Honda enthusiasm

I wrote to you last year regarding the Honda CB160 at the Bristol Show and mentioned that at £220 new in 1965 it certainly wasn’t cheap compared to the British capacity equivalent, quite apart from its obvious superiority.

I now see in Roy’s excellent piece on the Norton Electra (March 2017) that he also perpetuates the myth that Japanese motorcycles were cheap in the 1960s. The quoted price in the specs panel states £260 for the Norton, new in 1965.

Terry Brock and Henry Body (left), with Terry’s CB160. He’s since restored another one, too.

Although I don’t remember what the price of a Honda CA77 was then, at 305cc, almost double the capacity and a much larger bike than my CB160, I’m sure it was more expensive than the Electra. Roy, quite rightly, acknowledges the fact the Honda was the better bike, but I wish that the oft-quoted and incorrect ‘cheap Japanese’ myth could be ousted from the motorcycle press.

Many older readers blame the Japanese ‘invasion’ for the demise of the British bike industry, but if that’s true, it was the quality of the product not the prices which was responsible. As an older reader myself, I have to say I like all bikes, though I suspect the majority of your readers are British bike fans, but as a teenager in the 1960s it was the exciting Japanese models which got me into motorcycling. By the way, I’m still waiting for the promised CB160 test.

Perhaps you could do a two-bike comparison with a Tiger Cub or 175cc Bantam for example, to demonstrate the different approaches at the time.

Neil Shenton, via email.

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