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Honda CB 750 Hondamatic: Rare

Honda CB 750 Hondamatic
ER Classics Desktop 2022

Of the more than 8000 copies of this automatic or semi-automatic transmission produced in 1976, 1977 and 1978, no engines have ever officially come to the Netherlands. Later there was some gray import.

Not suitable for Europe

The European market was not seen as suitable for a 'slow' heavy motorcycle with automatic transmission. But in the view of Honda marketers, this engine was ideal for the US and Canadian markets. The bike in the photos is from Canada and this can be seen from the speedometer, the main scale of which is in kilometers, and in green the much smaller odometer. But he must be well established, because before he ended up in the showroom of Gallery Aaldering, he lived more than thirty years with his previous owner.


A kind of dashboard or display

The right 'counter' is not the usual rev counter but a kind of dashboard, an 1.0 display. In addition to indicator lights for oil pressure, high beam and direction indicators, there is also an indicator for the position of the gearbox (Neutral, 1 = city acceleration, 2 = city / country road) and a fuel meter. The last indicator is special because it indicates whether the parking brake is applied.

The automatic gearbox

Honda had deliberately not opted for a fully automatic gearbox, because those (then still) shifted fairly jerky at times that the rider could not determine tightly. In a car that wasn't a problem, but as a motorcyclist you could be shocked or out of balance. Behind the large lid is the torque converter which acts as a kind of slipping clutch. In such a coupling, oil is the power transfer medium. In order to have enough oil for the torque converter and gearbox, the CB 750 Hondamatic became the only CB 750 model that had a wet-sump lubrication system for storing the 5,5 liter of engine oil.

There were two oil pumps on board

One for the lubrication of the engine and one for the clutch and the gearbox. Because the semi-automatic machine always kept 'pulling' a bit, a parking brake was even applied. The torque converter replaced the normal coupling, but the driver had to switch up and down himself. The further drive went via a two-speed gearbox that does not switch automatically when driving. The driver chooses which gear best suits the current driving behavior. In the city that is the 1e acceleration for fast acceleration, and the 2e on country roads. But that was not all such a point. In only its 'high' gear, the Honda also did everything that was asked of it.

For the American way of life

The Hondamatic was 100% touristy. The saddle was large. The handlebar was wide and high. The semi-automatic machine was the 'USP', the Unique Selling Point. And of course it was a Honda. But the CBA had failed. The power was considerably reduced due to a low compression ratio and smaller carburetors. As a result, the CB 750 A delivered less than 50 pk. With that he was thick 150 km / h fast. Although the Hondamatic barely caught on, not even in the United States, where cars with an automatic gearbox were the norm, in 1977 the machine received a small upgrade with a four-in-two exhaust system.

The End

CB 750 A2: A final detail change followed in 1978: the machine now also got the Comstar rims that were already used with the F2 / F3. Then the model disappeared from the market. No more than 8.100 CB 750 A's were sold in three years.

Finally recognition

Meanwhile, such a large Hondamatic, there were also 400 cc twins with automatic transmission, recognized classic, scarce and an absolute enthusiast bike. There are just not too many enthusiasts who feel attracted by Honda's concept. This results in a CB 750 A not being more expensive than a comparable CB750 with a normal gearbox.

It drives ... strange

Riding a Hondamatic gives a kind of short circuit with everything you are used to from motorcycling. It feels most like ... Riding such a modern electric motorcycle ...

Honda CB 750 Hondamatic
The torque converter side

Honda CB 750 Hondamatic

Honda CB 750 Hondamatic

7 Comments

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  1. What a beautiful story again !! Thanks. You continue to be amazed in motorcycle country, you are still discovering (forgotten) new models. I actually only knew the little brother Honda CM 400 A, had you forgotten Dolf? You sometimes come across this at marketplace. From the CB 750 Had I never heard of it? Also not bad if only 800 are delivered. What is ironic for Honda, is that it then flopped and is now very much in a machine !! Honda now has a lot of machines in its program.

    • Bye Rene. I had not forgotten that 400. But on the free online version of AMK we keep things a bit more compact. But with a subscription to AMK you are completely in control. There is also an 400 Vending Machine for sale at Loods 8 in Arnhem

  2. Dolf, was something else with the kickstarter of this model, which was loose under the saddle for emergency. I think Roadrunner also has one (or has had one) IRL saw there.

  3. Nice article again Dolf!

    I can remember that as an HD driver / chopper builder, I, unfortunately, long ago deceased friend, offered 25 years ago to help his Honda CB 750 F2 to make it a kind of Low Ratbike. Low budget so. Frame lowered under the seat, shorter rear shock absorbers which can be welded backwards by means of the mounting brackets on the swingarm and placed and sprayed matte black. stuck on it. End result: If they saw him driving and asked: what kind of motor is this? He always answered: A DOG!

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