A few years ago, I had checked in with a long-time motorcycle shop, here in San Diego, to inquire if there were any “vintage Honda” bikes or parts lying about the premises. The kind owner said that at one time he had a “CB92” in the shop, but it seemed to have disappeared over the years, so other than that, he didn’t have much to offer.
Fast forward to June 2014 and the shop has been sold to an enthusiast who took on the task of de-constructing the shop inventory, sorting it all out and selling off whatever wasn’t appropriate to the new business model.
A good friend had been in touch with the old owner over the years and stopped in periodically to check on him and the shop. When he discovered a CB92 Fuel tank sitting in a display case, he asked whether there was a bike to go with it… and there was… sort of. I rushed down to see what was there and available for sale, in the midst of a large scale reorganization of the leftover bikes and parts arrayed around the premises.
I scooted right down to the shop and met the new owner, Rick, who is a huge motorcycle enthusiast (among other hobbies and pursuits) and he offered to let me have a look at the CB92 remains, which were up on a loft shelf, about 15 feet off the floor. I crawled up the aluminum ladder and was directed to a little dark blue chassis, wedged between a number of other non-Hondas. I only had an overhead view due to the wedged together machines, but could easily verify that it was an early 1960 CB92 with the original “Ace” handlebars, levers and alloy body trim parts. Unfortunately, it was sitting on the flooring, not on wheels. The seat, exhaust system, wheels and front fender were all absent with nothing set aside nearby in the way of spares/original parts.
I have only known of about 5-6 CB92s residing in the San Diego area during the last 50 years of being a Honda enthusiast, so it was a rare opportunity to get at least part of one to start with. Perhaps, the other parts might just show up during a more extensive search of the storage areas, hidden within the building. I indicated an interest in the bike and the fuel tank and Rick said he would get it out of there within a day or two. So, I waited a day or two, and then drove back down to see what was happening with the bike. Fortunately, just about the time I arrived, they were about to bring the CB92 chassis down from the loft. Despite having a forklift handy, there were enough strong bodies to just muscle it out of the long-term parking spot, onto a large wooden door/shelf piece which was hoisted along the ladder rails. With three guys on the top and me, plus another worker on the sides, the whole chassis was slid down the ladder at about a 60 degree angle and set on a wooden crate which was positioned nearby.
It was sad to see the bike in such poor condition, however it was genuine, original and 75% there anyway. The frame number was CB92-011045, with a CB92E-011047 engine number. Obviously, a factory pairing for the unit, but the engine was seized solid from years of storage and who knows what kind of history in the past. I hadn’t owned a CB92 since 1991, so this was a treat for the moment, anyway.
In the days to follow, I searched extensively throughout the cluttered shop, seeking anything that looked like a Honda part. I did find a 1961 CB77 front wheel, a set of extended CL72 forks with a CB77 front wheel installed, a dry-sump Dream shock absorber and a dual seat, but nothing more for the CB92. It seemed futile to continue looking and considering the lack of spares available in the US to bring this bike back to full function without breaking the bank, I decided to offer it to a enthusiast in SE Asia, who gladly jumped at the opportunity, knowing full-well that there were hard to find parts which were not available with the bike purchase.
In an odd twist of fate, I turned to unearthing vintage Yamaha parts from some upstairs shelves, recovering a fuel tank and part of a rare 1958-59 Yamaha racer engine assembly. I spent another couple of afternoons sifting and sorting through mounds of ancient parts, occasionally finding something that was Japanese in origin. I was on the “last day” of searching when I went back into a high shelf, at the rear of the building and found, in a pile of wheels and parts, a rear hub and brake plate for a CB92! I set those parts aside and continued to search through the Yamaha parts area, when I picked up a sprocket carrier which had three of four hub drive bolts installed. At first I thought it was another NSU part, as they were plentiful right next to the Yamaha bits. I set it aside and took the CB92 hub parts downstairs to show Rick. I think he was amazed that I could have identified it among all the piles of parts, but I was sure that it was indeed the hub I needed for the bike.
Taking the hub back to the chassis, which is sitting on a roller dolly, it finally occurred to me that the sprocket carrier I saw earlier in the day was the last part missing for the rear hub assembly! I was back to the shop the next day and shot up the stairs straight to where I recalled leaving the part. I scooped it up, looked at it carefully and verified that this was the missing section of the CB92 hub. In the meantime, I had removed the front wheel from the Scrambler chopper fork setup and rolled it over to the front of the CB92 chassis. I was able to use the CB77 axle as a test piece, which fit perfectly into both legs of the CB92 fork suspension arm. It certainly looks like a Super Hawk front wheel will fit easily into a CB92 fork assembly as a substitute for the original parts. The CB92 front fender is attached to the L&R front wheel brake panels, whereas the front fender of a CB77 is attached just to the fork sliders, so matching a fender to a CB77-wheeled bike will be a bit challenging.
After “making the deal” on the bike, I had to add additional charges for the newly-found rear hub assembly, which is still missing the stub axle and inner axle, plus brake arm and stay. In messages with my non-related UK friend, David Silver, he mentioned that he had come across a couple of CB92s in a garden shed, which had suffered greatly from the elements. One bike was complete and was to be restored; however the spare bike was available for parts and included a whole front wheel and fender! Well, if I had known that I could come up with all of these critical parts, I might have hung onto the bike and done it as a long-term project. Such is life, though and I turned my new buyer onto David’s CB92 parts bike as a resource for the Benly SS.
With upcoming knee surgery in Oct. and a steady line-up of bikes coming and going for repairs, I think that letting the Benly go was still in my best interest. Still, when you think that you aren’t going to be able to find the parts you need to build a bike, invariably you are proven wrong! When I rebuilt my 1961 CB77, in the middle of the engine build I was able to buy a 1961-specific NOS crankshaft for the bike. I hadn’t seen any new crankshafts for CB77s for sale in a long time, yet when I needed one for my unique machine, one appeared. The world continues to be a source of mystery and amazing surprises. Keep the faith and keep searching! That stuff is STILL out there waiting for you…
Bill “MrHonda” Silver