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Cult bike Honda CB 450

A new age

Up until 1965, the competition said that the world’s largest motorcycle manufacturer would forever limit itself to displacements of up to 300 cm³. Then Honda destroyed this truly idiotic misconception with an epoch-making twin: the Honda CB 450.

AT.When the whole of Europe crammed into bizarre four-wheelers and its motorcycle industry gradually went into ruin, many Americans were already one step further: a car had to be used for the daily routine, and a bike has been sweetening leisure time since the mid -1950s. Also from Japan. Soichiro Honda first founded his branch in Los Angeles in 1959, and only three years later he was allowed to register 150,000 units sold in North America. The top seller was the small Super Cub, technically the twins of the CB 92 (125), CB 72 (250) and CB 77 (305 cm³). Overhead camshafts, two carburettors, five-digit speeds – racing technology for the road, the whole thing enduring, service-friendly and oil-tight.

Cult bike Honda CB 450

A new age

CB 450 went into production.

Durability, workmanship and ease of service

Two overhead camshafts. Torsion bars as valve springs. Two equal pressure carburetors. Rated output at 8500 rpm. Red area from 9500. A mythical creature. And yet it can be bought, initially for the Americans from late summer, and also for Germans the following year. Where the Europeans generated just round 30 hp from 500 cm³, the Honda CB 450 unpacked over 40 and even challenged the big 650s for a duel. The fans cheered, and MOTORRAD cheered with them: Right away, Ernst “Klacks” Leverkus chased the CB around the Nurburgring as quickly as only the proven sporty Norton 650 SS before.

But people quickly realized that it was about more than driving performance. It was about not constantly having to pay attention to the correct heat value of the screwed-in candles or constantly worrying about oil-sweating seals. It was about how unmoved the high-performance engine purred through everyday life, how reliably it always – and then electrically – started its work. It was about durability, workmanship, ease of service. The Honda CB 450 was the first proof that all this fit under one roof with absolute aplomb and sporty handling. 50 years ago it was like a wave from paradise, the nickname aptly described the effect on its opponents: Black Bomber.

Nothing is difficult, everything works very specifically

Anyone who is lucky enough to drive one today also knows why. Because the Honda CB 450 still fits perfectly in our traffic, with rather minor drawbacks. The other way around: because in 1965 it was shockingly modern. Nothing is difficult, everything works very specifically, everything is permeated with a civilized sporting spirit. The twin chugs through the community with almost 2500 tours, one turn of the throttle, the balanced pressure carburettors measure the mixture perfectly, the engine accelerates quickly, very quickly, happily pops up to 9000 / min. No pause to think about changing gear, after a short distance the next gear engages. Further on, until the fourth, only racing bikes had more back then, and damn it, the CB could have done with five. Nice gathered posture. When braking, the front duplex brake reaches out well and can be properly dosed. Again, no pause needed when shifting gears, no double-declutching. Silently into the lower corridor.

The engine brakes angrily, babbles, but doesn’t pop or slap. It was a revelation, back when British long-stroke synchronous machines came out of the basement great, but reached astronomical piston speeds at high speeds and regularly occupied the motorway hard shoulder. Honda had donated a stroke of just 57.8 mm with an 80 mm bore. In contrast to what was common with large oven-stroke twins back then, the pistons race through their tracks in opposite directions, and unlike what was customary at the time, the valve train is really speed-resistant, can easily withstand 10,000 tours. And again: In contrast to what was customary at the time, the crankshaft has four bearings, and yes, the horizontally divided housing, occupied by the engine and gearbox, was also not common back then. Alredy today. Over the years, balancer shafts were added to reduce vibrations. More responsive spring elements were installed, often with a deflection at the rear. The handling was improved a little. But in principle, motorcycling still works the way the Honda CB 450 dictated it from 1965.

Information about the Honda CB 450

Sven Krieger

Two camshafts, constant pressure carburetor, electric starter, almost 100 HP liter output – 50 years ago this compact twin set new standards in the large class.

Honda CB 450 (Model K0 from 1966)

Technical specifications: Air-cooled two-cylinder four-stroke in-line engine, 444 cm³, 30.2 kW (41 PS) at 8500 / min, 38 Nm at 7000 / min, four-speed gearbox, single-loop frame made of tubular steel, weight with a full tank 193 kg, front tires 3.25 x 18, rear 3.50 x 18, tank capacity 16 liters, top speed (long lying) 170 km / h, 0-100 km / h in 6 sec.

scene: The CB 450 K0, published in 1965, was replaced in 1968 by the significantly revised K1 with five-speed gearbox. With the K3 from 1970, the design was adapted to that of the CB 750 presented in 1968, with a disc brake at the front. In this form, the 450 remained in the program until 1975. At the same time, there were gently modified scramblers in North America – today also very popular in this country. All models have long been among the sought-after young timers, passable specimens from K2 are currently quoted around 3000 euros, for ordinary K0 and K1 prices from 4000 euros apply, for very good specimens from 6000 euros. The spare parts situation for early Honda CB 450s is quite tricky.

Further information: Antique books are still available: Ernst Leverkus, Honda engines CB 750, CB 450, CB 350, CB 250. Care, maintenance, repairs. Jochen Sander’s fan website at, on which there are also further links, is very informative. Proven specialists of early Honda models are Werner Menikheim ( in Pulheim near Cologne and Bikeside from Durmersheim (

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