HONDA BROS 400 (1988 - 1992) Review

At a glance

Owners' reliability rating: 4.5 out of 5 (4.5/5)
Annual servicing cost: £60
Power: 31 bhp
Seat height: Low (30.4 in / 772 mm)
Weight: Medium (399 lbs / 181 kg)

Overall rating

Next up: Ride & brakes
4 out of 5 (4/5)

Strictly speaking, the BROS 400 is heavy, underpowered and outdated.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

Next up: Engine
3 out of 5 (3/5)

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

Next up: Reliability
3 out of 5 (3/5)

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. 

Reliability & build quality

Next up: Value
5 out of 5 (5/5)

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 vs rivals

Next up: Equipment
4 out of 5 (4/5)

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.

Equipment

2 out of 5 (2/5)

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.

Specs

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

Mpg, costs & insurance

Average fuel consumption 47 mpg
Annual road tax £44
Annual service cost £60
New price -
Used price -
Insurance group 9 of 17
How much to insure?
Warranty term -

Top speed & performance

Max power 31 bhp
Max torque 34.5 ft-lb
Top speed 94 mph
1/4 mile acceleration -
Tank range 136 miles

Model 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.

Owners' reviews for the HONDA BROS 400 (1988 - 1992)

4 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.

Review your HONDA BROS 400 (1988 - 1992)

Summary of owners' reviews

Overall rating: 4.8 out of 5 (4.8/5)
Ride quality & brakes: 4.2 out of 5 (4.2/5)
Engine: 4 out of 5 (4/5)
Reliability & build quality: 4.5 out of 5 (4.5/5)
Value vs rivals: 4.5 out of 5 (4.5/5)
Equipment: 2.8 out of 5 (2.8/5)
Annual servicing cost: £60
4 out of 5 Honda BROS 400 (NT400-L)
17 December 2018 by AS

Version: Product Two MKII

Year: 1990

Annual servicing cost: £60

Overall, the BROS rides nicely and is able to cope with more or less any road you go on. even motorways! Luggage is an issue with this bike, however ventura make a mounting kit. It handles well and my front forks are fine and present no serious issues. Both suspensions are a little bit soft but they don't seem to bottom out on bumpy roads. In terms of fuel economy, I get about 51mpg currently . I did replace the original heavy cast Iron exhaust (~5-7kg) with a delkevic exhaust (

Ride quality & brakes 4 out of 5

Ideally suited to just the rider. Pillion seat and handlebars are quite badly designed and uncomfortable to hold onto. I rarely take pillions so It doesn't affect me If serviced properly, the brakes are good and pretty reliable. General ride quality is good. The bike can adapt to most roads without issue. Fat rear tire increases grip.

Engine 5 out of 5

V-Twin, Good torque, flexibility, and sounds nice. Has twin spark plugs for each cylinder. Very strong, unstressed and reliable engine. Not a super powerful engine by any means but the engine is one of the key things that makes the Honda Bros a reliable and dependable bike if you maintain it well.

Reliability & build quality 4 out of 5

Negatives are that the Bros has fuel pump failures for some of them. you can clean the points or replace this part (depending on the fault) with most genuine pumps from other bikes. My current fuel pump is off a Kawasaki ZXR400 and the pump works with no issues. Positive points are that the bike does not rust very easily as it is mostly aluminium and steel. Any corrosion I encountered was purely cosmetic. Aluminium can corrode lightly but no rot.

Value vs rivals 3 out of 5

I spend about £60 on servicing it each year, £20 for 4 spark plugs, £40 for oils and coolants and other fluids. Fuel economy is about 51mpg which is ok for an old bike with carburettors. It consistently achieves this average fuel economy though. About 190km (118 miles) before reserve. Not wonderful, but I've seen worse.

Equipment 4 out of 5

For the 1990 model onward, the rear tyre size is not being produced anymore so my choice was limited to a set of bridge-stone BT45 tyres where the rear tyre was very slightly wider by about 5 or 10mm. It doesn't affect the speedometer as the speedo drive is on the front wheel of this bike. Not great for luggage. However, Ventura make a kit so a top box or panniers could be attached if necessary.

Buying experience: Private seller.

5 out of 5
19 June 2017 by TimCthefilmguy

Year: 1988

Love at first ride. Once a new Nitron shock was fitted to the rear the handling was outstanding. It makes me happy every single time I ride it. And the MCN review is totally wrong. It is not at all heavy. The most flickable bike Iv'e ridden

Ride quality & brakes 5 out of 5

I can pull stoppies on it. A bit hard on a pillion but I re-foamed the seat to make a slightly thicker and wider perch and with a GIVI top box behind it's quite good. Has to have a good rear replacement shock.

Engine 3 out of 5

A 650 would be nicer but for its size it is adequate in power. The sound is very nice

Reliability & build quality 4 out of 5

Quality is fantastic. However it's pushing 30 years old now so parts do wear out

Value vs rivals 5 out of 5

If you do your own wrenching it doesn't take much to keep it going

Equipment 3 out of 5

It's a simple naked bike. I don't want more equipment! It looks so good

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 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.

Ride quality & brakes 4 out of 5
Engine 4 out of 5
Reliability & build quality 5 out of 5
Value vs rivals 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, 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.

Ride quality & brakes 4 out of 5
Engine 4 out of 5
Reliability & build quality 5 out of 5
Value vs rivals 5 out of 5
Equipment 2 out of 5
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