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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello everyone. First post. First cafe project.

Picked this beaut' up for $600 in the Seattle area, 1978 Honda cb400T. Same make and model of my first bike I learned on when I was 16 (now 32) so there is some sentimental value. I know this frame isn't the most conducive for a cafe, but I have seen some creative options out there to make it work.

It had been sitting in a garage for about 3 years, so I wasn't really optimistic on how easy the thing would be to start. The first day I got my hands dirty I changed the oil, drained the tank, put in fresh gas and sea foam and after a bit of cranking she started right up! Ran a little rough so I removed the carbs and gave them a good cleaning following instructions that someone had posted. Early signs are I got a decent deal on a fairly clean CB.

The previous owner did a few things to it including putting rhino liner on the tank, not my favorite but he may have done it for his wife to learn on incase she dropped it. He also powder coated the front forks yellow, for visibility. I want a raw metal, matte black, and brown leather look ultimately.

Below is a list of things I want to do. Please feel free to warn me of any pitfalls I may encounter along the way, or send along past posts that would be relevant.

Pod filters - I know there are a lot of people that would immediately want to talk me off the idea, but I am committed to making it work.
Tank - Remove rhino liner, take the tank back to raw metal look
Hide the battery, under seat battery and electronics tray. Again, I know I don't have the best frame for this, but very open to suggestions and advice.
Brown leather Seat - Would love suggestions in this regard that would fit my frame, possibly without the need for welding.
Mini gauges - 1/7 is the correct ratio for Hondas right? Am I misunderstanding things when I think this will be fairly simple?
Cafe handlebars - Clip ons, are they 35mm or 39 mm?
New pegs, maybe a rear set eventually.
New signals front and back - single LED strip on the back
New Grips
Throttle cable - seemed a little sticky and rusty
Push throttle cable? there doesn't seem to be a third push cable currently on the bike... is it even necessary?
Choke cable - worked but not perfectly
Chop the front fender
Remove rear/chop rear fender
Paint wheels black - They are really clean but I may take it to black, haven't decided yet.
Wrap the exhaust, I know PO altered the exhaust, and it sounded great when I fired it up. but I don't know what they are called.
Remove the yellow powder coat on forks, take these back to raw metal look.
Lower the stance? Are there ways to do this that won't require a lot of changing of parts.

If there are low hanging fruit things I can do to make my project a success, please feel free to suggest them. I am all ears. I am a jump right in and hands on learner, but I don't want to make too many mistakes as I take on this project if I don't have to.

Thanks for any input of advice in advance, have already gotten so much out of reading these forums. Glad to be in the fold.


Premium Member
24,208 Posts
Welcome aboard. Addressing your list
Rhino liner is tough to remove, I'd suggest getting the tank bead or sand blasted and buying new side covers if you're going to use them.
Fork stripping? probably bead blast for that.
Mini battery like a lithium. You'll need to change the voltage regulator to a MOSFET to prevent overcharge
Everything says the tach ratio is 1/7 but lately people are getting bad tach readings using that number. Could just be cheap tachs.
Forks are 33mm
Just replace the throttle and choke cables, you can spend a lot of time trying to get the old ones right and still fail. There are 2 throttle cables called push and pull when actually they are both pull, one pulls on and the other off.
Be sure that whatever you do with the front fender you retain the mounting bracket, that functions as a fork brace and is ness'y.
Looks like the PO removed the power chamber and just added straight pipe. Not the best idea
The front can be dropped @3/4" before the sliders make contact with the lower triple on full compression. That's it since more can/will result in a locked front suspension under heavy load/braking. Rear can be dropped the same roughly but with shorter shocks you also get less suspension travel which means bottoming out the rear more often.

353 Posts
Sounds similar to my CM450 and I also put pods on mine. Just went to a vintage bike show and a lot of other people also had pods on their CM & CB hondas too. As long as you know that it will be some work to get it right. I think some people just don't understand why we would invite this headache upon our selves for a cafe racer. I guess it's hard to explain to those hardcore original folks:roll:

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