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The Exclusive Sandcast - A Definitive Manual

This document is not to be recognized as an exhaustive resource or an authoritative treatise on the 1968 � 1969 Honda 750cc Four cylinder motorcycle. Based on all available literature, the author assumes the reader may or may not have the opportunity to study the various literature, period and contemporary, to the Honda 750cc Four. This compilation may be treated as a means for the sandcast owner to collect and organize information for the purpose of serving to reveal and record differences in and between Honda 750cc Four cylinder machines. These machines include, but are not limited to, all Honda Four cylinder 750cc motorcycles built prior to the actual production of the CB750 and the motorcycles distributed to Franchised Honda dealers, intended for the retail buyer.

The intent of this Manual is for the Sandcast owner to identify, remove or add information as new discoveries, specific to changes of these machines are identified. Some common assumptions will be made, based on factory literature, periodical magazines of the day and specific observations by owners of these machines. It would be exciting to receive information from members of the industry, particularly the Honda factory who were associated with the development and distribution of the Honda CB750. It is hoped debate and controversy will engender a spirited and thorough research to support or disprove all that has been recorded as common knowledge about these motorcycles.

It is important for the reader to bear in mind a number of considerations when studying factory literature. Based on the author�s experience, one cannot make sweeping generalizations nor specific observations on differences in and between machines, based on any one piece the literature. The reader must consider dates when studying the literature to describe the differences in and between these machines. One must consider the forces and variables in place at the time the CB750 was conceptualized by it�s designers until the motorcycle was available to dealers for retail sales.

This writing will address considerations to be made when comparing factory literature to the actual machine. The reader cannot assume what is pictured in factory literature is how the motorcycle may or may not have appeared in actual form. There is recognition by various authors, Honda produced various forms of the CB750, until it was made available to dealers, sometime early to mid 1969.

This writing is intended largely to address machines only available to the retail buyer, beginning with CB750 100001. The assumption is being made, CB750 1000001 was actually available and actually delivered to a retail buyer. In order to address these production machines, the reader must, at times, consider the machines Honda produced prior to the CB750 becoming available to the retail buyer.

From development to production to distribution, the Honda 750 seems to fall into three categories: Prototype, Pre-Production and Production motorcycles. Based on information available today, whether that of personal ownership, factory and other period literature, it appears there were a number of distinctions between these three categories of machines. It must be noted, factory literature used pictures of prototype and re-production machines to depict or represent features on the production machines available to the retail buyer.

Honda�s research, development and testing of the prototype and pre-production motorcycles created sudden and significant changes within and between machines, but not always apparent or actually in place on the actual production motorcycle. These changes occurred rapidly and unannounced in a brief period of time, approximately late 1967 to early 1969. The development and changes made to the 750 were done in secret, privy only to the individuals with direct factory affiliation and other closely related principals. These changes in and between the three categories of machines resulted from Honda�s research, testing and development in preparation of the final result � a production run motorcycle, to be made available to franchised dealers for sales to retail buyers.

Literature of the day had to be prepared and made available to dealers and retail buyers at or before the date/time the production motorcycle was to be made available for distribution. The preparation of this literature would have been concurrent with the building of the prototype and pre-production machines. In order to make literature available, this literature would have to contain information and pictures of these early machines so as to depict or represent information or features on production machines, not yet available to the dealer or retail buyer.

From it�s prototype inception in 1967, the CB750 underwent rapid testing and development throughout 1968, prior to the Tokyo Auto Show, October 1968. In pre-production form, the 750 came to America, available for inspection by US dealers, at the Honda dealer�s convention in Las Vegas, January 1969. Therefore, it stands to reason, considering this time frame period, only pictures of prototype or pre-production machines would have been available in enough time to create literature used to market, sell or service a production motorcycle.

It is important to consider also, pictures and script used in the setup process to become a printer ready copy of factory approved literature was an expensive process, from the standpoint of time, materials and money. �Hard copy� photographs and written material, for the publishing of literature underwent a setup process performed largely by hand and was certainly not done with the computerized cut and paste features available today. Considering the rapid changes inherent to the development and testing of a pre-production machine, for the factory to keep literature current and depict an actual production machine would have been at the least difficult and at most impossible from a standpoint of time & money.

It can also be noted, manufacturers, when producing literature, were most interested in the intent or function a picture would perform. In other words, as long as a picture would serve to augment information by written descriptions, the actual written explanation of a function or procedure was of more importance than the accuracy of what was actually photographed.

When referencing literature it is important to have a review of literature in order to accurately examine the literature. Literature shall be referenced when ever possible by author, date and/or title.

There were at least 6 variations of the so-called Honda 750:

I have also noted that the literature, whether Factory or non-factory, use pictures in the same manual, brochure, magazine article of different bikes. Some magazines show Pre-Production and Production pictures in the same writing or piece of literature. The early factory Owner's & Workshop Manuals picture Prototype and Pre-Production machines. March 1969 "Cycle Guide" has a road test with a number of pictures of the pre-production model # 1. To my knowledge, it is the 1st known American road test of the new HONDA 750. This article contains NO later pre-production model pictures. The British magazine, April 1969, "Motorcycle Sport, features a late pre-production modelbike that was at the Brighton show and should not be be confused with the non-"sandcast" red bike that was the widely reviewed by British motorcyle press by early 1970. Also VERY interesting - the March 1970 issue of "Motorcycle World" documents the machine they road test as CB750 100024, it had about 5,500 miles on it at testing time.  The road test editor noted the bike been through the numerous road tests by other magazines during the Summer of 1969. The back cover of this magazine has a full page color picture of this bike # 24, obviously taken in the Autumn as the leaves are turning colours on the trees in the back ground. Too bad other magazines did not document the serial number of the bike they were testing.

I am aware of no contemporarily identified factory authority on these bikes, at least no one who was at the factory or associated with Honda and the development of the Four, who has stepped forward and said, what was what. With exception is Bob Hansen.  An article he provided pictures of the Late Prototype machine and letters he received from the higher ups at Honda in 1968, during the development of the bike in it's prototype stages. The letters discuss his direct influence to the Honda factory's administration and designers.

If nothing else, this is hopefully entertaining at least, accurately informative at most and NOT authoritative at all. I have known in my lifetime two old motorcycle men (now dead) who worked for the Harley-Davidson & Indian motorcycle factories in the 20's through the 40's and when a new motorcycle model would be introduced to the public and go through development stages such as the CB750 did, whatever parts the factory had on hand (unless they were a part determined for recall) these parts were used until exhaustion, then an updated or 'superceded' part was used. Would be nice to know, from someone who was associated directly with the factory and who also worked directly with American Honda, what these variations in bikes represent as far as the 6 different "models" I have made note of.  For example, what testing was performed on the Early Prototype, followed by the Late Prototype and the concommitant decisions made leading to issuance of the Early Pre-Production bike made available to the press, as roadtested by Cycle Guide, March 1969.