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Honda cl450 scrambler

Profile: Honda CL450 Scrambler

by Guy ‘Guido’ Allen, January 2021


Honda cl450 scrambler

Mid-sized twin is probably good buying and may even be undervalued

It's one of those tricks of history that models like this are now probably more appreciated, and for different reasons, than when they were in the showrooms. However that hasn't helped prices on the Honda CL450 of the sixties and seventies – they're still low.

Honda cb450

Honda's CL450 Scrambler (or CL-450, as it was often designated) grew out of its closely-related CB450 'Black Bomber' sibling (above and below). In 1967, the idea emerged as a modification kit for the CB, then in 1968 it was released as a model in its own right.

Honda cl450 scrambler

The engine was significant for its time, running horizontally-split crankcases (minimising the oil leaks so typical in vertically-split British parallel twins), roller-bearing crank and double-overhead cams. That last feature was a first for production motorcycles. People tended to look askance at the use of torsion bars for valve springs (two per cylinder), however they proved to be reasonably reliable. Valve lash was adjusted by eccentric-mount shafts.

The CB and CL effectively pioneered the use of CV carburettors on motorcycles, something that remained an industry design mainstay for decades to come.

Honda cl450 scrambler

Their reputation was pretty good, robust, reasonably fast, with a solid if not outstanding horsepower figure in the low forties (43 on the CB, marginally less on the CL). Vibration was often cause for complaint.

As time went on, the CB and CL diverged in a little in a number of design details. Most notable was that the road bike scored a front disc brake, while the scrambler settled with drums.

Handling for the 180kg package was nothing to write home about and well behind what the Brits were doing with their twins. While the CL had vaguely off-road looks, it was essentially a road bike, much like modern-day scramblers.

Honda cl450 scrambler

Sales were never huge, which means supply these days is fairly limited. Nevertheless they still look like good buying when compared to other classics of a similar age.

Honda cl450 scrambler

This very tidy 1971 example (above and below) sold recently on Bring a Trailer for Au$6600 (US$5100, GB£3700). We reckon you'd struggle to restore one for that sort of number.

honda cl450

Honda cl450 scrambler

Similarly, a complete if less immaculate example (above) was auctioned May last year by Graysonline for Au$5000 (US$3900, GB£2900).

That seems like pretty good buying to us.

Honda cl450 scrambler

The cover of the May 1968 edition of Cycle World magazine, promising a test of the CB and CL450.

Spec sheet


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