Yes, we are here!

In times like these our hobbies become lifesavers. At MOTORCYCLE CLASSICS, we have been tracking down the most interesting and rare classic motorcycles and collections for more than 15 years. That includes researching and sourcing the best books on collectible and rare bikes available anywhere. Our online store is open and we are here to answer any questions you might have. Our customer service staff is available Monday through Friday from 8a.m.-5p.m. CDT. We can be reached at 1-800-880-7567 or by email. Stay safe!


Old Motorcycle Parts and Passion


| 2/11/2020 9:00:00 AM


Honda CB400T Hawk
A great bike with classic flair, a Honda CB400T Hawk should be easy to keep on the road — if you can find the parts.

Working on a friend’s recent “vintage” Japanese purchase got me wondering if “true” classics like the Norton Commando and Triumph Bonneville are easier to own than we acknowledge. No question they can have their share of mechanical gremlins and dodgy electrics, but compared to the array of more “advanced” machines that followed in their wake, mostly from Japan, they might just be the easiest classic bikes to keep on the road. Or at least to buy parts for.

The problem is, because of their value we tend to relegate them to weekend warrior status, prized jewels we haul out for group rides or a Sunday run to the local pub. If you’re new to the classic scene you might not be ready to pound down $7,500 to $10,000 — or more — to get one of these recognized classics, and then there’s that maintenance thing; they definitely ask more of the owner than the average Honda or BMW.

Regular readers might recall Jean Denney’s article back in the September/October 2019 issue recounting her experience as a new rider taking the basic rider’s course. With her license secured and following some real-world street time on my trusty ’76 Suzuki GT185, Denney, group editor of sister publications Mother Earth Living and Fermentation, made the plunge into motorcycle ownership. Immersed by association into the classic bike scene, she was looking for something with classic flair, but daily usability. If you’ve tried to navigate that same road you know that it’s easier said than done, so when Denney lucked onto a nicely preserved 1978 Honda CB400T Hawk, she jumped at it. An affordable, easy-to-ride standard, the Hawk is a great bike, and this one, garage-kept with just more than 6,300 miles on the clock and a $1,000 price tag, seemed like a bargain.

And it was. Cosmetically it’s maybe a 7 or 8, and mechanically it’s close to perfect. The engine lights up readily and spins freely, the 360-degree crank providing nice torque characteristics even if the little twin produces only something like 36 horsepower. The transmission is smooth and snatch free, the brakes are perfectly adequate, and the suspension, despite being short on travel and a bit soft — like just about every Japanese bike of the era — works well enough. It’s mostly a winning combination, and one that saw Honda produce tens of thousands of the little twins up through the early ’80s, by which time the 395cc twin was bored to 447cc for just a bit more oomph.



It’s pretty much an ideal everyday classic, except for a snag that makes finding parts for it, most recently a replacement exhaust cross-over pipe and mufflers, something of a challenge; the Hawk’s lack of enthusiast appeal.

joedyck
2/27/2020 11:39:25 AM

Another issue with Japanese bike is the huge number of models and the frequent design changes made. I had three Yamaha XS400 bikes all within a year of each other. The wiring harnesses and switches were all just a little different, making it difficult to get used replacement parts. And of course not much in the way of OEM or NOS parts available unless you pay a premium price.


sidecar mike
2/27/2020 10:00:13 AM

The problem is when someone who is used to riding a bulletproof newer bike purchases something with old school technology. For example I own an old Russian Dnepr, there are many of these bikes with no miles on them for sale. People buy them expecting to gas and go and when they break down, sometimes catastrophically, they claim the bikes are crap. We see this with the Urals and the Royal Enfields as well. When these same folks buy an old Norton or Triumph, they are at a loss when they need maintenance, the bikes get parked for years and someone like me see it and resurrects it... Most of my bikes were purchased in non running condition. I bought an R90s last year for a song, it hand't run for many years. I set the timing and valves, changed the oil and it fired right up... I'll keep that one till I can't ride anymore.




The sound and the fury: celebrate the machines that changed the world!

Motorcycle Classics JulAug 16Motorcycle Classics is America's premier magazine for collectors and enthusiasts, dreamers and restorers, newcomers and life long motorheads who love the sound and the beauty of classic bikes. Every issue  delivers exciting and evocative articles and photographs of the most brilliant, unusual and popular motorcycles ever made!

Save Even More Money with our RALLY-RATE plan!

Pay now with a credit card and take advantage of our RALLY-RATE automatic renewal savings plan. You save an additional $5.00 and get 6 issues of Motorcycle Classics for only $29.95 (USA only).

Or, Bill Me Later and I'll pay just $34.95 for a one year subscription!




Facebook Pinterest Instagram YouTube Twitter

Free Product Information Classifieds


click me