400/4 ➞ 200/2: Two-Stroke Mashup from Colin Davies…
Introduced in 1974, the Honda CB400F was one of the sweetest little machines of the 1970s. While it didn’t have the outright power of larger siblings like the CB750, the café racer styling and sophistication of the small-bore engine lent it cult following that continues to this day.
However, for riders like 64-year-old Colin Davies of the UK, there’s nothing quite as nostalgic as those early days of two-stroking on bikes like his Yamaha FS1 and RD250. Several years ago, Colin did a mild custom build on his ’82 CBX550, turning back the clock for a more retro look. But the siren song of a two-stroke was calling:
“At the same time I acquired a legit bare naked Honda CB400/4 frame, which got me to thinking…I wanted a bit of ringadingding in my life…harking back to the RD days of my youth. Project Suzonda was born.”
The previous owner had stripped the Honda 400/4 down to the bare frame, then left it outside for ~15 years. Colin decided the skeletal Honda should be resurrected, which gave him a wild idea. To satisfy his hankering for a two-stroker, he’d fit the old 400/4 frame with a Suzuki 200/2 engine!
“I took it forward by finding a Suzuki SB200 engine on the cheap. I later upgraded to a GT200 engine to have electric start, 5-speed gearbox, and 22mm carbs. All rebuilt with fresh crank seals/bearings etc.”
Surprisingly, the engine mounts weren’t too far off from the Honda frame. With the top rear in, custom brackets were fabbed to mount the engine in the frame.
“Considering the frame accommodated an inline 400, the 200 twin sits nicely and looks about right.”
As far as aesthetics, Colin had a vague vision of a competition-inspired flat tracker look, and let that idea lead the way. Highlights include a Stihl-gray frame, Honda CB200 tank, Suzuki GSX1100 alloy swingarm, and six-spoke alloy wheels (powder-coated signal white), forks, and brakes courtesy of a 90s Honda NSR125.
Colin sketched out the tank design and sent it off to Christian Arapu, who created the decals, and a saddle and tank pad upholstered in a lovely blue suede matches the Suzuki GSX triple blue/signal white colorway.
“Turned out my trimmer works for Williams F1 and had an offcut of their blue, which suited perfectly.”
The result is one of the loveliest little street smokers we’ve seen — a light, agile, and certifiably unique machine that’s sure to spark interest, photos, and conversation wherever it goes. Says Colin:
“I wanted a comp-inspired road bike that was simple, lightweight, and a blast to ride. No need for big heavy 1000cc+ engines, turbos, or heavily modified… It is fun, lightweight, nippy, and nimble. Riding position is comfy and it’s a pleasure to ride down to Costa.”
There’s a ton of time, thought, fabrication, and detail behind this build. Below, Colin gives us the nitty-gritty details on how he fleshed that bare Honda frame into the Suzonda WTF200/2 you see here. The gorgeous photos are thanks to Thom Airs Media.
Project Suzonda: Builder Interview
• Please tell us a bit about yourself, your history with motorcycles, and your workshop.
Hi, I’m Colin Davies, 64 years old, owned my first FS1E at 16 and then an RD250C for a couple of years. Got into modified cars over the years, but family/mortgages/kids took precedence until the mid 90s when I acquired my ‘82 Honda CBX550. I turned back the style clock by 10 years on that mild custom build in 2015/16.
At the same time I acquired a legit bare naked Honda CB400/4 frame, which got me to thinking…I wanted a bit of ringadingding in my life…harking back to the RD days of my youth. Project Suzonda was born. (I also run a modiied ‘71 VW Beetle.)
• What’s the make, model, and year of the donor bike?
A 1977 Honda CB400/4 donated the naked frame. Nothing on it, as it had been stripped by the previous owner around 2000 and left outside. I found out the reg number from the frame numbers and decided it needed to live again, just had to decide what/how?
• Why was this bike built?
Personal: I had hankered after a 2-smoker for some time, but the 400/4 frame gave me a wild idea. Inspired by my relatively successful Honda backdate, I took it forward by finding a Suzuki SB200 engine on the cheap. I later upgraded to a GT200 engine to have electric start, 5-speed gearbox, and 22mm carbs. All rebuilt with fresh crank seals/bearings etc.
• What was the design concept and what inluenced the build?
I only had a vague idea of style, but fancied a flat-tracker style and the 200 engine in the 400 frame seemed to lend itself to the image I had in my head.
I wanted a comp-inspired road bike that was simple, lightweight, and a blast to ride. No need for big heavy 1000cc+ engines, turbos, or heavily modified.
• What custom work was done to the bike?
Starting with a naked frame and not wanting to chop it up, except for the seat mount/lock brackets, I spent a lot of time just looking at it. Engine offered in, and the CBX tank mounted along with forks/bars and swingarm scored from a local motorcycle swapmeet started the ball rolling. As it took shape I saw the potential of it actually coming together.
The frame is painted in Stihl grey as I wanted the comp look and black frames are so done IMO. Mind you I don’t like red or blue or multi-coloured frames either haha!
Six-spoke alloy wheels and a cheapo eBay seat gave me the initial look I was after. A shout out on a biker group saw me own a CB200 tank…specifically purchased as I loved the style and shape. Factor in the lip cap and stainless twin styling strips and that completed “the look.”
The Suzuki GSX1100 alloy swingarm was narrowed at the pivot by 12mm overall and my tame turner mate fashioned a new stainless spindle. The swingarm was longer than stock and gave it a purposeful look.
Wheels and eventually a different set of front forks/brakes were from a late 90s Honda NSR125, six-spoke alloys suited the modernised old-school flat tracker style I was after. I think three-spoke alloys are so common/boring, but six-spoke alloys powdercoated in signal white hit the mark.
One point I’d like to make is this build was on a fairly tight budget, and as I’m a hoarder of “things that could come in useful,” sorted through my stuff to find a pair of cut-down common rubber doorstops in white that served as forward tank mounts.
The fork head taper bearings were adapted to it the stem, along with the stock NSR brake calipers/disc and speedo drive, and the front was coming together well.
Bar adapters were used to mount the handlebars onto the top yoke. NSR clip-ons and a handmade stainless cover plate tidied up the yoke.
Front brakes use NSR master cylinder with braided lines. Rear brakes needed some work so a torque bar was made out of M12 threading, sheathed in a thinwall tube with rose joint to swingarm connection and U bracket to/from the rear caliper.
Wheels were simply spacered out to suit the chain alignment and centering. The NSR uses an M17 axle, whereas the GSX swingarm is 19mm…again, jaw spacers made it work.
The engine mounts largely lined up with the Honda frame. The top rear was a shoe in, and this allowed custom brackets to be made, picking up on the three points on the engine/frame. Considering the frame accommodated an inline 400, the 200 twin sits nicely and looks about right.
Exhausts had to be expansion pipes and a lucky score saw me the happy owner of period Microns, albeit for an RD350LC, but nevertheless a barrel/spigot modification saw them sit nice and look correct.
The rear exhaust mounts are male/female rose joints screwed together, like dog bones, and when fully articulated and tightened hold the rear firmly, using the Honda pillion footpeg mounts.
I sourced a flat tracker style fibreglass seat unit that worked for the fit ‘n finish, as I was looking to achieve a straight line along the tank and seat. Given the shape of the seat unit, I think it is as close as I can get it.
The seat pad I formed from 2mm alloy sheet and 15mm yoga mat — yes closed-cell yoga mat, two layers glued together and shaped before my pro trimmer got to work. I wanted something a little different, didn’t have to be uber practical, so decided on blue suede. Turned out my trimmer works for Williams F1 and had an offcut of their blue, which suited perfectly.
The CB200 tank has a padded section running up the middle, so we covered this in suede and continued the block pattern onto the seat pad. I used half of an ear defender cup to form a cave for the rear tank mount to it in, so the join was tight.
The unit sits on the Honda subframe bridge I cut from my CBX and is fixed in place by a single Zeus clip, fastened to a tophat bath support foot I salvaged.
Paint was always going to be Suzuki GSX triple blue/signal white to match the wheels, and the retro tank design was sketched out in MS Paint by me before I sent it to the decal man in Moldova.
He tidied the rough sketch and made perfect decals in Suzuki GSX double blue/white colours. Even the additional stickers were chosen to match the colours. I have a thing about random stickers…as far as I’m concerned, if you don’t have the product on the bike don’t have the stickers either.
Sundry details are:
- Domino throttle mechanism
- ZZR600 modified footpegs
- Repro rear cantilever master cylinder
- Alloy 2T oil tank sitting in modified airfilter box.
- Relocated master ignition switch
- CD175 headlight cowl with stock speedo and Keiko headlamp upgrade
- Cut down CBX front guard, mounted on the NSR fork legs
- Micro LED indicators
- Modified/extended 50mm 400/4 sidestand with added kicker to miss the Microns
- Rear brake lever is ZZR on custom mount
- Pegs are ZZR on CBX pillion brackets
- Shocks are 400mm standard chrome aftermarket units with custom spacers
- Rear light is aftermarket twin round lamps tucked just enough. The number plate forms a small splash guard.
- Inner rear wheel guard is stock 400/4
• Does the bike have a nickname?
“That bastard thing.”
• Any idea of horsepower, weight, and/or performance numbers?
Not yet, although a stock GT200 engine produces a mind-blowing 23hp and weighs dripping wet circa 135kgs. I’ve got larger main jets and the Microns which might add a few hp…who knows? I might invest in a rolling road pro set up?
• Can you tell us what it’s like to ride this bike?
It is fun, lightweight, nippy, and nimble. Riding position is comfy and it’s a pleasure to ride down to Costa.
• Was there anything done during this build that you are particularly proud of?
I’d say the tank design and swingarm mods to it. I do love the suede seat/tank and that gets a lot of compliments.
• Is there anyone you’d like to thank?
- My son Matthew for the electrics, getting it first started and continued support.
- Andy Harrop, my neighbour, who rebuilt the engine…twice, and for additional support and tech advice.
- Alex for the paint
- Dan for the powdercoating/blasting
- Rich’s Fabrications for the exhaust spigots and sidestand mods
- Thom Airs for the photography (@thomairs)
- Wemoto for Suzuki parts
- Shane Woods for the carb rebuild
- Buzz for additional tech advice
- Gez for the pro trimming
- Christian Arapu for the decals
- John @ Bikewise Abingdon for his input and MOTs
- And, anyone who sold me anything