highway riding
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  1. #1
    Member Don G.'s Avatar
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    highway riding

    I wasn't sure of an appropriate sub-forum to put this, so I decided on Miscellaneous.

    In preparation for putting the bike away for the winter, last weekend I took a little ride, filled the tank, added a little Sta-Bil, then took another little ride to circulate the treated fuel, this time on the highway. In the month or so since I've owned this, that was only the second time I've had it on the highway. Frankly, it was never my intention to take this bike on any long journeys. I bought it for tooling around the local streets, but I figured a 400cc would be adequate to jump on the highway occasionally if I wanted to. I weigh about 215 and while I could get the speed up to 60mph at about 5500rpm, it's not where I'd like to have to stay for any length of time. I can't imagine cranking it up to 7k, let alone anywhere near redline. I didn't feel unsafe, per se, but it was not a comfortable ride by any stretch. I certainly didn't feel comfortable pushing it to go any faster, though I'm sure it could have. Does that seem normal for a guy my size on a bike this size or am I expecting too much from it? I realize there are other factors riding on the highway, like other traffic, wind, trucks, etc. It just seemed like I could feel a lot more vibration than I recall from riding on the highway 40 years ago. Granted, I was a bit lighter then, and the bike was a 500/4. So I may be comparing apples to oranges here.

    I still plan on doing most of my riding on back roads and side streets, but I may want or need to venture out again onto the highway. Anything in particular I should be taking a closer look at before I do, or is this just the nature of a 400cc bike with a 200+ pound rider?

    Thanks.
    • First bike ridden: older brother's '70-something Honda CB450
    • First bike owned: '70-something CB500/4
    • after that, a 40+ year non-riding dry spell
    • July 2019: rented a Yamaha V-Star 250 for a day...and was re-hooked
    • Sept. 2019: bought a 1981 CM400t

  2. #2
    Senior Member JamesPal's Avatar
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    Don, good on you for getting back into biking. I hope you have done one of the safety classes. As long as you keep up the oil changes and valve adjustments, that bike should run 70 MPH all day long. The SOHC 400/450 are counterbalanced. That makes them the smoothest of the Honda Twins. LongDistanceRider has taken his SOHC all over the country, abet mostly on secondary roads. He has made some sensible suspension upgrades. You might think about adding a windshield. It will add a lot to the comfort, especially at speed.
    Jim Palmer
    '85 GL1200I (Garage Find)
    '81 GL1100 STD (Project)
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    https://www.hondatwins.net/forums/1-...s-cb450k5.html
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  3. #3
    Senior Member oupa's Avatar
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    This is MY opinion. Nothing else. I hate highway (60+ mph posted speed) riding. Too much inattention combined with speed makes things happen VERY fast! Around here, if the posted limit is 60 the cops don't even look twice if you're doing under 80. A motorcycle, even a big one, is a small target on the highway. The heavier the traffic, the more invisible you become. Lane changes (by other drivers) are typically made with a quick glance if that. When things get iffy, your best option is often powering out of the situation. If you're already cruising near top end... Stay far enough behind a truck to be visible to him and three cars are going to pull in between you. In the wide open spaces where traffic is light you're okay, but I'm just guessing that's not what you have in mind.

    I avoid interstates whenever possible. That said, far and away the majority of motorcycle accidents ARE NOT on interstate highways.

    In the end it comes down to what you are comfortable doing. Give it a shot! Maybe I'm just a scary old man.
    "They're not like cars with a body that rusts out in a few years. Keep them tuned and overhauled and they'll last as long as you do. Probably longer." - Robert Pirsig

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  5. #4
    Senior Member f100owner's Avatar
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    I have taken my 350Cl up to about 60-65 and held it there for a short time - a couple of miles - but it was not enjoyable by any means. At that speed I am at about 7-8K rpm. The CL still has a redline of about 10.5, I think. Don't think I will reach that spot.
    But coming from a daily rider of a Harley bagger, I would say I enjoy the 350 around town and on some country roads. State highways are pushing it on the CL. But when it comes to feeling safe on a motorcycle in general, I will take the highways, particularly the Interstate over round town and country roads any day. I am more comfortable at 80 on our rural Interstates and other highways than awaiting some soccer mom to pull out in front of me leaving Starbucks with one hand on the wheel and one on the mocha.
    oupa and Alan F. like this.
    CL350K0
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  6. #5
    Junior Member RallyK's Avatar
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    Don: Not all roads are built the same. Concrete with rain grooves can make the front wheel feel shaky. Find an asphalt highway and get up to speed, then I think you'll have more confidence on concrete realizing that it's just road noise.
    knauff13 likes this.

  7. #6
    Super Moderator ancientdad's Avatar
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    We all have to find our comfort level on the roads we ride, and you should do what you feel comfortable doing. That said, so many new owners of these vintage bikes are not used to the rev range these engines are capable of. Honda marked the redline correctly and appropriately for the engine, and when the engine is in a mechanically sound condition it is completely safe to use the full rev range to get the maximum performance from the bike. Obviously, you don't have to use 9000 to 10,000 rpm to ride the bike, but just the same you don't need to be concerned with the capability of the engine to turn that level of rpm when you want maximum acceleration. Honda designed these engines to be durable under high rev conditions and using the upper rev range will allow you to accelerate to and run at highway speeds pretty easily despite the "small" size of the bike. Yes, there will be more vibration at the higher rev ranges, but as Jim mentioned above your engine is the smoothest of the twins when properly set up and adjusted. If you haven't seen my drag strip video, listen to it and watch the tach on my DOHC 450. This is one of the things that made these bikes so popular back then - good power from small displacement with great reliability
    Tom

    CL450 project reboot, street legal this time
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    running points... because I'm too old for mysteries that begin with pushing

  8. #7
    Member JDerrick's Avatar
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    I had to take a 15 mile trip on the highway last Saturday on my cm450c. I had got my oil changed and tire fixed in a nearby City to the north. I got up to 65 mph. I really felt uncomfortable going any faster. I was afraid to stress my engine too much. I mainly use this bike in the city. I have never had it on the interstate.

    The reason for my reservations to go faster are that I would like this bike to last me until I have the money for a new one, at least. I just bought the bike in July. I am no mechanic and I would hate for something to go wrong mechanically. Plus I am riding this bike through the winter. As long as the days are not too cold. I have an electric heated jacket and electric heated gloves. But I cannot count on this starting below the temperature of 30 degrees.

    Going fast is awesome in my opinion. I just keep a lookout for other drivers, at all times! And I certainly don't feel embarrassed when I am passed by four-wheelers or 18 wheelers. I just slow down a bit to let them complete the pass quickly, most times.

  9. #8
    Member Don G.'s Avatar
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    Great info. Thanks for your thoughts. With an older bike like this, there's always that thought of whether it's shaky or vibrating or straining because of age or because something might be out of whack. I think 60mph at about 5500rpm seems about right, but I wanted to hear if anyone thought that was out of range. I'm happy not to have to ride the highway much, and if and when I do, I'll be ready. I don't have the itch to go any faster than 60-65 on two wheels (yet), so as long as I can feel confident the bike's not going to self-destruct if I push it a little occasionally, I think I'll be good.

    Maybe the beginning of next season I'll get in touch with that local vintage bike guy whose name i was given, and see if he wants to take it for a ride and give me his thoughts.
    oupa likes this.
    • First bike ridden: older brother's '70-something Honda CB450
    • First bike owned: '70-something CB500/4
    • after that, a 40+ year non-riding dry spell
    • July 2019: rented a Yamaha V-Star 250 for a day...and was re-hooked
    • Sept. 2019: bought a 1981 CM400t

  10. #9
    Super Moderator longdistancerider's Avatar
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    As mentioned I've toured the lower 48 states twice now on my 400. I tried to avoid freeways whenever possible because of blind cagers and I wasn't in a hurry to be anywhere, I took 3-4 months each time. Going fast is fine if you don't want to see the countryside. That said when I did run the freeway I more than kept up with whatever speed traffic flowed at. In Idaho the speed limit is 80 so I did 80, kinda weird the first time you pass a cop at 80 mph and realize you're not going to get pulled over.
    Note that the ignition timing doesn't hit full advance until 5350 rpm IF the electronics are perfect which with age they're not, probably hitting full at 5800-6000. Bare minimum rpm while riding is 4000
    ancientdad and Rscottp like this.
    Jim O'Brien
    1979 CM400T "road bike" modified for travelling
    1978 CB400T1 restored
    1972 CL350 nuts and bolts restore in progress


    https://www.hondatwins.net/forums/22...d-attempt.html and https://www.hondatwins.net/forums/1-...r-attempt.html
    Road Trip https://www.hondatwins.net/forums/11...here-i-go.html or "where's Jim now?"
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  11. #10
    Senior Member 83XLX's Avatar
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    At higher speeds, wind fatigue and engine vibration seem to increase exponentially in relation to speed. I've taken my old 350 up to 90 mph since I got it running, but I don't make a habit of pushing the 50 year old engine to those higher rpms. That said, it seems pretty happy running at an indicated 70-75 mph (with a one tooth larger countershaft sprocket), but I'm not that comfortable due to fighting the wind and the elevated vibes.
    1969 Honda CL350
    1983 H-D XLX-61 Sportster

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