Honda changed the biking world for good when they launched their new machine, never before had such refinements and advancements in such a cost effective package.
Even though the rest of the world was not aware, and wouldn’t be for some time, Kawasaki were all set to launch their own take on the Superbike to rule the 70s, when Honda did exactly that. The Kawasaki development team, actually based in the US, quickly returned to the drawing board, returning a couple of years later with the awesome Z1, a far larger and more advanced design than the Honda. What this did was left the new Honda to be a very big fish in a pond of only one such beast, the nearest opposition the Honda had was found in the dated products of the UK bike industry, and clever bean counting carried out by the tech and accounts boffins in Japan made certain the CB didn’t hit the showrooms with a price tag any higher than any found on a BSA, Triumph or Norton.
There really is something quite special about an early CB750. The inline four is a modern machine of that there can be no doubt, but compared to all other three quarter litre Superbikes the CB is tiny. For the period of its birth the type is crazily advanced, and must have driven the rest of the non Japanese biking manufacturers crazy with its audacity, using technology previously only heard about in the highest specification grand prix racers of the 50s and 60s, and yet Honda did nothing further to update the design throughout its decade on the planet, effectively allowing the other three Japanese protagonists to develop and surpass the CB, in the case of Kawasaki, many generations of Superbikes came and went during the lifespan of the Honda. History apart and the Honda is a real ground breaker deserving of its place in history, as well as remaining a completely reliable and trustworthy machine to cover vast distances on, a practical classic if ever there was one. Honda built over 500,000 CB750’s throughout its 8-year life span, making is a cost effective one too, especially with so few major modifications. While Honda sat back on the CB750, the time wasn’t wasted with some radical designs also emerging from the big H during the mid 70s, the Honda Goldwing and CBX being just two of the benchmark models to make it past the prototype stage and on into the showrooms.
The CB was the start of the modern Superbike age but also the beginnings of the journalist adjective frenzy that still lives on today. From this age came household terms like planted, turbine like, and powerhouse are rarely found before 1969 and yet after this point hardly a road test went by without some form of sensationalism being included. There is good reason behind this, the CB and the many clones of it that followed were so bloody good that writing about them became increasingly more difficult without being petty and esoteric. Taking off the rose tinted spectacles for a moment, and in more modern times, the CB is low powered, producing just 67 horses at full chat, its heavy too, making hard work for the single disc brake, and its weedy floating caliper, up front, although a well set up rear brake can make all the difference when the need to stop becomes and urgent one.
Foibles aside the CB750 makes for a really capable and practical day-to-day machine, it will start first time on the button and its basic engine needs little attention to keep it running sweet. Of course in reality the handling can never be judged as sharp or even planted, but when compared to its opposition, it wasn’t bad, only let down by the Japanese industry’s lack of understanding in such matters.
The idea behind the CB is typically Japanese, the need to create a ground breaking machine, looks and performance playing equal parts in a production guaranteed to make the world sit up and take notice. The engine configuration, an inline four, with a small bore and long stroke, to reduce the overall width, was chosen so as not to create a massive monster of a machine. A radical, for Honda at least, dry sump lubrication system was also chosen to keep the casings within tightly define measurements and thankfully it all worked, there being few common problems throughout the types life. Some earlier models suffered cylinder head leakages but a redesigned head with extra tightening bolts soon cured this.
The CB750 may have remained largely unchanged save for a few cosmetic enhancements but it certainly helped spawn a new era of specials with all of the major frame makers joining the fray and making tube work to fit the versatile engine. Seeley, Bimota, Dresda and Rickman where just some of the names that have been associated with the CB engine.
Honda CB750 K0 Specifications
- Engine – air-cooled 4-cylinder 4-stroke SOHC
- Capacity – 736cc
- Bore/stroke – 61 x 63mm
- Power – 67bhp @ 8000rpm
- Torque – 44ft-lb @ 7000rpm
- Carburetion – 4 x 28mm Keihin
- Transmission – 5-speed wet clutch chain final drive
- Frame – steel tube duel cradle
- Suspension – 34mm telescopic forks, Twin shock rear
- Brakes – 296mm discs single-piston floating calipers, 180mm single leading shoe drum
- Wheels – 3.25 x 19, 4.10 x 18
- Weight – 218kgs
- Top speed – 125mph
- Wheelbase – 1455mm
- Fuel capacity – 16ltrs
The first of the production CB750s, the K0 appeared. The first 7000 or so having the sand cast casings, actually gravity fed die cast, before the factory tooled up to make the complex engine design a little more cheaply
The slightly updated K1 model became the biggest seller, hardly surprising with little or no competition.
The K2 arrived with a few minor changes the most noticeable being a metal chain guard replacing the plastic item
The K2 remains the main model everywhere except in the US, they get the K3, the same bike save for different grapohics.
Once again the K2 is the model to have unless stateside as they get the K4 with its gear indicator fitted to the gearbox.
The K6 gets a new stronger swing arm while the sportier F series makes its mark. A four-into-one exhaust, and euro styling, marking this new model.
The F3 gets bigger vales and a decent dollop of extra power, now making just over 70bhp, its not enough to keep up with the might of Kawasaki however.
Honda CB750 Gallery