The Mk.I ‘Black Bomber’ was first shown in UK during the Diamond Jubilee Brighton Speed Trials of September 1965, traditionally held along the seafront. The bike was newly imported and its engine was not run-in, yet in a semi-competition demonstration sprint, the CB450, ridden by Allan Robinson, MBE (a Honda staff member), achieved a standing-start kilometre time of 30.1 seconds and a terminal speed of 100 mph (160 km/h). Afterwards, the CB450 was exhibited at a motorcycle show at the Brighton Metropole Hotel exhibition centre.[
In December 1965, the UK magazine Motor Cycle reported that UK sales were planned from February 1966, its price of £360 being the equivalent cost to a conventional British 650cc pushrod parallel-twin.
In a further publicity event, Honda (UK) entered Mike Hailwood as one of the riders in the Motor Cycle 500 mile production race at Brands Hatch during July 1966. However, Hailwood was able to complete only some demonstration laps on the CB450 before racing began, as it was barred from competing in the 500cc category, because the FIM had deemed that it “could not be classified as a production machine as it had two overhead camshafts”!
Although the CB450’s sales never matched Honda’s expectations, the bike had excellent engineering for the time, including reliable electrical components, an electric starter, and a horizontally split crankcase, all features distinct from current British twins. A radical feature was the valve springing: instead of the conventional coil springs, it used ‘torsion bars’ – rods of steel that twisted to provide the spring effect.
This example of the Honda CB450 has been converted into an ever popular café racer style motorcycle. Finished in red, the bike exudes the style of a period café racer, and is ready for enjoyment with the new owner. This motorcycle is currently not on eNatis.