Price new - £2899
Riding a Honda NS500 V3, Freddie Spencer became
the youngest-ever World Champion on in 1983
at the age of 21. The NS400R released in Spring
1985 was supposedly a road-going replica. Great
idea but unfortunately Yamaha had beaten Honda
to it with the RD500LC and Suzuki’s RG500
was due in showrooms soon!
Although all three bikes were no-compromise
two-strokes, with knife-edge powerbands and
the latest chassis technology, Honda probably
shot itself in the foot by producing a 400 (the
most important class for its home market) instead
of a more powerful 500.
In fact, the true capacity was 387cc, so the
NS only had about 40cc and a few horsepower
more than a Yamaha RD350 Power Valve, which
cost two-thirds as much!
Like the RD500 and RG500, after the initial
hype, sales dwindled. The NS was dropped in
1988, by which time it has been pushed into
the background by a string of four-stroke race
reps that were far more practical for general
NS400Rs were available in red/white/blue HRC
colours or Rothmans blue/white. Even with Honda’s
ATAC system there’s little power until
8000rpm but from there it picks up fiercely.
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