Greatest Bikes in History: The Honda CB750
Motorcycle paint aside, there are so many different things to like about classic bikes - it is one of the best parts of being in the vintage motorcycle restoration game for us. That said, one of the greatest bikes of all time turned 50 this year - and that feels like something to celebrate.
The Honda CB750 has been included in several different “Motorcycle Hall of Fame”s in both the US and UK, and was even listed as one of Japan’s “240 Landmarks of Japanese Automotive Technology.” There is truly good reasons for this. The CB750 is an in-line 4 cylinder motorcycle that was originally released in 1969. Honda was the first to popularize this traverse, air-cooled configuration for a motorcycle, even though it had been in use even prior to WW2. The bike was also the first ever to feature disc brakes to improve performance and stopping ability with the greater power that this new bike was built on. It was this layout that would go on to become the sport bike layout of the future, and give the CB750 the honor of being known as the first “superbike.”
This racing setup was something of a departure from the norm for Honda up to this point. Honda was really known for its’ small, fun-to-ride models like the Super Cub & CT70. In fact, Honda was initially uncertain of how the new bike would be received by the public at large and actually used a cheaper to produce “sand cast” molding process for the original 1969 crankcases to avoid over-investing in a model that was uncertain to sell. Honda quickly realized that the new model was a hit, and converted over to the standard die-casting method of production - leaving the “sand cast” models as a more sought after item for collectors.
Though the CB750 was a mass-market motorcycle, it was designed as a high-performance bike and didn’t fail to deliver on the racing circuit at the time of its release. The Honda Research and Development team put the CB750 to the ultimate test the year it was released, bringing the CB750 Four to complete in the Suzuka 10-hour endurance challenge in August of 1969. The two Honda teams went on to dominate the race, taking first and second place finishes at Suzuka. Only a few months later in March, 1970, Dick Mann took the victory at the 200-mile AMA Daytona race on his CB750. This win created a huge surge in sales of the CB750, with people all over the country flocking to dealerships to get their own CB750.
Racing success combined with performance and a very affordable price tag made the Honda CB750 go on to become the most popular motorcycle ever produced by Honda. Honda did continue to add new features, including the Hondamatic automatic transmission in 1976, and the Nighthawk 750 model in 1982. Production continued on this historic model up until 2003, with a Special Edition being released one final time in 2007.
Honda kept the paint colors fairly simple on these classic bikes, so here is a breakdown of the colors available over the years of Honda CB750 production:
- 1969 - Candy Ruby Red, Candy Gold, Candy Blue Green
- 1970-71 - Candy Ruby Red, Candy Gold, Candy Garnet Brown, Valley Green Metallic
- 1972 - Flake Sunrise Orange, Brier Brown Metallic
- 1973 - Flake Sunrise Orange, Candy Bacchus Olive, Maxim Brown Metallic
- 1974 -Flake Sunrise Orange, Freedom Green Metallic, Boss Maroon Metallic
- 1975 - Candy Jade Green, Flake Sunrise Orange, Candy Sapphire Blue
- 1976 - Candy Antares Red, Muskrat Green Metallic, Sulfur Yellow
- 1977 - 1978 - Candy Alpha Red, Candy Presto Red, Excell Black
- 1980 - Candy Muse Red, Cosmo Black Metallic, Pleiades Silver Metallic
- 1981 - Candy Muse Red, Cosmo Black Metallic
- 1982 - Candy Muse Red, Cosmo Black Metallic, Candy Blue, Candy Imperial Blue
- 1991-1993 - Candy Bourgogne Red
- 1994 - Magna Red
The Honda CB750 stands apart from other motorcycles in many ways, and has absolutely solidified its place as one of the Greatest Bikes of All Time. You can still find many of these beauties on the road today, and they are a sought after model for a lot of great reasons - one of which being that they are just plain fun to ride.