My first experience on two wheels started off on a bog basic Puch Maxi 50cc moped. I couldn’t wait to trade up to a “proper” bike though and a year later a Honda CB125N had replaced the dog slow slowped. It was a big upgrade at the time but I’d been bitten by the biking bug and soon wanted even more from biking, leading me to take out my first bank loan for the purchase of a brand new Yamaha RD250C like the one below. The acceleration was staggering in its ferocity compared to the little Honda, the hit from the power band addictive, and the smoke and the smell of two stroke oil evocative of an era in which most of the Japanese bikes (excepting Hondas) were two strokes, think Kawasaki KH triples, Suzuki GT380,550,750’s and you get the picture.
Reminiscing again back to those golden days, I was reminded of a bike that took my fancy as my thoughts turned yet again to the purchase of a bigger engined bike. The object of my desire, the 1982 Honda CBX550F. It came in the red/white or blue/white options shown below, or a half faired version, the FII.
Often looking back we tend to see things through rose tinted glasses, so when I saw an article on the CBX in Motorcycle Sport and Leisure magazine, I had to buy it and find out whether I’d missed out on a great bike or not. Here’s what I found:
The CBX 550F had a 2 valve per cylinder 572cc 4 stroke engine which made 62bhp at 10,000rpm and had a top speed of 118mph. It required servicing at 2000 mile intervals (imagine if you had those intervals on todays machines!) and the novel enclosed brake discs made wheel / tyre changes unnecessarily long and actually caused braking problems due to the heat and brake fade they created. It had CV carbs, electronic ignition, a Pro-Link rising rate air assisted rear monoshock, and TRAC anti dive (air assisted) front forks, and a great looking 4 into 2 exhaust designed to mimic the CB400F pipes. At 196kg and with a range of only 100 miles due to its 35mpg thirst, it had some issues, none of which were anywhere near as bad as the camchain problems that surfaced soon after it’s launch though, which were then closely followed by issues with engine and clutch bearings. In the same way as the Honda V4 engines of this decade suffered with camshaft problems which did huge damage to their reputation, the CBX soon fell out of favour because of these problems and was dropped just a few years later, with Kawaski apparently picking up a lot of the sales that Honda lost.
All of the above was quite an eye opener for me and really highlighted how memories and all that glistens is not gold! If someone wants to buy one of these pieces of two wheeled history, they apparently change hands for somewhere in the region of £1200-£1300. Sadly I won’t be buying one, but I still think they look good!