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Honda cb750 four

The Great Escape

(Travels with Guido series #286, by Guy ‘Guido’ Allen, Jan 2021)

Pic by Ben Galli

Examining the great CB mystery

In all these years, the thought never occurred to me. My dim recollection of physics is that you can neither create nor destroy matter and energy, though you can change its shape. In fact my high school physics teacher would be pleased to know that I remembered this piece of advice: "When you're in a car crash, and you will be, I want you step out of the car and say, 'energy was conserved'."

Most of us stagger out of the wreck and say something far more colourful, but it was clearly an effective way of getting a basic principle through our thick skulls.

Does the principle apply to motorcycles? Apparantly not. This revelation came about a fair while ago when I was cluttering up Brian Browne's workshop in sunny Mornington, called TT Motorcycles. Muggins was in the process of making him an offer he couldn't understand for his glorious CB750-Four K1.

Along the way we were tutt-tutting over how the values for these things are getting out of control. It doesn't seem that long ago when they were close to free and now people are asking big prices for even ratty ones. Then came the revelation - Browne looked at me and said, "They built tens of thousands of these things and now you can't find a good one. Where have they all gone?"

He's right! I can understand a few of them ended up lodged in roadside trees, and maybe a number were eventually taken to the tip. But tens of thousands of the buggers? No, there must be another explanation. A colleague of mine suggested Australian trucking magnate and vehicle collector Lindsay Fox may have bought them all – but I doubt even he has a warehouse that big.

Really, there must be a better explanation. Maybe they've ended up where all the old biros, scissors and 10mm sockets go. Theories on this one vary. Some say it's another planet run by hoarding aliens. It's an interesting thought: sending out an intergalactic probe which one day sends back fuzzy pictures of three-headed beings triumphantly herding vast swathes of used scissors, pens, sockets and Honda 750s.

Others suggest that old CeeBees just quietly wander off somewhere to die, something akin to the apocryphal elephant's graveyard. Maybe, but you'd think after 50-odd years that someone might have got hold of the GPS co-ordinates.

Another theory has it that they quietly rust and corrode away into their component parts while no-one is looking. Really? Given the number at have 'offed' themselves by now, we should literally be wading knee-deep in some glutinous cocktail of rust, oil and oxidised aluminium. We're not.

Okay, let's try another idea favoured by the conspiracy theorists: Honda has a secret reclamation squad which slips into your shed late at night and takes back the CeeBee. It's part of a much wider industry conspiracy to ensure there is a steady worldwide demand for new motorcycles. I must confess it's a very attractive idea and explains some of the strange noises I hear emanating from the shed late at night. However in the absence of anything resembling proof – we have more convincing photos of flying saucers – that was has to be ruled out, too.

I've owned three over the years and can actually account for them. One was sold to a young Spaniard of questionable sanity, who promptly wrote it off up a tree. He was okay, but the bike had definitely performed its last tank slapper.

The other has led a long and colourful career, and currently lives somewhere in NSW luxuriating in the somewhat dubious name of 'Mantis'. You'll understand why when you see the mods that have been done to it.

Oh, and the third resides in my shed. By my reckoning that still leaves at least 49,997 unaccounted for.

So I confess to being stumped. Before we give up completely, do me a favour will you? Just have a quick look under the bed and behind the couch – they have to be somewhere...

See more Travels with Guido here

See the story on our CB750-Four

50 years of CB750-Four

Classic Two Wheels 1970 road test


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