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1973 Honda CB175 K6
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David Towers didn't know that he wanted a sporty 1970s Honda twin. Then he saw one, and destiny took over...

Many's the time I've lifted the garage door and thought 'Blimey, that space would be perfect for a Brough Superior. Or a Vincent'. Shadow, Rapide, SS80 or 100 - I'm really not fussy. The other week I opened the door and was nearly bowled over by the shape of an Ariel Square Four that wasn't there either. However, and this could take some believing - I have never, ever, opened the garage door and thought 'That's the perfect space and shape for a Honda CB175!'

Just shows how wrong you can be though, 'cos there in the garage is a perfectly filled space, containing the aforesaid baby Honda! So what arm of the Cosmic Supply Co was in charge of this development? A Vincent would have been adequate, honest!

It all started as a bit of a joke. I've got a Honda Goldwing and it takes up a similar amount of space as my wife's (as she puts it) 'small block Chevy'. It's an extremely small block (1000cc) Chevrolet Matiz to be exact. She does exaggerate so! However, having suffered various comments relating to the Wing's likeness to a small barge or some other sailing vessel, I thought something small that I could fit in the pannier, and use as a tender from where I parked to get to the kerb, would be appropriate! Tee Hee!

Honda CB175, complete with sagging rear carrier... 1973 Honda CB175 K6

The joke had been well received and having just about ran its course (without me actually having bought anything that could be 'tender to….'), when I passed a motorcycling establishment that had a sad-looking CB175 parked at the end of a row of bikes with names like 'Ducati' and 'Benelli'. They were all rather new. The CB was not, by any stretch of the imagination, remotely new and looked desperately out of place. I stopped and offered to buy it, on a whim almost. The answer was in the negative - it was having its registration removed, so couldn't be sold. If however I wanted it after, then…

I don't know what came over me. Suddenly, there was no bike on the planet I wanted more than that lil' Honda. Astonishing! A variety of phone calls were made, enquiring about its readiness for sale, and a possible price for its purchase. Even my wife phoned just before Christmas; as she was going to buy it for me in the hope that it would shut me up about the thing, all to no avail. The plate transfer was not the easy transaction that the dealer had wished, and was taking rather a while. Tee Hee!

...and ignition switch under nose of tank. 1973 Honda CB175 K6

It was shortly after the festivities that, finally, I got the hump and decided to forget the little heap. Having reached my advanced years, forgetting things is no longer a problem. Remembering things like; where did I put my glasses? Where did I park my bike? What is my wife's name? (I forgot ages ago, I've been calling her "Sweetheart" for the last five years, so she hasn't noticed yet). Now remembering those things is a problem!

So it came as something of a surprise when, in February, I passed the same dealer's forecourt and there was the 'orrible Honda! A sudden wave of empathy came over me - the poor little thing is definitely a survivor. And now taxed, how odd. When the dealer came over, he was telling me about how many people had been after this little Honda, one women had even phoned wanting to buy it for a Christmas present for her husband! I took a huge delight telling him that all the phone calls were from me. Strangely, it was at about that moment the price started to fall.

That rack was obviously purpose built... ...for a much bigger bike.
175 Honda stuff on

£450 with tax and MoT was his suggestion. He hadn't realised how tricky it was to transfer plates, and hadn't banked on MoTing the thing, let alone taxing it! The seat's falling to bits I replied. £350 then, as he'd made a bit extra on the plate. There's no chrome left, I proffered. £300 then, he replied. I said he was dreaming. He said I was a nightmare! How rude. A short scuffle ensued and £225 was finally accepted, more to get rid of me than any desire for the money. If my mates hadn't been getting embarrassed, I'd have kept going, - I'm pretty sure I could have got it for nothing, especially as his blood pressure was looking a bit iffy.

Actually he was, and is, a decent enough chap (for a bike dealer!) and spent ages showing us his collection of classic Jap tin he had out the back (Dynomap in Exeter, if you're in the area). So I collected the world's scruffiest Honda CB175, and made my escape quick.

And what a little riot it was. An engine sweeter than syrup with sugar sprinkles, and a gearbox that actually allows you to keep the feeling in your toes. Twin leading shoe front brake that belays its diminutive size, and stops pretty hard. Delightful handling 'cos of its lack of weight (and damping) so you can just chuck the thing around. It wasn't until I got home that I realised one of the tyres was made by 'Golden Boy', not a brand used a lot in racing circles I'm led to believe. And that was covered in oil! Crikey, Honda by BSA! Oh yes, and petrol. Now fuel and oil do mix wonderfully well, but do strange and terrible things to your right trouser leg. They aren't that kind to engines or chassis bits either…

The very essence of 1970's Hondas. 1973 Honda CB175 K6

Oh hum. Lets take a step back and admire what it is precisely I've managed to acquire. A 1973 Honda CB175 K6. When it was new, this was the sporty development of the commuter CD175. The 22bhp sohc air-cooled engine was mated to a 5-speed gearbox and given 20mm carbs and an absurdly high rev limit which went into five figures - so it really could achieve 80mph given a determined rider and a lot of road. It could still be ridden slowly and thus returned up 75mpg, but the emphasis was on 'sport' so the CB used uprated forks, flashy mudguards and adjustable shock absorbers, an exposed drive chain and 2ls front brake. Time tends to be cruel to chrome, however…

With 20,000 miles on its clock, it now had a very shabby chrome front mudguard, Hammerited rear guard, more dents and scrapes than any one little bike had any right to have, bent forks (or yokes, or something) and a delicate, but not so light, covering of petroil mix. A leaky right hand carb (yup, twin carbs on the CB range laddie!) and oil peeing out of the rev counter cable. Odd!

When I jet-washed it, all the paint fell off the frame and revealed some very dubious brazing holding the stands on, and a big, loose bolt as a centrestand tang. The dearly beloved could not believe that this, was what all the fuss had been about!

So now that I had it, and had discovered some of its foibles, what to do next…?


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