Top 10 Honda Sportbikes

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10. CB72 Hawk/CB77 Super Hawk

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Launched in 1961, the CB72 Hawk (247cc) and its bigger brother the CB77 Super Hawk (305cc) are largely remembered here in the States as Honda’s first sportbikes. Both engines were an air-cooled, inclined vertical-Twins with a redline of 9,200 rpm (the 305 model reportedly producing 28 horsepower at 9,000 rpm). With horizontally split cases (compared to the vertically split cases of British and American models) the Hawk and Super Hawk were virtually oil-tight. The bikes featured electric start, an overhead chain-driven camshaft, wet-sump lubrication, a 12-volt alternator and a double-leading shoe drum front brake.

A report in a 1964 issue of Cycle World described Honda and the Super Hawk thusly: “Never before, in the entire history of motorcycling, has one company done so much in so little time. There are, naturally, excellent reasons for this progress: from top to bottom, the Honda line of motorcycles features good performance, good handling, good quality, and a high degree of technical refinements. The fastest and most refined of all Hondas is the CB77, and it is a remarkable machine in many respects.”

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19 Comments

  1. Phil Auldridge
    Posted April 18, 2014 at 9:43 am | Permalink

    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
      Posted June 4, 2014 at 3:54 pm | Permalink

      “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.

  2. Rob
    Posted April 18, 2014 at 10:16 am | Permalink

    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…

  3. fastfreddie
    Posted April 18, 2014 at 11:13 am | Permalink

    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:(

  4. VeganLondonMan
    Posted April 18, 2014 at 2:18 pm | Permalink

    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
      Posted April 18, 2014 at 4:19 pm | Permalink

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

  5. Posted April 18, 2014 at 2:27 pm | Permalink

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

    • Sentinel
      Posted April 18, 2014 at 4:58 pm | Permalink

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

      • Posted April 18, 2014 at 5:00 pm | Permalink

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

        • Posted April 21, 2014 at 2:58 am | Permalink

          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.

  6. Sentinel
    Posted April 18, 2014 at 4:59 pm | Permalink

    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.

  7. Chris_in_Kalifornia
    Posted April 18, 2014 at 8:22 pm | Permalink

    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.

  8. sweptarea
    Posted April 22, 2014 at 8:38 pm | Permalink

    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.

  9. Bob Anson
    Posted April 24, 2014 at 11:21 am | Permalink

    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.

    • Posted April 28, 2014 at 11:12 am | Permalink

      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.

  10. Bob Anson
    Posted April 24, 2014 at 11:24 am | Permalink

    400-4. Mot fun ever.

  11. BTRDAYZ
    Posted April 24, 2014 at 2:06 pm | Permalink

    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
      Posted April 24, 2014 at 2:20 pm | Permalink

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

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