Honda CBR400RR project bike to do up over the winter months. Over to you, Scott…
Buying a motorcycle never gets tiring, half of the pleasure is whittling down a shortlist of maybes until you are left with one or two to pick from. Many purchases revolve around the same core essentials, and value for money is always in the mix.
For the last few weeks I’ve been keeping my eyes peeled for a suitable project bike for us here at Insidebikes to bring back to life, we are passionate about bikes both new and used, and with the longest day of the year well behind us what better time to start thinking about a winter project.
Personally I like pretty much all manner of motorcycles, and my day job involves me buying, selling and breaking up previously enjoyed motorcycles for parts that are resold in true capitalism style. Week in, week out all sorts of clapped out motorcycles come my way, most of which I dismantle for parts. When we first flirted with the idea of adding an online project to our virtual lock up of motorcycles the biggest question that needed answering was what shall we buy? Yes, buy! Unlike other outlets we want to keep our project realistic, they’ll be no cashing in of favours with parts suppliers, no product placement and definitely no use of new parts if a suitable solution can be found via eBay or an autojumble. I started to view each new arrival with fresh eyes, a Honda CBR900RRW that had been crashed, repaired and the left unused for two years had me pondering, the thing is it wasn’t too far gone to be a genuine project.
Next up was a Fazer 600, the 19 year old Yamaha was fairly complete, but again it failed to get my pulse racing. The harder you look for something the less likely it is that you’ll find it, cliché mumbo jumbo maybe, but it’s true!
A fellow trader had a few bikes that he wanted to shift on to make way for fresh stock, he text me a list and hidden among the Kawasaki ZR7 (remember them anyone?) and a rake of scooters was an answer to my what to buy question. A Honda CBR400RR NC29.
I am not your typical 400cc pocket rocket rider, standing at 6’3” and not one to miss many dinners, a 400cc sports bike isn’t a logical motorcycle that I should be attracted towards. But I can appreciate the appeal, the banzai red lines and technology we could only have dreamed about back the days of steel framed jelly mould CBR600s.
Starting as I want to carry on I bid him on his £750 asking price and after two full days of negotiating via text I scored the Honda for £550. Game on.
Before I do the big reveal on what’s hot and what’s not about out purchase I just want to expand on my logic behind taking the 400cc route.
Around five years ago there was no shortage of cheap ( and nasty ) two strokes for sale. There were plenty of high flying ones like the RG500 Gamma, NS400R and certain RD350 YPVS models starting to mature in value but in the bargain basement you could still pick up an unloved TDR250, KR1 or undesirable YPVS models like the Brazilian built RD350R. For many these were the very bikes that we purchased after passing our tests, for back in the day they were insurance friendly ways to cheap speed, when a quote boiled down to your postcode and cylinder capacity between your thighs. In the late 80s and early 90s 400cc the race replica craze was big in Japan, and thanks to shops like DK and BAT Motorcycles these shrunken superbikes washed up on our shores by the container load. The big four manufacturers each had their own answer to what ingredients should go into the mix to make the perfect 400 sports bike. Kawasaki even added their ZXR400L to the UK range, something that Honda would follow up with up their delicious V4 NC30. Yamaha also caved in to public demand and the 3TJ incarnation of their FZR400 range became an official import to the UK, though numbers sold were pretty small thanks to a price tag that didn’t give you much change out of a FZR1000 EXUP. Most of these models were destined for the racetrack, where they competed alongside 250cc two-strokes in the Supersport 400 class.
Prices for certain 400s from yesteryear have been climbing this decade, the Honda NC30 and NC35 lead the way, with pristine examples commanding prices closing in on £10,000. It’s not too late to treat yourself though, with so many variations on the 400 sports bike theme there’s still hope for anyone shopping on a budget. Which is why I’ve plumped to put my money where my mouth is.
I will reveal what’s hot and what’s not about our project bike in part two of Project Corner, when I get it in the workshop and have a proper look at what’s what.
Money out so far.
- £550 for the purchase of our Honda CBR400RR NC29.
What we’ve learnt so far.
- Don’t narrow down your possibilities too early when looking a project bike.
- Always make a cheeky offer, money saved is money earned.
Got a Honda CBR400RR? Get Classic bike insurance through Carole Nash.