honda cb750
30 May

eBay Buying Guide – Honda CB750

The Honda CB750 is quite easily one of the top 10 most important motorcycle models of the 20th century. Now, I know that that’s a hell of a big claim to make, so let me back it up with some history before we continue any further.

History of the Honda CB750

The CB750 was originally built to fulfill the requests of US and European Honda dealers who saw the potential for a larger capacity motorcycle to take on the likes of Harley-Davidson, Norton and Triumph. Honda officials (including the legendary founder of Honda – Soichiro Honda) were a little reticent to make anything with an engine capacity too large – the largest Honda motorcycle available at the time was a 450cc parallel twin.

Salon Tokyo 68 270x400 eBay Buying Guide   Honda CB750Between 1968 and 1969 the R&D team at Honda set about creating a transverse, overhead camshaft, inline 4-cylinder engine to power this new bike. This engine was mated to an all-new 5-speed transmission; the engine was fitted with 4 carburetors (one for each cylinder) and was capable of 68 horsepower, 44 lb-ft of torque, a top speed of over 120 mph, and a 1/4 mile time of 13 seconds.

These specifications were revolutionary. When the bike was first put on sale in 1969 the word “superbike” was coined to describe it. At a cost of just $1,495 USD (~$9,500 in 2013), the Honda CB750 had a huge price advantage over its rivals and it came as standard with hydraulic disc brakes, a reliable engine, excellent handling and enough power to beat almost anything on 2 wheels (or 4). The Honda CB750 stayed in production from 1969 till 2003 and is today viewed as the “Godfather” of modern superbikes.

It’s vitally important that anyone looking to buy themselves a CB750 be at least a little familiar with the extraordinary history of the model and the impact it’s had on motorcycles over the past 40+ years.

Choosing a Model Year

The early CB750s are highly desirable with collectors and vintage motorcycle enthusiasts, they had engines that had been made using permanent mold casting (due to Honda’s uncertainly about the orders that the bike would receive). This means that they aren’t always as well-made as the later model years. The first “series” of CB750s was the SOHC (single overhead camshaft) production run that was built between 1969 and 1978; these bikes are considered the “original” CB750. Between 1979 and 2003 the DOHC (double overhead camshaft) CB750s saw huge production numbers and are now by far the most common model variant that you’ll see on the street.

Choosing a Model Designation

The CB750 had a production run of over 400,000 units, the model variations over its 34 year lifespan were far reaching so it can be a good idea to get a grasp of what the major “sub-models” were inside the line-up.

Outline of Model Designations

Honda SOHC CB750

* 1969 CB750K or CB750K0
* 1971 CB750K1
* 1972 CB750K2
* 1973 CB750K3
* 1974 CB750K4
* 1975 CB750K5 − 1975 CB750F
* 1976 CB750K6 – CB750F1 – CB750A
* 1977 CB750K7 – CB750F2 – CB750A1
* 1978 CB750K8 – CB750F3 – CB750A2

Honda DOHC CB750

* 1979 to 1982 CB750K
* 1979 CB750K
* 1979 to 1982 CB750F
* 1980 to 1982 CB750C ‘Custom’
* 1982 to1983 CB750SC Nighthawk
* 1984 to 1985 CB750SC Nighthawk
* 1984 to 1986 CB750SC Nighthawk
* 1992 to 1997 CB750F2
* 1991 to 2003 CB750 Nighthawk

1969 honda cb750 1600x0w 600x391 eBay Buying Guide   Honda CB750

Honda CB750 Buying Tips

The Twin-Bike Approach
If possible, buy two bikes instead of one. Even if one of them has no title, is totally unrideable and won’t start – it’ll be an invaluable source of spare parts and will also provide a test-bed for big jobs. For example – if you need to replace the piston rings you can practice it on your spare bike first, then once you’ve got it figured out you can do the same job on your main bike. This twin-bike approach will also save a lot you money in the long run, a non-titled bike can be bought for the same price as 2 or 3 spare parts.

Begin your search here for a spare bike via eBay Motors.

The Carburetor Conundrum
Carburetors are famously tricky on the CB750, it’s important to get all four dialed in properly and many will tell you that it’s almost impossible to get them running properly with pods (individual, carburetor mounted air-filters). CB750 aficionados will tell you to make damn sure you get a bike with the original airbox still fitted. Whilst this is good advice, I have seen CBs with pods and well-tuned carburetors – so it is possible to do – but you’re going to need patience, friends, and patient friends.

Double or Single?
DOHC vs SOHC – This is the biggest single decision you’ll make. The pre-78 bikes are all SOHC and they’re exceedingly popular with cafe racer builders, the post-78 bikes are all DOHC and they’re popular due to the fact that they’re a little more reliable and offer slightly better performance.

Click here to search for a SOHC or click here to search for a DOHC.

The Electricals
The electrics, specifically the charging system, is going to need your attention. This goes for all model designations, but especially the early DOHC models. Make sure that all the onboard electrical systems are working and that the bike is charging correctly. Ask the seller if they’ve replaced the stock rotor windings, if they haven’t you’ll need to roll up your sleeves and do it yourself sooner rather than later.

As with all second-hand motorcycle purchases there are a few basic things you need to take a close look at:

  1.  Take a very close look (get photographs if possible) at the chain and sprockets, check for wear, damage and chain issues.
  2. Ask the seller about the cam chains, are they set right and not too loose?
  3. Ask the seller about the front and rear suspension. Does it move up and down evenly without noise? How’s the rebound?
  4. Have the seller check and report on ALL the electrical systems. High-beam, low-beam, all four indicators, brake light, horn, charging and starting. If certain electrical elements aren’t working, be very wary. This can be good a sign of a major headache further down the road.
  5. Make sure you plan to replace the consumables ASAP after purchasing. This includes brake pads, battery, tires, spark plugs, oil and filters. If you want to be really thorough, consider replacing the chain, gaskets and control cables. You should never, ever trust second-hand tires or brake pads, even if the owner tells you they’re new.

Honda CB750 Racing Type 2 600x400 eBay Buying Guide   Honda CB750

Conclusion

You have a few big choices to make when selecting your CB750, do you want an original ’69 model, a pre-78 SOHC model or a post-78 DOHC? Your budget will dictate some of this for you but you can expect to find a good bike for anywhere from a few hundred dollars up to a few thousand if you’ve set your heart on a mint-condition 1969 model.

No matter which variation you choose, you’re going to be buying one of the most iconic motorcycles ever made. Obviously, you’ll need to be ready to roll up your sleeves and get your hands dirty, but that’s half the reason we all ride motorcycles in the first place.

To start your search, click here to view all the current eBay listings for the Honda CB750

Do you own a Honda CB750? What advice would you give to someone looking to purchase one? If you have some tips or tricks that should be included in this Buyer’s Guide, shoot me an email – editor@silodrome.com – and I’ll update the guide to include your sage advice.

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Category: motorcycles, Tips and Guides

Comments (10)

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  1. Vince Slack says:

    Greetings,
    When I was in college at Valparaiso University in the early 70′s, I rode a 750K1 and drove a 1965 GTO convertible. The Goat had Cherry Bombs and the Honda had four chromed and flared glass packs. Both were melodic, powerful, and great fun. How I dearly miss them. Sadly, we can’t keep everything in life.
    Vince Slack
    Valparaiso, Indiana

    • eBay Motors says:

      Great to hear Vince! Thanks for your input here, do you have a photo of your current vehicles or motorcycle on eBay Garage that we could see?

    • I’m a huge fan of the ’65 GTO, it’d be an expensive beast to run nowadays with our current gas prices but the sound it makes would more than make up for it.

      • Randall Hyde says:

        Hey James! I miss my ’65 GTO terribly! The worst decision I ever made was to sell her 3-4 years ago. I now have a 1980 Corvette stingray that I absolutely hate. If the fellow I sold her too would only sell her back to me. We have an old 1975 Honda CB750 four at the shop where I work that I’ve been bugging the guys to get running as I used to ride one in my youth. I guess that when we slow down then maybe I can get my techs to get it running again.

  2. Steve Williams says:

    Hi James, great write up. I bought a 1969 CB750K sand cast, used in 1970. I wish I still had that bike. What a difference from my CL72 scrambler, wish I still had that bike too. OK, the carbs. The 1969 model had a single throttle cable to a 4 way splitter cable to the 4 carbs. What a bitch to tune. Back then I built my own 4 tube manometer using some plastic tubing, a back board, and some water. I think they are commercially available. Just level the water in the 4 tubes and the carbs where in sync. Vacuum gauges can be used but I was a starving student in College and had to do it on the cheap. I bet I tuned those carbs twice a month, but she ran great. I also put on the KN pod air filters, and re-jetted the carbs, that bike was fast. Honda improved the carb sync problem with the 1970 K1 model. They still had to be sync, but they stayed in sync much longer. It may have been a rumor, but Honda may have de-tuned the K1 model a little, not sure but my 1969 could beat any K1+ model. Note: my car back then was a 1968 Z-28 Camero that I bought used in 1969 from a Chevy dealer in Cleveland, Ohio. Boy, I wish I still had that car. As Vince said, we can’t keep everything in life.

  3. CalifSpeed says:

    Can`t really compare the sohc versions which are classics to the dohc ones which are not collectibles. The early bikes where ahead of the competition and even today provide a mighty fine stylish ride. I have a sandcast 69,diecast 70,71 K1 and a low mileage 550 from 76.Only weak spots can be leaking head gaskets and carbs that have been poorly rebuilt giving miserable mpg. These bikes are an easy choice to own and all spares are available readily.Their prices are driven by condition and originality, buy the best you can find.In the long run it will be a bargain.

  4. Chester Davis says:

    I had 2 a 1971 and 1974 the 74 had a 8/36 kit and was fast but not as fast as the 71 when it was stock. Before I got the 71 I had a CB500 inline 4.

  5. Jim says:

    I owned a 1975 CB 750 Best Bike I ever Had.It was Quick but nemble around Town.Although I could throw the Old Lady on the Back and do 70 or 80 on the Highway.I remember 1 time Was going to a wedding 130 miles from my Home I pulled out on the Highway at 5:00 PM and my Wife fell asleep on Back and I found a Charted Buss and I ran up on its ass and Had to be in the Wedding at 7:00 I got there in time to go to my Aunts House Change Clothes and make it to the Wedding Before it Started at 7:00.Unlucky for Me I hit a Car in the rear doing 55 miles per Hour never had a chance to apply the Brakes.Put me in the Hospital for 19 Days the first time and 11 days the second time

  6. Edwin Pettis says:

    I bought a candy apple red 1976 CB750A, a very fine bike, at first I had some minor trouble maintaining tuneup, I had to have it done every six months as the MPG would noticeably fall off by then. I met another fellow who had owned a Honda bike shop in LA, he tuned it up and it hasn’t been retuned since. I still have the bike, the only one around here, at one time I saw a 1977 and a 1978 but I haven’t seen either in some time. I am doing a complete cleaning of the carbs and hope to have it running again later this year. The gas is terrible for building up crap in them. The 750As were truly underappreciated.

    The bike got 42 MPG around town and as high as 56 MPG in the mountains and I found few, if any, bikes that could out pull it on a steep hill. One time (and only one time) I pulled 60 MPH in 1st, try that with a manual! It’s battery was the same one as the Gold Wing, a nice big one and the alternator put out 25 Amps easily. The automatic transmission was reportedly the same one as the Honda Civic’s.

    It has been a very reliable bike, the main failures has been ignition coils and (no longer) the front fork seals which had to be replaced every spring.

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