Our featured motorcycle goes a long way to supporting the theory that “less is more”. This nimble cafe racer started life as a Honda CB175 model which was built from 1969 until 1973. It has a twin cylinder, overhead camshaft four stroke engine, twin carbs, a five speed gearbox, electric start, indicators, twin leading shoe front brake and many other features which were not yet available on other manufacturer’s top of the range models. With a top speed of almost 140 km/h and producing 20 hp, it is a good example of the performance and quality for which Honda has always been known; from its most basic scooter, to its most sophisticated sportsbike or cruiser.
“You meet the nicest people on a Honda.” This slogan from Honda’s 1962 advertising campaign was a major contributor to changing the general public’s attitude towards motorcycles and motorcyclists. After WWII motorcycling had gained the reputation of being the domain of the restless and rebellious. This slogan echoed the founder of Honda, Soichiro Honda’s own ambition of bringing motorcycling to the masses. Although his first creations were two stroke powered, he was soon developing small capacity, technically advanced four stroke powered machines. The humble Honda Super Cub which was launched in 1958, underlines Honda’s success in putting the public on two wheels by having sold in excess of 60 000 000 (yes, sixty million!) units to date.
Soichiro Honda was a talented engineer and racer. While his 90cc scooter was conquering the commuter world, he was also building some of the most sophisticated racing motorcycles, including the marvelous six cylinder 250cc machine of the early 1960s. Instead of following his Japanese rivals which were concentrating their development efforts on less complicated two stroke technology, Honda broadened its range and increased the capacity of its four stroke powered motorcycles. When Honda launched the four cylinder 750cc in 1969 it redefined motorcycles forever.
Better known for building cool Yamaha XS650 bobbers, Tiago of OneOne Customs built this lovely baby cafe racer. Interesting to note that this CB175 which was imported in 1972, was used as a racing motorcycle from new and thus never registered on South African roads. When Tiago registers her now, it will be a first time registration. The original tank has been retained and the one of a kind seat section is handcrafted fibreglass over a metal frame – not moulded. The short silencers are from a triumph. The white wall tyres are a nice retro touch which contrast well with the black wheels. This Honda was in very neglected condition before being reborn as an eyecatcher that has fun written all over it.
My son turns 16 in less than two years. I can’t see the value in a new R30 000 Japanese 125cc which he will want to upgrade after a year. I am also disappointed by the build quality and lack of performance of the cheaper Chinese motorcycles. Looking at this CB175, I think an old Honda CG125 based cafe racer may be just the answer.