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Triple Time: 1986 Honda NS400R for Sale

Honda's two-stroke NS400R was ostensibly intended to capitalize on their Grand Prix racing efforts, but with less displacement and one fewer cylinder than rivals from Suzuki and Yamaha, it got lost in the shuffle at the time and suffered from a perceived lack of hairy-chestedness, compared to its 500cc competition.

So why did Honda go with a 400cc triple instead of a 500cc four, like Yamaha and Suzuki? Well in fact Yamaha and Suzuki did produce 400cc versions of their engines, in order to make these performance machines more appealing in their home market of Japan, where taxes and licensing laws made owning the 500cc version prohibitively expensive. So instead of building different versions of their repli-racer to suit the laws of different countries, Honda simply used the 400cc version for all markets.

The performance gap, especially between the NS400R and the RZ500 is actually pretty minimal, due to the Honda’s light weight: the liquid-cooled 387cc V3 produced a claimed 72hp and the bike weighed just 360lbs. A six-speed gearbox helped keep the two-stroke “on the pipe” and the bike featured sophisticated suspension at both ends, with TRAC anti-dive forks and a Pro-Link rear setup. Modular Comstar wheels were fitted with radial tires, a relative novelty at the time.

From the original eBay listing: 1986 Honda NS400R for Sale

This bike has been meticulously restored from bottom to top as a shining example of the replica Honda put out in honour of the legend Fast Freddie Spencer! For the hard core era two stroke enthusiast and collector, this machine will not disappoint you!

I also have another 1986 NS400R that is in parts. Everything mechanically is there for restoration except some of the body fairings. I would not be fair to part this unit out as a result. I am prepared to sell both as a package or separately. 

Ask and I can send you the link to the Youtube video.

Period reviews praised the bike’s handling, and the overall package was surprisingly refined, considering the bike’s light weight and racy specification. I wonder if that didn't hurt the bike's reputation, although it should have been a bonus at the time. It's the same thing that let down the RZ500: in an effort to make a better road bike, Yamaha lost sight of why people were interested in a big-bore two-stroke in the first place, and the result was needlessly heavy and somewhat less exciting than Suzuki's Gamma. The NS400R doesn't have a weight problem, but it doesn't seem to have the RG500's wild reputation, either. They were relative bargains for a long time, but values have risen significantly over the past few years and this restored example is being offered for approximately $9,400 US. Note that this bike is currently in Canada, so keep that in mind before you hit the Buy It Now or Make Offer buttons.

-tad

8 Comments

  • The reason it is a 3 cylinder is simply because the GP bike it was replicating, the NS500 was a 3 cylinder. The 387cc displacement is the result of basing the cylinders on current 125cc cylinders.

    There was never a Yamaha RD/RZRZV V4 400cc.

    Only Suzuki had a 400 and 500 GP replica.

  • It was based off the failed mvx250 engine.

    • Scaled up to 125cc+ cylinders. The MVX was modeled as street going sport bike in the image of the NS500 V3 as well. I guess my point was that the street V3 cylinder idea did not occur in a vacuum but rather was one of the fads of the day for Honda.

  • Have never ridden one but a buddy had an RZV500 (AL frame) and said his 1992 CBR600 did everything better than the RZ, except draw a crowd. I love a 2 stroke but the reason I do is they are supposed to be lighter than a comparable diesel. The Yamaha, as much as I love Yamahas, missed the mark in this regard. So these Honda V3s always seemed more the correct implementation of a road going smoker sportbike – light makes right. Doesn’t need to have a ton of HP at 360lbs and should be a gas to ride. Plus it has the classic mid-80s Honda paint scheme and quality. This seems like a great way to live out your old school GP daydreams.

    • 1992 CBR600 vs 1984 RZV500 is not really a valid comparison though.

      We should really keep these comparisons in context. The NS400, RD/Z/V500 and RG4/500 are 1982 & 1983 concepts, designs and products.

      What held up against the middle weight 4 strokes of that time they ARE light years ahead in terms of power delivery, handling and packaging.

      The 500GP replica class never had a chance to evolve at all.

      The big 3 dropped their 500GP replicas then walked away from that class of street motorcycle.

      The few year on year changes each 84/85 model year NS/RZV/RG received are not significant enough to have moved the NS/RZV/RG ahead of their launch day counter parts.

      The NS is the light weight of the group for sure – and that is reflected in the riding experience. 🙂

  • It sold now the seller has the project bike he also had up for like $2400 USD buy now.

    • Does reusing the same eBay link avoid fees or something? Or was the link in the RSBFS article updated?

    • Same link, we haven’t updated. Somehow the seller was able to modify his listing — which I haven’t seen happen very often as eBay usually blocks updates like that where you can’t see the original content of the listing.

      dc

Comment rules: Add something useful and constructive, and don't be a jerk. Comments that don't add value will be deleted. Comments will automatically close after 30 days. Thank you. -dc

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