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Old 05-01-2014, 07:00 AM   #1
nopainnogain OP
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Question More power cm400c

Hello,
I'm relatively new at this I suppose and I just figured out to post. Regardless, I have a 1981 Honda cm400c and I was wondering if there was anything I could do relatively easily to increase it's power and how fast I can go with it. I usually just put 93 octane fuel in the tank and run some octane booster and just increased the front sprocket and lowered the rear. Any other ideas?
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Old 05-01-2014, 08:43 AM   #2
Cowboy
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Realistically, you can spend thousands of dollars on machine work to improve a motorcycle worth hundreds, and only achieve marginal gains in power. What you've already done by changing sprockets is about the only cost effective way of increasing top speed, though it sacrifices low end acceleration. Even if you could achieve higher speeds on a CM400, you would be risking your life every time you ride at high speeds. The ergonomics of a cruiser/standard bike were not designed for high speed handling.

The smartest thing you can do in terms of dollar investments in speed is to sell the bike that's too slow for your taste, and use the money you would have spent on machine work to buy a faster bike. There are LOTS of used sport bikes on the market, selling for little money, that have lots more power at the low end and at the top.

In the end, 400ccs of 1970s engine technology is just not going to make you happy if you're in search of high speeds. Learn to ride on the 400, then sell it and buy a liter bike. You'll be much happier in the end.

You could always strip it down to make a lighter "cafe racer." While a lighter bike will feel marginally faster, it will still be just a 400, with all the limitations that displacement and its ergonomics implies.
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Old 05-01-2014, 07:05 PM   #3
nopainnogain OP
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I figured that. thanks! I've been looking on eBay and craigslist and whatnot for a decent bike, a 600 or 750. Any recommendations? I'd love a Honda cbr.
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Old 05-01-2014, 09:12 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nopainnogain View Post
I figured that. thanks! I've been looking on eBay and craigslist and whatnot for a decent bike, a 600 or 750. Any recommendations? I'd love a Honda cbr.
If you like speed (and handling that's good enough to make the speed safe(ish)) then a CBR600 is a great choice. The Kawasaki Ninja 500 has all the power a beginning rider could want, as do pretty much any of the 750 size bikes. I would suggest spending your early years on a bike with standard seating position, though, to get the feel for motorcycles, before you move to a sport bike with a forward-leaning position. For standards, try the Honda CB750s, or the Suzuki GS750s. Maybe a Honda Nighthawk?

Hell, there are LOTS of great bikes out there. The bike you have is one of them, it's just not as fast as some of the larger bikes. I have a CB400 twin, a close cousin to your bike, with a slightly more upright position. It's a great bike for getting around town, OK on the highway at reasonable speed, and fun in the mountains. It just has limits on its top speed. You could do yourself a favor by sticking with the bike you have, and learning to enjoy it for what it's good at. Then buy another bike that's good at something else. Pretty soon you'll have a stable full of bikes of every kind. DAMHIK!
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Old 05-02-2014, 04:08 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nopainnogain View Post
Hello,
I'm relatively new at this I suppose and I just figured out to post. Regardless, I have a 1981 Honda cm400c and I was wondering if there was anything I could do relatively easily to increase it's power and how fast I can go with it. I usually just put 93 octane fuel in the tank and run some octane booster and just increased the front sprocket and lowered the rear. Any other ideas?
Leave the bike alone and ride more? I'm riding a CB400T and I've owned a v-twin 650 and a inline-4 600cc (CBR600RR). Most people looking for upgrades on cars and motorcycles aren't anywhere near the performance limit of what they have, and new riders seem to feel an upgrade is in order if they've gone two months without dropping the bike. :)

If the bike is new to you and/or you're new to riding, I suggest using it for at least an entire riding season, which will help you better decide what you're really looking for in a replacement - something faster or just better on highways, or better on dirt/gravel, with more wind protection, less maintenance, etc.
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Old 05-02-2014, 11:13 AM   #6
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Wonderful replies from Cowboy and epb

I had many years of fun and somewhere near 250,000 km's between my two models, a 1980 CB400T and a 1982 CB450T. I toured from northern Canada to Mexico, raced on the track, was a courier, carried zillions of passengers, and never really was disgruntled about the lack of power or speed.

Sure, when road racing, I did every possible thing one could do to squeeze more performance and reduce weight, but honestly I should have just left them alone and chosen a different bike/s for such.

Bone stock Kawasaki EX 500's would leave me for dead on the back straights

I had already ridden for many years prior to both those bikes, so I'm at a bit of a quandry trying to imagine a new rider with a first bike, instantly needing more power.

ps after 40+ years of riding, one of my favourite current bikes, is a 125 with 13 Hayabusa killing horspower, lol.
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Old 05-02-2014, 11:23 PM   #7
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well how do I choose if i want to transfer to a cruiser or a sport bike. I've driven my fathers Kawasaki Vulcan 1500 and that was WAY to big. It felt sweet though. A honda Shadow 750 would be pretty cool, but I'm looking for something cheap with some zip. I love working on bike's too, I love to learn so something that needs work with potential i can deal with if i keep my 400.
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Old 05-03-2014, 07:50 AM   #8
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You can install A Mac 2:1 exhaust and jet to suit. Most exhausts come with specifications for jetting. It will rev a little freer and use more fuel with the bonus of a couple horsepower and few pound-feet of torque. And lighten the bike by maybe 15 pounds which is considerable.

And go back to the original gearing for awhile. Small engines don't pull tall gearing very well and you've probably slowed it down a good bit. And forget about the high octane and booster unless the owners manual recommends it. It does not increase power and only lightens your wallet if unnecessary.

There's some other things you could do but you're getting into the diminishing returns area. That is more money smaller results. You can also upgrade the suspension and install some good tires as well. There's more to having fun on a motorcycle than straight line speed.
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Old 05-03-2014, 08:31 AM   #9
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Quote:
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well how do I choose if i want to transfer to a cruiser or a sport bike.
The best thing I can suggest is to get to know other riders, and they will often swap bikes with you for a short distance on a ride. I can't tell you how many bikes I've had the pleasure of riding with the gang around here. Maybe try your local regional forum and find out when and where they gather. In the rockies, we've had a number of inmates organize various sorts of pavement rides, and I've taken my CB400 twin on at least one and kept up all day.

You'll be surprised how ready people are to offer you a ride on their bikes once they see you ride your own and know you're not completely incompetent.

Maybe you could plan a route and organize something like the old school ride we did in Colorado a few years back: http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=449370 Browse that thread and you'll see that all kinds of bikes turned out. I suspect I could have had a ride on any of those bikes. (You'll also see photos there of my CB400, with a huge-looking but feather light Hannigan fairing on it.)
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Old 05-03-2014, 08:54 AM   #10
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I actually just bought a 2 in 1 exhaust off of ebay, although it isn't a "M.A.C." Right now I'm looking to get a new seat or just a seat cover. So far the cheapest I can find one is for $58.00. Not bad, just aestheitcs though, although the whole duct tape seat doesn't exactly look classy.
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Old 05-04-2014, 10:44 AM   #11
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well how do I choose if i want to transfer to a cruiser or a sport bike.
By figuring out how you'll do the bulk of your riding. Cruisers are heavy with long wheelbases for stability on highways and interstates; if you're commuting around town every day it would be a pain.

If you tow your bike to the track and race, a high-horsepower short-wheelbase sportbike makes sense.

If you're riding on fire trails and gravel, loaded with camping gear, adventure bikes are more suitable.

And so on...
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Old 05-04-2014, 11:42 AM   #12
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using high octane fuel and octane boost is just throwing your money away. It does nothing to increase hp.
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Old 05-04-2014, 07:40 PM   #13
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Leave the bike alone and ride more
This^^^^^
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