In the beginning, they survived thanks to low prices, and then Honda ‘s CB750 motorcycle debuted and showed that the Japanese can be superior. In the late 1960s, Japanese products were still not overly desirable in America. Not only were they below average quality but they were also small in size and even smaller in a country where the “bigger is always better” theory still prevails. Of course, many “Yankees” still had in mind the battle of World War II, especially the one fought for the military port of Pearl Harbor in Hawaii, in which over 2,300 sailors lost their lives.
It is not enough to say that Japan did not like the Americans too much, and two atomic bombs were thrown at their memory. But the two countries quickly concluded that they could help each other more as allies than as enemies, so Japanese products on the American market began to sprout like mushrooms.
The CB750 not only delighted Americans but did so to audiences around the world, and is believed to have had a major impact in the motorcycle world. The world described it as the world’s first supercycle, while customers renamed it the only product that does all the work without error. Even before that, Honda was a very influential company in the world of motorcycles in America, but it had never attacked a category controlled by companies from America and Great Britain before.
The earlier CB450 entered a class in which Honda had never competed before, and engineer Yoshiro Harada said that the Japanese unit with a capacity of 450 cubic centimeters was more reliable and provided better performance than those of 650 cubic centimeters with rivals Norton and Triumph. While such logic could pass in Japan, the rule from the beginning of the text still prevailed among American drivers: “bigger is better”.
When Honda started work on the CB750, no Japanese manufacturer had a unit larger than 650 cubic centimeters in series production. The job was again entrusted to the aforementioned Haradi, and he bought, disassembled and studied all the competitor’s models before making a list of features that the CB750 would have to provide.
The Triumph was to debut with a new high-performance engine with a displacement of 750 cubic centimeters, while the Harley Davidson Shovelhead developed 66 horsepower. Based on that, Harada concluded that Honda must surpass both of these numbers, but that was just the beginning of the list of demands. The motorcycle also had to provide four cylinders, four exhaust manifolds, a seat set high, a high dose of comfort, high stability at speeds above 160 km / h, but again it was expected to be agile enough for street use in traffic. In the end, the demand was for the motorcycle to become a leader in the industry, in terms of reliability and low maintenance costs.
To be satisfied with the quality, the unit would be driven for 200 hours at a speed of 6,000, and then another 20 hours at a speed of 8,500. After the test, each of the units worked so calmly that the owner could put a coin on it and stay in place. The development of the novelty began in February 1968.
Even before the CB750 debuted, Honda was considering how much production it could be. The early plan required an annual delivery of only 1,500 units, but when the news of performance and price was heard (which was about 30-50% lower compared to British rivals) the plan was first moved by 1,500 units per month and then 3,000 copies on a monthly basis. Even that was not enough, so the manufacturer will have to open additional factories in Japan and invest in more modern technology.
The CB750 will survive in production until 2003, and the most valuable of these are those from the early years. It is interesting that during the 34 years of history, Honda did not want a completely new motorcycle, but over time, it refreshed the winning formula from the past and thus attracted customers. Two of the four prototype models produced in total survived, one of which found a buyer in 2018 for the sum of as much as 233,550 dollars.
That makes it the most expensive Japanese motorcycle in history, and the second place is also held by the CB750 with a price of 148,100 greenbacks.