There is a case to be made for considering the Honda CB750 to be the point at which motorcycling’s modern age began. Technically, it was released in ’69 – but its presence so suffused the Seventies that it cannot but be grouped with bikes of that decade. Kawasaki’s Z1 is often thought of as the first Japanese ‘superbike’. Timeline-wise, though, it was the CB750 that was first out of the traps – and by a full four years, at that.
The CB750’s four across-the-frame cylinders were a clear signal there was a new kid on biking’s block. The shiny quartet of chrome exhausts reinforced the message. The CB750 was a muscular-looking motorcycle. But, it was stylish muscularity. The rounded tank was sleek and shapely. The multi-spoked wheels were a latticed delight. Paintwork and chrome vied for attention. At the time, the CB’s front disc brake was technologically advanced. Highish handlebars – and a well-padded seat – were tailor-made for long journeys. So, it made sense for the 750 to be pitched as the perfect all-rounder.
Unsurprisingly, the CB was a big success in the showrooms. That was only to be expected from a bike which topped out at 125mph – and also handled well. Honda’s rivals duly fell over themselves to try to match it. Over time, then, the CB750 furthered motorcycling’s cause. By setting a benchmark, it forced manufacturers worldwide to follow suit. In the form of the Honda CB750, the day of the modern Jap classic had dawned!