Showing posts with label Japanese Classic Motorcycles. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Japanese Classic Motorcycles. Show all posts

Honda CB77

Honda CB77 1960s Japanese classic motorcycle

The CB77 was a landmark bike for Honda. The firm started up in Hamamatsu, Japan. In a wooden shed! Just as Harley-Davidson had done, in Milwaukee, USA ... except theirs was made out of tin! Okay - so sheds is where similarities end between the two marques! Of course - like Harley-Davidson - what Soichiro Honda's company went on to achieve is the stuff of motorcycling legend. Not surprising, really. That small shed was home to the Honda Technical Research Institute. In its early days, that is!

Three years in and Honda produced its first bike. The 98cc machine was dubbed the Dream. Sales were sound. That set the scene for the two bikes which put Honda on motorcycling's map - the CB72 and CB77. The larger of the two - the 305cc CB77 - was launched in '63. It was up against the 'Brit bikes' of the early Sixties. They ruled the two-wheeled roost, at the time. Not for much longer! Next to the likes of Triumph and Norton, the 'Jap bike' came supremely well-equipped. In engineering terms, it blew them away, basically. While it did not quite clock up the mythical 'ton' - the 100mph so beloved of British riders - its acceleration was scorching. By comparison with Brit bikes, anyway. And - with a top speed of 95mph - it came close. The CB77's parallel twin motor revved out to 9,000rpm. The bike weighed in at just 350lb dry. Do the math, as they say!

Several factors gave the CB77 the edge over similarly-sized British bikes. Top of the list was engine design. A 180° crankshaft allowed the two pistons to move up and down alternately - balancing each other out. That took the smoothness of the ride to another level - at least, relative to the Brit bikes. The engine was held securely in situ by a tubular steel frame. Telescopic front forks - and twin rear shocks - raised the suspension game, too. Two sets of solid, sure-stopping drum brakes were fitted. The net result was that the CB77 accelerated smoothly, handled well and pulled up in short order. On top of all that, it was oil-tight and reliable. Not something that could be said of every British-made bike! In the States, it was sold as the Super Hawk. The CB77, then, was Honda's first attempt at a full-on sports bike. Suffice to say - there were others in the pipeline!

Suzuki T20 Super Six

Suzuki T20 Super Six 1960s Japanese classic motorcycle

For Suzuki, bikes like the T20 Super Six had been a long time in the making. Originally, silk was the route to success for the Japanese company. Specifically, silk looms. In 1909, Michio Suzuki founded a firm to produce said items. It was not until '54 that Suzuki became ... well, Suzuki! For, it was in that year that it built its first bike - the 90cc Colleda. It was taken - hot off the production line - to the Mount Fuji hill-climb, where it saw off all-comers. The motorcycle world would never be the same again.

Fast forward to '66. It was a great year for two reasons. England won the World Cup - and Suzuki served up the Super Six. Suzuki went global with the the T20. It was named Super Six after its 6-speed gearbox. But, innovative engineering did not stop there. Its 2-stroke engine featured the Posi-Force lubrication system. And - holding the engine securely in situ - was Suzuki's first twin-cradle frame. That - combined with a dry weight of just 304lb - meant the T20 handled with aplomb. The parallel-twin motor made 29bhp. Top speed was 95mph. Suffice to say, the Super Six sold by the shedload!

The T20 was a good-looking bike. Lustrous paintwork - plus gleaming chrome - made for a notably fetching finish. Festooned around it were neat design touches. The front-end, especially, was drafted with panache. What with an intricately-spoked wheel, finely-crafted forks and elegantly raised 'bars, the T20 did not stint on detail. So, a landmark machine, from one of the all-time greats. Suzuki's T20 Super Six mixed speed and style - to more than impressive effect!

Honda CB750

Honda CB 750 1960s Japanese classic motorcycle

There is a case to be made for considering the Honda CB750 to be the point at which motorcycling's modern era began. Technically, it was released in '69 - but its presence so suffused the Seventies that it cannot but be grouped with bikes of that decade. Kawasaki's Z1 is often thought of as the first Japanese 'superbike'. Timeline-wise, though, it was the CB750 that was first out of the traps - and by a full four years, at that.

The CB750's four across-the-frame cylinders were a clear signal there was a new kid on biking's block. The shiny quartet of chrome exhausts reinforced the message. The CB750 was a muscular-looking motorcycle. But, it was stylish muscularity. The rounded tank was sleek and shapely. The multi-spoked wheels were a latticed delight. Paintwork and chrome vied for attention. At the time, the CB's front disc brake was technologically advanced. Highish handlebars - and a well-padded seat - were tailor-made for long journeys. So, it made sense for the 750 to be pitched as the perfect all-rounder.

Unsurprisingly, the CB was a big success in the showrooms. That was only to be expected from a bike which topped out at 125mph - and also handled well. Honda's rivals duly fell over themselves to try to match it. Over time, then, the CB750 furthered motorcycling's cause. By setting a benchmark, it forced manufacturers worldwide to follow suit. In the form of the Honda CB750, the day of the modern Jap classic had dawned!

Suzuki GS1000

Suzuki GS1000 1970s Japanese classic motorcycle

The Suzuki GS1000 was not blessed with the most exotic styling, ever to have flowed from a designer's pen. Indeed, visually, it was straight out of Studio Old Skool. But what the GS lacked in aesthetics, it more than made up in the technical stakes.

The heart of the GS was its in-line four-cylinder engine. We are talking 'classic Jap' here. The bike cruised to a top speed of 135mph. Cornering was consistently solid and stable. Its frame was robust, suspension adjustable and tyres wider than normal for Seventies superbikes. So - properly maintained and adequately set up - handling was never an issue. When the time came, its dual front disc brakes were more than capable stoppers.

Anyway, beauty is, as they say, in the eye of the beholder. For some, the GS was a beautiful bike, precisely because it was big and basic - not despite the fact. 'That's the way a motorcycle should look', they would have said. 'Forget about frills 'n' flimflam!' Heavy metal over cosmetic plastic. So, the Suzuki GS1000 was something of a wolf in sheep's clothing. On the surface, it seemed a placid enough beast. Even slightly staid, perhaps. But rider beware - if you twisted its throttle!