Reader Submissions: Honda CB77 SuperHawk Merges Best of Japan with Best of Britain

Honda CB77 SuperHawk Merges Best of Japan with Best of Britain

400-euro-job Productions By 400-euro-job Productions
January 2, 2014
11 comments

Owner: Vince Lupo

Age: 48

Location: Baltimore, Maryland, by way of Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Year, Make, and Model: 1966 Honda CB77 SuperHawk

Photographer: Vince Lupo

I was heavily into motorcycles back in the mid-late 1980s and did several long-distance rides during that time (Toronto to Alaska being one of them).  My primary ride back then was a 1981 Honda CB900F. Returning to school temporarily ended my motorcycling days, but I caught the bug again in 2004. This 1966 Honda CB77 SuperHawk (originally 305cc, now 358cc) is what I bought when I got back into it.

I’d always liked the look of vintage British bikes, but not their lack of reliability. Whenever I’d ask vintage bike experts about a particular British machine, the first thing they’d invariably say to me was, “Well, it’s not like owning a Honda.” After I heard this three or four times, I thought, “Why don’t I just get an old Honda?” So the hunt was on. Coincidentally, I read a period article in Walnecks Classic Cycle about the “new” 1965 Honda CB77. The editors at the time couldn’t find anything not to like about the bike. The SuperHawk was truly the “giant killer” of its time — 17 second 1/4 mile and 105mph top speed wrapped up in a tidy, small package. It shamed many a British 500 — not only in performance, but in oil-tight reliability. It was a combination of those elements that ignited my interest in a SuperHawk. My perfect bike — found at last.     

As I dove deeper into that Walneck‘s article, I discovered a classified ad for the bike that I’d ultimately come to own.  It was an all-original 1966 305 SuperHawk located in Chicago. After a bit of back and forth with the seller, this CB77 was mine.

Overall, the bike wasn’t too bad — it had 4000 miles on it and it ran fairly well, but it was a bit tired-looking and I really wanted to make it mine.  Plus, I still had this aesthetic bug in my brain for British bikes. So I wondered if I could take the best of Japan (the mechanics) and combine it with the best of Britain (the aesthetics)?  Could the two co-habitate harmoniously on a single machine?

The photos illustrate where it is right now — of course from year to year it changes a bit. One idea that I thought looked good once upon a time, all of a sudden didn’t look proper any longer. Or a mechanical tweak that made me think that the bike was finally ‘done’ suddenly wasn’t good enough. We’re never really done with these things, are we? Over time the bike has seen over forty modifications ranging from simple John Tickle headlight brackets and K&N filters to an aftermarket transmission, big bore kit and custom paint.

I know my bike drives the Honda ‘purists’ crazy, not always in a good way. One of them actually told me that my rims and tires were “too nice for the bike,” as the Honda didn’t originally come with rims and tires like that. I’ve also had folks question the wisdom behind using British Amal carbs instead of the tried-and-true Keihins originally equipped on the cycle. My only response is that to me it’s sort of an art project; these elements are all part of my vision of melding the best of Japan with the best of Britain. Clearly though, some of my ideas of what works or looks best might not always correspond with what others think is best. Ah well, can’t please everyone!

The greatest thing about the bike is that I ride it. This isn’t a show piece. Over the last 9 years I’ve put just a little over 24,000 miles on the bike and have ridden a few long-distance trips (including the Mid-Ohio Vintage Motorcycle Days Festival three times and Toronto, Ontario, Canada once). It’s ridden in rain, in 35 degF weather and in steaming heat — still a joy in any condition.   

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Vince LupoBertrand LussierRoss DavisVince LupoJens Haerter Recent comment authors
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Bertrand Lussier
Bertrand Lussier

Hi,

I bought a cb77 recently and I would like to do the samething of you and install a big bore kit.Did you do something else.So Beside the amal carbs,that I want to do too!!

Vince Lupo
Vince Lupo

Bertrand, just seeing your message today (Sept 30/17). Yes, many many many things have been done to this bike over the last 13 years. Rather than list everything here, here is my Flickr link to the entire list of things I’ve done:

Ross Davis
Ross Davis

Love your bike. Had a 305 forever. You should go over to my friend Bob Romiti’s Resturant Squire’s at Dundalk and Holabird. He would love to meet and talk with you.

Vince Lupo

The front brake ‘setup’ is simply the stock drum brake, but with the addition of Bill Selby Products ‘bacon cutters’, which are those large vented rings (BIll Selby was a racer during the 1950’s-60’s, and I believe he had a shop dedicated to Honda products). They’re also called ‘cooling rings’, as they’re supposed to channel cool air to the brake drum as you’re hurtling down the road. Honestly, I think they are more of a cosmetic touch, rather than strictly functional. Either way, I thought that they’d be a good addition to the bike, as many a British cafe bike… Read more »

Jens Haerter
Jens Haerter

This is a really beautiful bike, thank you for sharing. I really like the front brake set up that you have on it. Can you please detail more about it. Thanks again,

Gerald Scott
Gerald Scott

As the former owner of a 1966 Triumph Bonneville, I can’t argue about it being unreliable. But unlike the Japanese bikes, it could be worked on. It could, and still can, be kept running forever. One reason is because parts are still available, including parts that are much better than the originals. Then other reason is that it was designed to be rebuildable, with replaceable bearings, and several undersizes/oversizes for most parts. Cranks and cams could be reground, and different sized bearings fitted. A Triumph 650 could be cheaply rebuilt about 5 times. Japanese bikes were more reliable to begin… Read more »

Vince Lupo

Wander over to honda305.com and you’ll see many Japanese 305’s that have been rebuilt. Several of them by their original owners too!

Greg Macham
Greg Macham

Gerald , That may have been true in the day, but due to their upfront reliability many thousands of units were sold. Consequently enthusiasts have found a niche in keeping these machines running. Today many suppliers are producing quality reproduction components that will see these bikes clocking up many miles into the future.

Brett Evans
Brett Evans

Man, that thing is compact! Looks like an absolute blast on those spindly little wheels and tires!

Scott Smith
Scott Smith

I love the Japanese/British concept, and love this bike! I currently have a 1982 Honda CBX that has been sitting, it’s a winter project to get it on the road again. But I am looking for another, smaller bike to bomb around on that’s not so cumbersome. I see these come up on eBay periodically, and will now start looking more seriously at them. I always thought they would be grossly underpowered given the size, but if they can run with a 500, that should be enough. One thing that makes this model significant to me is the fact that… Read more »

Richard Love
Richard Love

Love it! Wonder what it sounds like with those pea shooters? Seems to combine function and form.

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