HONDA BROS 400 (1988-1992) Review

Published: 04 November 2009

"Surprisingly nice to ride; they're well balanced, steer well and the engine is flexible, torquey and characterful"

Honda Bros

"Surprisingly nice to ride; they're well balanced, steer well and the engine is flexible, torquey and characterful"

  • At a glance
  • 398cc  -  31 bhp
  • 47 mpg  -  136 miles range
  • Low seat height (772mm)

Overall Rating 4 out of 5

Strictly speaking, the BROS 400 is heavy, underpowered and outdated. But the cheap grey imports are surprisingly nice to ride – they’re well balanced, steer well and the engine is flexible, torquey and characterful given its 33bhp output. That also makes it legal for new riders on a restricted licence.

Ride Quality & Brakes 3 out of 5

Suspension fatigue affects the Honda BROS – new fork oil springs and a new shock transform it. Then you can take advantage of the neutral handling, strong RC30-derived brakes and plentiful ground clearance. It’ll even take sticky tyres, though not in the correct front profile (which affects the speedo reading) – standard sized, modern crossplies are widely available and grippy enough unless you’re a lunatic or a trackday fiend.

Engine 3 out of 5

Very similar to the Africa Twin engine (specials builders actually fit the bigger 750 in the chassis), the understressed motor pulls from low in the rev range unless you labour it in a high gear. Fuelling is classic crisp carburettor response, though power tails off higher in the rev range. Great around town, and it’ll sit happily at 80mph too. It has a surprisingly prominent and pleasant airbox noise too. 

Build Quality & Reliability 5 out of 5

Find a cared for BROS (ideally one that’s been loved and kept dry since import from Japan), and you’ll be astounded at the quality. Deep paint, quality fasteners and lovely finish all-round is nicer than most new bikes – including some Hondas! Understressed engine is unburstable, the chassis is tough. Make sure the eccentric chain adjuster/rear wheel hub isn’t seized, and there’s little else that goes wrong. Specialist backup is available too – new-old stock parts are readily available as well as pattern parts.

Value & Running Costs 4 out of 5

Accept what the BROS 400 is - a smart, cheap new-rider friendly all-rounder – and it’s a great bike. It’ll cost pennies to run, and a good one is still a viable alternative to the half-arsed current field of 33bhp bikes. If you’re looking for a hardcore sportsbike then forget it, but the BROS is still a very capable and enjoyable first big bike. Find a Honda Bros 400for sale.

Insurance group: 9 of 17 – compare motorcycle insurance quotes now.

Equipment 2 out of 5

Basic - the BROS has a comfy, semi-upright café racer riding position but poor pillion provision. Underseat storage only accepts the standard tool kit, and the tank lasts around 90 miles before you need to flick the fuel tap to reserve. Compare and buy parts for the Honda Bros in the MCN Shop.

Owners' Reviews

2 owners have reviewed their HONDA BROS 400 (1988-1992) and rated it in a number of areas. Read what they have to say and what they like and dislike about the bike below.

We’re currently improving the way this section works, which means we’ve had to suspend the submission of new owners’ reviews for a short period. Please check back soon.

Summary of Owners' Reviews
Overall Rating 5 out of 5
Ride Quality & Brakes 4 out of 5
Engine 4 out of 5
Build Quality & Reliability 5 out of 5
Value & Running Costs 5 out of 5
Equipment 2 out of 5
5 out of 5

Brilliant little bike

18 October 2010 by will5628

Have been riding mine for just over 2 months now and I absolutely love it. It's pretty much ideal for me as they cost peanuts to buy and run and I'm limited to 33bhp for two years. Of course its not all that fast but having come up from a Suzuki... Read more TS50, it goes like a rocket in comparison and the low-down grunt is addictive. Handling's fun too. Its even relatively comfortable over distance, although high speed motorway riding can be tiring if windy. Don't be put off by high mileages as the quality is fantastic, mine has done over 47,000 miles and still looks great and runs brilliantly. As charlesq says, you'll get way more than 90 miles to reserve, I've managed 120, and it cracks 100mph without too much trouble. Can't recommed it enough.

Overall Rating 5 out of 5
Ride Quality & Brakes 4 out of 5
Engine 4 out of 5
Build Quality & Reliability 5 out of 5
Value & Running Costs 5 out of 5
Equipment 2 out of 5
5 out of 5

I loved mine

09 November 2009 by charlesq_70

This was the first bike over 250cc that I ever rode, and I remember thinking as soon as I pulled away the first time, "This is a proper bike." It isn't mind-bendingly quick but the engine is full of character with a nice little kick around 7000rpm,... Read more the ergos are focused enough to give a gentle introduction to sport riding, and the handling is a revelation if you're only used to standard 'learner' bikes. It's also reliable and parts are still easy to find as it shares plenty with so many other bikes (Revere, Africa Twin, Deauville). Highly recommended for a new rider -- in fact I can't think of a better bike if you're on a restricted licence -- and fun even for the more experienced. The cafe racer-ish looks and single-sided swingarm will make you feel cool, it's torquey and unbelievably narrow so perfect for commuting, and despite what the review above says you'll get well over 100 miles to the tank unless you're thrashing it. Don't be put off by high miles because the engine's virtually unbreakable. One of the best -- and best-made -- street bikes Honda have ever produced, in my opinion. The 650 (Hawk GT in the US) is even better, but rare in Europe.

Overall Rating 5 out of 5
Ride Quality & Brakes 4 out of 5
Engine 4 out of 5
Build Quality & Reliability 5 out of 5
Value & Running Costs 5 out of 5
Equipment 2 out of 5
Read all 2 owners' reviews in full

Facts & Figures

Model info
Year introduced 1988
Year discontinued 1992
Original price -
Warranty term (when new) One year unlimited mileage
Running costs
Insurance group 9 of 17
Annual road tax £38
Annual service cost -
Performance
Max power 31 bhp
Max torque 34.5 ft-lb
Top speed 94 mph
1/4-mile acceleration -
Average fuel consumption 47 mpg
Tank range 136 miles
Specification
Engine size 398cc
Engine type 6v liquid-cooled v-twin, 5 gears
Frame type Aluminum beam
Fuel capacity 10.9 litres
Seat height 772mm
Bike weight 181kg
Front suspension None
Rear suspension Preload only
Front brake 320mm disc, four-piston Nissin caliper
Rear brake 240mm disc, single-piston sliding caliper
Front tyre size 110/80-17
Rear tyre size 150/60-17

History & Versions

Model history

1988: Introduced as Japan-only model. Six-spoke wheels, Product 2 seat graphics
1990: Second generation – mostly identical, 18” three-spoke rear wheels, improved PGM ignition.
1992: Discontinued.

Other versions

Honda NT650 BROS Product 1: Identical to BROS 400, but with more powerful 650cc motor, wider spaced gears, 112mph restriction and slightly lower rev ceiling. Available in Mk1 and Mk2 versions.
Honda Hawk GT: US-market version of the BROS 650 is branded differently with cheaper front brakes and higher handlebars. Otherwise identical, but even rarer.

Photo Gallery

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