Happy Medium: The 1969 Honda CB175K3

Restoring and riding a 1969 CB175K3, the successor to the well-known Honda CB160.

| January/February 2016

1969 Honda CB175K3
Claimed power:
20hp @ 10,000rpm
Top speed:
80mph (est.)
174cc air-cooled OHC parallel twin, 52mm x 41mm bore and stroke, 9:1 compression ratio
Weight (w/half tank fuel): 297lb (135kg)
Fuel capacity/MPG:
2.4gal (9ltr)/60mpg (est.)
Price then/now:
$650 (est.)/$500-$2,500

Remember Trickle-Down? The theory of supply-side economics that became popular during President Ronald Reagan’s administration? That phrase could also be used to describe the development of Honda’s immensely popular range of sub-200cc twins from the 1960s and 1970s.

When Honda first started importing motorcycles into the U.S. at the end of the 1950s, the bikes looked pretty weird alongside the British and American bikes of the day. Honda made extensive use of pressed steel in the construction of its frames, fenders and leading-link forks. The early Benlys and Dreams even used a single pressing as a combined backbone frame and rear fender. To Joe Biker, who was used to frames and forks made of steel tubes, the aesthetics of the early Hondas were … challenging.

Those pressed steel frames also made their bikes seem cheap, and Honda soon realized their premium sporting bikes needed to get with the program. The first Honda motorcycles to dispense with pressed steel in favor of a more conventional tubular frame were the CB72 and CB77 Superhawk of 1961. While pressed steel continued to be the frame of choice for Honda’s touring CA range and smaller displacement machines, the future for its large bikes looked to be in bent tubes.


1/21/2018 1:31:54 AM

my first motorcycle was a 69 orange CB175. Wish I still had it. I wanted a 305 and was seriously looking at a imported 250 because it looked like the 305. A friend who had a 305 said, no, get the CB175. Glad I did. Sure had a lot of fun with it.

1/21/2018 1:24:13 AM

My first motorcyle. In Orange too. Wish I had it still. Person I sold it too painted it metalic purple.

2/9/2016 8:48:31 AM

You know what else is so great about these bikes? You can race them all day on the street, and nobody knows you're racing, even if they see you dragging pegs!

Ride 'Em, Don't Hide 'Em Getaway

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