HONDA TID­DLERS

One unique col­lec­tion!

Classic Motorcycle Mechanics - - CONTENTS - Words and pho­tos: Andy West­lake

Honda’s his­tory has foun­da­tions laid on the more hum­ble, smaller-ca­pac­ity ma­chine. terry Brown has a few of them.

By 1977 the Isle of Man tt had been stripped of its world cham­pi­onship sta­tus but it didn’t de­ter the thou­sands of road race fans who made their an­nual pil­grim­age to the hal­lowed Is­land venue that year. among them was Terry Brown; a young man who had rid­den his TL 125 Honda over 200 miles from his home in south Wales to spec­tate at his first TT. a small­ca­pac­ity off-roader would not be ev­ery­one’s choice of ma­chine for a long mo­tor­way trip but Terry was not fazed by the or­deal of huge trucks bear­ing down on him and the TL would be wheeled out again when he re­peated the jour­ney in both 1978 and 1979. amazingly not only did he sur­vive but four decades on he still owns and rides the same lit­tle four-stroke; a bike which now shares garage space with an eclec­tic col­lec­tion of seven other Honda lightweights from the 1960s and 1970s. “When I was a lad there seemed to be bikes ev­ery­where in my home town,” says Terry. “When I was 16 I got my­self a 125cc Bsa Ban­tam that I passed my test on and this was quickly fol­lowed by a 150cc ver­sion from which I learned a lot about the me­chan­ics of mo­tor­cy­cles as it was for­ever break­ing down. “I would soon be the proud owner of a shiny black C200 Honda: the ask­ing price was £25 but af­ter a bit of ne­go­ti­a­tion it was mine for £18 and 10 shillings and it didn’t take me very long to find out that com­pared to

the Ban­tam the lit­tle Honda was like some­thing off an­other planet. “De­spite only hav­ing a 90cc en­gine it had a de­cent turn of speed but the most im­por­tant dif­fer­ence was that what­ever the weather it al­ways started first kick, the en­gine was bul­let­proof and the only time I had to get the tools out was to treat it to a regular change of oil ev­ery 1000 miles. I used the C200 for many years as my ‘ride to work’ ma­chine, it never let me down and I think it was one of my big­gest mis­takes when I fi­nally de­cided to sell it. “When my fa­ther died in 1976 he left me two Lam­bretta scoot­ers but as I had no in­ter­est in them I de­cided to sell them and bought a brand new TL 125 which I rode to the Isle of Man the fol­low­ing year. With a top speed of around 55mph it was slow go­ing on the mo­tor­way to Liver­pool and be­cause of its limited range I had to carry some ex­tra fuel in an old Cas­trol R bot­tle but once on the Is­land it was the per­fect bike to get to some of the out-of-the-way van­tage points around the TT course via the green lanes and tracks. “The lo­cal farm­ers were quite happy for us to go any­where as long as we shut the gates be­hind us but a po­lice­man in Dou­glas wasn’t so keen when he spot­ted me do­ing a wheelie along the beach one evening and was heard to say ‘when we catch him he’ll be on the next boat back to the main­land’.” Terry es­caped the long arm of the law and rode the TL to the is­land again in both 1978 – to wit­ness Mike Hail­wood’s amaz­ing win­ning come­back – and also the fol­low­ing year but it would be the last long trip on the lit­tle Honda. We now fast for­ward 32 years where he takes up the story again... “In the sum­mer of 2010 I was at a show with one of my pals and as we looked at the stunning line-up of

bikes I ca­su­ally men­tioned to him that it was about time I got an old bike to re­store; I was think­ing pri­mar­ily of a Bri­tish sin­gle or twin but he im­me­di­ately replied ‘you’ve al­ready got one with that old TL’. “That set the whole restora­tion ball rolling and over the next three years my col­lec­tion of 1960s and 1970s Honda’s has gone from one to eight and now in­cludes a sec­ond TL 125, three C200s, a CD 175 and a cou­ple of step-thrus. Some of th­ese have come via ebay while oth­ers have come through friends and ad­verts in var­i­ous clas­sic bike mag­a­zines.” Now re­tired Terry – who de­scribes him­self as a ‘Jack of all trades’ – ad­mits that since he caught the restora­tion bug it’s ‘be­come an ad­dic­tion and worse than giv­ing up smok­ing’ and there is barely a day when he can’t be found on an­other project in his self-built work­shop. He’s car­ried out all of the restora­tion tasks – from en­gine re­builds, to paint­ing and plat­ing – him­self and as we viewed his im­pres­sive line-up of lightweights he told me a lit­tle about how some of them came his way. “Shortly af­ter I’d fin­ished the first TL I saw an­other one ad­ver­tised in Glas­gow; a one-owner bike with the orig­i­nal frame, en­gine and wheels but miss­ing the car­bu­ret­tor, petrol tank and seat unit. For­tu­nately some years ear­lier I’d bought a cache of TL spares which in­cluded a tank and seat and af­ter fit­ting it with a spare carb from a CG 125 it fired up first kick and de­spite not be­ing used for many years the en­gine ran like a watch. “It came with the stan­dard ex­haust and si­lencer but like the orig­i­nal carb th­ese are now quite dif­fi­cult to get hold of so I re­placed it with one of Sammy Miller’s units, which let the en­gine breathe bet­ter than the slightly re­stric­tive fac­tory one. From the days I had my first

C200 I’d longed for an­other but as they were only made for four years they are now quite rare in the UK. “How­ever in 2012 I was lucky enough to pick one up from an old friend down in Corn­wall; a bike that had orig­i­nally been sup­plied by David Paul’s mo­tor­cy­cles in Truro in 1967: it still had the dealer’s sticker on the side panel and had spent its en­tire life run­ning around the Cor­nish lanes. The funny thing was that af­ter search­ing for one for ages within a few months I’d added a sec­ond and then a third C200 to my col­lec­tion. “Num­ber two came up on ebay and although it was a bit rough with paint that looked like it had been ap­plied by some­one stick­ing a hedge­hog in a tin of black enamel, at least it was ba­si­cally com­plete and ripe for restora­tion. Num­ber three came via an ad­vert in a mag­a­zine and was a real wreck as it had been used as a field bike but came with loads of NOS spares, man­u­als and gas­kets and, as I later dis­cov­ered, was a real find. “First reg­is­tered in late 1963 it was the ex-honda UK test ma­chine that the press had raved over when the C200 was re­leased to the public the fol­low­ing year. It re­quired a to­tal nut-and-bolt restora­tion but the en­gines on the lit­tle 90cc sin­gle are vir­tu­ally bul­let­proof and de­spite the harsh treat­ment it had re­ceived scream­ing around the fields the mo­tor was in re­mark­ably good con­di­tion. “The en­gines are easy to work on – I can now prob­a­bly strip one in around half an hour – and any spares I needed came from ei­ther the ever-help­ful David Sil­ver or Chris Ban­croft in Stock­port. How­ever, si­lencers are now like hen’s teeth and af­ter a lengthy search I even­tu­ally man­aged to lo­cate an NOS item at a Honda deal­ers in Bel­gium. From pick­ing it up as a wreck in Lon­don to hav­ing the bike run­ning again and back on the road took me around three or four months to com­plete. “The CD175 was an­other bike that came from my old friend Alex Hambury in Corn­wall and, although at the time, I wasn’t look­ing for an­other bike to re­store it had al­ready been treated to new wheel rims and made for the per­fect work­horse so it was an of­fer I just couldn’t refuse!” The last two ma­chines in the Brown col­lec­tion are a pair of the ubiq­ui­tous step-thrus; a 1967 C50 which was dis­cov­ered mi­nus its back wheel in a tum­ble down shed and has since been stun­ningly re­stored; and yet an­other ‘barn find’ in the form of 1974 Honda 90. Th­ese two are a fit­ting re­minder that back in the late 1950s it was the hum­ble lit­tle step-thru which launched the name of the Big H on to the world’s motorcycling stage. At the time few could have en­vis­aged the huge im­pact that the Su­per Cub was to have. Launched in Ja­pan in Au­gust 1958 as the C100 the well thought-out step-thru was

ab­so­lutely right from the word go but those want­ing to get their hands on one in the UK had to wait un­til 1962. The newly formed Bri­tish con­ces­sion­aires were quick to see the im­por­tance of bring­ing the name of Honda to the masses with some news­wor­thy pub­lic­ity, and to il­lus­trate the bike’s fru­gal use of fuel there was a widely pub­li­cised Lon­don to Black­pool out­ing on a C100. This was done at an es­ti­mated cost of less than 10 shillings (50 pence) and keen to head­line the lit­tle bike’s amaz­ing re­li­a­bil­ity in Oc­to­ber the Ja­panese new­com­ers de­cided to make an at­tempt on the pres­ti­gious Maudes Tro­phy. For seven days and nights from Oc­to­ber 23 two 50cc step-thrus and a 50cc mo­tor­cy­cle were run con­tin­u­ously around the Good­wood race cir­cuit in a stren­u­ous test of speed, en­durance and petrol con­sump­tion by a 20strong team of Honda rid­ers in­clud­ing two fe­males in the form of Olga Keve­los and Beryl Swain; the lat­ter dis­tin­guished as at that time be­ing the only woman ever to take part in the TT races. Nor­ton had been the first man­u­fac­turer to win the Maudes Tro­phy in 1923 and from the out­set it car­ried huge ku­dos and sales po­ten­tial, as un­like many con­tem­po­rary com­pe­ti­tions based on speed the em­pha­sis was on the re­li­a­bil­ity and stamina of a stan­dard road-legal ma­chine. De­vised for Honda UK by Bob Webb – who was look­ing af­ter its pub­lic­ity – it was no cake walk for the rid­ers or their ma­chines as there was rain ev­ery day and icy morn­ing starts. The rid­ers’ or­ders were to try to main­tain av­er­age speeds of around 30mph on the two step-thrus with leg shields and about 35mph for the 50cc mo­tor­cy­cle and as they came into the pits to change shifts all of the re­fu­elling was car­ried out with the en­gines run­ning un­der the watch­ful eyes of the team of of­fi­cial ACU ob­servers. The seven-day test was an un­qual­i­fied suc­cess and as they passed the che­quered flag line abreast in glo­ri­ous sun­shine the lit­tle bikes had cov­ered an amaz­ing to­tal of 15,855 miles with the CD110D model amass­ing 5897 miles in that time with­out a break. For its achieve­ment Honda was awarded the Maudes Tro­phy and although it was es­ti­mated that the stunt cost £5000 it was a good in­vest­ment as it put the Ja­panese com­pany on the map in the UK. Sales of the C50 would reach phe­nom­e­nal num­bers and the bike would be­come an icon of the 20th cen­tury.

Terry Brown and his col­lec­tion.

c100 1958-1967 c102 1960-1965 c200 1964-1967 c100ex 1986-on c50 1966-1986 c70 1969-1986 c90 1966-1986 Tl 125 1973-1978 cd 175 1969-1979

Su­per cub 50 2007-on Su­per cub 110 2009-on Dream 110i 110 2011-on Not much is cooler than a Cub or two.

The clas­sic lines of the C200.

Honda qual­ity shines through. CD was a bike Terry couldn’t refuse.

En­gine and ex­haust as art.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.