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Honda CB400N ‘Brigante’ by Emporio Elaborazioni Meccaniche

Posted on April 11, 2014 by Andrew in Bobber. 39 comments


If your life ever takes a turn for the worst and you decide to fund your insatiable thirst for custom motorcycles by joining a gang that pillages and plunders, there’s a few things you should remember. Firstly, you’ll need to be nimble and light on your feet lest you be caught in the act. Next, you’ll need a nice little secret compartment to stash your ill-gotten gains should the law come a-knocking at a bad time. And finally, you’d best arm yourself with a gun or pistol should the worst come to the worst. Which brings us to today’s build, a bike that fits this bill perfectly and not by coincidence, either. Introducing the latest build from Emporio Elaborazioni Meccaniche with their very aptly named ‘Brigante’ or ‘Bandit’.


“The Bandit follows our philosophy perfectly: to build a special bike re-using other old bike pieces to give them new life and a new dignity”, explains Leo, Dopz and Schizzo from EEM. “The donor bike was a Honda CB400N. We worked on the idea of doing a very short bike, not really a bobber but something shorter and a little different. The real key to the whole build was our decision to use an old Piaggio ‘Ciao’ moped seat.”


“Next we shortened, reinforced and cleaned up the rear frame, changed the rear shocks and mounted two reworked blinkers inside the rear frame to make them seem fully integrated and to leave the seat as clean as possible.”


“We definitely do not like the trend of leaving the space under the seat empty, so we had some fun reworking an old Kawasaki filter to hide the battery and fuses… and fill the space, too. Naturally, we simplified the wires while we were at it and hid them inside the frame.”


“On the opposite side to the battery we mounted and old flask. It has a clip on the bike-side that allows you to open it up and use it for storage. Tools, keys, loot – whatever you want.

The tank is from an old Gilera, which we reworked to fit the frame. The ‘machine gun’ muffler is from a Triumph scrambler which we then cut, built a 2-into-2 under the brake pedal and left its nice internal metal padding visible.”


“We reworked the Piaggio Ciao seat and covered it with leather; the same leather we used to hold down the tank.”




“The colour scheme was mainly influenced by our decision to follow the original gold rim colour and the old colours on the Gilera tank. There’s a small yellow LED headlight that’s been installed upside down, new brake reservoirs, navy brake cables, bespoke EEM aluminium footplates, flat ‘bars like a bobber, a handmade bronzed mudguard, new shock absorber… and that’s just the big things.”

  • sbaugz

    saw this bike several months ago on the bike shed. I actually like what they did to this bike. The CB400N is a tough donor bike to use – the frame is ugly and the carbs do not easily work with PODs or velocity stacks- so I say good job making a unique build that isn’t your typical cookie cutter build we see these days.

    • E Brown

      I love the early CB400s. It was the first brand new bike I ever bought and I’ve still got one (1978 CB400T) as my daily ride. That said – I’ve never seen decent-looking custom made from one. It’s a nice enough standard, but the frame, tank, and wheels simply don’t lend themselves to making a nice looking anything – bobber, cafe, brat, chopper – it’s impervious to redesign. It’s kind of impressive, really, when you consider most of the elements are on other Hondas of that period and those make nice customs.

      You CAN make them nicer-looking 70s UJMs – it’s a shame that few people try to improve what it is, rather than make it what it’s not.

  • Jacob Speis

    I’m into…half of this bike. I like the color choices, the quirkiness of it, etc, but I wish it was a little less cluttered and there was a little more subframe work towards the back to tie it all in. It might just be me, but the way it just cuts off bugs me a tad.

    • Jay Tracewell

      It’s not just you. The front end is great. The back end is…disconcerting.

      • itsmefool

        I agree with the Js…parts of it work and parts of it don’t. Specifically, the proportions seem quite off. While I much prefer solo seats, there’s not enough bike aft of the frame. I want to like it…the tank rocks and the headlight is nice (for a little dirt bike, maybe), but there’s too many elements that don’t play well together.

    • Fantome_NR

      b..b…but it’s “ART!” /sarcasm

  • itsmefool

    If I saw this on the street, I’d ask the owner, “Where’s the rest of your bike?”

    • truthbringer

      and then they’d ride off not giving a fuck. This thing looks like a blast to ride.

      • itsmefool

        Mebbe…I’d probably laugh, too, after seeing the skunk stripe on the owner’s back from that rear tire slingin’ mud and dirt.

  • Lawrence M Brooks

    I don’t really see the point in taking what is inarguably an ugly bike and making it uglier. the phrase polishing a turd comes to mind.

  • John in Pollock

    Judging by the other fabrication on this whip, one would think they would know how to finish the back half… huh.

  • Tom

    I like it- the back end is odd, but well finished and with good lines, trapezoidal. If the rear suspension was just a hair more upright so that the line mirrored the fork it might be more pleasing to the eye. Very unusual but also very well done.

  • CJD

    That is, without a single doubt, the most vile, disgusting looking bike I have ever had the misfortune of seeing !!!… I’m scarred………..Don’t care if it’s ‘art’ or not, IT”S HORRIBLE !!

    • Davidabl2

      Maybe too quick to judge as well?

  • Leroy

    Nein danke

  • cornishman2

    The back end is a bit of a mess, why a sprung seat when the bike has rear suspension?

    • Davidabl2

      Agreed I have a bike that came to me that way, and i’ve been meaning to replace the springs with a solid mount for quite some time. Aside from being a “belt&suspenders” thing a sprung seat seems to resist repositioning one’s butt for corners, Although I’m sure that that’s something that ‘s not as much an issue with a MX-bicycle shock as it is with the traditional 2 springs at the back corners of the seat.

  • Davidabl2

    Shinya Kimura says that you can’t really judge a custom until you see it with a rider aboard. Perhaps,this one should never be seen WITHOUT a rider aboard. Otherwise
    it does look like “something’s missing” as others have already said. Perhaps no more than 6″ or 8″ more rear fender?

  • Do you think it would work better if the whole bike was lower? Thoughts?

    • Jacob Speis

      I don’t think the height is the problem, more the fact that there’s parts of it trying to be full on bobber that just don’t work with the rest of the bike. If they did a small loop around the tail of the frame and replaced the sprung seat with one that hugged the body, it would solve most of the visual issues. Also, that flask has to go. Nothing says “look at me” more than found objects haphazardly slapped onto a build.

    • Davidabl2

      I think the point of building a small displacement customs is creating a sense of lightness and agility. And that lowering a build does nothing for that.

      • It also seems that the trend in small displacement builds is, it really doesn’t need good lines, much forethought or good paint. Just a bunch of stuff on two wheels and you’ll get lots of approval. The more disgusting and mismatched, the better. More art value!

        • Davidabl2

          I guess it would have been more accurate to type “should be to create a sense of lightness and agility” instead of “is.”

          Modern art value, perhaps. since novelty is more important than anything else (google Damien Hirsch)

          Classical art value,novelty’s not valued so much. Novelty for novelty’s sake would be given very little value. Originality and variation within established tradition would be more where it’s at. When i wiki “Classical Art” i get mostly stuff about the ancient Greeks &Romans.

          Mule, I think it’d be fair to say that you’re a “Classicist’ in the world of custom motorcycle “art”

    • Fast2Furious

      I don’t think there’s anything wrong with this build that 15 or 20 feet (or 4.5 to 6 meters) of det cord wouldn’t clear right up.

  • I like it – I had a CB just like this one and what they did to this one is an improvement. It looks like it would be fun to ride.

  • Blake Proudfoot

    For having a front end that is seemingly well put together, that back half is a catastrophe at best.

  • Geno

    Oh gosh! This thing is all kinds of wrong. I feel uneasy looking at it. Thank Christ for EXIF’s feature on the new WM.

  • trench

    Thanks God someone is thinking and building out the box, 90% of the bikes out there are so similar!

    • Maybe there are similar for a reason…
      I remember a bike totally ‘out of the box’ a while ago, that caused a tremendous stir, without actually having something new to say…except the stir of course…

      • trench

        it’s not a question about something new to say …
        it’s about rebuilding something old in a different perspective.. and i love who see things from different angles…

  • Davidabl2

    “Shinya Kimura says that you can’t really judge a custom until you see it with a rider aboard.’

    i offer up an example of a bike that doesn’t look right without the builder riding it.–kz750.html

  • Andrew Ramming

    Wow. looks like it was designed in the dark. The curves and contours – the bikes “line”
    is horrible.

  • tyler

    This thing is rad. I kinda like how ugly the rear end is.

  • catalyst385

    I didn’t like this bike right off, but the more I look at it, the more I like it. Some things are awesome: headlight, tank seat, exhaust… It’s a weird package to say the least but I think if someone was sitting on it, it would make more sense. I love the pretty, classic-looking bikes that Pipeburn posts, and of course a bike with great lines looks great, but I like seeing people push the envelope, too. This one isn’t for everybody, but it’s interesting and would stand out in a line full of classically styled bikes.

  • arnold

    Site looks good running puppy Linux with (modzilla) browser
    Still the back 1/3 of this fine motorcycle seems to have been forgotten/ missing/not considered/we know what we want ed.

  • Liking how tight the headlight sits back into the forks. Really want to offer a thought for what might make back end sit more easily on the eye. Obviously a lot of effort put in, with the rear in-frame LED’s idea and the like. Maybe if the seat was fatter, more of a little nugget than the brooks style, it would keep the compact theme going from the frame chop? Kudos for going your own way.

  • cucthethanh

    This is beautiful bike. And how about this bike. It’s made from Honda VTR1000F.

  • boz

    Just a little more rear fender and it might all come together, but cool either way