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24th October 2003

Honda CB750, by Mick DuckworthHonda CB750, by Mick Duckworth

Mick Duckworth needs no introduction to classic types. He is probably the longest -surviving old bike journalist, having been there almost at the start of Classic Bike - and he's still there, a quarter century later! And in fact - trivia alert! -- it was Mick Duckworth who first introduced me to the world of old bike journalism, a feat he managed with tact and charm.

Mick has also authored a book or two, my own favourite being the masterwork on BSA and Triumph triples he produced for the Crowood Press a few years ago. This work was typical of the man; vastly researched, horrifyingly accurate and endlessly re-readable. I'm a fan, then.

When Mick sent me a copy of his book about the Honda CB750, a bike which arguably closed the history of BSA, Triumph and Norton as major players in the world of mass-manufacturing, I was surprised, as although I knew he had catholic taste in motorcycles, I didn't have him down as a Honda man.

But of course the whole point of being professional is that you can turn your hand to anything. Of course! I hadn't expected the Honda book to be anywhere near as gripping as the Triples tome, largely because I was fairly disinterested in Hondas, ancient or modern. And of course it is every bit as good a read. Mick researches, y'see; and when his researches are done he crafts a book which is always going to be good to read, be it about Triumphs or trombones. The CB750 book is, naturally, a fine read. It's part of the Haynes Great Bikes series, and as such weighs in as a medium format hardback, runs to 160, well illustrated and full colour pages, boasts a proper index (any author's most hated task) specifications of all models including racers, and a guide to serial numbers and production volumes.

Like a lot of publishers, Haynes impose a structure upon their authors but this doesn't get in the way of the reader - at least not in this case. Not too much! Great play is made of laying out the books in this series in a sort of magazine style, with lots of short hunks of text with eye-grabbing headlines. There are some crackers in that department, too. How do you like 'Top Pop' to introduce Pops Yoshimura, or 'No Fools', when talking about the YAHTOF race team? YAHTOF? Buy the book.

Everything you will ever want to know about the Honda CB750 is here. And more than that. Can I criticise it? Of course; I found one incorrect caption. Bet Mick knows where that is, too, and will have it corrected when the book is reprinted, which it will be, because it will certainly be come a standard work on the subject. I take my hat off to you, Mr Duckworth; you got me interested in a book on Hondas! And even though I ran a CB750 K6 myself for many thousands of miles, I had never expected to be reading a book about them.

Nice one, Mick. Where's that Commando book, then?

Frank Westworth

Honda CB750, by Mick Duckworth
Haynes, ISBN 1 85960 878 7
Buy a copy from Amazon for 19.99

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