The Return of the 400's

Sound RIDER! logo


Yamaha Motorcycles Street Event - Cycle Barn


The Return of the 400’s

DOT orders all manufacturers to think smaller

Once upon a time in American Motorcycling, say the 60’s, we were happy and content with bikes of smaller displacements such as 100, 250, 350 and 400 cc’s. But when we hit the 80’s we just had to have bigger machines. Perhaps it was a thought process spurred by the glut of high powered SUV’s that had hit the market. Whatever the case certain segments of the street bike market were lost as a result.

But by order of the DOT manufacturers were recently informed they must conform to a new requirement for street bikes. Beginning in 2004 all major manufacturers must provide a 400cc street bike in the US market. At the time of this writing all manufacturers had agreed to comply and in a Sound RIDER! exclusive we have been provided with details of each of the manufacturers offerings

  • Aprilia RSV400 – A lighter and swifter version of the currently available RSV1000, Aprilia will release this as a four stroke to comply with upcoming EPA regulations.

  • BMW R400RS – A sporty knock off of the R1150RS sport machine. Too soon to tell if they’ll come up with a Boxer Cup for this smaller class.

  • Buell Fire Colt – Buell has already been offering its Blast model for the last few years. The Fire Colt is a 400cc knock off of the Firebolt that came to market in 2002. It utilizes a Blast motor and Firebolt engineering with the fuel in the frame and the oil in the swing arm. It can be purchased with the popular Dynaflow two stroke conversion kit which has been so popular on the 1998 Dynaglide models.

  • Ducati 446ie – This will ship as a super motard model and conversion kits will be available to change it into a sport tourer, or dual sport model.

  • Honda CB4 – Third time around in the history of Honda to bring an inline 400cc four bike to the market. The bike looks a lot like the CB919, is fuel injected and said to be a blast in the twisties because of its super light weight.

  • Kawasaki Z400 – Are you digging the look of the new Z1000? The Z4 will make a great entry level bike and incorporates the styling of the Z1000 including that four-into-two-into-four pipe system. Look for a ZR4RR Ninja in 2005.

  • Moto Guzzi Breva 400 – An opposed 90 degree twin, which Moto Guzzi is so famous for, gets a new look as a standard based on the upcoming Breve 750.

  • Norton Commando 400 – Norton returns this year with a new cruiser, but the Commando 400 will signal the companies commitment to classic styling and modern technology.

  • Suzuki SV400 and GSXR400 – Suzuki will bring on two new models so that riders will have a choice between an inline four, or Vtwin motor.

  • Triumph Speed Five – 80 cc’s per head, this five cylinder sportbike utilizes some of the technology Honda has been using in the RC211V.

  • Yamaha R4 – A sporty little knock off of the R6 and R1, this model is lighter and easier to maneuver in tight corners.

  • With all these new models coming to market, you’d have to wonder, where does this all fit in at the race track? A WMRRA spokesperson noted, "We will be incorporating a 400 class into our 2004 schedule. The bikes will run on the track at the same time as the new Maxi Scooter class bikes run." Would that be the same time Vintage and GP run? Only time will tell.

    Sound RIDER! publisher, Tom Mehren, sums it up this way – "It’s like a dream come true, do you think they'll all ship in April???"

    For photos and specifications click here.

    Eric Enderle/April 03

    We've worked hard to upgrade this site. Click here to notify us of any problems we need to correct.


    Subscription has its privileges - Each month Sound RIDER! publishes new features on rides, clubs, dealers and events. Don't miss out on these informative stories.

    Sign up today for your FREE subscription and you'll get notification each month when the new issue comes on line. You'll also be the first to find out about special Sound RIDER! events. From time to time, we also provide valuable coupons that can save you hundreds of dollars on motorcycle services. What are you waiting for? Click here to sign up now!