This was the production race machine of choice for anyone who was serious about winning. It was fast, reliable, and once set up, could be run for a complete season without trouble. It was not the lightest machine in it's class, but handled well, and of course to win a race meant having to finish a race, and that is where the fast but fragile Bultaco’s and other air cooled two strokes could not always pass muster! In fact until the Granby tuned Yamaha YAS1 appeared in 1970, these glorious little Honda's ruled the British short circuit scene for over 7 years!
As well as looking fabulous, with their 180 degree crank pin, sounded superb on open megaphones, drowning out every other race bike on the track! The close spacing of the cylinders, by utilising a gear driven cam drive on the left hand side (as you sit on the bike and look down), meant little in the way of rocking couple, something which affects larger 180 degree twins, notably the Honda CB450. Most of these were four valve heads, but I was told by an ex works Honda rider, that he actually raced a two valve version, if anyone out there can verify that, I would be interested to know?
So we have a vibration free engine producing 20 bhp (some say 24 bhp @ 13,000 rpm) at 11,500 rpm. Because of almost zero vibration, the engine would run right up to a safe 13,000 rpm, and beyond, but using this amount of revs to often would result in less reliability. The machine was easy and forgiving to ride, although produced no power at all until 5800 rpm, and suffered 'megaphonitis' until 8500 rpm. It was easy to keep in it's power band, when pulling 13,000 rpm in third, or fourth gear would result in dropping to 9500 rpm on the up change, perfect!
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