This perfect, all original, unrestored example of Honda’s ground breaking first “big” bike won a deserved first place in the Japanese motorcycle category at the 2013 HoAME Vintage Motorcycle Show. Clymer went to the Hear of America Motorcycle Enthusiasts Show ans Rally to check out all the awesome bikes, and the people who ride and restore them. European and American motorcycle makers did not consider Honda to be a threat, since they only made small displacement bikes, but the new for 1965 DOHC CB450 had them all quaking in their motorcycle boots, and Ron Covelle just one of thousands of US residents who bought one new.
Clymer Girl and the crew didn’t have to go far to attend the HoAME show and rally, as it was just up the road at the Kansas City Airline History Museum in the Downtown Airport. The show was packed with classic vintage and antique motorcycles representing the best of British, German, Japanese, Italian, and American manufacturers. Some of the brands on display were Honda, Yamaha, Suzuki, BMW, Harley-Davidson, Triumph, BSA, Norton, Indian, Cushman, Vespa, Laverda, Lambretta, Ducati, Matchless, Zundapp, Moto Guzzi, and more. There was everything from 100% perfect restorations, to well worn bikes daily riders, to full-on customized cafe racers, choppers, bobbers, dirt bikes, road racers – any type or style of motorcycle you could image. As part of the museum’s permanent exhibits, there were also vintage propeller driven passenger planes, including a Douglas DC-3, a Martin 404, and, the pride of their collection, a 1958 Lockheed Super Constellation.
Just like they had done with the small bore bike, Honda over engineered their first big bike, and equipped it with advanced features typical at the time of racing machines. In fact, at first the DOHC 450cc parallel twin was disqualified from production racing because of its exotic valvetrain. Not only were there two overhead cams, but instead of typical valve springs, there were torsion bars, with indexed lever arms working to return the valves to the seats. With 200 fewer cubic centimeters of displacement this big little Honda made just 3 fewer horsepower than the hottest Triumph 650 Bonneville of the time (or less, depending on whose figures you believed). This one owner example is 100% original, except for the tires, and the owner should know, he has had it since it was new in 1967.
Read more about the Honda CB450 on Wikipedia
If you have a “Black Bomber”, a later CB450, the CL450 scrambler, or even the CB500T that was the swan song of this jewel of an engine, you’ll find service and repair info in our Honda 450cc and 500cc twins 1965-1976 manual.