Motorcycle Restoration Projects
David Richmond is without any doubt a Honda CB750 groupie, with a shed housing four, plus an outfit that’s a work in progress. Also in his collection are a late model Honda road bike, an XR400 off-road Honda and his mower and brush-cutter are both Hondas.
Back in 1989 David had ridden only off-road bikes, but he needed a road bike for a trip to the Mecca for all red-blooded motorcyclists: Victoria’s Phillip Island MotoGP race.
His first road bike was acquired by trading his 1981 Suzuki 250cc dirt bike, plus $300, on a 1977 CB750 K7 model. The K7 was the last of the single-overhead-camshaft models. Today this bike has pride of place in his shed with stablemates that David has acquired over the years.
”That first trip on a road bike to Phillip Island was a real adventure and something that I’ll never forget,” said David.
“The exhilaration of that progressive delivery of raw power was the highlight.
“At the end of the trip I thought to myself : ‘Yes Mr Honda you’ve won me!’”
For those who aren’t familiar with the ground-breaking Honda CB750 history, here’s a summary.
The 1960s idea that Honda should build a large-capacity motorcycle, originated from America, the largest market for big, touring bikes. An assault on Triumph, BSA and Harley-Davidson territory meant that Honda’s engine capacity had to move upwards.
So Bob Hansen, Honda’s American service manager, flew to Japan to discuss with Soichiro Honda the possibility of designing bikes that could be adapted for American motorcycle racing events.
The US AMA rules allowed racing only with production-based machines. Honda knew that what won on the racetrack today sold in the showroom tomorrow and Hansen reportedly told Mr Honda he should build a ‘King of Motorcycles’.
The Honda CB750 motorcycle was first shown at the Tokyo Motorcycle Show in 1968 after a gestation period of just seven months.
In the USA, Hansen’s race team blew them all away at the 1970 Daytona 200, with Dick Mann riding a tall-geared CB750 to victory.
Although not the first tranverse-four-cylinder, overhead-camshaft production motorcycle – MV Augusta had sold a four-cylinder model in 1965 – Honda’s CB750 was the first bike to combine that layout with a five-speed transmission, electric starter and front disc brake – all at an affordable price, as well.
The CB750’s combination of quality, value and performance effectively sounded the death knell for the ailing British motorcycle industry.
Nothing on the market came close and the the word ‘superbike’ was coined to describe it.
This was a bike that could reach 120mph with scorching acceleration, yet minimal servicing. It didn’t vibrate, didn’t leak oil, had electrics that kept working and it always started with a button press. The four carburettors didn’t drop out of tune, which meant its sweet running continued.
By all measurements of motorcycle performance and ownership the new big Honda was totally superior.
The CB750 influenced the design and possibly the very concept of motorcycling, for all manufacturers, not just Honda. It established the burgeoning Japanese manufacturers as the new force of motorcycling.
Unable to gauge demand for such a radical new bike accurately, Honda limited its initial investment in production for the CB750 by using a technique called permanent sand casting, with gravity-fed moulding of engine castings, rather than more expensive, pressure-fed, die casting.
The company ramped-up production techniques very soon, because the CB750 remained in the Honda line-up for 10 years, with sales totalling over 400,000 units in its life span.
The Richmond collection
David Richmond has been an avid collector of CB750s ever since that first road trip. He owns five CB750s: four motorcycles and a K2 outfit in the back shed waiting for a full restoration.
David came to the NSW South Coast, Batemans Bay area from Canberra as a professional football player and continued doing so for some years until he thought one day: ” I’m getting a bit older now – I’d better get a real job”.
He is a sheet metal tradesman and boilermaker by profession, and loves to work with stainless steel. That gave him a niche market, because stainless steel requires a deal of expertise and understanding to weld and contour.
He developed a successful business, with the support of some long-term tradesmen whom he values greatly.
Having the responsibility of running his business, he hasn’t had enough time to get out and enjoy the pleasure of riding the Hondas with club mates, but he was hoping that would change soon.