1961 Honda CB92 Benly

The first Super Sport

| March/April 2007

  • Honda
    Some of Honda's early roadsters were rather bulky and unattractive, but that certainly wasn't true of the CB92.
    Photos by Roland Brown
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    Photos by Roland Brown
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    Photos by Roland Brown
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    Photos by Roland Brown
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    Photos by Roland Brown
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    Photos by Roland Brown
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    Photos by Roland Brown

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Honda CB92 Benly
Years produced:
1959-1962
Total production: 24,251
Claimed power: 15hp @ 10,500rpm
Top speed: 75mph (est.)
Engine type: 124cc single-overhead cam, air-cooled parallel twin
Weight (dry): 110kg (242lb)
Price then: $495 (1961)
Price now: $5,500-$14,000
MPG: 110 (est.)

Flat-out on a long, straight road just outside Daytona Beach, I’m doing my best to squeeze every last drop of speed from the racy 1961 Honda CB92 Benly. In an attempt to cheat the wind as much as possible I’m hunched down over the silver-painted tank, peering through the tiny flyscreen, my chin almost touching the friction steering damper knob above the top yoke.

Between my knees the parallel twin engine is straining every sinew, beginning to vibrate just a little more as the revs get higher and higher. In front of my eyes, set into the headlight, is the angular speedometer, whose needle is flickering slightly as it goes through 70mph ... 75 ... 80 ... Until the Honda just breaks 85mph before I finally decide that’s enough and shut the throttle, mindful that surely no elderly roadster should take such abuse for long.

Fast for its day
In reality, the Honda CB92 Benly Super Sport — to give the bike its full title — was not quite as fast as its speedometer was suggesting. Its true best was about 75mph, even when ridden by a smaller and more aerodynamic jockey than I. But that’s still very impressive for a 125cc roadster when you consider that this bike was built in 1961, and that the model was introduced way back in 1959. If anyone wonders how Honda rose to dominate the motorcycle world so rapidly, almost half a century ago the CB92 provides the perfect illustration.



Quite simply, it’s a brilliant little motorcycle: handsome, fast (for its capacity), beautifully engineered and very well equipped. When it was launched, the Super Sport wasn’t merely the fastest 125cc bike around; it could also embarrass many much larger machines on both road and track. The CB92 — along with its same-sized siblings the C92 roadster and high-piped CS92 tourer, plus other models including the 250cc CB72 — helped make Honda’s name in the early 1960s, and paved the way for the bigger bikes such as the CB450 twin and CB750 four that came later in the decade.

The inspiration for Honda’s early twins had been German firm NSU’s 250cc Rennmax parallel twin, on which Werner Haas had won a second consecutive world championship in 1954, the year that Soichiro Honda visited the Isle of Man TT during a trip to Europe. Honda’s first twin-cylinder model, the C70, duly appeared three years later with a similar capacity and angled-forward parallel cylinders, though without the Rennmax’s gear-driven twin cams.

George
12/3/2020 6:56:58 AM

I bought a Honda CB92 Benly Super Sport in early 1962. Their owner's manual claimed 15 BHP at 12,500 RPM and a top speed of 130 km/hr or about 81 mph, and showed the rider in the flying position (necessary to achieve this top speed?) which I never had the courage to do. I was 16, and 130 lbs, and the Honda spent most of its life at the said 12,500 RPM! Into a mild headwind, it was as fast in third gear as fourth, but downwind slightly faster, though I never saw the the quoted 81 mph. The front brake was a massive and beautifully made double leading-shoe unit, far too powerful for this small bike but a source of pride and joy. I used to lend the front wheel and brake to a friend who raced a Honda 250 Super Hawk, which unaccountably had a smaller single leading shoe brake. From the outset, and like many Honda 125's of the period, it burnt oil and smoked, so I had to add maybe 1/4 pint every week. There was only a centrifugal oil filter, so by the time the monthly oil change came around, the oil had "boiled down" to the consistency of asphalt. The oil capacity wasn't very large, maybe a pint or so, and you had to check constantly. The ignition system used a single breaker-point on the crankshaft, both spark plugs firing every revolution, with one of them a wasted spark as a result. Needless to say, the breaker points had to follow the cam at 12.5k rpm, and a misfire would creep in every fortnight or so, so I became quite expert at dressing and gapping the points. In spite of being ridden for two years usually at max rpm, the engine was as reliable as a stone. The front leading-link suspension was well-made, but was under-damped and had a little too much travel, while the rear shocks were as hard as granite, and had very little, so suspension wasn't the Benly's strong suit. Resonant vibration at high rpm used to produce fatigue failure in the rear number plate mounting, which would have to be re-welded once or twice a year. All of that said, it could embarrass all other bikes up to 250cc except the Hondas and the brilliant Bultaco 125 which came out in 1962. It was an engineering joy, and rates number two of the dozen bikes of all capacities I've owned in a long and happy life of motorcycles. - George


DerekL
6/24/2018 11:36:35 AM

I had a Honda CB92 in 1968. It was a 1964 model so they were made beyond 63. I loved it and rode many many miles around southern England. Wish I had kept it, but you just never know when you should keep something.


DerekL
6/24/2018 11:35:32 AM

I had a Honda CB92 in 1968. It was a 1964 model so they were made beyond 63. I loved it and rode many many miles around southern England. Wish I had kept it, but you just never know when you should keep something.




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