Perfection: 1970 Honda CB750 Four

An early die-cast Honda CB750 Four is restored by owner Don Stockett of Vintage Motorcycle Rescue.


| September/October 2017


1970 Honda CB750 K0
Engine:
736cc air-cooled SOHC inline 4-cylinder, 61mm x 63mm bore and stroke, 9:1 compression ratio, 67hp @ 8,000rpm (claimed)
Top speed:
123mph (period test)
Carburetion:
Four 28mm Keihin
Transmission:
5-speed, chain final drive
Electrics:
12v, coil and breaker points ignition
Frame/wheelbase:
Dual downtube steel cradle/57.3in (1,455.5mm)
Suspension:
Telescopic forks front, twin shocks w/adjustable preload rear
Brakes:
Single 10in (254mm) disc front, 7.1in (178mm) SLS drum rear
Tires:
3.25 x 19in front, 4 x 18in rear
Weight:
499lb (w/half tank fuel)
Seat height:
31.5in (800mm)
Fuel capacity/MPG:
4.8gal (18.1ltr)/35-40mpg
Price then/now:
$1,495/$4,000-$12,000 (1970 die-cast model)

Don Stockett has had a lot to celebrate recently. He not only won an Antique Motorcycle Club of America (AMCA) Winner’s Circle award for this 1970 Honda CB750 K0, scoring 99.50 points, he also managed a narrow escape from road rash on the same bike.

Some weeks before the AMCA Fort Sutter (California) National meet where he won his Winner’s Circle award, Don rode the CB750 K0 in The Quail Motorcycle Gathering pre-show Quail Ride. During the ride, he went a little too hot into a decreasing radius left turn and barely avoided running the bike onto the gravel as the centerstand scraped the pavement. “It’s a big, heavy bike and it’s hard to correct in a corner,” Don says.

Viewed from a perspective of almost 50 years of progress, the single overhead cam version of the 750 Honda is a nice bike with a lot going for it, yet one that could benefit from some focused upgrading. But viewed from the perspective of its contemporaries, the Honda CB750 Four was a revelation. Here was a powerful and reliable motorcycle with good brakes — for the time — a 5-speed transmission, bright lights and an electric starter that worked on cold mornings, none of which were common motorcycle features when the CB750 hit the market in 1969. Just as importantly, the styling was good enough to turn heads, and unique enough to attract buyers.

Honda’s strength

That Soichiro Honda, the founder of Honda Motor Company, was in the position that his company could design and build a bike like the CB750 was due to years of forethought and investment. In the early 1950s Mr. Honda, with the help of some optimistic banks, bought $1 million worth of American and Swiss machine tooling. Meanwhile, his British rivals soldiered on with the same old pre-war lathes and milling machines — they had to keep the shareholders happy, after all — and Harley-Davidson, then the sole surviving American motorcycle company, had bought up as much surplus equipment as it could after World War II, but years of poor sales had limited its ability to keep up in the factory machinery department.

By 1959, Honda was the largest motorcycle manufacturer in the world. It had based its success on selling small motorcycles of excellent quality to Asian customers, but it soon branched out. As the 1960s progressed, Honda sold increasingly larger capacity motorcycles worldwide. Honda products swamped the British manufacturers’ small bike offerings, and although the Japanese imports cost more, they had good brakes, bright lights and electric starters. And they didn’t leak oil.





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