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Honda CA95 Benly Touring

Tomorrow’s Classics: 1960-66 Honda CA95 Benly Touring.

| September/October 2013

  • Honda CA95 Benly Advertisement
    A 1963 ad for the 155cc Honda CA95 Benly by American Honda Motor Co., Inc.
    Photo By MC Staff
  • Ducati 160 Monza
    Ducati 160 Monza Junior. At the request of East Coast motorcycle importers Berliner Corporation, Ducati produced a smaller-capacity version of its successful 250 Monza for the U.S. market. To do this, Ducati simply dropped a smaller, 156cc engine into essentially a 250 Monza frame, fitted 16-inch wheels instead of 18-inchers (although with the same front fender), together with a standard Monza gas tank and side panels. Over a four year production run, the Monza and Monza Junior were mildly restyled with more angular gas tank and headlight, but the basic specifications remained unchanged.
    Photo By MC Staff
  • Harley Davidson Scat
    The penultimate model in a line of Harley 2-strokes that dated back to the Model 125 of 1948, the Scat was essentially a dual-sport version of the 175cc Pacer introduced in 1962. Intended as a road bike that could also be used offroad, the Scat added a sprung, high-mounted front fender, high-level exhaust, buckhorn bars and single saddle to the basic specification of the street Pacer. It was in many ways a precursor to the small offroad bikes that proliferated from Japan years later. Like the contemporary BSA D7 Bantam, the Scat used a 2-stroke engine based on the prewar DKW RT125 but now stretched to 175cc.
    Photo By MC Staff

  • Honda CA95 Benly Advertisement
  • Ducati 160 Monza
  • Harley Davidson Scat

Honda CA95 Benly Touring
Claimed power:
16.5hp @ 10,500rpm
Top speed: 63mph (period test)
Engine: 154.6cc air-cooled SOHC 4-stroke parallel twin
Weight (dry): 246lb (wet)
Price then/now: $460 (1960)/$800-$3,500

Although pop culture folklore says it was Honda’s little 50cc step-through that inspired Brian Wilson and Mike Love to write the hit song “Little Honda” featured on the Beach Boys 1964 Album “All Summer Long,” it could just as easily have been the little 155cc Honda CA95 Benly. The CA95 certainly fits as “just a groovy little motorbike,” complete with royal blue or magenta paint and a red seat.

Often called the “Baby Dream” for its obvious and intentional styling similarities to Honda’s own 250cc CA72 and 305cc CA77 Dreams, the CA95 Benly (which means “convenient” in Japanese) Touring used a pressed-steel backbone frame similar to the 124cc CA92 introduced in 1959 but fitted with a 154.6cc single overhead cam 360-degree parallel twin. Inside the engine was a small but sturdy three-main-bearing “anti-friction” crankshaft with a chain on the left side driving an overhead camshaft, which in turn actuated the two valves per cylinder by screw-adjustable rockers.

Drive to the 4-speed transmission was by gear through a wet multiplate clutch with chain final drive. The unit construction engine and transmission were housed in a horizontally split case that held the engine/transmission oil. An advanced combustion chamber design allowed an 8:1 compression ratio, which in turn meant Honda’s engineers could squeeze a claimed 16.5 horsepower out of the 155cc engine, or more than 100 horsepower per liter — a figure usually only reached by race bikes at that time.

The engine/transmission unit was suspended from a welded one-piece pressed-steel spine. A leading-link front fork was fitted at the front while a swingarm with twin shocks featuring square shrouds took care of the rear. The Honda CA95 rolled on 16-inch wheels front and rear (3-inch section front and 3.25-inch rear) with white walls as standard on later models.

Although not exactly light at 246 pounds, the Honda CA95 returned pretty lively performance as long as the engine was kept spinning quickly, reaching 20mph in first gear, 35mph in second and 50mph in third to a maximum of 63mph in fourth in Cycle magazine’s 1960 test. Cycle also found the engine to be “almost vibrationless,” while the dual mufflers produced a “whisper exhaust note.”

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