Brand New Vintage Motorcycles Returning to Dealers

1969 Honda CB750

Rumor has it, Honda is planning to reintroduce the classic CB750, ... rumor has it. That may be true and it makes perfect sense in light of the return of so many models from Triumph and Ducati. The CB750 was a ground breaking model that completely changed the motorcycle landscape. Triumph had their Bonneville, but in terms of overall market impact, the CB750 is in a completely different league.

The possibility of this return, with all of the appropriate changes necessary to meet current EPA regulations, means the bike will probably look just like the old one but it will not be the old one, it will be a new motorcycle in every meaningful way, which leads to another question, who is going to buy this bike? Do buyers really want a new bike that looks just like the old one or do they want the old one? There will always be the initial rush of buyers that think it's cool, but pretty quickly, buyers looking for a new bike will look for a current model instead of remakes. Buyers that want a real CB750 will look for an early bike to fix up or possibly one that's already restored, then they can feel the connection with the past. But what is the connection and appeal of a look alike? If Honda finds this remake isn't selling they'll shut down production and soon we'll have an orphan bike on the market with no real history, no support and no parts. I have a better idea.

Why not remake the parts? There are thousands of old CB750s for sale all over the world, many have seen better days and if there is one hesitation on the part of buyers it's the fear of buying a bike with a few missing or broken pieces, whether those pieces are critical or cosmetic, that would keep the bike from looking and running like new. If Honda reproduced genuine factory parts for old motorcycles, not all, maybe, but a few specific models like the CB750, there would be a stronger demand than there already is for these old rides, a huge number of buyers that would chase these bikes down, keeping values up for sellers, keeping bikes running for those that want to hold on to their old favorite, introduce a generation of younger riders to the older bikes and take away the hesitation in a buyer's mind upon seeing those missing or broken parts. (Just think about the demand for genuine Honda CB750 crate engines!) Absolutely everyone wins.

If an owners club can reproduce all of the parts to rebuild the old Vincents from scratch, Honda could do this with little effort. No company wants to cannibalize their new bike sales but this would hardly do that, instead, it would keep a lot more Honda history on the road. If you have one of these you could pass it down to your son or daughter and they could ride the bike you enjoyed so much. The goodwill for Honda would be immense and might set a loyalty to the brand in the minds of younger riders leading them to their Honda dealer instead of some other brand. Unless of course, Kawasaki started making parts for their old Z1.

UPDATE: After a couple of comments about parts being available already, I looked a little closer and it's true, you can get Honda CB750 Parts for most all models ever made. This is not from Honda itself but the selection is very good.

Comments

  1. says

    IF they want to,any mfgr. could easily licence somebody to make repro parts, all they really need is the original drawings.
    This is how brit bike owners clubs do it, including Vincent Owncers Club.
    It’s more of an issue if the mfgr. is still around.

  2. Jeff says

    The repo wouldn’t be the same as the original . But I think a modern version of a classic has its place . From what I see here there is a desire for a reteurn to the standards at an affordable price . I own and have owned a few of the greats . A new one would be great . The Bonniville and the Sportster seems to be doing fine . I comes down to what YOU want . Some folks are purists and some just want to ride something new .

  3. hoyt says

    Crate motors are a great idea especially if they bolt into an old frame (or have brackets to accomodate an old frame if it doesn’t fit). This way you could kind of have both (the new complete bike and engines for the original chassis)

    Is this a nod by the OEM’s to build tributes to the air-cooled days before they are all gone?

    If these new bikes are done with painstaking honesty to the original look, then they would be great. I love the bench seat look & practicality for around town cruising with your “main squeeze”

  4. Ry says

    I think they would have a good market for this if they take the route of the Ducati sport classic’s or a cafe version of the the old CB’s .
    I think it would benefit Honda more if they are to reproduce a vintage line to choose the CB 150- 350’s of the 70’s and sell them at an affordable price. For that matter the old Honda Dream line with the stamped steel frames and plastic , those are still cool today.

  5. RD350 says

    The new Triumph Bonnevilles are the nearest example of this type of project … and I see them out there so I guess they sell.

    To me they look fake and are not exciting.

    The Ducati Sport Classics are a more successful, modern interpretation of vintage bikes … this is the example that should be followed.

    I like your parts re-manufacture idea a lot.

    However, there are so many classic Hondas, the list would be long.

  6. poweredbybeer says

    I think it’s a great idea. China is right next door, with all the manufacturing space in the world, it’d be an easy task to license production of re-pro parts. For that matter, if a third party were to approach Honda or Suzuki or any other manufacturer with a proposal to re-produce old parts and take care of any licensing and logistic issues, that third party might stand to benifit greatly from the resulting sales ;) I smell a business opportunity…

  7. anon says

    “There will always be the initial rush of buyers that think it’s cool, but…”

    I think you hit the nail on the head here.

    The Honda GB500 came and went and became a cult bike.
    The Kawasaki W650 came and went and became a cult bike.
    The Ducati MHe900 came and went and became a cult bike.

    The Triumph (new) Bonneville seems to have some staying power, as do the bikes in Ducati’s classic series, but none of these sell in numbers that would get Honda’s attention.

    My guess is (if these rumors are true) that this is just a niche model along the lines of the Rune – but way cheaper and higher expected sales.

    What scares me is that these rumors could signal nothing more exciting than a retro styled Nighthawk 750 (ugh). Although, come to think of it, that could still be pretty cool… Especially in a Cafe Racer look!

    The parts manufacture idea is cool (BMW does this with its ‘Mobile Tradition’ division – mostly for the cars). Whether the idea is financially viable or not is a question I’m not qualified to answer, but my guess would be that BMW shoots for break-even money and considers it a marketing thing. You don’t drive/ride a classic every day, but (I believe) the emotional connection with a classic makes you more likely to buy new products from the same brand.

  8. mark says

    I’ll tell you exactly who this bike would be targeted at: people who like their motorcycles iconic, yet boasting modern reliability and safety. This is why the new Bonneville is so successful (it’s one of Triumph’s best-selling model lines).

    There are a whole lot of people who love the look of a “motorcycle-flavored” motorcycle. In many people’s minds, a Bonneville or CB750 is what a motorcycle is “supposed” to look like. Yet many of these people don’t want to deal with the pitfalls of owning a 35-year-old bike, let alone restoring one.

    My main bike is a Hinckley Bonneville cafe racer. I get people of all ages coming up to me to tell me what a cool bike they think it is — not just the usual grizzled old guys, but also plenty of young guys on sportbikes, and even non-motorcyclists. There’s just something iconic and timeless in the geometry of a Bonneville or a CB750.

    I do agree though with RD350 in that Honda should use the opportunity to update the bike in significant ways as Ducati has done with the Sport Classics. Keep the vintage look of the CB750, but give it a potent engine, stiff frame, and good brakes and suspension. I would buy one in a second.

  9. hoyt says

    If the parts are made in China I will not buy, unless China proves to the world they are ready to play fairly and significanlty improve their quality.

    If Japan makes the above pictured bike with modern reliability and performance, then I will seriously consider buying one. These bikes made in 2008/2009 will carry the same classic style and status 15+ years from now.

  10. John McDowell says

    I too, agree with Mark and RD350. Update the original, maintaining as many of the existing parts / look as possible. The other items I would add is the provisions for adjustable suspensions, and adjustable foot pegs and handlebars. That way, the person who owns / rides the bike will be able to “grow” the bike as he / she grows. Therefore, ownership lasts longer, and that would be a reason to buy a “new” classic.

  11. Clive M Sanders says

    Make them kick start. Theres too many electric starters out there. And for gods sake dont price them like a modern bike. Thats why i say the 350s and even 550s would be a better bike for them to bring back.

  12. stacius says

    I like the idea. I’ve read on many boards that people are looking for a comfortable, classic looking update of the UJM. Yes there are thousands of CB750s out there, but the prices have gone up, and unless you’re mechanically inclined and savvy, you never know what you’re getting with a used bike.
    I would love to get one of these, slap some ‘glass and clubman bars on and ride the heck out of it!

  13. Bryce says

    The Triumph Bonneville and Ducati Sport Classic lines have been mentioned a few times, and I would imagine that’s what Honda is aiming for. Though neither company sells enough of those bikes to necessarily attract Honda to that niche, they don’t sell the total number of bikes that Honda does either. I’m guessing Honda sees a hole in their American and international product portfolio and they’re planning to fill it. This isn’t the only hole in Honda’s American lineup.

    Regarding the bike itself, I’d love to see something that looks like the original but lighter. A stiffer frame would be nice, and the technological progress in braking, suspension and handling should definitely find its way into this bike. After the Honda Cub, the CB750 is probably one of the most significant bikes Honda has ever made. I think there is marketable iconography in the name and the appearance of the old bike.

    If the price is right, this is the kind of bike I’d like to have.

  14. mobilus says

    I’d buy one in a second. If they didn’t come with twin discs up front and decent sized forks, I’d have them put on. I’d also hope the room was there for modern width tires. Regardless, I’d buy one the day they came out. My biggest complaint about bikes today are the seat heights and how tough it is for me to get a leg over. I can handle the 30″-32″ rider’s seat, but the jacked up part of the passenger seats kill me. (Yes, I’m getting old and do not have the flexibility of a gymnast.)

    Ditto on the enduros (dual sports). I’d love a reasonable height, flat seat. I don’t need double digit inches of travel suspension. If someone put out a modern version of the Yamaha DT 250 MX in a 4 stroke 500-700cc size, I’d buy one.

  15. Eric says

    Sorry, but the CB750 isn’t iconic it simply looks like an old styled motorcycle. A modern recreation of motorcycle from the 1920’s or 1930’s would be iconic. A modern recreation of a classic is supposed to select stying cues and incorporate them into an updated design inspired by the original. The best example is the New Beetle. It incorporates both styling elements and flower-power nostalgia while using a modern engine (but not using a flat-windshield).

    However, as Mobilus pointed out, there are few standards with a flat seat and a low seat height. The jacked-up passenger seats make the bike tippy with a passenger on board by changing the center of gravity and it also makes it difficult for the passenger to board. I too would prefer a small bike with a flat seat and a low seat height. But I would rather have Honda’s horizontally-opposed 4-cylinder 750cc engine that they were showing off in concepts a few years back. That modern engine would allow for a lower seat height.

  16. todd says

    Don’t forget the Sportster. Just like the Bonneville and, to a lesser extent, the Sport Classics, these are the simple bikes that attract new riders. For as much as I don’t like harleys, I think H-D has done a fine job keeping the Sportster on track for what it should be. For as much as I like Triumphs and vintage bikes there’s just something wrong about the new Bonnevilles. I guess the comically oversize engine and extra weight don’t do the original Bonnie justice. I think Kawasaki built a better looking Triumph…

    I too would consider a modern CB750, beit styled like the original or modernized like the Ducati GT (except without the 12″ of clearance between the rear tire and fender). It would have to be fairly inexpensive since good running REAL CB750’s can be found for $1,500 once in a while.

    I’d be more in line for a BMW /5 “Toaster”. Paint it blue and use the wire wheel hubs of the GS and for God’s sake, don’t make it look like the R1200C.

    -todd

  17. Bill Dudenhoeffer says

    Surprisingly, Honda Japan will supply any part for any motorcycle they have made. Sometimes the part will go on ‘backorder’ for a while if it needs to be re-manufactured. However, very few dealers want you to know this as it makes better business sense to them for you to buy a new motorcycle every few years.

  18. Hopkins says

    I have not had a problem finding any part for my 71 cb750. Most of the wear and teat items can be got at the Honda dealership. There are also crate engines you can buy (built new) but they want 10,000$. Granted they are race motors that are pushing much more power than stock.

    I don’t see a point in Honda making the new bike backwards compatible… It’s outdated

  19. todd says

    One problem I see is that people expect quite a bit more out of a motorcycle now than hey did when the original was new. Not many people will think very highly of a 67 HP 750 inline-4. Even bikes like the Z1 and R90S would be considered beginner bikes these days what with “only” 80 or so HP (if you believe the marketing of the day). I love RD350’s and think they’re a hoot but a Ninja 250 will give you the same performance with the added benefit of not replacing pistons and rings every 2500 miles.

    If honda re-releases the CB it will be a CB1400 or something rediculous. The Moto Morini 3 1/2 is now a 9 1/2. BMW entry level bikes are now 800cc, not 500 and you can’t get a Ducati 350 single any more…

    -todd

  20. says

    I am a very happy and satisfied owner of a new Triumph Bonneville T100. I own a “retro” bike because I like the looks and handling of parallel twin (and four cylinder) “standard” (sitting upright) motorcycles and I prefer modern engineering and readily available parts and service to keeping an old bike on life support. I like riding better than wrenching.

    The kind of riding I like best is navigating crumbling twisting country back roads at around 45-55 MPH (you could call it “sight-seeing”) and I find the new Bonnie most comfortable and suitable for my riding style and my size (6’2″ 230 lbs.).

    I’ll be 55 this year. Yes, I’m a boomer. So there’s a few more guys around with taste resembling mine.

    I bought my bike at a big store that had every style of motorcycle. Packs of noisy young men clambered all over the crotch rockets. Middle aged couples quietly compared big two-wheeled “Cadillacs” with fairings so big you couldn’t see the road in front of you. Scruffy guys with whiskers and ponytails eyed the lean boned factory “choppers.” A few lone clean-cut “mature” (old) gentlemen took turns staring at the Bonnevilles. I was one of them.

    When I bought my Bonnie, no other bike tempted me near as much. But if there had been a new/old Honda 750-4 available? I think I still would have bought the Bonnie (a little lighter and torquier and a little more “me”) but I would have had to take a few more test rides.