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Honda CB750FA 1981 Road Test

The manufacturers all seem to be working hard on their 750s. No sooner had we announced that the LTD Kawasaki was one of the quickest 750s around when we get three more, just as fast.

Kawasaki's Z750E ran 123.7mph, the same as the low-rider version, Suzuki's GSX reached 125.2mph and now the Honda has topped that at 126.3mph.

Without being able to run all the bikes on the same day, it would be foolish to say that any one was better — or even quicker — on the basis of these figures. At that sort of velocity, the turbulence of a sparrow farting in the next field can take a big piece out of the bike's speed.

But compared to the other bikes there are a couple of points which make the Honda stand out. From the performance angle, it has a wider spread of top-end power which would mean that top performance is that much easier to find. It was also marginally worse on fuel consumption. From the rider's point of view it had the best riding position and suspension.

Taken all-round, but especially as a long-distance bike, I see it as the best of the Japanese 750s.

Unlike the earlier, four-pipe KZ, the FA has been styled like the 900; it has a 4-2 exhaust, rear disc brake, adjustable back dampers, black fork legs, plastic mudguard and the same seat/tank styling. All it lacks are the clip-on handlebars and the oil cooler.

And, like the 900, it now uses a 530 drive chain, the overall gearing being just slightly lower than the KZ. • For full performance the gearing is theoretically spot-on. In practice it tends to be under-geared; with a light tail-wind the Honda would red-line in top about halfway along the test strip. It would also reach 120mph with the rider sitting normally.

I did two runs with the throttle rolled off to keep the revs down to 9,500, and got about 121 mph. On the third run I held it against the stop and let the motor go. With the tacho reading 10,000 it tripped the lights at 126mph.

The final quarter-mile of the strip is where we run the acceleration tests and on the top speed run it went through this section in 7.2 seconds — an average of 124.8mph. So it had pretty well reached its top speed, and was already into the red, with a quarter-mile still go to.

Taller gearing might take the edge of the absolute maximum but it would also give the bike a more relaxed feel and would probably help the fuel consumption, too.

I felt that the gearing was also too low to get the best acceleration, although a standing quarter time of 12.8 seconds isn't bad. But after each run I had the impression that it could have been a lot better. Once the clutch had been dumped the Honda would fly through first gear and need second before there was time to get my feet on the footrests. And the change into second happened just as fast as I could get there, not necessarily at the best engine speed for the next gear.

It seemed that during the first few seconds there was a lot of time wasted with lots of revs and gearchanges but not much distance being covered. The motor could pull a higher gear off the line and it would give the rider a chance to actually use full power.