1976 Honda CB 750

I suppose my love affair with a motor on two wheels started in high school when I rode a mini-bike for the first time. It was at a friend's house and we'd spent all day getting the old Briggs & Stratton engine renning properly. What a fast and fun little machine. It was on that I also received my first traffic citations: speeding, no driver's license, and an unlicensed vehicle.

After high school I spied a 1966 Honda 305 Scrambler for sale for $500. I did the test ride and and negotiated a price but I remember I had to borrow a few dollars from my sister so I could close that deal. That was a fun bike. Plenty of power and worked well in the dirt as well as on the road. A bunch of us rode together frequently on bikes that included a Honda 450, a Honda 160, a Bultaco, and a Yamaha 175. Yep, a real bunch of hellions.

As I stated on the front page I did attempt a long trip on the 305 and a friend, the one with the Honda 450, and I headed up the California coast and made it just short of Santa Maria where we hit pretty strong head winds. I was trying to keep up and I think I must have leaned out the fuel mixture because the next thing I new I was running*, poorly, on one cyclinder. There was a hole in one piston about a 1/4-inch in diameter. We called my sister and she and a friend came up in a pickup and hauled us back to Long Beach.

I sold the bike when I went into the Army in the end of 1972 and when I returned to Long Beach, getting a motorcycle was high on my list of goals. I ran in to an old friend who was living with a guy who worked for Honda International. He had a CB 750 he'd been riding that he wanted to sell and it was exactly the kind of bike I wanted.

I rode it stock for quite a while but over time I experimented with a bunch of various add-ons. I tried longer forks and pull back handlebars with a rear lowering kit. I put a stepped seat on it and 2 into 1 exhaust on both sides. I swapped out some of the engine casings for chrome one and painted to cooling fins flat black.

I put over 50,000 miles on that bike with numerous long day trips and quite a few touring trips. The longest was in 1979 where I went around most of the lower 48 and even went up into Ontaria, Canada. Another long trip I did with my sister, she had a Honda 550, and we went from Long Beach up to Glacier National Park and then into Alberta's Waterton Lakes and stopped up in Fernie, B.C. to meet up with a bunch of Cannadian friends. With them, which consisted of a couple on a Harley and another guy on a Kawasaki, we headed back into the states. The Kawasaki headed south toward Idaho and we went to Spokane where the Harley was scheduled to has some work done. After a short stay there we followed the Columbia River out to the coast and had a nice ride along the ocean all the way back to Southern California.

That Honda was a great bike and never let me down until on one trip, I forget where I was going but planned to be gone for a week, I had transmission trouble in San Bernadino. I was passing a bus on the freeway and all the sudden I head, and felt, and very nasty mechanical sound. I pulled in the clutch, killed the engine, and coasted to the shoulder. I started it up and it sounded fine but I could tell the tranny was gone. It took a bunch of fiddling but I finally got it in third gear and road it home on surface streets.

Disassembly revealed that the primary chain tensioner was shot and it allowed the chain too much flex and it had clipped a gusset in the aluminum casting of the transmission case. That piece migrated into the area of the shift forks and that was the end of that. I bought a gasket set and a bunch of other parts with the intent to rebuild it, but I got a bit over my head and was also looking at the arrival of first child, a house that needed a ton of work, etc. I decided to box it up and get back to it later. I thin that was about 1986.

Move ahead to 2012 and son #2 is into motorcycles and has a Honda crotch rocket. He's going to a technical school for automotive technician and has turned into a most excellent mechanic. He prodes me to do something with the old 750 that is sitting in our back shed, just as he had done to get me motivated to drag out the Volvo PV544 that had been in the same shed for years.

The short version of the story is that the surface rust on much of the engine was pretty bad and I still needed a bottom end so we opted for buying an engine, a 1972, off eBay. I think it's a good engine but, do to some other issues, I had to swap out the valve train portion of the head with parts I'd accumulated a few decades ago. As of this writing (Jan. '13) the engine is all together and sitting in a freshly powder coated frame. The swing arm and rear wheel is on and the front forks and handlerbars are on so it actually looks like a motorcycle again. When spring arrive and the weather warms up, it will be time to tinker again.