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The purpose of Honda Enthusiasts is to guide anyone interested in restoring a vintage motorcycle.
Doug Mitchel had had many years of personal experience messing around with vintage cycles, much is shared from his own time spent searching for the items required when rebuilding one of his own Honda's.
Days of travel & equal amounts of time spent wandering the aisles between purveyors of vintage tin can be replaced with only a few hours at your computer. Anyone with a speedy connection to the web will find sources that would never be found any other way.
Word of mouth may lead you to some of the same suppliers, the access gained by searching the web is truly dazzling.
A note of wisdom might suggest that speed is not a great motivator when keeping this process while patience is the key.
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On the many online auction sites, Ebay remains the leader in the field & their feed-back system ranks high when trying to determine which sellers are worthy of your money & which should be avoided.
The fact that you can search the entire planet from your home office makes the option of shopping in this arena hard to ignore.
While providing you with a worldwide venue there are some who still prefer finding parts in a more traditional fashion. Attending a well prepared swap meet will allow you to review thousands of parts in a single day.
Begin simple & move to the more complicated projects down the road a little.
Warning: When buying online 'heed - watch' for the reputation of the seller. There are many who seem to enjoy scamming others out of their hard earned cash with no intention of supplying the requested - needed items - products - merchandise.
Make sure the chassis rolls freely. Flat tires will often make this a strenuous chore, but as long as the bike can be rolled you have a better idea that the bearings aren't seized in one or both wheels.
Despite the conditions of the market & your own limits we hope you can locate, restore & enjoy riding the Honda that puts a smile on your face. While the first 90% of the build may flow like honey it's always the last stretch that you can get frustrating as one particular part of the restoration or component eludes your grasp.
Life offers us enough drudgery; restore a classic Honda for the sheer pleasure of doing so.
Honda first arrived on the shores of the USA in 1959 & began selling motorcycles unlike anything previously sold here.
The CA95 Benly Touring made its debut as a 1959 Model & would be the seed from which many future models from Honda would sprout.
On the CA95 Benly Touring & the 1964 model they consist of a square headlight nacelle that carries an integrated speedometer. Four colors were available: black, scarlet red, white & blue were the choices & when selected were applied to the frame, fenders & side covers.
The only changes seen on the CA95 Benly Touring 150 was when they switched from early to late versions.
The tall light was smaller, tires were blackwall & the exhaust mufflers were of a flat-sided design.
The late editions wore white wall tires, mufflers with a rounded shape & a longer rear fender brace.
There were more than 6 different iterations before the CA77 Dream Touring model came to be in 1960. Early editions ran from 1960-1963 when the late editions took over until 1969.
The 305cc wet sump parallel twin engine was fed by a single carburetor, power ran through a 4-speed gearbox. A drum brake was found on both wheels & with a weight of 372 pounds the binders did an adequate job of slowing down the Dream.
You had a choice of four different hues for the CA77 Dream & they were straight forward. White, Black, Blue or Scarlet Red would be applied to every inch of sheet metal on the cycle, & the seat would often be finished in a vinyl that was color keyed to the chosen paint.
For the 1964 model year Honda rolled out the S90, otherwise named the Super 90. The Super 90 was a diminutive choice for smaller or beginning riders & still provided a range of features usually found on larger cycles.
Your choice of four colors were found on the order sheet: white, black, scarlet red (for the early models), candy red (for later editions & candy blue also after March of 1968).
Nestled amongst the related models from Honda, the CB160 Sport had intentions of offering more performance with less luxury.
With a red-line of 10,000 RPM the little single cylinder Honda was a lively performer for the day. Black wall tires were used in place of the white wall versions on the Touring editions.
The CB160 Sport could be had in one of four colors during its five year production run & each hue was constrasted with silver fenders & side covers. Black, white, scarlet red & blue were listed as your choices. When selecting the blue body panel option you also get a saddle covered in matching vinyl while the other three hues had black seats.
Making its debut as a 1969 model the CB150 instantly set the stage & raised the bar for what a motorcycle could be & did so at a decent price.
The big Honda's saddle could easily handle two people on long stretches of open road. The handle-bars rose up to meet the rider's hands with no complication & were graced with user-friendly controls for lights, brake & clutch.
This technique was rather old school & labor intensive.
1969 & early 1970 models found a 4-into-1 throttle installed & a headlight bucket that matched the selected body color.
1975 saw the readouts done in 10s & the faces of the gauges were dark green. 1976 saw the instruments finished with a light green hue. The side cover markings were altered for 1977 with the "750 Four K' seen in gold.
A range of colors were offered each year along with contrasting stripes to offset the hues. An insert of black was seen on the 1973-1976 paint schemes to further accent the chosen color & striping. Certain colors remain more distinctive as in the candy blue green on the 1969s, & Flake Sunrise Orange, 1972-1974. Every other year offered unique hues used only on that year with several variants of brown offered.
The CB350 Four came in between the CB500 of 1971 & CB400 SS of 1975 & was deemed a fairly competent machine by period magazine reviews.
First arriving for the 1972 model year the latest inline-four was a nice addition for those who sought a slightly smaller machine that could still perform.
An MSRP of about $1100 was a nice entry point for a smaller machine that delivered such terrific numbers.
Produced for three years, the only alterations during that run were in the available colors along with stripes & graphics found on the side covers.
The palettes of early 1970s were getting a bit unusual for all manufacturers of cycles & cars & the candy bacchus olive used on the '72 perfect example. Not as bland as the Gold used on appliances, the yellow & white stripes offset the medium olive hue to a T.
The first two years of production for t5he CB350 Four listed candy bacchus olive & flake matador red as your options for paint. Accepting your choice of base color were stripes of yellow & white consisted of "350 Four" finished in red & white for 1972 & 73. The final year of the CB350 Four listed only glory blue black metallic with tank stripes of gold. Badges on the side covers were dressed in orange & white.
Joining the standard K model in 1975 were the F, or Super Sport editions in the SOHC CB750. They were built in far fewer numbers so finding a clean example for your restoration will be a bit more daunting as will replacement parts.
Doug having owned & restored a 1977 F model had fun doing the work but barely broke even upon the sale of his black beauty.
For the 1977 & 1978 models several cosmetic changes were seen. The engine cases & lower fork less were finished in black with polished covers on the motor. The earlier spoked wheels were supplanted by Honda's new Comstar, five-spoke alley rims & a second disc brake was found at the front.
For the 1979 model year the debut of the massive CBX which set new standards for complexity & performance. In contrast to that newborn bike, the CM185 Twinstar remained in the books.
Not every rider was capable or interested in riding a machine of the CBXs dimensions, leaving room for smaller models. Many buyers were first-timers or simply seeking a method of making short trips around their hones, not travelling across the country.
Slowed by a pair of drum brakes meant you'd be sure to stop eventually but panic stops took years off of your life in most cases.
With only two years of production to its name the CM185 Twinstar didn't offer any vast changes from one year to the next. The CM185 was offered in the same two color choices for both years. Candy antares red or candy sword blue were your options. Stripes found on the fuel tank & side covers of the 1978 editions were white, gold & black with a "Twinstar" decal in white on the side covers. 1979 models used gold pin-stripes to accent the wider red stripe. The "Twinstar" label was now applied in gold to compliment the stripes. No mechanical alterations were made.
If one can be found that remains in original trim you'll be pleased with the great fuel economy & the entertainment provided when riding.
The 1978 CB400 Hawk Hondomatic appeared to be the only version of that combination although similar designs would follow shortly.
Honda's 395cc engine was found in the frame of the Hondamatic with twenty-seven horsepower on tap, & chain drive to the rear wheel.
Being built for only one year there were obviously no changes.
The 1978 CB400A Hawk was offered in two colors for the year, tahitian red or candy sapphire blue being listed. Regardless of the color chosen accent stripes were applied in black & orange & found on the tank & side covers.
Besting the debut of the CB900F by one model year, the CB900C first appeared as a 1980 model.
The engine produced 95 horsepower, which for the day was nearing the upper end of what was being sold else-where.
Comstar wheels were found at both ends & two-tone paint schemes were applied on the 1981 & '82 iterations.
Wearing a price tag of $3498 was not the most expensive bike on the market but was miles from being the least expensive.
For the price of admission the CB900C offered a high amount of comfort & features all dressed in an elegant set of sheet metal.
Sold for three years, the CB900C may not have dazzled the motorcycle media of the day, but Doug owning one himself can attest to the overall ease of use & rapid acceleration when the right grip was twisted.
For the 1980 & '81 models the engine was finished in its natural state with the typical use of chrome covers for the clutch & electrics.
The 1980 variants were sold in two colors but each was a monotone design. Candy Muse Red or Candy Poseidon Blue being listed & either came with gold & red pinstripes.
The 1981 CB900C was sold in your choice of two different two-tone schemes. Candy Muse Red was teamed with Brown Metallic or Cosmo Black Metallic was mated to blue Metallic.
The two-tone effect was applied on the fuel tank & side covers.
1982 found the CB900C fitted with an engine finished in mostly black with valve covers & case covers of silver.
The front rotors were now slotted with dual-piston calipers for improved braking power.
Colors for the '82s were Candy Muse Red & Candy Antares Red or Candy Empire blue to offset the base color.
The turbocharged CX500TC was sold for 1982 only.
The success of their GL100 Gold Wing prompted Honda to build a smaller version of the 'Wing-One that would first appear as a 1981 model.
The new GL500 Silver Wing & Silver Wing Interstate used the same V-twin motor found in the CX500 series, but added a long comfort.
The better dressed GL500 silver Wing Interstate came with a second rotor & caliper on the front.
For 1981 Candy Muse Red or Cosmo Black Metallic were offered while the same red hue was seen alongside the sterling silver metallic in 1982. The same color choices were seen for the Interstate editions as were offered on the base Silver Wing.
When searching for either the base GL500 or the added comfort of the Interstate edition take care to make sure every section of the modular seating is still on hand as locating OEM replacements will prove to be a real challenge.
The larger displacement models of 1983 are a one-year only model making these unique parts tougher items to find.
Early in the 1980s a certain motorcycle manufacturer in Milwaukee started to complain that they couldn't compete with Japanese cycles of more than 700 cc.
In an effort to expand their offerings in the new class Honda produced the CB700SC Nighthawk S.
Powered by an inline four-cyclinder engine that displaced 696 cc, the Nighthawk was also fitted with some features that would set it apart from others in the new 700 cc family.
The "s" in the name referred to the sporty nature of the new model & reviews at the time spoke highly of the approach even though the shaft drive flew in the face of sport bike convention.
Having six speeds on taps also allowed the rider to stay within the hot zone of the ORPM range with ease.
The engine was nearly a total black out for the first two years & all hints of silver were missing on the 1986 editions.
The CB700SC was a great performer, when new & remains so today.
For 1984 & '85 the color choices were black & blue or black & red. 1984 saw the colored panels outlined with stripes of the same hue while the 1985 version had a white pinstripe to separate the color from the black.
The engines of the 1984 & '85 models featured silver accents on the cooling fins, valve covers & side covers on the clutch & electronics side.
For 1986 the colors on the sheet metal were trumped up to black with your choice candy alamoana red or candy aleutian blue. Those units finished with red panels had accent stripes or orange while the blue versions had a red stripe. The 1986 editions also had red stripes & all related components finished in pure black. The wheels also were finished in an all black motif which added a hint of sinister to the bike.
the factory exhaust was a four-into-two affair & finished in black chrome & as with most cycles, replacements are a rare find.
Sharing a few words from the Book Interview with Restorer Roger Smith .....
The criteria that Mr. Smith uses when selecting a cycle to restore, consist of bikes that he wanted from the past or those he owned but had to sell when entering the Army during Viet Nam (Vietnam).
Vintage Japanese parts are still available but in limited supply. Do your best to find them now & it will make it much easier than waiting a few years just to find the shelf is bare.
They typically decide on a restoration project in late summer. That gives them several months to find a bike before the winter in this part of the U.S. take over. Then from November through April they can bring the bike back to life taking around six months to roll out the latest project just as winter is ending.
In 2008 Cycle World Magazine chose their Yamaha Big Bear Scrambler as their restoration award winner at the AMA Invitation Concourse in Ohio. There's lots of time for restoration when it's five below zero in January!
Mr. Smith's son-in-law, Matt Tate helps whenever he can. There is nothing like having two sets of hands when you are installing an engine forks or a stubborn set of swing arm bearings on a 1969 Suzuki Titan. It's also nice to have someone who has skills you do not have, like wiring, or meticulous polishing.
Too many folks have began a restoration not realizing how complicated a multi-cylinder four stroke engine is.
Begin simple & move to the more complicated projects down the road a little.
I received a complimentary copy of Honda Enthusiasts from Car Tech to review.