Motorcyclist Magazine is celebrating their 100th anniversary and they thought it would be appropriate to choose a “Motorcycle of the Century,” which turns out to be the 1969 Honda CB750. They call it the bike that changed everything, which is exactly what I said, several years ago. Good choice.
There are lots of memorable motorcycles that created waves over the years, many people have their own favorites, but it was the Honda CB750 that rearranged the entire motorcycle market as soon as it came out. They offered comfort, reliability and performance, all combined into a single package at a great price. Competitors stood there, slack-jawed, as they watched their own product mix get stale overnight. I wrote about the dramatic transition of the Harley Sportster from performance king to bar hopper and Harley’s decision to immediately forfeit the performance title, pretty much without a fight. Kawasaki responded with the Z1 and the market took off, but it was the CB750 that made it happen.
In recent weeks the price of pristine early CB750s has been moving up rapidly, probably helped a bit as word of the magazine’s choice got out, but the Honda has always been a great bike to own and ride and if you have the room, it’s a good one to put in the garage along with anything else you might have. The aura seems to have transferred to other classic bikes of the period, too, and quite a few models are selling at a premium to what they were bringing only a short time ago. They’ve been once again identified as “collectible” and money is rolling in, trying to find the next big thing in an otherwise stagnant market. I had a few things to say on the subject some years back and it’s worth thinking about again.
So, congratulations to Motorcyclist magazine for 100 years and congratulations to Honda, too, for the CB750, the bike that changed everything.