You have to feel sorry for the Honda CBR400RR NC29. When it comes to the cult of 400cc official and unofficial grey imports, it was one of the better examples but was massively overshadowed by Honda’s VFR400 NC30 and the admittedly gorgeous Honda RVF400 NC35. The tiny V4 had the design edge over the inline four, and the family resemblance to the RC30 and RC45 (including the single-sided rear ends) helped kerbside appeal more than the Fireblade-inspired CBR400.
The NC29 replaced the earlier Honda CBR400RR NC23, or in the world of grey bikes, the Gull Arm replaced the Tri Arm, referring to the distinctive swing-arm designs. Both were very similar, but not many parts were designed to be interchangeable.
Trying to find a nice NC of any vintage is getting tougher and prices have been rising for a while. It’s worth remembering that the 400cc models were never cheap even when new.
So why not do what Steven Warren has done and start with a total scrapper. Then create your own vision of what a modern-day 400cc sports bike might look like?
Steven found a basket case Honda CBR400RR NC29 and set about a full rebuild. The bike was quickly pulled apart and work began with getting the engine sorted first. Despite the fact the rest of the bike looked like pond life, the engine ran spot on. Which says something for a time when Honda was associated with build quality.
The big challenge with any 400cc bike of that era is bodywork. Raced, wrecked or just subject to wear and tear, good condition panels are hard to find, and many owners have become familiar with DIY repairs. After a fruitless search, Steven ended up emailing Tyga, and buying an endurance style fairing and race seat unit.
Bit by bit the bike came together in the family garage. The lack of a specific plan for the finished bike explains why after rebuilding the original NC 29 front end, Steven then went and bought an NC35 upside down front end and fitted that instead!
Over the course of 12 months, parts were polished, painted and made to look new again. The finished article certainly looks striking and is a tribute to the effort involved. The Suzuka-styled snout gives you the first clue that this isn’t a standard 400.