1981 Honda CM400 Custom


A happy reunion brings back a sense of nostalgia


Tachometer cable broke.

General Comments:

This bike is the most fun ride I have ever owned. I bought one to train on when I first started riding. I loved the handling and the responsiveness. I moved onto a bigger bike (Honda Shadow 1100) after T-boning a truck that pulled out in front of me.

I liked that bike, but it was a little slower on the handling being a cruiser. I purchased a Honda Shadow Saber 1100 to replace that one due to the shorter rake and lower seat height. I was looking for a little better handling. It was better, but it still missed the classic flare and handling of the CM400C. I sold it once kids started coming back in 2004.

So now, 11 years later, I have decided to get back to riding. In my search on the sale sites I came across another '81 Honda CM400C. What are the odds. I had to gobble it up, if only for reminiscence sake. I am pleased to report, she did not disappoint.

The handling is exactly as I remember. She turns on a dime and gives you the change. I do miss the power that the 1100 possessed, but I am willing to overlook that for the comfort and handling that she offers in return. City driving is a dream. The low torque clutch and the ease of shifting is welcomed. The controls are right where they belong to operate naturally, with the exception of the high/low beam switch. I prefer the newer rocker style than the slider switch that exists.

I would say to anyone that rides, you have to sit on one of these to appreciate the styling and engineering that went into its creation. And to those who would like to take up the sport, you could not go wrong by making this your first bike. You will fall in love with her quickly. I highly recommend it to anyone, whether a seasoned rider or a novice, a collector or a trader.

Would you buy another motorcycle from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 22nd April, 2015

1980 Honda CM400 Custom




Nothing... it rock and rolls... fires right up... scares all the neighbors... a great mid size bike...

General Comments:

Starts first time... responsive... for a 150 lb dude.. this is the bike for me..

Would you buy another motorcycle from this manufacturer? No

Review Date: 24th February, 2011

16th May 2014, 18:15

I am a 4'8" 67 year old woman, who's been riding almost 40 years, including Short Track, Motocross, & TT Scrambles Racing.

Due to a 360 neck fusion, from C3-T2, I was ordered off of motorcycles in 2009.

With a compromise, my Neurosurgeon reluctantly agreed to a trike.

I now have a 1977 customized, 1000cc Gold Wing.

However, I have Rheumatoid Arthritis, and it's beginning to hurt my clutch hand, so I double clutch, to avoid using the clutch all the time.

My husband found a 1981 Honda CM 400 Automatic, but the words: "a great beginners' bike", aren't what I wanted to hear.

I'd LOVE a response, from someone, as to exactly how they feel, going from a larger, to a smaller bike (my Husband would switch over the trike kit).

Honesty, please! This, to me, is my status symbol, of all I've done on bikes, and my fighting through Brain Surgery, Spinal Fusions (L3-S1 & C3-T2), and now Scleroderma, with the RA. I'm still riding, and I'm darned proud of it!

It does matter to me, that people are amazed, and proud, of my accomplishments.

Frankly, I plan on riding, until they pry my hands off of the handle bars.

Thank you! Maggie.

1981 Honda CM400 Custom


Great older bike!


The headlight (high and low beam) / high beam indicator burnt out (at separate times). The head light had to be ordered from the dealer, because there was no generic part number.

It also leaks a little oil (not noticeably affecting the level). It seems that the oil spill is behind the engine/tranny.

Clutch seems to slip a little on hill when giving suddenly more throttle, for example when I go up a hill at 40mph, then give it throttle, the tachometer goes up, but the speed stays the same. But this is normal wear, and will probably be found on any bike over a period of usage.

General Comments:

This bike is good for most street riding. It has enough power for the highway, but still gets from 50-60+ mpg, depending on how I ride it.

The only things that have gone wrong with it, I would consider normal for the age.

One cool thing about this bike, is in 5th gear, the tachometer and speedometer match; for example, at 30mph, the rpm is 3,000, and at 60mph, 6,000rpm.

I have had this bike for several months, and have not had any big problems with it.

I have had a lot of people come up and tell me that they used to own a bike like this, and they say it is "indestructible".

This bike is almost 30 years old, but looks only 10. It rides like it is brand new. I would recommend anyone who can't afford a brand new bike, to get a bike like this one, or one as old, as long as they can find parts.

Would you buy another motorcycle from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 11th October, 2010

4th May 2011, 19:58

Had my '81 CM400E for 17 years, no major service issues. Have had 2 Harleys in that time, but keep the CM400 around, just because it just keeps going!!!

3rd Apr 2015, 02:19

I have 2 bikes. A 1986 Yamaha Virago XV700C and a 1981 Honda CM400E. Both have their merits and demerits. The Honda in comparison is smooth sounding, smooth shifting, responsive when needed, and I am considering putting a windshield on it. That was my 1st bike and it ain't for sale. I alternate between the 2 on rides to work. The Yamaha's torque is unbelievable as well as the speed. Gives it wings. But it is a V-twin and has that Sportster look, feel, sound, and handling. Definitely a cruiser. Highway speeds are not a problem.

The Honda is great around town, but at 50 to 55 mph, the wind is very decidedly a factor, but the smoothness is hard to get away from - it purrs. It even resembles the Triumph 650 in lines and appearance somewhat. I make it do the work for a lot of commuting. From rides to work 15 miles away, to trips to the grocery story, to Walmart, you name it. It is fun to ride!

Improvements needed would have to include lighting. Converting to the extremely bright blue LEDs and possible additional sets for the crash bar. This one would benefit from the adventure set up as far as equipment goes. Forward controls could be a plus for both bikes, but doggone it, at greater than $700 for kits to convert, you would have to be crazy, so the mid-controls are to stay for now. There you have it.

Overall, the Honda CM400 series are very good bikes for what Honda intended them to be - work horses!