Touring with a CB400 and other questions.

Discussion in 'General Discussion / News / Information' started by Stosskraft, Mar 12, 2010.

  1. Stosskraft

    Stosskraft Member

    Hello all,

    I have just bought a 2003 Honda CB400 Version S here in Hanoi, Vietnam. This is my first real bike I have owned( scooters aside), and though I was looking to buy a Honda FTR ( I have recently driven one through Northern Laos..trip report to follow) I went for the CB for 2 reasons: I just loved it after the test drive, and for some reason the FTR is about a $1000 USD more than the CB and I can't understand why being such a simpler bike. I understand these 2 bikes are apples and oranges but I do want to do some touring with the bike, and the CB is a lot more interesting day to day for me.

    Now my question is, does anyone have any tips or experience they can share with touring on a CB type bike? I am getting a custom rack made to attach 2 side boxes and thinking of getting 2 tires with a different thread ( meaning changing the sport biased tires for something that can handle varied conditions). Naturally I am planning on keeping in on tarmac, but in Vietnam you never know what the roads are going to be like and driving on the gravel shoulder is quite normal when 3 buses are passing each other in the on coming lane.

    I am not an experienced rider or very knowledgeable in bikes but I am doing my research and would like to get your opinions on making the CB a reasonable tourer for tarmac and the unforeseen stuff that occurs. I will be heading to BKK at the end of April so I am hoping to pick up some parts while there and see what is available. Any suggestions for places in Bkk to look? I also need to get equipped with proper riding gear and some boots ( this is the first thing, I think) and any recommendations are really appreciated.

    Thank you from Hanoi.
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  3. feejer

    feejer Ol'Timer

    The little CB400 is a good choice. I rode one around the GT for a couple weeks and it did a good job. Underpowered from what I am used to but good enough.

    For mixed conditions (80% street / 20% dirt), I have heard nothing but good things about the Metzler Tourance. This is a dual-sport tire but should work on the CB for what you describe. Not going to be doing track days with them or anything but pretty tough and ready for anything you can throw at them.

    As far as touring storage, I would limit it to a top box and a good tank bag. Panniers on the side can be a huge hindrance in traffic. You just have to sit and cook if conditions are tight.

    Clothing/Gear? Easy. Buy the best protection you can afford for your head. For clothing over there, I would think mesh with good armor and a removable waterproof liner would be the ticket. Boots? Steel toe, some ankle coverage, and laces that wont get tangled up in your shift/brake linkage.
  4. David Learmonth

    David Learmonth Ol'Timer

    Metzeler Tourance have done very well on my T100 Bonneville.
  5. lotuseater

    lotuseater Ol'Timer

    Touring can be done on pretty much any bike. I have see posts here about bigger trips than I have ever done on a ksr 110 (the little mini moto bike) and plans in the works for a bigger trip on a dream. A CB400 is a decent bike and there are more than a few of them in the area so chances are if you get stuck someone will be able to help you out with parts and service. It might take a while but better than a rare bike.

    I agree with feejer. My philosophy is that if you can't fit it in one bag mounted behind the seat, then you don't need it. This being a major tourist hub, you usually are not far from guest houses and the like and don't really need to be touring around with massive loads of camping and survival gear.

    All that said, I have both a GB 400, similar to the CB 400 in size and power, and a Suzuki grasstracker which is very similar to an FTR. Most of my riding these days is done on the grasstracker. It is light, nimble, will go places I would not dare take my GB 400 (I can't stand the thought of dropping it, if you didn't really care about that then you could probably get a CB onto some of the dirt back roads too) and most of all, it is very very cheap on gas. I have been tracking it for the last two months and it averages more than 80 mpg. It makes going out for long rides much easier on the pocket book. I don't know about the CB 400 but my GB 400 gets some where South of 40 mpg so it is more than twice as expensive to run.
  6. Stosskraft

    Stosskraft Member

    Hey Guys,

    Thank you for the great responses. I am looking into those tires mentioned as hope I can find them here in Hanoi. I also have a dream and I am keeping it around for those muddy runs up to Sapa and the northern loop (are you in Vietnam? I would love to a scooter trip again:)).

    I did learn a lot about packing a soft bag on my Laos trip ( only my second trip on a motorbike and I was alone), though some guys in Hanoi to install the side bags as a measure of protection because the Vietnamese love to lean their bikes on others and the side boxes seem to buy a little extra 'space' for the bike when parking to maneuvering in tight spaces. I am looking at relatively small ones and will also pack a small backpack when needed. I will also look for a nnice tank bag in BKK when I visit there this April....any suggestions?

    The Suzuki grasstracker is really interesting. I just googled it and it seems like what I was orginally think when I bought the CB, can I ask your impressions about it? I liked the FTR but I found the lack of a kick start a problem and it would have helped a whole bunch when trying to start a bike with a dead battery (later found out it was some bad wiring I fixed) and I find a touring bike would benefit greatly from a kick start.

    I understand the CB cannot go the same places as a FTR or grasstracker and I will plan accordingly. I do firmly plan on keeping in on tarmac but as you know things don't always go according to plan so I will definately look at the tires mentioned about and maybe some of those handlebar protectors (name?)??

    Thanks again
  7. lotuseater

    lotuseater Ol'Timer

    I love the grasstracker. It was originally purchased as a bike for my wife but she does not ride it very often so I took over possession of it. It takes some getting used to as it is a smaller bike, 250cc but it does not do too badly if you are not in too much of a hurry to get around. Around these parts I find that where the bike tops out in speed is about as fast as I would want to go anyway so that has not been much of a concern.

    In dirt the bike is surprisingly good. I think because of the low seat hight and the easy in putting feet down. I have been able to take it on many trips with klx 250s and other more capable dirt bikes without too many problems. I got this one instead of an FTR because it has a bit bigger engine, and kick start as well as electric. The FTR has a mono shock which means it will ride a bit nicer but that was something I was willing to sacrifice. All around it has been a really good bike for Thailand.

    I have thought about selling it a number of times and trading it in for a klx 250. And I might if an offer comes up but honestly the bike is fun to ride, great on gas and looks really good compared to a klx. I just wish it was easier to get a licence for it so I could take it on bigger tours.


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