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ae86andkp61 HalfDork
5/10/17 6:34 p.m.

My current fleet is pretty good with a lightweight enduro/supermoto, a flyweight thumper cafe racer that could easily revert to its former role as a trackday bike, and a smooth-running retro standard. I like lightweight smallbore bikes, and my pattern to date has been to buy something cheap, and then spend months or years and several times the purchase price on custom improvements. I'm beginning to wonder if I'm better off with a better car/bike as a starting point...remember the recent "You should have bought a better car" thread?

I dumped a ton of effort into my DR350, and have my BanditGSF400 running OK, but on the verge of an engine rebuild, EFI conversion, custom set of spoked wheels, USD fork upgrade, etc.

Before I do that upgrade/rebuild/money pit route again, I figure it could be a good thought exercise to ask if there is something else closer to what I want.

Bandit 400 likes:

-Smooth running engine for highway riding and road trips

-Enough grunt for occasional two-up rides

-Not too much grunt (I'm a cautious safety-minded better-a-slow-bike-fast type rider) and I always resent the "just buy a big bike and don't crack the throttle so far" suggestions. I want a bike I can wind out now and again without being to triple digit speeds in a few seconds!

-14,000rpm redline and the awesome inline four soundtrack!

-Looks like this:

Sooo....must haves:

-Retro style

-Standard riding position

-Sub 400-pounds dry, or 420-ish at the curb

-50-100hp or so

-Inline four with tons of revs and characteristic sound

-EFI isn't essential, but would be icing on the cake

There's a ton of retro twins on the market, but they don't sound right to me. What am I missing? Did Honda ever make a CB600/Hornet styled more like the 919, or do they all look like the current insectoid Yamaha FZ, Suzuki GSX, Kawasaki Z styling?

I'm not opposed to building wheels, doing a fork/shock/swingarm swap, and adding Microsquirt to the Bandit...I have most of the parts, but just trying to think if there's a shortcut that would fill the same niche, and have me riding sooner rather than later.

smokindav Reader
5/10/17 6:44 p.m.

You lost me at awesome inline-4 cylinder soundtrack. I think you want a Ducati Monster.

smokindav Reader
5/10/17 6:45 p.m.

Now that that's out of the way. Check out a Honda CB-1. It should tick off all your boxes.


ae86andkp61 HalfDork
5/10/17 7:28 p.m.

I'm certainly far too unstylish to ride a Ducati! It might not resonate with all riders, but sound is one of my most important criteria. I do like the sound of some Twins, but I can't live without the sound of if the crazy-high-revving inline four! Ironically I bought the Bandit because my dad offered me a CB-1, but the timing wasn't right, and I turned him down. I was kicking myself afterward, and the Bandit came up cheap locally. I have a hard time not seeing the CB-1 vs. Bandit 400 as pretty much a straight-across lateral move. But I do appreciate the input!

hotchocolate Reader
5/10/17 8:40 p.m.

I don't have much to add except​ I also like sub 400cc rev to the moon inline fours. Like you the sound of an inline four puts a smile on my face. A triple is second and a six third. I know in the UK because of their graduated bike licences the have some "choked down" in line four 600s. Maybe you can find out what they did and do that to a 600 standard. That should get you what you want.

singleslammer PowerDork
5/10/17 8:44 p.m.

Small inline 4s are a thing of the past, sadly. I would live one of those 250cc 4s they had over seas. 19k rpm! It is a v-twin but I love my Honda hawk gt. Low strung 650cc engine that sounds great with pipes. I ring it all the way out all the time and am usually barely going 80 on the highway. Plus, it has a sweet single sided swing arm.

The Honda cb600 (599, whatever) seems like it might be close. It has a round light, naked styling, and the tail isn't too crazy. It is an inline 4 but is rated at 95 hp so likely too much husband power and the weight is likely borderline.

I would like to know if there is something that fits this category too. I love my Tiger but it is so damn heavy!

clutchsmoke SuperDork
5/10/17 9:27 p.m.

Your best bet is probably to import a bike from overseas. I can't think of anything sold in the US that fits your criteria.

jstand HalfDork
5/11/17 12:10 a.m.

A Seca II might not check all the boxes, but could be a good starting point:

skierd SuperDork
5/11/17 12:54 a.m.

1) You don't have to be stylish to ride a Monster, especially the older ones with the regular round headlight.

2) I think you really should try to test ride a Monster, either the 600 or the 750. You've got thumpers so you appreciate low end grunt and rumbles, now add a 90* Italian twin and character for days. As long as you put miles on it you'll automatically be different than most Duc riders.

I had a Cb750 Nighthawk, briefly. I never thought I could be so bored on a motorcycle, but it meets the power and standard criteria well. Honda did make the 599 for a while which I think kinda fits what you're looking for.

DaveEstey PowerDork
5/11/17 7:53 a.m.

Kawasaki Zephyr 750 and modify like the below

I agree with SomkinDav though. You actually want a Monster.

wheelsmithy Dork
5/11/17 8:22 a.m.

Is this insect-styled?

For what it is worth, I agree. Other than the styling, CB-1=Bandit 400.

All I see as checking all the boxes has been mentioned, unless you go old school.

akamcfly Dork
5/11/17 9:10 a.m.

500 Interceptor? V4 for a change. 12,000rpm redline.

bluej UltraDork
5/11/17 10:08 a.m.

Naked Honda VFR?

It's not an inline, but still a 4 w/ a distinct note.

Edit: hadn't updated the thread, so looks like I wasn't the only one thinking this

Huckleberry MegaDork
5/11/17 10:20 a.m.

Can you swap a 600cc sport bike motor into the tired bandit?

FZRs look cool naked but the rearsets and clip-ons are generally pretty hard on long rides. The five valve motors are suwheet though.

The Honda V4s are smoother, rev and sound better than an inline 4. A naked VFR is a great idea. It has very good riding ergos, fantastic poise and beautiful aluminum bits.

bluej UltraDork
5/11/17 10:31 a.m.

This, but maybe lose the front fairing?

pres589 PowerDork
5/11/17 11:17 a.m.

Honda 599? I'd be looking at an SV650, though, even if they are supposed to be kind of boring. Ninja 650R? I don't know why you're hung up on a vibration prone inline-4. I loved my VFR but I don't love maintaining it. Older ones might have been better in this regard; my 6th gen has been kind of not as easy to deal with as I had hoped.

Huckleberry MegaDork
5/11/17 11:37 a.m.

If we take the 4 cylinder bit out of the equation we are arriving at Triumph Street pretty quickly I think.

Does this have to be old/cheap? There are a few new, affordable mid-weight upright naked bikes like the FZ-07 that fit the bill here.

Bobzilla MegaDork
5/11/17 12:07 p.m.

Forget the 4-bangers....

Triples are where it's at. AMAZING engine/trans in that critter.

clutchsmoke SuperDork
5/11/17 12:44 p.m.

I wasn't going to deviate from OP's love of inline 4s, but triple engines are where it's at IMO. Controllable power everywhere.

Bobzilla MegaDork
5/11/17 12:57 p.m.
clutchsmoke wrote: I wasn't going to deviate from OP's love of inline 4s, but triple engines are where it's at IMO. Controllable power everywhere.

and instead of sounding like a teenager's honda it has something different to it. Something awesome. Love love love my FZ and it's almo st 12k rpm redline.

stuart in mn
stuart in mn UltimaDork
5/11/17 1:02 p.m.
singleslammer wrote: Small inline 4s are a thing of the past, sadly. I would live one of those 250cc 4s they had over seas.

I own a 1982 Suzuki Katana 1000, one of the original ones. In the early 1990s, Suzuki built a 250cc version for the JDM market, I'd love to get one of those to park next to mine.

Huckleberry MegaDork
5/11/17 1:11 p.m.

If new isn't off the table and we ignore almost all of the OP's criteria and say what small bike we want right now, today... then...

390 Duke. 338 lb wet. 40.29hp at 9,600 rpm, with 24.28 ft/lbs torque @ 7,000 rpm. Can be had for under $5k.

SEADave HalfDork
5/11/17 1:37 p.m.

Since other people have already mentioned pretty much all the other options, I'm just gonna throw this out there.

If you want a light, agile, inline-4 motorcycle that doesn't need a lot of upgrades (I read the "should have bought a better car thread" too), start looking at any 600cc sportbike made by the Big 4 since about 2004. For the American market at least, this is where the manufacturers put their good stuff. Fuel injected high-revving engines, high-end multi adjustable suspensions, lightweight frames & compenents, excellent brakes - these bikes have it.

I have a Ducati Monster like so many people here have recommended for you. Mine is one of the better versions, an "S" with FI, Ohlins suspension, better brakes, etc. But I don't believe for a second that if I met up with a good rider on a 600 Supersport that he wouldn't leave me for dead.

Dr Ribs Revere
Dr Ribs Revere Reader
5/11/17 9:53 p.m.

Are Honda 599's in your price range? Or maybe even a 919? They should be old enough and weren't the most popular when available

Woody MegaDork
5/11/17 10:20 p.m.
wheelsmithy wrote:

^I owned that exact bike, same year (1977), same color!

And I was also going to suggest the CB-1, assuming that you can find one and then fit on it.

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