The best 5 pocket rockets

Published: 18 September 2017

Bikes for sale

There was a time in the 90s when sub-600 pocket-rockets were all the rage. Though a lot never made it into the UK as official models (or at least didn’t until later on in the decade). It never stopped the insatiable appetite for a breed of mini racing replica models getting imported from Japan or the 250 two-stroke smokers that leave grown men weak at the knees nowadays. 

Bikes such as Honda’s VFR400 NC30 was just like a baby RC30 with its single sided swingarm and fantastic V4 power plant. Or the massively popular ZXR400, which was an imitation of its 750 brethren.

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These machines weren’t just cheap knock-offs though, with proper four-cylinder engines, decent brakes for the time and in the case of the ZXR400, upside down forks, these bikes may have featured smaller motors but they were big in spirit.

The 400s made fantastic race bikes and, with some tuning could be known to put out anywhere upwards of 80bhp and be good for over 140mph! As such a lot of these machines were raced and now they are becoming increasingly rare as many have been either snapped up for spares or turned into race bikes with the Formula 400 race class still remaining popular to this day. The same can be said for the two-stroke 250s too, with many being used for racing and others being lovingly restored by enthusiasts.

Prices on the rise

Not long ago, many of these bikes could be bought for a pittance, but prices have been creeping up over the past couple of years making now if the perfect time to buy before prices skyrocket. Finding a well looked after bike now could see you make a tidy profit in a couple of years too. 

When buying any of these bikes, be cautious of its history and look for signs of it being raced and former crash damage though. Looking at the forks and swingarm is a tell-tale sign that it could have been used for racing, with regular wheel changes leaving marks in these areas and anything that’s secured with lockwire will also have most likely have been raced too. The engine and chassis numbers can also lead to suspicions that a bike could have been raced if they don’t match up so be sure to check V5 documentation carefully.

Don’t let this necessarily put you off though as machines that still use standard engines, such as those raced in Bemsee’s sub-64 class are likely to have been pretty well cared for and can yield a pretty sorted bike, however if this is the case then it’s good to check with the owner just what has been done and why.

Finally, don’t be put off by an odometer that reads in kilometres too. Most of the 400’s were brought into the country as grey imports from Japan as they weren’t officially imported by manufacturers at all in some cases or not until late in the decade from others. 

Here are 5 of our top bikes currently available on the MCN Bikes For Sale website 


Honda VFR400 NC30 £3,350

Honda VFR400 NC30

Seller says

“This is a brilliant example of the now sought after NC30. It’s quickly becoming a very desirable future classic. This one is in brilliant condition for its age and mileage. Does have a very small crack in the left hand fairing and the wheels have the odd stone chip. But has clearly been very well looked after by previous owners. Clocks read 29395 in KM in miles it is 18265. In nearly all original condition. Fitted with an aftermarket Yoshi can. Comes with lots of old MOT's. Will be supplied with a fresh 12 month MOT and a service.”


Kawasaki ZXR400 L9 £2,695

Kawasaki ZXR400 L9

Seller says

“This is a UK supplied and registered model and is in brilliant original condition, with the addition of a dark tinted screen. It also has a Meta alarm system fitted. Recently, it has had new front discs, and front and rear pads along with new caliper seal kits. MoT runs until March 2018, and will be sold with 3 months warranty. There is an owner’s manual, 2 keys 2 fobs, a service book with history and old paperwork also with it. These are fast becoming collectible especially in unmolested condition.” 


Aprilia RS250 £5,995

Aprilia RS250

Seller says

“We are selling this low mileage Aprilia RS250 on behalf of a customer. Showing only 4642km, it has some service history and a few age-related storage marks. It’s a nice example of a standard bike and will be supplied with keys and paperwork and will also have a pre-sales service and a new MoT.


Honda CBR400 £2,795

Honda CBR400R

Seller says

“This 1990/G CBR400R is a clean example of this emerging classic. With 29000 miles (48000km) on the clocks, it is a largely original machine and has crash protectors fitted. It will also include a full 12 months MOT.”


Kawasaki KR1 £3,495

Kawasaki KR1

Seller says

“Recently imported from Japan by ourselves is this running Kawasaki KR1 project. NOVA form is present and all relevant paperwork present to UK register once the bike has an MoT. The fork legs and brakes do need attention though.”

Have a browse for your next bike on MCN Bikes For Sale website or use the MCN's Bikes For Sale App.