Chattahoochee Skunkworks builds an “Outlaw CB400F”…
At the time of its introduction, the Honda CB400F was hailed as a mini-superbike. The small, highly sophisticated 408cc inline four boasted a 10,000 rpm redline and six-speed transmission — the first sixth gear on a Honda street bike. Few other machines pointed so closely to the exotic engineering and howling fury of Honda’s small-displacement, multi-cylinder GP bikes.
While two-stroke twins, triples, and large-capacity four-stroke fours were raw and plentiful, a whole segment of riders cared about charisma and cornering prowess as much as straight-line, muscle car-eating power:
“When Honda unveiled the café racer-inspired CB400F Super Sport in 1975, sport bike fans were either hypnotized or cheering in the streets. Nobody expected a Japanese manufacturer to hit the mark so squarely. The 400 had it all. Its tiny inline four had the mystique of Honda’s exotic road racing multis…” –Ultimate Motorcycling
In the storied hills of North Georgia lives a man some call “the 400F whisperer” — our friend Toby Jones of the Chattahoochee Skunkworks. While Toby does some stock restorations, he has more fun building mild customs, and the 400 Four is his hands down favorite — he’s done seven so far!
“In the vintage motorcycle world there is a thing called character, and the character of the CB400F suites me just fine. Although not the fastest bike in its class, it’s smooth, peppy, quite nimble in the curves and, when it hits the upper revs the sound that the little four makes is absolutely glorious!”
As with most of Toby’s 400F builds, this one started as a basket case — after all, these bikes are getting rarer by the day, and it wouldn’t make sense to start with a complete, resto-worthy donor. Highlights include a powder-coated frame and swingarm courtesy of Toby’s friend Monte Turner, a newly-laced set of shouldered alloy wheels with Avon rubber, rebuilt top end and carbs, repro tank and manifold from the 400F mavens at David Silver Spares, and a prototype seat built to spec by the good folks at Texavina, which uses the original hinges and seat lock.
Then there’s the lovely paint, harking back to the exotic Honda RC racers of yesteryear:
“I have a real soft spot for the traditional red/silver Honda racing colors, so the tank, seat cowl, side covers, and sectioned front fender got the House of Kolors Orion Silver treatment.”
While the bike was sold to a Florida collector before Toby got much seat time, he’s got enough parts lying around for another build — perhaps a vintage drag bike? We can’t wait to see that, Toby! Below, Toby gives us the full story of the build in his own words.
Outlaw 400F: In the Builder’s Words…
My name is Toby Jones and my little old shop, the “Chattahoochee Skunkworks,” is up in the foothills of North Georgia. In the past few years I’ve built more vintage bikes than I care to think about and I’m still pluggin’ along turning out a few bikes every year. Although I’ve done a few stock restorations, I have more fun building mild customs. The Honda CB400F is my hands down favorite to work with and, at last count, I’ve done seven of them.
In the vintage motorcycle world there is a thing called character, and the character of the CB400F suites me just fine. Although not the fastest bike in its class, it’s smooth, peppy, quite nimble in the curves and, when it hits the upper revs the sound that the little four makes is absolutely glorious!
The “Outlaw” CB400F project began, as most of mine do, with a basket case or two. These bikes are getting so thin on the ground that it just doesn’t make sense to start with a nice restorable one. A good deal of thought and planning went into the project.
The frame and swingarm was sent out to my friend Monte Turner for a slick coat of Viper powder coat. The top end of the motor was rebuilt as was a set of original carbs. The tank and exhaust header are new reproduction parts from David Silver Spares. The folks at Texavina were nice enough to supply a prototype seat to my specs. It uses the original hinges and seat lock and makes for a very tidy installation.
Dime City Cycle supplied sweet the Acewell tach/speedo unit and 4 into 1 supplied the switchgear, cables, reproduction wiring harness, and stainless brake hose kit.
As we always do on these bikes, we laced up a set of shouldered alloy wheels and wrapped them in Avon Roadrider tires. I have a real soft spot for the traditional red/silver Honda racing colors, so the tank, seat cowl, side covers, and sectioned front fender got the House of Kolors Orion Silver treatment.
Although I’ve done commissioned builds in the past, I’m at a point now where I design and build them as if I were keeping them for myself and this little bike was no exception. I had planned to show it at a few times and do some seat time on it when the weather got a little warmer up in the mountains, but when a collector from Florida dropped by the Skunkworks to pick up a little DT125 Yamaha that I had, he made me an offer I couldn’t refuse and ended up with both bikes. The good news is, I still have a few CB400F parts laying around and have been considering a vintage drag bike project. You never can tell?
Something not right with the muffler to header connection . But the bike is sweet.
Nice clean build! Build befits the bike and that era! Kudos to the builder!!!
The most beautiful set of exhaust headers in the history of motorcycling. The only thing that even comes close is the way the Ariel Square Four exhausts continue into the cylinder finning.
The bike is well done and will executed red frame looks great but red chain guard should have been black or Chrome triple tree clamp should have been black the center of the front disc should have been black the caliper should have been black you have red places it doesn’t belong other than that it’s very well executed job art classes would help you it has helped me design and execute well done jobs I just don’t need to show them on a website