With a fresh, correct style 12N9-3A battery, the electrical system was on the menu this day. I was concerned that there was only one cable attached to the old, backwards battery, however removal of some black electrical tape and a plastic sleeve revealed that the battery hot cable and wiring harness positive terminals were joined together with a bolt/nut and once the extension cable was removed, the OEM connections were right where they were supposed to be. With the new battery in place, a quick recheck of the electrical systems proved out to be functional except the lights were not working at all.
I recall seeing and removing an added rogue ground wire, which was connected to a headlight mount bolt inside the shell. The original 10mm bolt, which threads into the headlight shell, was replaced with a smaller 8mm through bolt and nut/washer to retain the wire, however it didn’t seem to be hooked up to anything. I removed the wire and bolt/nut and replaced the 8mm bolt with an actual CB77 chromed 10mm hex head bolt and washer. I went testing for 12v in the lighting circuits and had power EVERYWHERE, including the ground wires! All the wiring connectors were assembled correctly, according to their wiring colors, so all that was left was to put a ground lead onto the headlight shell from a known source, which in this case was one of the horn mounting bolts.
When I plugged that grounded wire back into the harness ground circuits everything came back to life, except for the neutral light. There was power in and out of the bulb socket, so the neutral light switch or wiring must be defective. In the final analysis, when the previous owner had taken the front forks apart for painting, he neglected to provide a clean ground path for the headlight shell/fork ears/covers to return the headlight power circuits back to chassis ground. The temporary ground lead is a band-aid for now, but removing and cleaning the front end parts to remake the ground path is not on my current list of projects.
With air in the tires, oil in the crankcase and fuel in the tank, the bike fired back up, but then went to a high-idle due to the right side carburetor slide sticking in the bore. So, Seat-tank back off and a little massage time spent on getting the high spots off the carb body and slide. Slides moving smoothly now, so bodywork back installed and light off time, once again. Engine fires up cold with the touch of the starter button and warms up quickly... of course it is 70 degrees out here in SoCal. After a few minutes of warm-up, it is slipped into gear and headed down the street. My test track roads start downhill so the bike eases into its Super Hawk cadence and gradually increases speed and smoothes out in top gear. I let it have its head and look/listen for any odd sensations or noises, but none appear.
This bike was a 23,xxxx series machine, which came with the steel front forks, but has the later speedometer and had been equipped with the “riser” handlebars. Most CB77 fans will install flat bars, no matter what they came with and that is what this bike received. There was an odd collection of black cables on the bike, some might be the reissued OEM Honda cables and others from sources unknown. I ordered up a set of the “Retrobike” replacement flat bar cables, which all fit fine and look the part of the original issued cable set.
So far, no smoke, no major oil leaks, nothing nasty to report. However the return home coming back uphill under ¾ power revealed a bit of slipping clutch syndrome, probably cured with a set of the CB500 (323) clutch springs, which are heavier than the stock 275-000 code springs, but not like the wrist-buster 275-810 coils. I installed the 323 springs in my 1961 CB77 which was giving some slipping clutch indicators, especially when cold and that stopped the slipping completely at any temperatures. I can feel the difference in the lever pull, though, so it isn’t quite as easy as it once was in that respect.
The bike had a red-painted rear tail light bracket when received, but one of the ears had fractured off, so I black replacement was fished out of the spares box and installed. I recognized the Asian-repro “HM” letters on the tail light lens, which was slightly shallower than the OEM lens. I used up the last 2 tail light lens screws I had, in order to reinstall a correct lens on the tail light assembly.
I recalled having a set of custom stainless steel header pipes, which could work on the bike, so dug them out and fitted them up with correct CA/CB early flanges, in place of the CL flanges that were installed. When the old header pipes were removed, it was apparent that the Asian aftermarket exhaust setup included the header pipes, which were actually for a Dream. Dreams headers are a couple of inches longer than those on a CB77, which changes the primary pipe length and the pipe resonance factors. Shorter pipes work better at higher rpms. So, now the bike looks MUCH better around the exhaust system and runs even better than before.
Overall, the bike seems fine, other than the mentioned deficiencies. It is rare to find these bikes now with an intact front fender and decent wheels, which this bike does have installed. It’s a great “rider-quality” machine for someone who longs to hear and feel the sound of these great 1960s Hondas again, either for the first time or to relive their youth.
Bill “MrHonda” Silver