Why a 700cc Honda V4?

Classic Motorcycle Mechanics - - HONDA VF750F -

Al­though the bike tested here has a retro­fit­ted 750cc en­gine, it started life as a 700. The lower ca­pac­ity was in­tro­duced by Honda and other Ja­panese man­u­fac­tur­ers to by­pass leg­is­la­tion in­tro­duced by the US gov­ern­ment in 1983. At the time, Har­ley-david­son was the only large man­u­fac­turer of motorcycles in the USA in a mar­ket dom­i­nated by Ja­panese bikes. Clyde Harnsworth, re­port­ing for the New York Times on April 2, 1982, said: “In an un­usu­ally strong pro­tec­tion­ist ac­tion, Pres­i­dent Rea­gan to­day or­dered a ten­fold in­crease in tar­iffs for im­ported heavy­weight motorcycles.” The ac­tion was in­tended for one pur­pose only, to pro­tect sales of Har­ley-david­son motorcycles. ‘Heavy­weight’ meant over 700cc. The im­port duty went from 4.4% to an eye wa­ter­ing 49.4%. Vaughan Beals, Har­ley-david­son chair­man of the day, said at the time: “We are de­lighted.” Oh, what a sur­prise! Mean­while Hiroshi Ota, spokesman at the Ja­panese em­bassy in the USA, was re­strained in his re­sponse: “We con­sider it un­for­tu­nate.” Honda and oth­ers had the last, (hol­low) laugh, by build­ing 700cc ver­sions of their 750s. No won­der Ron­ald Rea­gan’s ad­min­is­tra­tion waited un­til April 2 to an­nounce the leg­is­la­tion. If they’d done it on April Fool’s Day, it would have been mis­taken for some sort of joke…

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