celebrating 40+ years of motorcycling

Chapter 5 – You meet the nicest people

Fourth Contact:

We were now living in Newcastle and going to school beside Lake Macquarie. It was, oddly enough, in Sports Car World, that the next contact with motorcycling occurred. In 1964 the most popular and widely read magazine after Wheels and Modern Motor carried a cover story about these strange cycles out of Japan called “Honda”. Accompanied by a full colour cover and several colour spreads inside, the magazine examined these quaint imports and rhapsodised about their incredible mechanical sophistication. Twin overhead cams, one carburettor for each cylinder, constant mesh gearbox, electric start; these were ground-breaking features in 1964.

Remember that, at this time, only luxury and “performance” cars, well out of the reach of the average man’s budget, had features like these. And yet, here was this cheeky Japanese manufacturer wrapping all these features up in one amazingly cheap and easy-to-operate motorcycle. It wasn’t SCW that coined the “You meet the nicest people on a Honda” slogan, but amazed reviews like the one they published helped to spawn the concept.

Before even the 750/4 made its first appearance in 1967, the death-knell of the British motorcycle industry had sounded. And suddenly, the roads began to fill with what became the ubiquitous Honda “step-through” and the similar models that were made by Yamaha. Along with the step-through, the 250cc “Dream” and the 350cc “Super Dream” turned a whole new generation on to motorcycling.Despite this insight into the future, looking back on it now, I don’t recall it having any impact upon me apart from the engineering and specifications being fascinating. I still had no interest in following motorcycling or riding one.

Yes, it was still cars for me:

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