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Honda CB450 DOHC (1965-1974)

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That was the first Really Heavy Honda. It was intended to compete with the 650 cc pushrod twins from England. And to conquer America. It did not work. The 44 horsepower machine was technically light years ahead of the British and American heavy boys. With a Honda CB450 'Black Bomber' (they also came in red and blue, by the way, and white for police use) the 650 twins could be snotty if the road wasn't too bad and not too winding.

Technically, the Japanese had to learn something

But the Japanese twins cheered it up at speeds where their British competition had long gone into fragmentation mode. They stayed whole. Did not leak oil. Had a starter motor and flashing lights. The early CB450s had four-speed gearboxes and a pure competition construction of the block in terms of crankshaft suspension. The CB450s from the K1 type differed technically clearly from the Bombers. The Bombers were discovered long ago. The Honda CB450 K1 models are already seriously sought after. The number of people who think that a K4 or K5 is still not worth more than 1.500 euros is rapidly decreasing.


In 1965 the Black Bomber was a revolutionary motorcycle

The later models were ordinary, already somewhat dated middle class cars in the rapidly evolving market. And that they were for about 5-10 years in a time when 'old' engines were not cherished, but were scrapped. Before that, they were often brightened up with a 'racing seat', polyester tank and in any case Dunstall or Megaton mufflers or other fun pipes. Clip-ons or the famous 'lop-eared handlebars' and half or full tubs also scored highly in the late days. At that time there was often a lack of maintenance. And Japanese motorcycles can also die from neglect and malnutrition. But there is a golden rule. This is no guarantee, but it is more than indicative: If such a Honda CB450 DOHC looks reasonable to neat, there is a good chance that it can still enjoy a healthy old age with an owner who treats it with love and respect. .

Engineers dreams

The block may have done its job, but the fact that the engines with the double overhead camshafts, torsion bar valve springs and the very long cam chain were real engineers' dreams made them very sensitive to meticulous maintenance. And a block overhaul of the most complicated twin costs serious money. The parts are getting a bit scarce. And expensive. Moreover, it is not only the block parts that are expensive. So are the shiny and shiny stuff. In addition, not every painter can get away with Honda's paint colors from that time. A new, painted, otherwise bare NOS tank, costs more than 1.000 euros. For original, new mufflers you tap more than 1.500 euros without small material.

All the more reason to spend a few euros more for a CB450 DOHC that is as original as possible. The fashion models were with our friend Alex. The asking prices were about 3.000-3.500 euros. They were and are barn finds that have not run for years. The only 'guarantee' is that they have 'thick compression'. During our visit, one was already sold, the other reserved…

14 Comments

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  1. Indeed 444 cc and only the black bombers had a four-speed gearbox, the torsion bar valve suspension was something incomprehensible and the valve clearance difficult to adjust and after use you could throw away the feeler gauge so thin, the acceleration from the 1st to the 2nd was greater in terms of stroke then the other gears still have the original workshop book now and then I still smell it and put it back and think THEY WERE AGAIN DAYS

  2. Here you can find a mini collection. I've had the 500T for 20 years but thought it was very old-fashioned, so I converted it to Black Bomber look alike with an original tank. Everything can be rebuilt to original and is in stock. Who knows, the 500T's will be appreciated even more. This year completed the restoration of a 450 from 72, completely to original as far as possible and affordable. The block will be overhauled this winter. I am collecting parts for the restoration of nr 3, also a 450 from 72. Weaknesses of these bikes are the weak starter motors and often start badly after a longer standstill. Other than that, it's just a lot of fun to drive, if you take it easy. Often get nice comments and have a lot of fun.

  3. For years I've "had" a CB450 twin in my fantasized motorcycle collection. And for further illustration of Japanese ingenuity a CBR250RR and RD500LC, but the admiration for this trio was and is purely technical: I 'have' nothing with it at all. But the first CB450 is, in my opinion, the most illustrative of the point where the Japanese motorcycle industry gave way to Europe in the 60s, and did not look back.

    • The CB450 was revolutionary. And sent during Starry Days etc much better than the Anglophiles wanted to know. But in England they were not allowed to participate in standard and club races. The British reported that a motorcycle with double overhead camshafts, a starter motor and turn signals could never be a standard bike

      • That of those flashing lights was right: it is 'not done' to upset overtaking competition by signaling left or right on the straight end……

  4. @ the other Pascal

    'Everyone goes for the four-cylinder' doesn't apply to me. I grew up with the two-cylinder. Don't know any better. That feeling, indescribable.
    Wouldn't really want it any other way if I'm honest 😃
    That 450 has certainly remained underexposed. Totally agree. When I hear and see all those four-headed 'air howlers' these days, my hair stands on end. But not exactly with desire!!

  5. When I see that black CB450, on which a decorative spray fairing hangs and a ditto tank is waiting on the ground next to it, I feel in my holy water that something is about to go wrong. Leave that bite original and enjoy the beautiful sight of an original CB450, right?

  6. Personally I think the 450T has such an important role as the later 750F… unfortunately its significance is somewhat underexposed in history; everyone 'goes' for the four-cylinder..
    Well .. "a heavy one is a real one" and not only in the US or A..
    The twin rode in circles around bigger English twins, but the world in front of him mainly regarded him as “just a 450″…
    Bloody shame.

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