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1989 Honda CB1 Full Review


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The 1989 Honda CB1, NC27, also known as the CB400F or Honda Bros in some markets.

This particular bike that I am reviewing is a Japanese import, first registered in 1991 in the UK.

This model does not have a screen or any front fairing. There are some NC27s which have some limited front fairing.


399 cc liquid cooled DOHC four valves/cyl. inline-four

Chain driven cams

55.2 bhp @ 10,000 rpm (when new, probably about 40~bhp now!)

29 lb.ft (39 N·m) @ 9,500 rpm (when new!)

6 Speed Transmission

179kg dry

12l fuel tank

1370mm wheelbase

Showa front forks, non adjustable

Electric start


By current standards the CB1 is a timeless style in my opinion. The single round headlight and overall naked appearance never really looks dated. The seat cowl does look a bit old fashioned but it is a 1989 model after all! This particular bike has some nasty carbon fibre effect indicators on it, but the original indicators are square, blocky looking things, typical of the late 80's. I am personally looking get a set of these and put them back on, as they suit the style of the bike perfectly. The stock exhaust is actually quite unobtrusive as of course, at the time of manufacture, there weren't the same regulations regarding emissions which impact the appearance of modern exhaust systems. The exhaust is one entire piece, so it doesn't have a removable end can. The metal finish is polished. The frame is a painted "gun-metal" grey finish. The dash consists of two simple dials for revs and speed, with lights indicating neutral, oil, high beam and side stand. There isn't any fuel gauge or fuel light, which is to be expected for a bike of this age.


Well what can I say. I believe these bikes have a bit of a cult following just for the engine, as its a very revvy DOHC inline 4. For a bike of its age, the engine is still plodding along fantastically. It has been round the clock so I can't give you an accurate idea of the mileage, but that is a testament to the typical Honda build quality. With the stock can it is a quiet and refined engine to ride with.

1st gear only gives you about 25mph before you need to shift up. For such an old bike the gearbox still feels solid and clunks into gear with well defined feeling. It redlines at 15k, but doesn't feel like its being thrashed all the way up through the rev range. This makes the bike very enjoyable to ride. The power delivery certainly feels very linear and predictable, making for an easy but still enjoyable riding experience. Very little buzzing through the bars for a bike of its age and mileage.


The suspension is pretty soft. Whether it was like this from new or its due to the age I am not sure (can anyone shed any light on this?), so this does make the ride a bit bouncy especially on small lanes. But I guess it is to be expected for a cheap bike that was ultimately aimed at commuters. Flat out it will reach about 110mph. Where the bike comes into its own is around town. The bike feels pretty light for an inline4, which is ideal round town. The overall size and shape is pretty small so ideal for squeezing through gaps when filtering. The bike has clip-ons, which do make it feel a bit more racy, and this brings the riding position down a bit. Perhaps some flat bars could be fitted for a more "filtering-friendly" riding position. However that said its not really a problem. I am quicker through town traffic on this than the R1!

The pokey little engine, which still has plenty of top end to feel comfortable on the motorway, is a peach through traffic and round the back streets as it picks up pretty quick - you can pretty much just keep to 2nd and 3rd for all your town work.

Overall, handling wise, it is fun to ride. Very fun. And that is what matters.

Build Quality:

What can I say. This bike is from 1989. When I got it it hadn't seen a service or even some dry storage for years. It was used every day in all weathers, and never cleaned by the previous owner. But it was still mechanically sound. Sure, the metal fairing panels on the front and sides were corroding, but being metal they were easily sanded and repainted to look like new. The only issue the previous owner had with it was the starter struggled a bit when wet. Apart from that, nothing. It hadn't been serviced for at least the last 6k miles and it was still plodding along no problem. However when I did change the fluids, it felt like a different bike! All the switches still work well, even after hundreds of thousands of operations. Again, this is testament to Honda's build quality. In fact everything on the bike has a quality feel to it, even though it wasn't a high end bike when new.

The only criticism is the radiator. The rad had corroded quite heavily to the point where the fan mounting was completely rotten and almost falling off. Being a naked bike of its age I suppose this is to be expected as there isn't any fairing preventing road and salt from flicking up onto the rad and slowly destroying it. In the end I just cut the fan off, sanded the rust off the rad, resprayed with rad spray and then refitted it. I use some Silkolene pro cool in it and so far it hasn't over heated!


Overall a very enjoyable bike to own and ride. Yes its basic, yes its low powered, but at least it can't get you into to much trouble. In fact because it is so basic I think it is that which makes it fun to ride. The inline 4 means you can easily travel at all road speeds without feeling like you are thrashing it. From a security point of view of course its an easy target. No immobilizer of course, it could probably be started with a flat head screw driver, and as its quite light and small it would probably lift into the back of a van quite quickly and easily. But this is a minor issue overall.

If you see one of these going cheap and you fancy a project I highly recommend it. I have very little mechanics experience with bikes, so this was my first "project". It has been a joy to work on as its a simple bike which is well put together. I have learnt a lot through rebuilding it and I'll probably post some more details on the rebuild in the projects section. It would make a fantastic, reliable, low tech commuter for anyone.


Ok ok so I know its pink. I restored the bike for the wife and she chose the colour scheme, pink and matt black. Personally I think it looks great, but then I would! :wink:

The wife on the finished bike:




Overall view:


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