Happy Medium: The 1969 Honda CB175K3

Restoring and riding a 1969 CB175K3, the successor to the well-known Honda CB160.

| January/February 2016

Honda CB175K3

1969 Honda CB175K3

Photo by Robert Smith

1969 Honda CB175K3
Claimed power:
20hp @ 10,000rpm
Top speed:
80mph (est.)
174cc air-cooled OHC parallel twin, 52mm x 41mm bore and stroke, 9:1 compression ratio
Weight (w/half tank fuel): 297lb (135kg)
Fuel capacity/MPG:
2.4gal (9ltr)/60mpg (est.)
Price then/now:
$650 (est.)/$500-$2,500

Remember Trickle-Down? The theory of supply-side economics that became popular during President Ronald Reagan’s administration? That phrase could also be used to describe the development of Honda’s immensely popular range of sub-200cc twins from the 1960s and 1970s.

When Honda first started importing motorcycles into the U.S. at the end of the 1950s, the bikes looked pretty weird alongside the British and American bikes of the day. Honda made extensive use of pressed steel in the construction of its frames, fenders and leading-link forks. The early Benlys and Dreams even used a single pressing as a combined backbone frame and rear fender. To Joe Biker, who was used to frames and forks made of steel tubes, the aesthetics of the early Hondas were … challenging.

Those pressed steel frames also made their bikes seem cheap, and Honda soon realized their premium sporting bikes needed to get with the program. The first Honda motorcycles to dispense with pressed steel in favor of a more conventional tubular frame were the CB72 and CB77 Superhawk of 1961. While pressed steel continued to be the frame of choice for Honda’s touring CA range and smaller displacement machines, the future for its large bikes looked to be in bent tubes.


2/9/2016 8:48:31 AM

You know what else is so great about these bikes? You can race them all day on the street, and nobody knows you're racing, even if they see you dragging pegs!

2/9/2016 8:45:33 AM

Nice example of a great little bike. I recently had two CB200s, and can agree that the only reason the front disc was there was because it was a disc. I thought it worked OK, but I suspect only because the bike was so light.

2/4/2016 9:04:30 PM

Nice color scheme on this CB175, I particularly like the two tank is painted. I have owned a 1972 CL72 (aka 175) for 40 years. After sitting in my garage without much use the last 30 years I now have it running like new again. It only has 4,300 miles on it. I recently repainted it an original CL72 color for 1972 "Varnish Blue Metallic". My one disappointment was that I could not find any tank decals. So, I painted pin strips white and gold like the original decals but in a different, simpler format. Other than the repaint the rest of the bike was in excellent condition. Since retiring in 2013 I've also restored my 1967 CL77 (305 scrambler) that I've owned since 1969. Retirement has allowed me to fulfill a life long dream - to ride these bikes again. Oh, I also bought my 1st new motorcycle ever last year - a Honda CB1100. Love the retro style!

2/2/2016 4:28:20 PM

We had two 175's in my family for several years, a 1970 SL175 that I rode and a 1970 CB175 that belonged to my Dad. Sometime around 1984 or so I swapped out the semi-knobby rear on my SL for a conventional street tire, basically turning it into a supermoto. Both bikes were great fun to ride and dead realiable. Dad sold the CB about 10 years or so ago, I really should have bought it from him.

1/28/2016 8:54:48 AM

I loved owning the 175. Mine was a K0, it stopped like nothing else I've owned since. To me a head-scratcher since the brakes were clearly smaller than the CB160 -- proves bigger is not always better. That little 175 was comfortable at higher revs, would cruise okay at an indicated 70 mph. Figured I was cruising at 8500 rpm. It would maintain highway speed *better* than a Suzuki X-6 (250cc) that I earlier owned. Great bike, have wished for another one ever since. Now that I am retired, may actually get another someday.

bike on highway

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