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’75 Honda CR750 Yoshimura Special

Posted on August 24, 2013 by Andrew in Classic, Racer. 23 comments

Being a child of the 1970s, I fondly remember a few formative moments in my motorcycle education. SS Ducatis. The Fonz. Evel Knievel. And, most importantly, Mad Max. We’ve talked before about this Australian movie par excellence, and I don’t think it’s an overstatement to say that it not only represents a milestone in the history of movie making, but also in motorcycle trend-setting. In a way it crystallised the ascendance of Japanese motorcycles – something that had started over a decade before at the Isle of Man with Soichiro Honda and continued in the 70s with the legendary Honda Daytona wins. Suddenly, kids like me weren’t dreaming of riding Italian or English bikes, but instead a new generation of Far Eastern dream machines with their race-bred OHCs, in-line four blocks and new-school traditions. To me, this bike is everything a cool motorcycle needs to be. Black. Fared. Flat-backed. Bad-assed. Not moved? We suggest you check your pulse for signs of life and read on.

Here’s Angus Dykman. He’s the boss at Northeast Sportscar, a classic car and motorbike dealership basted in East Hampton, New York. “The collector who owned this bike for the last 37 years related to us that it was professionally built in 1975 from the frame-up by Yoshimura North, with no expense spared. It is believed that it was built on commission for a privateer race team that wanted to compete in the Bol d’Or 24 endurance race in France, as well as the Lemans 24 hour race. But the team’s efforts never materialized and the bike never went to Europe. Instead, the bike was immediately purchased by the aforementioned collector and drained of all its fluids. It went directly into his extensive art collection and was stored in his living room as a prized piece for the next 3 decades.

“From what we were told, Yoshimura built the motor to their full race specs. They fitted their aluminum racing tank and racing saddle. They equipped it with authentic Honda CR750 CR31 carburetors, the CR750 megaphone exhaust and CR750 tachometer. They fabricated a custom aluminum oil tank, used aircraft style oil lines and a heavy duty oil cooler, and fitted an ARD racing magneto. They chose Ceriani forks and triple trees up front, and a Dresda swingarm with Koni air shocks in the rear. The bike rides on amazing Kimtab magnesium wheels and Goodyear racing slicks. Stopping power is provided by Hunt plasma-cut triple discs. Many of the parts on the bike, especially the carburetors, tach, and magnesium wheels are now extremely hard to find and worth quite a large sum in their own right. The bike is fitted with high powered Marchal headlamps, as well as a low-mounted Cibie spotlight on the right front fork. The fit and finish is exquisite, down to the perfectly braided safety wire on various nuts and fasteners.”

“The bike was recently acquired by a long time friend of mine, who also happens to be a CB750 expert. He has owned over 60 Honda CB750s, including 15 sandcasts, and has won first place at Mid-Ohio for a perfectly restored CB750 that he restored himself. Our CR750 was shown to the public for the first time at the 2012 Mid-Ohio Vintage Motorcycle Days, where it won 1st Place in its class with motorcycle hall of famer Craig Vetter judging. The bike still retains its original 1975 title.”

“This bike is a moment in time that has been captured and preserved. It was the often short-lived moment after its birth but before its use as a racing machine. It exudes a seriousness and sense of purpose. The Goodyear racing slicks are hard as a rock, no longer race-worthy, but true to the bike’s racing heritage. The ARD magneto eliminates the need for a battery and is set at full advance, and the CR31 carbs have no idle circuit- and yet there’s never been a dead bug splattered on it! The tank hasn’t had gas in it for 37 years. The mufflers do not even appear to have carbon deposits inside of them.  The bike is a testament not only to precision engineering but to careful preservation. Rarely do we see a beautiful piece of racing machinery in this condition, before it goes through the inevitable deterioration.”

“The bike still transmits the same feeling of excitement that its builders and its owner must have felt at the moment it was completed. And one can look at the bike, enjoying light’s reflection off its surfaces, and wonder about what might have happened. Could it have fought it out for the closest finish in Lemans history? Perhaps it would have been part of a bad accident. Would they have won first overall? Would they have experienced mechanical difficulty and managed a heroic repair? Would they have beaten the factory teams? Or would they have simply finished respectably and went home to their wives and children?”

“We will never know the answers, but the bike’s condition and thoughtful design more than speak for themselves. It is a national show winner, built to the nines with a multitude of rare and weapons grade period parts. We doubt there are very many bikes of this caliber that have been so well preserved.”

Infatuated? Obsessed? Stark raving mad on it? You’d be crazy if you weren’t. And you’ll be glad to hear that Angus has the bike up for sale. So if you feel like developing a drinking problem, growing some sideburns and risking life and limb on one of Japan’s finest moments just drop him a line. Us and Mel Gibson will be mighty glad you did.

  • CanyonCarver

    Once again, this builder knocked it out of the park. This was a good read. This machine’s almost ‘steampunk’ look works so well. It’s really talking to me, with all the great details like the headlights, tail section, and all the various unique touches.

  • CanyonCarver

    I’ posted too quickly, before reading the entire story; I had stopped at the first paragraph. This is an amazing discovery. It makes the bike so much more special!

    • PatrickD
    • LP

      …and please….never use the term ‘steampunk’ to describe a factory works purpose-built racing machine ever again.

      • Sman

        Yes! 2nd that! This isn’t a glued together collage of “re-purposed” antique watch gears for sale on etsy.

  • A priceless piece of motorcycle history frozen in time. In some ways its a shame its never been raced but in other ways it is a beautiful reminder of what once was.

  • ecosse

    Ha! This bike is in the running for Bike Of The Month over at the SOHC/4 Forum. Tough choices again this month.

  • 3s and 7s

    Well the boys knew what they were doing when they put that together huh. Magnificent. Only problem is if you owned it it’d be very tempting to ride it but in a lot of ways it’s much more special left as is. Don’t know if the motor is ever turned but if not I’d gamble on a stuck valve at least. For what it is though, a moment in time as the article says, it’s perfect.

  • Can you imagine going for it at night with those lights ablaze? Hell yes!

    • itsmefool

      I’d imagine people could see that thing coming from a couple of Texas counties away!


    Some other builder should get permission to copy it or better yet Honda should make a few.

  • Davidabl2

    Like an insect in amber. Just as dead in some ways: nobody is likely to ever run it at this point.

    • It’d make a hell of a documentary if someone were to run it…

      • Davidabl2

        Brilliant idea..esp. if some detective work was done to fill out the backstory.
        And we were there for the break-in we could get some idea of what
        the bike’s like to ride in comparo with modern iron.
        I think you have got a series concept, right there.
        “Jay Leno, buy that bike!”

        • arnold

          I’ll be darned if I can find the reference, but I remember a NASCAR guy (vintage) telling his driver to lap at a certain time, the crew chief and/ or owner thought that it would preserve the equipment, easier on the fuel and win the race on time, rather than sheer speed.
          Of coarse the end of the story was that they did win, or close to it by having less problems and consistency over rabbiting, and keep the leaders in sight.
          As much as I know about endurance racing (think thimble) consistent laps and zero major problems seem to still be the key.

          Doing that with today’s equipment winds the spring pretty tight.
          I’ll bet a dime that the spring was just as tight in the era represented by this killer example of the era.

  • Branden Hellman

    Simply breathtaking. Damnit if I cannot help but jump on Craigslist and ebay for a CB750.

  • Stuart Cutmore

    This is just gorgeous – Mad Max blew me away, especially because waiting for me in the car park at the back of the cinema was my Z9 …… getting on that bike after watching that movie was just amazing. I still watch the movie every few months, I just can’t resist it !

    • Woodie

      Paint MFP on the tail and you could see Goose giving it Maxi down the outback.
      I love it. As a piece of history it deserves to be left as it is, if it had ever been run it would be good to be run.
      After over 30 years stood it would take a complete teardown before you even turned it over let alone tried it with Gas in. I would love to see someone build a copy and thrash it round LeMans.

  • jaspered

    i cant stop looking at it…. it embodies everything i love

  • sullyspeedco

    Please someone Put gas in it and ride like you stole it!

  • Zundap

    I’d pay to see someone kick start this one. ..Z

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  • Arion

    The adapter plates and adjustment mechanisms that mount the brake calipers on the Ceriani forks seem quite bulky. That weight plus the fork mounted spot light would seem to offset any unsprung weight reduction from the magnesium wheel. Still, interesting and nice to see.