Honda CBR400R rumoured in Japan

Honda to fill the gap between the CBR250R and CBR600RR

JAPANESE magazine Young Machine is claiming that Honda is developing a new CBR400R to sit between the CBR600RR and CBR250R in the firm's sportsbike line-up.

The bike, an artist's impression of which is shown on the bottom right of the magazine's front cover (in case you're wondering, the main image is the Japanese-market Megelli 250R), is reckoned to have a parallel twin engine derived from the same family as the CBR250R's single.

Making around 50bhp, the 400 would have roughly twice the power of the CBR250R, but still less than half that of the CBR600RR, making it a perfect stepping stone between learner machines and full-on sports bikes, sales of which are dropping off worldwide as riders increasingly turn to less intimidating, slower bikes.

The enduring popularity of secondhand grey import 400cc machines like the old Honda VFR400R NC30 shows that there are still riders who'd like the style and handling of a sportsbike without the high insurance and 100bhp-plus performance. While those old 400s were made to meet Japanese licensing laws, and when new often cost more than 600s thanks to more exotic components and construction, the new rumours suggest a simpler, cheaper bike. With new 600s hitting the £9000 mark, more than twice the cost of the £4k CBR250R, the potential for an intermediate machine at around £5k-£6k is undeniable. And Honda isn't the only firm realising that, as KTM's already-revealed plans for a 350cc road-going replica of its Moto3 machine show.

In terms of appearance, Young Machine's artist's impression is by no means definitive. It shares some of the style of the CBR250R allied to a CBR600RR-style nose; a proposition that is believable in terms of the bike's rumoured positioning in the range, although with the CBR600RR already well overdue for replacement we'd be hoping that any new Honda sports bike – whether a 400 or a 600 – would show a new generation of styling.

What do you think? Would a mid-market sportsbike be in demand, or is Honda barking up the wrong tree?