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Band of Horses – 1996 Honda RVF400R / NC35

Honda’s diminutive V4-400 has almost a cult following here, and it was never actually offered for sale anywhere but Japan.  This fine example looks to have just a fraction of km’s showing on the odometer.

1994 Honda RVF400R for sale on eBay

As the last in a long line of small V4’s, and had the commensurate goodies on board – in addition to 59 ponies, the gear-driven cams brought music to every twist of the throttle.  The alloy chassis had upside-down forks up front and 17-inch wheels at both ends.  Nissin brakes are right-sized at 269mm, with black calipers matching the black painted alloy wheels.  Graphics took their cues from the RC45, though the more modern fox eye headlamps were particular to the RVF.

Sounds like this RVF owner picked a nicer example and worked to keep it that way, a couple of stress cracks but find another lightweight sportbike from a past generation without them.  Kudos for using the ignition key without the house keys, and the red wheel reflectors look great day or night.  Comments from the eBay auction:

As for this bike. I purchased it from a private collector last summer, and have ridden it regularly for about 500 miles on short weekend rides. Bike was fully prepped and all fluids replaced prior to my ownership. Bike starts right up and all mechanicals function flawlessly. Currently ridden on non-ethanol fuel only, and kept on battery tender. Miles will go up marginally with the occasional warm up.

Cosmetically in great shape. No dings on tank, OEM fairings with no rash or touch up paint, no signs of bike ever been down, and very glossy paint/decals throughout. A couple of minor blemishes from prior ownership: tank extension has small scratch on upper right corner, minor stress crack on upper left cowl, and small stress cracks on lower side fairing and tabs (reinforced with plastic cement on inside). Details shown in ad photos and I’ll be glad to provide additional pictures or videos if desired. Minor modifications that came with bike: silver bar ends and steel braided brake lines. Reflective wheel tape added for night-time safety. Overall bike condition is very clean and well cared for; with some normal signs of wear for twenty-four year-old bike.

As a baby superbike, the RVF400R had a lot of differences with its big brother RC45, but shared the family build quality.  Pretty racy for the segment, the high MSRP warded off the bean counters and the really junior riders for which it was theoretically intended.  This one has been taken care of nicely and will reward the next owner with plenty of power for its low all-up weight.



  • “Pretty racy for the segment, the high MSRP warded off the bean counters and the really junior riders for which it was theoretically intended.”

    In Japan, the licensing is tiered. For decades, it was extremely difficult and expensive to get licensing that enabled you to ride anything bigger than 400cc. Most juniors here in Japan start off on 125s and 250s, with many of them never even bothering to go beyond the 250cc license tier. My son rides a DT50, which is in 3rd gear before he even gets out of the parking lot. Heh. The 400s marked a sweet spot in size and performance that were just on the very edge of crazy for the small Japanese roads. As such, the RVF was seldom going to find itself in a novice’s hands.


  • Agreed with Trane. Getting a “Chumen” which allows 250~400cc isn’t terribly difficult, but getting any larger license is a complete PITA. The beauty of the 250s. Some, but not many.

  • I’ve always wondered how the air intake ducts came and went – several manufacturers used them for a short while in the nineties. Not enough bang for the buck, or the way they look…?

  • The air ducts on this bike are purely for looks they go to the top of the airbox cover. But there’s no opening in the cover you could cut holes in it. But then all you’d be doing is directing air right into the actual airbox lid. My friend owns one so i have seen it naked etc.

  • My 2004 R1 has intake ducts.

  • A shame it doesn’t have the dual round headlights much better looking IMO

  • Were the air ducts part of a race kit that could be used with other intake parts, like a different airbox lid? I can’t imagine Honda would put them there just for looks, especially when they don’t look good…

    I much prefer the look, including the paint, on my NC30.

  • So when did chumen end or is it still implemented? Seems like the 400 class all but vanished. Hard to research since. Tiered licensing details aren’t usually discussed in english unsurprisingly.

    Seems like these days 250 bike popularity has to do with cost more than license restrictions in places like india.

    Just asking since google finds me little japan sative knowledge.

  • …Japan native knowledge

  • Licensing is still tiered with up-to-125cc, up-to-400cc and “unlimited” classes. Learners can go straight to the mid-size license tier if they wish, but lower tiers must be successfully passed before users are allowed to train/test for their unlimited license.

  • Sorry. My answer was just a bit vague. For the unlimited tier, a user must hold a mid-size license already before training/testing. It’s not possible to go for an unlimited license with only a license for a 125.

  • If you have an International license it transfers to being an unlimited license. Hypothetically you could return every year to a different country to get another year extension. Hypothetically. Although I had a chumen, whipping out the International License if you’re stopped just makes crazy paperwork for any police anywhere in the world, so they’re not so likely to ticket you. I pulled out my Chumen and got the ticket….

  • Nowadays there seems to be no “scene” for roadracing style bikes. It’s all TW style and retros. Very little is sporting, and they had a maxi-scooter boom. I haven’t lived there for years but might again after CV passes.

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