Top 10 Honda Sportbikes

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1. CB750 Four

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It may not appear a sportbike by today’s standards, but Honda’s 1969 CB750 Four literally created the superbike market. For $1,500 the CB750 Four was the first motorcycle from a major OEM to feature an oil-tight SOHC, inline-Four engine with four 28mm Keihin carburetors, a front disc brake and an electric starter. The prototype’s unveiling at the Tokyo Motor Show in 1968 was an unrealized death knell for big-bike competitors such as BSA, Norton and Triumph.

Like Honda’s RC-designated racing models, the CB750 produced its horsepower high in the rev range with a claimed 67 hp at 8,000 rpm, 44 ft-lb of torque at 7,000 rpm and a 125-mph top speed. There was such a clamor for the machine that Honda’s initial forecast of 1,500 units per year became a sales figure that eventually jumped to 3,000 units per month. Unlike the superbike moniker, the CB750 Four didn’t coin the “game changer” phrase, but it comes closest in the world of motorcycling. So, if you’re looking to find the godfather of the modern superbike/sportbike, look no further than the 1969 CB750 Four.

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  • Phil Auldridge

    Ah yes, the CBX.. I’ve owned one for less than 6 months, and do proclaim it as one of the greatest bikes ever built. True, Honda had difficulty selling these when introduced, attributable to a relatively high price and consumer concerns about reliability. Fast forward 35 years and the CBX has proven itself to be reliably bullet proof and highly sought after. Just try to find a decent ‘naked’ (79-80 models) bike for sale for much under 10 large these days. And when they do appear, they get snapped up almost immediately.

    The design and technology came directly from Honda’s successful 250cc GP bike: 4 valves per cylinder, double overhead cam, hollow camshafts for weight reduction, and ingenious inboard placement of clutch and alternator to keep the 6-cylinder width within 2″ of the CB750 4 cylinder predecessor.

    Then there’s the glorious sound. My own bike sports a 6 into one exhaust that makes the bike sound all the world like a Formula One Grand Prix car.

    The CBX may be now regarded as old technology, but consider this: Honda’s 2013 virtual look-alike CBX clone, the CB1100 (a 4 cylinder) can muster a mere 86 horsepower compared to the original CBX’s 105! Have we really progressed at all?

    • Price Action Guru

      “The CBX may be now regarded as old technology, but consider this: Honda’s 2013 virtual look-alike CBX clone, the CB1100 (a 4 cylinder) can muster a mere 86 horsepower compared to the original CBX’s 105! Have we really progressed at all?”

      Good point, but the CBX did not have the current emissions requirements restricting the engine.

  • Rob

    How about the 1984-1986 VF1000R? Fully faired, gear driven cam V4, literbike, rare, expensive, how much more can you ask for? Certainly more of a top 10 than some…

  • fastfreddie

    The CBX designated as a sport bike?!And no room for the RC45?Tsk…tsk…

    Good call on the Hawk though.Had one.Sold it.Regretted it ever since:(

  • VeganLondonMan

    I’m a young guy so I’m not speaking from nostalgia when I say that CB750 looks fantastic. Way better than some of the bizarro focus grouped committee creations of current day Honda, in my opinion.

    • CaptainPlatypus

      As another young guy, that’s way too much chrome for me, but different strokes. :)

  • http://www.motou.info Gabe Ets-Hokin

    Fer fook’s sake Tom! Where’s the CBR600F2?

    • Sentinel

      That bike wasn’t the groundbreaking bike the original was obviously, that’s why.

      • http://www.motou.info Gabe Ets-Hokin

        I dunno…I think the F2 made a bigger impact on the market than the CBR600F.

        • http://motorcycle.com/ Tom Roderick

          Without the CBR600F, you cannot have a CBR600F2. Beyond that fact, arguing the significance of one model over the other is semantical. Same goes for the RC30 vs. RC45 or the VF750F vs. VF1000R, from commenters below. I will almost always defer to the OG model.

          • http://www.motou.info Gabe Ets-Hokin

            Are you calling me anti-semantic?

  • Sentinel

    I owned this bike in the this very same color upon its launch. It was a fantastic bike that never let me down in any way. The performance of this bike, particular its acceleration from a stop was amazing. It was confortable. smotth, and great for any kind of riding you felt like doing on any particular day.

  • Chris_in_Kalifornia

    I rode a CB750K0 Honda for some time. I remember it as one heck of a rip snorting tire burning monster. I once rode mine 108 miles in 59 minutes on interstate 8 heading east away from San Diego. It was rowdy and racous and great fun. It also went thru chains and rear tires like crazy and I also broke both of the bearings that held the output shaft (separate shaft from the countershaft on that model). I’d changed the gearing from 15/45 to 17/48 to give the chains a break too. Still wore them out at a ridiculous rate. Looking back, my memories tell me how monstrous it was but actualy??? I think my 650 Vstrom made as much horsepower and the chains available are so far and away better than we had back then that I was always amazed at how long they last now. Mine was blue and I remember how amazing they sounded without the baffles in the end of the mufflers. One simple screw and those were gone. I swear they fell out, really, honest, would I lie to you about something like that? You younger riders, try to imagine NEVER having heard a high a high performance 4. A BSA 650 would barely pull 7500, maybe 8K, my 750 was redlined at 8500 and would pull easy to 9,000. The sound was fantastic, something out of a racing movie or a sci fi flick. It was heavy, tall, had crappy tires and suspension, the brakes were only so so although I could lock the front one pretty easily because of the crappy tires and yet it was marvelous to ride. I couldn’t beat a Kawasaki triple in a dash but top end would run them down. I loved that bike.

  • sweptarea

    A pity to limiting the list to ten. Others that are more than just notable are the GB-500, the 500 and 650 Turbos, the CB-350F. Not outright sport bikes certainly, but neither was the CBX.

  • Bob Anson

    The often missed CB400- 4 was a heavy but remarkable bike and should be listed here. It was certainly a ‘baby’ sport bike and with Honda build was totally reliable and more fun than anything before it.

    • http://motorcycle.com/ Tom Roderick

      As the owner of 1975 blue CB400F it pained me not to include this model the Top 10, Bob, but the bike just isn’t as significant as the models chosen.

  • Bob Anson

    400-4. Mot fun ever.

  • BTRDAYZ

    The V45 Interceptor is what drew me to motorcycles back when I was 17. Kept hearing about it from another guy in high school. So much so, I kept looking for information on it. I didn’t have the income to buy it then, but if Honda were to introduce a modern replica of that bike (improved suspension, brakes) I would be the first on line to order one. In fact, make mine a Freddy Spencer Edition!

    • BTRDAYZ

      I’ll take a modern Hawk GT also, but make it a 750, please!