The Making of the Honda CB750 | "The King of Motorcycles"

By Aaron Frank, Photography by Bob Jameson Archives

The team quartered in a hotel near the Hoover Dam and rode nearly 5000 miles in five days. “We rode from Boulder City to a place called Searchlight,” recalls Jameson. “Fifty miles one way, and our only instruction was never leave the red zone on the tach. They wanted to run the machines to death and see what broke first!”

So, what broke? “Nothing,” says Jameson. “Our only concern was the drivetrains—when you snapped the throttle shut, the top strand of chain would sometimes climb over the sprocket, breaking the crankcase or the chain.” Unfortunately, Jameson notes, this issue wasn’t properly resolved before the bike went to market.

Jameson was blown away. “It was a total breakthrough in motorcycling. At that time I’d ridden just about everything. These first CB750s were like going straight from the Stone Age into the Computer Age. And they were so fast!”

After a week in the desert, Jameson and Young boarded a fight to Japan. This round of testing began at Honda’s Arikowa facility, where they completed acceleration and brake drills. “We accelerated hard through the gears to 100 mph,” Jameson says, “then pulled in the clutch and squeezed the front brake as hard as we could, with the front tire howling.” Jameson and Young repeated this procedure 200 times, and then the bikes were disassembled and inspected.

Next came high speed stability testing at the Yatabe oval, followed by a trip to Honda’s famed Suzuka Circuit for a comparison test against Harley-Davidson’s FL, Norton’s Commando 750 and Triumph’s all-new Trident 750. “The Harley was parked immediately. It didn’t belong there,” says Jameson. “The Triumph and the Norton didn’t stop worth a dip. The Triumph couldn’t corner without dragging everything, and the Norton vibrated so badly it shook the transmission fller right out!” The CB750 was deemed superior in every way.

Bob Young and Bob Jameson spent more than a month in Japan, assisting 63 other engineers assigned to Project 300—Honda’s biggest efort to date. Bob Jameson received a special birthday present on March 15, 1969, when he watched the first production CB750 roll of of the Hamamatsu assembly line, just two years after development had begun. On March 17 Jameson and Young returned to America, confident Honda had created a machine that would forever change the motorcycle world.

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