Rob Walters has a passion for two-stroke motorbikes that remind him of his youth.
“I do quite like a two-stroke,” he says.
“They’re so unusual now. You hear a two-stroke engine now and it revives memories.”
Talk to him about the motorbikes he most regrets selling – he has owned more than 20 – and he recalls a Yamaha RD350LC but there was one bike even more special to him. His lost love is a Honda NS400R in the red, white and blue Honda Racing Corporation colours.
It was inspired by Honda’s NS500 GP-bike ridden by Freddie Spencer.
The race replica was a 1988 model he bought a year old from Orwell Motorcycles, previously owned by his older brother Ray, when it had done about a thousand miles and was just run in.
“I was going to get a new Suzuki RGV250 and then I saw the NS400R. It was quite unusual.”
The 72bhp V3 two-stroke engine had two cylinders at the front and one at the top. Two exhausts were each side of the swinging arm with the third one coming out of the tail piece.
At the time it was up against the likes of the Suzuki RG500 and Yamaha RD500LC.
“It was not quite as quick as them but it was still pretty rapid and very lightweight.”
The downside was 23 to 25mpg and, as Rob says, “a lot less if you thrashed it”.
That meant a tank of fuel gave a range of about 80 miles.
“They took a bit of looking after, being a two-stroke.
“You used to have to run it on high-quality two-stroke oil so I had to carry around a backpack with a bottle of Silkolene two-stroke oil. It took a bit of commitment.”
Now the Honda NS400R is a real collectors’ motorbike and the only ones Rob knows of are in museums.
“You don’t see many of them about now because there were not many sold in the first place,” he said.
“Who knew back then that two-strokes would slowly disappear and die out. Now they take you back to your youth.”
He cannot remember the exact price he paid for it, but thinks it was between £2,500 and £3,000, and he kept it a couple of years.
“I seem to remember selling it for the same money I paid for it.”
Now you can see good ones for sale advertised at well over £10,000.
The Honda NS400R – gone but not forgotten.