Introduced in 1969, the Honda CB750 is the first-ever bike to be called a “Superbike”. It was the very first bike to offer Disc brakes and four-cylinder in-line engine on a production motorcycle.
In the 1960s Honda excelled in developing highly advanced and reliable motorcycles for both the road and the track. Aside from winning multiple world championships, they were highly successful with the development of small capacity motorcycles worldwide. In 1966, Honda developed the 450cc two-cylinder DOHC CB450. This model was the backbone for Honda’s race team as the profit from the CB450 helped Honda run the race team. However, Honda withdrew from racing in 1967 after winning the world title with four-cylinder 500cc motorcycle.
In the late 60s, Honda officials, including the founder, Soichiro Honda realised the US had a higher market opportunity for larger motorcycle. With knowledge from racing, Honda decided to develop a bigger bike for the road, which lead to the creation of the CB750. The 50-year-old Honda CB750 until today is one of the most outstanding motorcycles in history.
Why did Honda develop the CB750?
According to multiple stories, there are various Honda officials, including Soichiro Honda, who led to the creation of the iconic motorcycle.
To begin with, Soichiro Honda realised Honda needs to make larger bike upon a trip to Europe. During the journey, he spotted a police officer on a Triumph who looked more prominent than the motorcycle he was riding. But that was not the case; the bike wasn’t small; it was the rider who was bigger than Japanese test riders. Which triggered Soichiro Honda into developing a bigger motorcycle.
Secondly, Yoshiro Harada, Honda’s senior engineer, is the person who designed and developed the Honda CB450 Twin in 1965. However, the Honda CB450 Bomber did not sell well; therefore, he went on a trip to the US hoping to inspire the dealers to sell more CB450 Bomber. In the end, the dealers convinced Harada the need for a bigger motorcycle in the United States. When he returned to Japan, he later convinced the need for a bigger bike.
Later in February 1968, Harada got the approval. The ” Project 300″ had only 20 people working on it. The scope was to develop a motorcycle with four cylinders similar to the ones from the Grand Prix racers. A bike that is reliable, ergonomic while being able to go fast. Affordable to mass-produce and also has extended service intervals. Six months later the team came up with a prototype of the newly developed four-cylinder engine.
The team tested a prototype with CB450’s chassis coupled transversally with the newly developed inline-four engine. During the subsequent development stages, Harada even had to focus on the braking system as the bike was too fast. As usual, Honda’s curiosity did not stop there, they decided to use Discs instead of drum brakes for the front.
1969 Honda CB750
Honda unveiled the final production version of the CB750 at the 1969 Tokyo Motor show and later in Las Vegas. The motorcycle gained popularity because of the four-cylinder engine. This is because no production motorcycle that time rolled out of the production line with a four-cylinder engine or disc brakes. These features were mainly utilised in racing bikes as they are expensive to develop. The motorcycle gained attention as it had twice as cylinders and produced 50% more power compared to any bikes in production while being affordable and reliable.
The world’s first mass-produced four-cylinder motorcycle engine on the CB750 could produce 68Hp at 8,500rpm. It featured a 5-speed gearbox with final chain drive. The bike could easily hit a top speed of 201 kmph / 125mph and could accelerate to 100kmph from rest in just 5.8 seconds which was way ahead of its time.
Last but not least, the most noticeable exhaust note from the Quad exhaust which resembled the exhaust note of a Ferrari took away people’s heart.
Because of all this, the first-ever motorcycle to be called a “Superbike” is the 1969 Honda CB750. It challenged all other manufacturers from Europe, America and Japan which led to the creation of a new line of motorcycles known as ” Superbikes” in the end.
Where is the CB750 now?
The CB750 went on production from 1969 until 2007 with upgrades done to the powertrain and the aesthetics of the bike.
During an auction one of the pre-production CB750 from 1968 sold out for a whopping US$263,725. The same motorcycle topped as one of the most expensive Japanese motorcycle sold at an auction. Though the CB750 is out of production, the various other newer CB models and CB derived CBR models offered now in the market carry CB750’s legacy.