Something Special: 1966 Honda S65

Small-bore singles like this 1966 Honda S65 were the first motorcycles for a generation of new riders.

| July/August 2014

Right-Hand Side View of 1966 Honda S65

The S65’s high pipe suggests offroad as well as street potential for the little single.

Photo by Jeff Barger

1966 Honda S65
Claimed power:
6.2hp @ 10,000rpm
Top speed: 56mph
62.9cc air-cooled OHC horizontal single, 44mm x 41.4mm bore and stroke, 8.8:1 compression ratio
Weight (dry):
171lb (78kg)
Fuel capacity/MPG:
1.7gal (6.4ltr)/190mpg @ 25mph (claimed)
Price then/now:

America was changing in the early 1960s. Music, film and literature all reflected a younger demographic — a demographic of teenagers born immediately following the end of World War II. The baby boom was booming.

At the same time many of these youngsters were coming of age, a plethora of relatively inexpensive, high-quality, small-bore Japanese motorcycles were flooding the scene. Although there had been plenty of small bikes available before this, such as BSA Bantams, NSU Quicklys and Triumph Cubs to name just a few, leading Japanese manufacturer Honda pioneered the North American market in 1959 with the introduction of its quaint little step-through C100 Cub. Oil-tight and easy to run, Honda’s cheery little 50cc 4-stroke singles became the transportation of choice for many, and particularly for youngsters.

Quickly realizing the potential for small-bore bikes in America, in 1960 Honda launched the C110 — a sportier version of the Cub. Like its Cub sibling, the C110 featured a pressed steel monocoque frame. But instead of a step-through the C110 frame had a spine, which meant a gas tank where a proper motorcycle had its gas tank, right between the rider’s knees.

In 1964, Honda followed the success of its C110 with the sporting S90, followed by the S65 in 1965. While the larger S90 was the more popular of the two motorcycles, the charms of the S65 are hard to ignore.

Teenage transportation

Born and raised in Hales Corners, Wisconsin, Don Schoonenberg found his S65 in August of 1967. Back then he wasn’t much concerned about its features; he was just happy to have some transportation. “The family cars always seemed to be at a premium,” Don says. “With two older brothers, everyone always seemed to be using them.”

12/18/2014 6:58:20 PM

1965 S65 was my first road bike (in 1972) got it because it was real cheap to insure (and real cheap used buy) It took a while to get it in shape but that was OK as I didn't have a licence when I first bought it. Been all 'downhill' since then LOL

12/17/2014 2:07:38 PM

May 1966 I purchased my first motorcycle a brand new black Honda Sport 50 for a grand total of $285. I really wanted the S65 but didn't extra $50. That summer I meet my first girl friend who had a new white Honda C90 Super Cub. I still have fond memories of us riding around Chicago on our Honda's and having so much fun. My current vintage motorcycle is a 1964 black Honda CB160 which would have been my first selection back then, but I will always remember that Sport 50...

8/29/2014 11:17:57 AM

I enjoyed the story. I do not think that a "Perfect" restoration is for everyone. I got a 1978 Honda Hawk CB400T last year from a older fellow who had owned it since new, but hadn't ridden it since 1986. The bike had been stored indoors, and other than a broken signal light looked almost new. It had 13,000 km on it. My "Restoration" consisted of new tires, new battery and a signal light. The carbs were gummed up, and needed a complete overhaul, the cam chain was loose and its adjuster stuck, but a gentle tap with a hammer fixed that. With an oil and filter change, valve adjustment and counterweight chain adjustment done, it was put on the road. It now has 17,000 km on it, looks great and runs like a top. I'm not saying new seals, wheel bearings and replacing things like rims aren't nice to do, but to me riding them (I have 7 collector-plated bikes) is the best part.

6/26/2014 10:19:06 PM

That was my first Honda 65 at age 16 and same color. I was going to get a 50 but the 65 came out. That bike was followed by a CL100,CL125,CL450,CB750,my first Gold Wing in 1975 followed by another Gold Wing in 1977 which I still own. The 77 still runs great. I did buy a 2001 Harley FXST which I chromed out. I don't ride like I use to.

6/26/2014 1:59:33 PM

My Dad bought a black and chrome colored model for my older brother for his 16th birthday! He used it to go to and from all of his odd jobs in Napa, CA. We "borrowed it" when he wasn't using it to ride the dirt trails nearby. It was turned into a naked bike after he busted the front fender! LOL! He eventually went on to 21+ other bigger motorcycles but that one was the most fun! He met a lot of girls on that motorcycle!

6/26/2014 11:58:53 AM

This reminds me of my first bike - and the first Yamaha in Victoria, my home town. It was an 80cc 2 stroke YG1. I got a consistent 195 miles per imperial gallon, riding it more or less flat out at all times! Gas was so cheap then that I could afford to go wherever I wanted and spent many hours exploring every single road in the entire region!

6/24/2014 6:39:44 PM

Great article, thanks. I had a 1968 S65 and rode it everywhere. Thanks for the memories. Like Don, it gave me incredible freedom and never let me down once. great bike, great memories.

bike on highway

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