After reading the Honda CB72 article in OBA 49 and then reading the “Goofy gears” story in OBA 50, I decided to throw in my two bob’s worth. You had to know how to ride them! I was fortunate enough to own a new CB-77 in the ‘60s (registered in NSW for $12.00 per year, the same as the 250 cc CB72, due to a generous copper) and found the gear ratios were poorly calculated. But then, in the 1960s, most Japanese transmissions were the same, in their cars and trucks. The secret was, use the available engine revs! CB72s and 77s had a high revving engine and by peaking the engine out to the red-line, a rider could achieve quite good acceleration. These engines thrived on RPM. They also had a useful amount of torque due to the 180 degree crankshaft. I don’t ever recall having difficulties keeping up with other (more powerful) bikes with the CB77. Most of my mates had CB72s and they were certainly not slow in pick-up either. Later on, I restored a couple of CB72s and used a trick to even out the ratios by swapping the position of the 2nd and 3rd gear sets in the transmission. This modification certainly brought the intermediate ratios closer together except now, the close step between 3rd and 4th gears became a lot wider and the top end pick-up suffered.
Apart from the little transmission ratio problem, they were a superbly built motorcycle with a build quality never again repeated by Honda. Ball-bearing mounted camshafts, roller-bearing crankshaft, centrifugal oil filter, iron “skull” combustion chambers, 180 degree crankshaft and multiposition footrests. The list goes on. They must have really impressed the Laverda factory as they apparently had a complete engine sent to them to copy some of the design features. Hence the similar appearance. They did not, however, reproduce the 180 degree crank and stuck with the “Dream” 360 degree style. Rob Rainbow Dubbo, NSW