At the start of the Sixties, motorcycling in Europe was heading into one of its darkest periods, America was rediscovering the joy of two-wheeled transport and Japan (led by Honda) was planning the revolution which would kick-start the world market.
Honda Sets Off to Conquer the World
In 1959 Honda revealed its global ambitions, setting up the American Honda Motor Company and entering its first Tourist Trophy. In order to take over the New World and Old Europe, Honda devised a strategy based on customer psychology. No bikes seemingly designed exclusively for "experts" or juvenile delinquents: instead, Honda produced bikes that were popular and easy to use, thanks to built-in electric starters. Honda became the world's No.1 producer in 1960, building half of the Japanese industry's total output of 1,800,000 motorcycles and exporting over 45,000. Five years later the latter figure was multiplied tenfold!
A New Breed of Sports Bike
Honda launched its top-of-the-line sports bike, the 250cc CB 72, in 1959; its brother the 305cc CB77 "Super Hawk", appeared in 1961. The Super Hawk was Honda's first real commercial success, it would overshadow the finest European marques right up to its replacement by the CB350K in 1968. Its flowing lines contrasted with the marque's angular touring models and the CB 72 and 77 incorporated many innovations, like electric starters, four-bearing crankshafts (English bikes had two bearings!) and engines that ran at an unprecedented 9000rpm. With low slung handlebars, they were designed to be raced.
The Honda Super Hawk 305 designated CB77 was sold in 1961-68. Four colors were available: Blue, Scarlet Red, Black, and White. The fuel tank, forks, headlight shell, and frame were painted one of the basic colors. The fenders and side covers were silver. The lower front forks on early models were painted one of the basic colors, but later they were silver. The tank panel was chrome with rubber knee pads. The early models had a flat handlebar, but the later models had a low rise handlebar. The engine was a 305cc 4-stroke OHC wet sump parallel twin with dual carburetors. The transmission was a 4-speed. The serial number began CB77-100001.