Illustarted October 1965
Nine thousand revolutions per minute in top
gear gives a road speed in the region of 94
mph on the Honda CB77 and, with the needle flickering
towards the 9,400 rpm mark coming down the Mountain
towards Creg-ny-Baa, I was travelling at just
over 100 mph. As always on "open road"
days during T.T. week, small groups of spectators
gather on some of the trickier bends to watch
the production roadsters imitating the T.T.
aces and as I braked heavily, changed down and
dropped to a respectably sedate pace round the
tight right-hand bend, I could almost hear a
couple of lads wondering: "Is it the 250
or 305 Honda?"
In fact, during the weeks I had the machine
on test, time and time again I was asked the
difference between the two sports Hondas which,
apart from the tank badge, are externally identical,
and internally differ by a mere 55 cc. What
is the point of building two machines so much
alike that they vary only in cylinder bore dimension
and, slightly, in the ratios provided by the
four-speed gearbox? Where does the extra 55
cc count on the CB77?
To answer these questions one has only to compare
the specifications of the two Hondas. The 250
produces 24 bhp at 9,000 rpm, whereas with its
extra 55 cc, the CB77 pokes out another 4j bhp,
which in terms of performance means some
5 mph additional top speed. It is also interesting
to note that the power band is wider on the
305, with maximum torque of 18 ft/lb at 7,000
rpm, compared with 15 ft/lb at 7,500 rpm from
the 250. This means that the CB77 is more flexible
than its 250 cc counterpart and, with more urge
lower down, acceleration is also slightly better
than with the CB72. However, with both machines
having twin carburetters, twin coil ignition,
twin leading shoe brakes front and rear, twin
contact breakers, twin speedometer /tachometer
head, a chain driven overhead camshaft, and
180° opposed cranks for each of the two
connecting rods, in all other respects they
are identical. Even the lavish standard "extras"
such as handlebar mirrors, electric starter,
steering lock, pillion footrests, neutral indicator
light, and a toolkit which includes spare
sparking plugs, are included on both models.
Having pointed out the variations between these
generally similar sports Hondas, I can
now confine myself to the CB77 which I have
had the pleasure of riding.
Performance has already been briefly mentioned
and I would add that for the capacity of the
machine, it was 'outstanding. A motorway cruising
speed of 80 mph was maintained on the journey
from Liverpool to London and the time of 4J1
hours taken on the run, including stops for
refuelling and meals, is good even for a motor
cycle of twice the capacity. Fuel consumption
of 64 mpg was reasonable, considering the high-speed
maintained and during 40-50 mph runs, this figure
improved to 80 mpg or better.
Acceleration from a standing start was the
equivalent of most 500s and if one revved the
engine to maximum in each gear before changing
up, it was necessary to cling to the handlebars
tightly to stop oneself sliding backwards along
the dual seat.
Apart from the fact that one had to keep the
revs above 6,000 to get the best from the motor,
it was difficult to fault the mechanics
in any way whatsoever. The motor remained oil
tight throughout the test. The gear ratios seemed
ideally spaced for about-town or open road use,
although top gear proved a little high for power
output when riding into a strong headwind and
maximum 9,000 rpm in top gear could only
be obtained in prone position on a long straight.
Speeds in the gears were approximately 40-45
mph in first, 55-60 mph in second, 75-80 mph
in third and 90-95 mph in top.
With a 90 mph machine, one needs brakes which
are more than just adequate. Honda appreciate
this point, and Only in the wet did care have
to be taken, to avoid making the rear wheel
slide by applying the rear brake a little too
firmly. The same also applied to excessive use
of the throttle in first or second gear under
Road-holding is one of the most important features
of any sports machine and although the CB77
may not be 100% positive in its actions when
swinging .through fast, twisting and slightly
bumpy bends, it can be classified as good. My
reason for hesitating to classify the handling
as excellent, is that there were occasions when
the front wheel twitched somewhat when accelerating
out of a bend —a tendency which I found
could be counteracted by winding the throttle
How far do you .travel in a year? I put my
yearly average at about 30,000 miles, approximately
half in a car and the remainder on two wheels.
As a long-distance rider, I put comfort on a
motor cycle as of prime im- pontanee. Sports
machines with clip-ons or straight bars leave
me cold as I normally find them most uncomfortable.
However, the Honda is an exception to the rule,
for the positioning of the footrests, seat and
straight bars are such that one is leaning slightly
into the wind and resting very lightly on one's
hands at speed—an ideally comfortable
position, in fact. There is plenty of room on
the dual-seat for the pillion passenger and
with adjustable pillion footrests, passengers
of any shape or height can be accommodated.
The rear suspension units are also adjustable,
so that suspension characteristics can be modified
when carrying additional weight.
Electrics on .the big Hondas are all 12-volt
to cope with the demand from the electric starter.
This means that one igets the benefit of a lighting
system which is fully adequate for such a high-performance
machine. The dip-switch, situated on the left
handlebar, not only incorporates dip and
main beam positions, but also has a third, central,
position for switching to pilot light when riding
through town. This saves having to remove one's
hands from the handlebars to reach forward to
operate the switch on the headlamp shell.
Horns on most motor cycles, large,or small,
are pitiful. . Honda fit a wind-tone unit which
is efficient and effective at speeds up to 60
mph, although even this still lacks the power
for really high-speed "I am overtaking"
As already mentioned, Honda have an electric
starter iitted to the CB77 and no matter what
the weather, cold, warm, wet or dry, starting
was no problem once one learned the knack. With
ignition and fuel on, the throttle was partially
opened and, with the starter button being pressed
by the right thumb, the choke lever was closed
until the engine fired and then partially opened
to allow the motor to build up revs.
If the engine began to " die," the
choke lever was quickly closed again to richen
the mixture and then partially re-opened
again. By juggling with the choke control
and not touching the slightly open throttle,
it was possible to obtain instant starting on
the coldest, dam-pest mornings. When warm, the
motor required only a fraction of a second's
touch on the starter to set it in motion.
In addition to the electric starter, there
is a kick start fitted and this operates in
the unusual kick-forward manner. This means
that should a fairing be fitted to the bike,
the kick-start might prove almost impossible
The excellent finish of this model calls for
as much praise as its superb range of "
extras." Silencing of its super-smooth
twin engine is first-class and only minor criticisms
could possibly be levelled against the 305 cc
Honda CB77, a machine which is another example
of Japanese engineering that gives excellent
value for money, ait its price of £279
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