If one sits down and decides to make a list of the ten most iconic motorcycles of the 20th century, the ones that changed the course of the industry and the consumer’s perspective, the Honda CB750 would be right there at the top. In the 34-glorious years of its production, Honda had sold more than 400,000 units all over the world. But it wasn’t the popularity of the Honda CB750 that created an iconic motorcycle, instead it was the brand new platform that became standard for almost every other motorcycle manufacturer henceforth that did.
Here we have compiled a list of Honda CB750 posters that engross the reader in their deep understanding of the motorcycle.
A deeper history of the Honda CB750
Till the 1960’s Honda’s strength was in creating small-sized motorcycles. In these years, Honda’s Soichiro Honda and Takeo Fujisawa toured Germany and other parts of Europe and found that there was a big scope for mopeds and light weight motorcycles in the post-war conditions of the continent. While both of them agreed on making a mass market product that would bring in a lot of cash flow, Soichiro Honda and his partner Fujisawa did not want to stop there. They started formulating a business plan where they could produce a mass market product that would give them enough cash-flow to develop and race larger machines. A direct result of this research brought the Honda Super Cub to life in 1958, which instantly became a hit, surpassing 60 million units in 2008.
From the Cub what Honda got was firstly a huge stock pile of funds, but more importantly an understanding of the different segments of the western markets. With this learning, the duo started developing a larger capacity motorcycle that could compete with other fast production motorcycles of the time. Their first attempt came as a 444 cc, 180-degree twin – the CB450, which became Honda’s first big motorcycle in 1965.
With the cash flow from the Super Cub and the CB450, Honda began to develop an ever larger motorcycle that would take inputs from the CB450’s race learning, and could become a threat to the actual “Big Motorcycles” from America and Europe.
By 1967 Honda had understood the American market quite well. They understood how important racing is and how it was important for selling motorcycles. Bob Hansen, Honda America’s service manager flew down to Japan to discuss with Soichiro Honda about starting to manufacture motorcycles that were based on Grand Prix technology. The aim was to create a race-winning motorcycle that could compete with the dominant force of the Harley-Davidsons and Triumphs that had gotten used to winning.
Based on Hansen’s inputs, Honda took a year to develop the new motorcycle. The bike had a traverse-mounted in-line f our cylinder, 749 cc engine with a single-overhead camshaft and a front disc brake. These were features that had never been seen before on a production mainstream motorcycle. Combined with a relatively-cheaper price of $1,495, the Honda CB750 instantly had technical and commercial advantage over its British rivals. Compared to the motorcycle from Europe and America, the CB750 was also smoother and much more refined in ever way.
Honda unveiled the CB750 for the first time at the 1968 Tokyo Motor Show, soon after which it was publicly launched at the Metropole Hotel Exhibition Centre at Brighton UK. Soon after, the CB750 started appearing in races across both pacific and arctic landmasses, going on the win the 1970 Daytona 200 with Dick Mann aboard.
The Honda CB750 changed the way large motorcycles were looked at. Suddenly the world was getting used to a reliable and smooth big-machine that was technically advanced as well as cheaper than the competition. Soon Honda’s in-line four cylinder formula became a stencil for other Japanese motorcycle makers to replicate bringing in a huge wave of cheap, powerful and reliable motorcycles that broke loose on the international scenario.
And along with the CB750 came the new machine that we have so become used to calling a “Superbike”.