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1966 CB77… Today’s Honda bike du jour

1966 CB77 with steel forks, but later style speedometer. Hard to find these bikes with decent front fenders, these days.
1966 CB77 with steel forks, but later style speedometer. Hard to find these bikes with decent front fenders, these days.
Bill Silver

This little Super Hawk has been rattling around SoCal for quite awhile, mostly in an unready state, but always for sale. My recollection of it, in the past year, was a single image, taken along the right side with little in the way of details about the condition or functionality of this particular vehicle posted and reposted in Craigslist for several months. Finally, it seemed to have dropped off the map, but its fate was unknown to me until last week.

A new CL posting popped up last Thursday morning, with the seller sounding somewhat desperate. Something about a tax situation and the need for CASH within 24 hours made an intriguing story, but in the end it is all about the bike. After leaving an email reply to the posting, I received a call from the owner with more details about the bike and his situation. As he spoke of the previous owner, the details of this machine came back to me, a little at a time. I had spoken with the previous owner briefly about the Super Hawk and I came away from the conversation with muted enthusiasm about what he was offering. It is one of those “retired guy” project bikes that have a lot of effort expended, but the quality of the work leaves one wanting in the end.

It was a 50 mile trip, one-way, just to go up and view it, but I had some extra time on my hands and some cash in the bank, so I went for it. About an hour later I was gazing upon a mostly stock CB77 with serial numbers in the 23,xxx range on engine and frame. For reasons unknown, the frame is black, but the fuel tank and front end sheet metal were all painted close to the Scarlet Red, typically seen on many 1960s Hondas. The speedometer read a little over 6k miles, but the face was faded and we found out later on that the meters both needed an overhaul.

The stock 26mm Keihin carburetors had little pod filters installed in place of the original OEM style parts and the mufflers were probably some EMGO pattern universal items bracketed to the original muffler mounts at the rear. The seat cover was in very good condition with the HONDA stencil on the back, but you could see that the original rubber blocks which created the cover foundation were failing and falling over inside. One of the ears of the license plate bracket were broken off, but the part was available for welding back on again. All of the front cables had black housings, including the tachometer cable. The clutch cable was routed in a very unusual way, running back on the left side of the frame, around the carburetors and then laterally into the kickstarter cover. When removed, the cable proved to be about a foot too long.

The front tire was a 3.00x18 IRC instead of the stock 2.75x18 ribbed tire that came with the bike. The rear tire was a 3.50x18 with good tread, however the casing was deeply cracked and weather-checked all over requiring immediate replacement. The rear end of the bike has OEM shocks with plastic covers and even featured an unbroken chain guard! The kickstarter arm had been removed because it tended to flop downwards when the engine was running. This condition is generally due to mis-installation of some kind, either winding the spring backwards or installing the return spring backwards in the first place. The “worst case” scenario with moving kickstarter arms is when the shaft rollers dig into the end of the kickstarter shaft and start repositioning the kickstarter shaft end in response to on/off throttle settings. In the end, we removed the cover and discovered the return spring installed backwards, causing the kickstarter arm to droop down when released.

Someone had chosen the incorrect battery for this application, so the terminals wound up on the opposite side of the battery, which required some extension cabling to be made up to complete the battery circuit. The battery was dead anyway and there were clear signs of sulfation in the cells, as seen through the plastic battery case. Nothing that a correct 12N9-3A battery can’t correct…

After an hour and a half of cleaning jets, jumpstarting the battery and a general checkover, the bike fired up and ran at a high idle, but sounded reasonably good given its recent long sleep. I made an offer that was pretty fair for both of us, considering the circumstances and left it there for retrieval on the following Thursday.

In the time between purchase and pickup, a new correct battery was ordered, along with air filter tubes and replacement OEM style filters from various vendors. Aftermarket gray cables were purchased for the clutch and front brake. There was a new throttle cable supplied with the bike, so one less thing to purchase this time.

In just seven days, the majority of the parts arrived in time for the day’s work shift, which followed some manic wrenching the night before on the carburetors, getting them setup for the new cable and some fresh fuel to hopefully start up the next day. Friday afternoon brought warm weather for driveway wrenching on the bike and parts flew out and back into the chassis and engine.

It was necessary to hookup a 10amp battery charger to overcome the battery’s lack of juice due to the sulfation problems. A couple of quick kicks got it started, but then the fun begins as the high idle condition was hindering the setting of the ignition timing. Slowly working the ignition timing backwards, then readjusting the carburetor slides eventually resulted in a decent idle speed with ignition timing close to OEM specs. The engine sounded pretty quiet and there are no oil leaks underneath, so there is hope that no more “big jobs” will be needed to get the bike back fully functional again. When you discover bikes that are not built close to normal specs, it is hard to know what was done and what needs to be done in order to assure that the bike can be a reliable and fun ride, into the near future.

This bike is a bit of a transitional model, featuring a flat seat, later model concentric speedo-tachometer gauge set, but still retaining the early-style steel forks of the pre-66 editions. I had to disconnect the meter set, due to whining and fluctuating needles during operation. One half of the speedometer needle was broken off and is floating around inside the housing, I suppose. I send my instruments down to Foreign Speedo in San Diego, who seem to be able to rebuild just about any of the Nippon-Seiki meters and have them ready in a few weeks. Over the years, I have left damaged units with them for spare parts, so perhaps now they will be able to use the spares for rebuilding this bike’s speedo-tach unit.

Upcoming is the first test ride around the block to see if the brakes work and there are no other glaring issues which require immediate attention. I hope to be able to turn it within a few days/weeks, so I can put my attention back upon the domestic CL72 and determine what else that bike will require in the future.

So, for today, it is Honda du jour in the CB77 flavor. Can’t wait to give it a run around the block for its latest test ride since last year.

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