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Honda CBX 750 – The Forgotten 80’s Superbike

After the resounding success of the Honda CB750, the sequel was always going to be a difficult act to follow. Rather than put all their eggs into one basket Honda had the idea to supersede the world’s first superbike with two successors, the V4 engine powered VF750F and the inline four engine CBX 750.

The Honda CBX 750, also known as the RC17, was first offered in 1984 and was mainly sold in Japan, Australia, South Africa, and Europe. In order to show off the dependability and power of the new inline four engine, Honda entered the CBX750 in the 1986 Suzuka 8-Hour endurance race, finishing in a respectable fifth position.

Honda’s display of the CBX 750’s speed and durability paid off, as law enforcement organisations all around the world found the CBX 750 to be the machine they were looking for.

Motorcycle police deployed the CBX 750 in Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong, Turkey, Ireland, and Gibraltar, where two were still in operation in 2016!

Honda CBX750 Review

The Honda CBX 750 screams 80's styling
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The Honda CBX 750 screams 80’s styling

The 747 cc inline-four 16 valve engine of the CB 750X was significantly different from that of its predecessor. Honda’s engineers were tenacious in eliminating any extraneous fat from the engine to achieve the goal of making the bike as small and light as possible.

The high output alternator was relocated from the end of the crankshaft to behind the cylinders, above the gearbox, adjacent to the starting motor, reducing width at the bottom of the motor. A chain from the crankshaft’s centre drives it in this location.

By decreasing the depth of the sump, the height of the engine reduced further. To make up for the new engines oil loss, Honda duplicated the traditional BSA design and created a reservoir in the bike’s frame.

This resulted in a smaller engine that was mounted lower in the frame for a better centre of gravity and enhanced oil cooling.

Where Honda made truly major improvements to the engine was at the top end. The camshafts were made hollow for lightness and hydraulic oil-filled self-adjusting tappets were introduced. Even at high rpm, they were near silent, and maintenance was hardly ever required.

This was the first time Honda has incorporated them on one of its motorcycles. However, the technology had previously been used by bike manufacturers like Harley Davidson.

Honda began using computers to design its frames in the 1980s. With its big diameter spine tube, the CBX 750’s frame is extremely rigid, eliminating any weaving and enabling you to achieve top speed without drama or worry.

Similar to its bigger six-cylinder sibling CBX 1000, the rear Pro Link suspension is air-operated with a preload and filled and adjusted using a Schrader valve that is located on a convenient extension line under the right-side panel.

The front forks are made of substantial 39mm tubing and include a TRAC anti-dive feature at the bottom of the sliders. The TRAC unit has four settings, but there is also a three-position rebound lever at the top of the forks, which is more than enough adjustment for any day-to-day outings you might have.

The Honda CBX 750 was one of many sportbikes in the 1980’s to use mismatched wheel sizes; 16 inch front and 18 inch rear. Honda eventually increase the front wheel to 18 inches in 1988.

 The angular, flowing design of the Honda CBX  750 created the illusion that it was moving quickly even when it wasn’t, was a hallmark of 1980s style. The UK model exclusively received dual headlights, with all other countries having a single headlight model.

The bike also had a tinted screen and a partial fairing, which appeared a little small in comparison to its main rivals but functioned very well and allowed the rider to sit comfortably in a pocket no matter how fast they were travelling. 

Honda CBX750 Specs 

  • Engine:                 Air-cooled, 16 valve, DOHC, inline-four, four-stroke

  • Capacity:              747cc

  • Max Power:        93 bhp / 67.8 kW @ 9,500 rpm

  • Max Torque:      70.6 Nm / 52 lb ft @ 8,500 rpm

  • Gearbox:             6-speed manual

  • Top speed:         131 mph / 210 kph

  • Fuel capacity:     22 L / 5.8 US Gal

  • Seat height:        810 mm / 31.89 inches

  • Wet weight:       241kg / 531 lb 

Honda CBX 750P (Police Variant)

The Honda CBX 750 was used in several countries as their Police motorcycles
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Honda CBX 750P on duty in Malaysia

The Japanese CB750SC served as the basis for the CBX 750P. This resembles a CB700SC Nighthawk S but featured an 18-inch front wheel and shaft drive. Other than sharing a name, the CBX750P and CBX750 only have a few engine components in common.

 The CBX 750P was also equipped with four safety guards—two on each side—a meter-stop option (to record high speed), loudspeakers and surprisingly had no fuel gauge.

 The CBX 750P was utilised by the Traffic Corps division of the Garda Sochána (Irish National Police) for two generations. The second generation’s extendable rear blue flashing light on a pole was the sole difference.

According to rumours, Honda reopened the assembly plant in 1997 to accommodate a request by the Irish Police. The Honda ST1100 Pan European started to take its place in Ireland in 1998, with the final CBX 750 withdrawn in 2002.

Buying an original Honda CBX 750

 The current market has a fair number of CBX 750 motorcycles available in varied conditions. Most have been ridden as designed over the years with the majority having done over 30,000 miles and yet still hold their value and are up for sale for around £3,000 for a good machine.

Several project bikes are on the market now for less than £800 for those looking for a CBX 750 to restore.

One known issue with the CBX 750 is that the exhaust system would rust if they haven’t been looked after properly. Many owners got around this issue by ditching the standard exhausts for a Motad four-into-one system to also shed weight and change the exhaust note.

Not a showstopper but it’s worth keeping in mind if you come across one with an aftermarket exhaust.

Restoring a CBX 750

Consumables like brake pads, bulbs, and bearings are readily available and affordable. Engine components, for example, are comparatively rare and far between. If you’re seeking to restore one, the world’s most popular auction website contains bits and pieces, but you’ll need to be patient.

It might be wise to buy two and utilise one for part-cannibalization.

Is the Honda CBX 750 a good investment?

There are many good reasons to consider buying a Honda CBX 750. It is a fantastic all-around bike and a fine compromise between the old and the modern, especially if you’re nostalgic for 1980s designs.

Its engine architecture is comparable to that of the Honda 650 Nighthawk from the same decade and included self-adjusting tappets and a double overhead cam, and of course it’s a Honda, which means a quality built machine that will last.

The Honda CBX 750 really does do everything well, however, all the big money being invested into old Hondas is unlikely to include the CBX 750 any time soon with all the attention on its bigger sibling the CBX 1000.

Verdict

Fast forward to our day and mention CBX in casual conversation, most bikers will immediately think of the bigger 1,000 cc inline six machine. Bring up the broader topic of sports bike from the 80’s and the answers you get back will more than likely mention the Kawasaki GPZ900R or Suzuki GSX R750. Indeed, the Honda CBX 750 appears to be one of the forgotten motorcycles of the 80s.

I always have a soft spot for underdogs and am a Honda guy through and through, but I think even I’d pass up on this one. It does lack the history and prestige of so many other Honda’s and indeed other Japanese manufacturers models from the same era. I’d be holding on to my money for something a bit more special to come along.

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