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Honda CB750, Kawasaki 500H1, Suzuki T500 and the Yamaha XS1

ER Classics Desktop 2022

What do those four icons have in common? Their age. The Honda CB750, Kawasaki 500H1, Suzuki T500 and the Yamaha XS1 are 200 years together and those years are fairly distributed over these motorcycles that changed the world.

Honda in the lead

For their time, motorcycling was for the less fortunate and artisans. It was in a somewhat suspicious odor. But people got a little more money and free time in the late 1950s and Honda launched the phrase "You meet the nicest people on a Honda". Motorcycling became socially acceptable. And motorcycles could just be 'fun'. And reliable. And fast. And with more engine capacity and power. Motorcycling became fun!


And what fun!

Because the steps forward that were taken with the Honda CB750, Kawasaki 500H1, Suzuki T500 and the Yamaha XS1 were never shown. They were top machines that - although within limits - were simply for sale to the general public. As if Brough Superior or Vincent HRD had just started mass production. The motorcycle world was ready and cheered.

They still laughed at it!

That was, incidentally, at the time when the owners of the heavy British twins (and the BSA and Triumph three-cylinder) laughed at all that Japanese mess. In any case, BMW drivers felt no reason to look at anything other than their blue / white pride. And of course they were all right about their own divine. But the Japanese factories were running with full power. And in the meantime, beautiful Honda CB750, Kawasaki 500 H1, Suzuki T500 and the Yamaha XS1 are classics with strong price tags. In the meantime, the TLC of specialists and owners have also made the British twins of the past much better than they were and BMWs have never been bad or cheap.

Fast touring bikes

The Honda was a fast touring motorcycle, the Kawasaki 500H1 was almost like a cartoon in its extremeness, the Suzuki T500 was a fast touring motorcycle with limited range (because thirsty two-stroke) and the Yamaha XS1 was - despite some start-up peculiarities - the best motorcycle that BSA had never built.

What the four shared was a joint failure

In the heat of battle, their engine blocks were better than their bicycle parts. This was usually due to the less perfect rear suspension elements and the tires. Replacing the parts already gave so much results that it was possible to drive really fast at Zandvoort. Conical head bearings and other rear fork bearings were also hot items. Where 'needed', brake drums were replaced by better ones (Fontana, Grimeca) or by disc brakes. And some of the discs present were generously spent with a twin brother.

The exhausts had to be removed!

That the original exhaust systems were replaced by louder ones was a clear necessity. After all, more noise was more speed at the time. The supply industry was very happy with this and in a comparison test in Das Motorrad, the worst four-in-one system turned out to be a four-cylinder 14 hp just like that.

Each of these toppers from that time has of course had its deepest prize

For 800 guilders I bought a Kawa 500H1 with a Robinson brake with eight ascending shoes and a lot of E Glass polyester. On the early Vehicle there were four NOS outlets under a table for a CB750 for 100 guilders. After some negotiation, the smooth air filter housing of a K-zero was added. For my own, very neat CB750 K2 I had to pay 1500 guilders. A nice XS2 - well that - cost me 1100 guilders.

A Honda CB750, Kawasaki 500H1, Suzuki T500 and the Yamaha XS1 have now become recognized classics. The prices of new parts are serious. But after all "better expensive than not for sale". 'Cheap' copies usually require a lot of technical and cosmetic care. And that is reminiscent of the statement of a classic car dealer: "That restoration is your loss and my profit." But hey: you both have something ...

But look what you pay now for the top players of 15-25 years ago?
Often you are the man for 1000 euros.
And then see if there is still some room in the shed.

You can find classics everywhere!

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