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Honda NS400R 1986 Rothmans Livery

In celebration of Freddie Spencer’s 1983 500cc championship (or was it the competing Suzuki RG50o and Yamaha RD500 ?), Honda developed a race inspired 400cc two-stroke triple.  The rare 90-degree ( center cylinder up, outside cylinders ahead ) was little wider than an upright twin, putting out a smooth but peaky 72 hp.  The ’85-87 models were never imported to the U.S., federalized one at a time or relegated to the track.

20150301 ns500r right

20150301 ns500r left front

20150301 ns500r left rear

Quick handling thanks to a short wheelbase and double cradle aluminum frame, all six speeds are required to keep the engine in the 7,000-10,000 powerband, but deliver 130 mph in top.  Dual front and single rear discs bring the modular wheels back to the speed limit.  Front suspension is  air-assisted with anti-dive, and rear shock has a remote reservoir.

From the eBay auction:

This bike sat for over 10 years covered – prior to my purchase. 

The Carbs have been cleaned and balanced. It has fresh Non-Ethanol Premium Gas in it and it starts & runs perfectly.

The bike now starts on the 1st or 2nd kick when cold. Note in the You-Tube video that the bike is started cold with the choke on – after about 30-40 seconds the choke is able to be turned off and the bike idles idles at 1,200-1,300 RPMs.

20150301 ns500r left front tire

20150301 ns500r right tank

20150301 ns500r cockpit

20150301 ns500r centerline

After 8,385 miles, this example is most of the way through re-awakening from a long rest, new battery and carbs cleaned, still waiting on rebuild kits for the fuel tank petcock and rear brake master cylinder.  16-inch front and 17-inch rear tires will also be required.  A few different liveries were available, this in the red, white, and deep metallic blue with Rothmans stickers, was replaced before the bike was parked and appears to be in excellent shape.



  • This is the bike that broke my heart in 1988. I was 17 years old and in San Diego. This bike was being sold used at a dealership, and I had scraped up the money and my step-dad drove me down. We sat at the desk, and the guy handed me the key, and we began the paperwork. I knew exactly what this bike was, that it was grey market, but it had a CA plate and was good to go.

    “Just one thing,” the dealer says. “This bike isn’t exactly legal.”

    My step-dad, who was as square as can be, squashed any possibility of me getting this bike. I ended up with a much less cool RZ350, and didn’t get over it for quite a while. Thing is, it’s not worth $10k for me to relive this, but I remember it like it was yesterday.

  • These are allegedly one of the best handling 80s sport bikes right up there with an rc30 too bad they were under powered compared to Suzuki and Yamahas two stroke race reps

  • Sorry but this bike is merely a very poorly executed “tarted up” NS400R. Paint is soooo wrong and stripes on tank and front fairing dont line up. Various bits like bar clamps, front brake master etc painted wrong. Looks like a JAP import to me. Beware of corrosion everywhere. On the bike though – they did steer and handle very well for an eighties bike. Power was well down on its two bigger brothers but at 387cc and one pot down what do you expect. Additionally if this is a JAP import you can expect it to be around 59hp well down on the full power 72hp (claimed) version. All that said I wish the seller well.

  • Shiny bodywork (that looks like it could be aftermarket) covering a lot of corrosion. Be careful here. This just might be lipstick on a pig.

    As an NS400R owner I can attest to the superb handling and braking, but power can be underwhelming. There isn’t much below 7500 RPM, but once the ATAC closes it is a lot of fun to ride. 3rd gear is an easy 160 kph, so you won’t wear out the upper gears. Nowhere near an RZ500 in performance (I own one), but it shouldn’t be expected to compete with a bike that has 499 cc and one more cylinder.

    A well sorted NS400R is a joy to ride. This eBay bike looks anything but well sorted. If you are interested, ask lots of questions and question why the bodywork is so shiny why the rest looks like it has been stored in the rain for a decade. The amount of corrosion on the bike, including the bolts on the Comstar wheels, is a good indication that there is more to the story than is being told. There always is.

  • I bought one of these brand new in 1986. It cost me AU$6800 from Action Suzuki’s Parramatta store.That was big bucks in ’86,but the Honda paintwork,fit and finish was pure class,way better than any comparable Jap bike,like the RG500 or RZ500 of the time.I bought it right off the raised plinth.They were a great steering bike for that era…..if you kept the original sized tyres on.Anything wider,like Michelin Hi-Sports[80’s period gumball tyre] at it would stand up and run wide when braking and turning.
    I would have to say,it is definately the worst sounding bike I have ever owned,and completely gutless under the powerband.I used to get embarrassed by the soud of it,actually.
    I sold it Rory Panetta of Dee Why in1988……hey!!!!
    Would I buy a prestine one,if it became available? Definately NOT!!

  • Might that be an el-cheapo Chinese overlay bodywork kit?

  • The seller just bought this in February on EBay from seller mottohksy. The seller gave NEGATIVE feedback stating “Seller is a LIAR. Phony China plastics. None-running rust bucket. Understated mile.” Listing item 291370398774. I guess in a few short weeks that’s all been fixed?

  • Good catch…I only hope anyone serious about owning this bike does their ebay homework first. Nightmare bike…seller unloading his rust bucket…at a profit it seems.

  • It should be reported to eBay. I reported it. If others do the same perhaps we can save someone else from the same fate as that fool.

  • Sounds like a parts bike if ever there was one.

  • Sounds like fraud. I pity the poor guy that ends up with that mess.

  • JR you can report this to ebay but they won’t do anything. Their excuse, “the bike is over ten years old”. If you want any protection when buying a used motorcycle, pay for it through PayPal with a VISA or MasterCard. If you get ripped by the seller, open a dispute through the credit card company. They will do something. Ebay or Paypal does nothing for you.

  • looks like I was the sucker. The seller passed this off without mentioning the very same things he was displease with. I also found out the vin was altered. The original seller had it listed before ebay with an NC17 number, and now it has a NC19 on it!
    Unfortunately, I may have to file this with ebay. Ebay doesn’t cover older bike UNLESS it was not what was listed or the vin was altered. http://www.bike4sale.co/detail/oemcFFFuocVAmFcPPAAc/NS400R-2stroke-3cylinders-racer-replica-MC17-Rothmans-Hond

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