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.”