Honda “SuperScream” from the Customs editor of Bike magazine!
Tagged rather portentously ‘SuperDream’ in the UK, Honda’s CB250N and CB400N were tough but unexciting SOHC twins much favoured by commuters and newbies in the early 1980s but never went on to achieve the iconic status of, say, the CB400F or CX500/650, but with low residuals to match. However journalist/editor Mark Williams, who launched the ground-breaking Bike magazine in 1972 and is now its Custom Bike editor saw the potential to turn one into a practical, affordable street-tracker.
In fact the SuperDreams were already the basis for a set of bolt-on parts developed by Café Racer Kits (CRK) to turn it into, yes, a café-racer, so Mark liaised with CRK’s Ian Sax-Coburg to adapt some of these to his needs. Firstly he bought a barely functioning CB400N in his native Wales, cut off the rear subframe and welded on CRK’s slimmed-down version which also houses a smaller battery and most of the electrics.
He then turned to a friend, Nick Bramley, who runs Rusty Rooster, specialists in restoring and race-prepping BSA Bantams in nearby Kington, who de-lugged the rest of the chassis, cut’n’shut CRK’s exhaust system to give it more of an upsweep and adapted a pair of wire wheels from a CB400F he considered more aesthetically pleasing than the ugly, pressed alloy Comstars fitted in-period to many Hondas, although careful machining allowed re-fitting of the CB400N’s excellent twin front discs.
Engine work required included replacing broken exhaust studs, piston rings, valves, camchain and starter motor and cleaning and re-jetting the carbs. The forks were re-chromed and re-sprung, the brakes re-furbed, re-lined and fitted with stainless hoses upfront.
“I wanted to use the bike for running around the local country lanes so kept the gearing fairly low,” Mark explains, “and with the carbs cleaned and re-jetted, cone filters and the free-flowing exhaust it’s pretty nippy.”
It’s also a lot lighter and nimbler than the stock CB400N, especially with CRK’s ‘roadster’ seat and a Brazilian-built CG125 fuel tank, “Which Nick spent a lot of time with hammers and weld getting to fit.”
Mark adapted classic alloy motocross number plates to fit inside the frame and around the Bates-style headlamp and paintwork was done by Paul at classic restoration specialists Robin James Engineering in nearby Leominster, the turquoise a stock Volkswagen option with the maroon mixed to order.
The original electrics were in a terrible state so TWS Vehicle Wiring in Cirencester made a custom loom using all new components although like the instruments, also from CRK, they’re fairly conventional but as Mark himself proudly claims, “everything was done to a budget but visually and otherwise it worked out well, and it goes like stink.”