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
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,
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
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.