Honda began life in Hamamatsu, Japan. In a wooden shed! So, similar beginnings to Harley-Davidson - in Milwaukee, USA. Of course - like Harley - what Soichiro Honda's company went on to achieve is the stuff of motorcycling legend. Not surprising, really. That small wooden shed was home to the 'Honda Technical Research Institute'. That was more than a title ... it was a mission statement!
It took three years for Honda to produce a proprietary machine. After that, though, there was no stopping them. That first 98cc Honda was dubbed the 'Dream' - pretty apt, given what the future held in store for the firm. Sales of the Dream - and others - were sound. That set the scene for the two bikes which would throw open the doors of the two-wheeled world to Honda - the CB72 and CB77. It was in '63 that the larger of the two - the 305cc CB77 - changed the face of biking. It came well-equipped for the task. The CB77 was locked in combat with the 'Brit bikes' of the early Sixties. It did not quite clock up the 'ton' - but with a top speed of 95mph, it came pretty close. And how it got there was equally impressive. The CB77's parallel twin engine revved out to 9,000rpm. The whole bike weighed in at just 350lb dry. Enough said!
Several factors gave the CB77 the edge over similarly-sized Brit bikes. Its well-designed engine was key. A 180° crankshaft allowed the two pistons to move up and down alternately - balancing each other out. The motor was secured by a tubular steel frame. To that were attached telescopic front forks - and twin rear shocks. Both wheels came with a set of sure-stopping drum brakes. The result was that the CB77 accelerated smoothly, handled well, and pulled up in short order. In other words, it was a classic all-rounder. On top of that, it was oil-tight and reliable ... something which could not be said of every British-made bike on the road! No wonder, then, that it was sold as the 'Super Hawk' in the States. The CB77 was Honda's first crack at a sports bike. Suffice to say, it would have its successors!