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1966 Honda CB450 - The Black Bomber

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1966 Honda CB450 - The Black Bomber

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In 1965 Honda had already claimed the title of largest motorcycle manufacturer. To date, their largest bike was the CB77 Superhawk 305. Although a more modern motorcycle than its competitors, featuring an electric starter and overhead cam, the Honda was still considered a small to mid-sized motorcycle. The American thirst for big displacement twins allowed brands like Triumph, Norton, and Harley-Davidson to remain confident despite their dated design elements and less-than-reliable reputation.

Then came the CB450, Honda’s first “big twin,” and an omen of their impending dominance.

The motorcycle industry was stunned. Featuring a double overhead cam, the CB450 posed a threat even the largest Triumph’s and Nortons . Under the premise of the DOHC being “too advanced” for the race track competitors sought to ban it from competition.

Other engineers items that set the CB450 apart from European and American competition was its horizontally split crankcase and valve springing: instead of the conventional coil springs, it used torsion bars - rods of steel that twisted to provide the spring effect.

For the first two-and-a-half production years the CB450 sported an irregularly long and tapered tank with chrome sides — dubbed the Black Bomber. Due to a lukewarm response to the looks, the styling was changed drastically midway through 1967 to the resemblance that Honda has been known for in their later models, including the 350cc, 550cc, and 750cc models that opened the floodgates for the 1970’s.

Thus, the original styling exists today as a much sought-after rarity of the iconic motorcycle that changed the industry forever.

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