Well... The Suzuki GSX-R750 Limited Edition I had scheduled sold before I could post it, but I came across this very clean Honda NS400R that's once of the nicest example I've ever seen of the funky, V3 two-stroke sportbike. Experts can chime in regarding its originality, but it certainly looks stunning in shiny Rothmans replica paint and graphics. They were never officially imported to the US, but a number have found there way to the USA via Canada. This one is still in the care of our northern neighbors, but shouldn't prove too difficult for a motivated collector to smuggle over the border...
Meant to evoke Freddie Spencer's 500cc victories, the Honda was obviously lacking a bit in terms of displacement compared to rivals, but 72hp and extremely nimble handling meant it was closer to the bigger bikes in terms of performance than you'd expect. Interestingly, the V3 race bikes actually used the opposite configuration compared the road bikes, with two cylinders nearly vertical and the third projecting 90° forward. In either configuration, the engine was very compact. The bike also featured liquid-cooling that kept things remarkably civilized, while Honda's ATAC power-valve system made for a relatively flexible powerband. That was all backed by a six-speed gearbox along with anti-dive forks, modular wheels, and even radial tires, a real novelty at the time.
So why the 400cc displacement? Most likely, it was to skirt Japanese limits on engine size, since that was likely to be the bike's biggest market. Was it a wise choice? Well, the NS400R certainly a bit of a forgotten middleweight these days, lacking a bit of the 500cc v-four and square-four mystique of the RGs and RZs from Suzuki and Yamaha. The NS400R was pretty affordable for a long time, but prices have been drawn ever-upward by the expensive, nearly unobtainable two-stroke fours and the renewed interest in stroker sportbikes of the era in general. Luckily, these are also pretty nice bikes to ride: they've got increased midrange compared to the nimble but somewhat frantic 250cc sportbikes and the Honda NS400R was considered one of the best-handling bikes of the era.
From the original eBay listing: NS400R Rothmans Edition for Sale
For sale, a beautifully restored 1986 Honda NSR400R Rothmans with only 5600 kms. This is one of less than 450 NS400R’s originally imported to Canada and it is registered in Alberta. The engine was dis-assembled and the crankshaft and top end of the engine were inspected. New piston rings, seals and gaskets were installed. Bodywork is original plastic and it has had a very nice paint job and clear coated replica decals. Wheels were powder-coated gloss black. The right mirror is cracked.
The power valve restrictors were machined out and the carburetors were bored by 1mm. Jetting is perfect for 3500 ft elevation and gives the machine a fabulous 2-stroke hit from 7,000 to 10,000 rpm. New battery, chain, front brake pads and air filter. Tires are older, but still serviceable. Silencers are lighter aftermarket units but come with the stock items. Everything works exactly as delivered from the factory. The forks are from a 1990 CBR 600 which is a common period upgrade to larger stanchion bottoms, front axle and improved brakes. Most of the original NSR parts are available (at extra cost).
Included in the sale are the following hard to find items; solo cowl, factory service manual and period magazine articles. Selling with a current Canadian title and bill of sale. The owner can assist in the export process and possibly transportation to a shipping depot in northern Montana.
These are really cool bikes with any of the period paint-schemes, but the Rothmans replica design looks especially evocative, and this restored example looks great, although the stingers are of a much more modern style. I love the details: check out that tiny little panel that folds down when the side-stand is extended. There are just 3,500 miles on this example and there are no takers yet at the $5,700.00 opening bid. There's plenty of time left on the auction, so hopefully this one will find an appreciative owner.