Honda plans new 400cc range

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What you’re looking at here is a 400cc, liquid-cooled, parallel-twin motor based on the 470cc engine of the CBR500R/CB500F/CB500X. The motor is being developed for the JDM and Southeast Asian markets where 400cc is an important tier within graduated licensing. The 400cc motor shares the 470′s 67mm bore, but drops stroke from 66.8 to 56.6mm.

Released to the Japanese press today, the engine is visually very similar to that of the 500 range, clearing sharing clutch and generator covers, plus cases. It seems reasonable to assume that the 400 range will mimic that of the 500s, same bikes, smaller capacities to fit domestic license tiers.

The CBR500R promises to be a bigger, better, but still accessible, friendly take on the CBR250s successful theme.

Unveiled last year, the 500s will make 47bhp and 31lb/ft of torque. Not huge, but these are sorta big CBR250s, not little CBR600s. That means accesible performance, user friendliness and low prices (the CB500 starts at just $5,500). It’s also reasonable to assume that the 400 range will hit proportionately lower performance figures, with Honda stating that the emphasis in tuning was on a linear power band.

The new motor appears to be a sleeved version of the 470cc twin in the CBR500R/CB500F/CB500X.

In other parts of the world, motorcycle licenses are granted in specific power/weight/capacity tiers based on age and level of riding experience. That creates a market for alternative capacity machines that wouldn’t exist in the comparatively unregulated US. As such, it’s unlikely such machines would be imported here. To US readers, the 400 range is notable largely due to it putting a point on Honda’s new emphasis away from expensive performance machines and on to affordable, practical, appealing bikes targeted at new generations of riders. There’s likely more to come in that vein.


  • Dustin Edwards


  • Randy Singer

    The 500 engine had an unusually long stroke for a Honda motorcycle engine. The 400 is de-stroked. I’m wondering if the 400 will be a higher-revving engine (possible due to it being much more over-square), making about the same amount of horsepower as the 500…? It may even be that these two engines were designed simultaneously with the goal of having both have similar power characteristics.

    • Bryan Paynter

      Bring back the old VFR 400s! Little beasts!

  • Khali

    Nice, maybe there will be a day when people will choose something between 125cc scooters and 600cc motorcycles :)

  • geoff2k

    These might make it to the Canadian market too like the Ninja 400?

  • Blue Milew

    Is it just me, or do you guys see a difference in the details/little things between bikes such as this and the CBR600? Just from looking at the pics, it seems to be significantly lower quality.

    I felt this way when going from a $8k RMZ450 to a $5k DRZ400, but it irks me. Stupid things like chain adjuster on the swingarm, or the material of the seat. I know you have to bring the price down, but the “nicer” parts are already engineered and tooled up, it is that much of an added cost?

    • TP

      Yes. If someone figured out how to sell a $9k bike for $5k they would be doing it and making a ton of money

  • Julian Santa Rita

    Just a quick note, completely unrelated to these engines, instead having to do with the engines that drive this site:

    good work all.

    I notice especially that content is way way up, and I’m please to see it. It probably has more to do with merger/sponsorship than anything since I’m sure Wes and Co don’t have to work as hard everywhere else to make it work, but in any event it’s making this site much stronger.

    • Wes Siler

      Thanks. We’re always (very) hard at work over here, sometimes that’s just not where you can see it, yet.

      • Scott Jameson

        You’ve been sayin’ that for years…
        : )

  • Troy Rank

    I know the idea here is mostly to pander to the graduated license system, but I’m super psyched to see so many decent small displacement options.

  • Dennis Bratland

    Smaller displacement isn’t all that interesting to me if the bike isn’t really engineered down to something significantly lighter. De-stroking means the engine weighs about the same as the larger one. Just less power. A cheap frame means a heavy bike; maybe even heavier than an RR. Why not just ride a 600 that weighs the same, and go slower? Or restrict your own engine if you can’t restrain yourself.

    If that seems pointless to you, then maybe you can see why these 450 pound small displacement bikes are pointless.

    • jasinner

      I agree with your sentiment in spirit. Engine displacement does not have a direct relationship with weight. Although larger engines (and the extra support needed for them) do come with some weight premium, weight is more directly linked with cost. Lightweight materials costing more and heavier materials costing less (regardless of what displacement motorcycle you end up using them on). What is good about these rather uninspired small displacement motorcycles is that it may mean more exicting (lightweight) similar motorcycles down the line (such as the KTM Duke 390).

      • Kevin

        It’s not entirely unlike bicycles, where you pay more to get lighter, right?

    • TP

      Have you ridden one?

    • Jon Cibelik

      You have to bear in mind that 400cc vs. 500cc does make a big difference in insurance crazy parts of the world. Especially here in Canada. I pay $86 a month for a Ninja 400r — so go figure. If it had been a 650r, I’d be paying $145ish.

      Is the 400r fast? No. But it never feels heavy or lumpy or lazy. I think Kawi did a great job with the engine. And once you get rid of the anchor-in-disguise which is that god awful exhaust you save 8-10 pounds and the bike transforms completely.

      A friend of mine, seasoned and skilled rider (unlike me), who was skeptical about the prowess of the 400, took it for a ride a couple months back before the white blanket was drawn on the roads here. I was expecting him to hate it, but he actually ended up enjoying it. He did say the brakes were mediocre, and that it was unbearably slow compared to his 675 and all that, but found it very agile, light and surprisingly fun.

      I do understand what you mean though, it makes no sense to have a 400 in the States.

  • Bill

    I want to swap out my 82 CB450sc engine for this. I am ready to downsize… lol

  • Ken Lindsay

    These engine choices are great. However, I want the lightweight frame too! The smaller engines are just not mated with lighter frames. I understand that they looking at entry level prices and tiered licenses but I think here in the US, there are a bunch of us that want that lightweight moderately powered standard (or in my case enduro/adventure bike!). When I ride my WR450, I always wish I had a WR650 twin with a real seat when I’m on the road. I don’t need the extra power, just the engine that can handle a road trip and a saddle to match.

    • Wes Siler

      But the vast majority fo people wouldn’t pay the same price as a CBR600 for a smaller bike. Lower capacity doesn’t equal cheaper to produce. Something has to give if you want a lower cost.

      • Ken Lindsay

        That’s just it, I’m not looking for rock bottom pricing. I want a mid level to premium 650. To get that WR street legal, I had to pay 8 grand (had to go through the dealer to get it legal in HI). I would happily pay another grand or so to have a 650 twin squeezed in there. A Versys is the closest thing at 8 grand but is a total street bike with a heavier frame. A BMW 800GS is, what 13 grand and even more weight? Give me a aluminum framed 650 twin with the same type suspension a KTM or WR would have and it would be money. Just need a decent seat and a new subframe to be able haul someone/thing with.

  • Sushrut Dongargaonkar

    Indians love their bikes like these. They want a fairing, comfy riding posture and a torquey engine with a good ”average” rather than focused bikes. I for one would choose a bike with more sporty intentions though.

  • Kainoa Perez

    Bring back the 400cc inline 4 engines!

  • Scottie Ray Smith

    Years ago when I was young and slightly poorer than now, I would drive by the Honda dealership in Poplar Bluff Missouri and in the showroom window was a CB-1 in blue. I wanted it very badly.

  • Ganesh Bell

    I think the biggest marhet for these engines may be emerging markets like India (one of biggest motorcycle markets – where 100~200cc probably rules the sales charts), 250 and 400 are big step up for most and come with less intimidation than a 500/600 and can also get by with cheaper componentry for a more affordable bigger biike for the masses.

    There were 400s in the US & UK remember the FZR400, CBR400 – that is what I lusted after till followed suite like most here in the US to litre sportbikes and didn’t look back

  • Erica Mathis

    I watched “How and Why Motorcycle Lane Splitting is Safe and Good – RideApart” up in the right hand corner and came away thinking, if anything I’m MORE opposed to lane splitting than I was before watching. There was no “how” or “why” lane splitting is safe and good, just three guys claiming throughout the video that it is safe and good. If you want some real life reasons why lane splitting is NOT good and safe, just go to youtube and watch the countless videos or riders getting hit by cars while splitting lanes. There’s a very good reason 49 states have laws against it… it’s not safe.