QotW: What’s the greatest Japanese Nostalgic Motorcycle?

Honda super cub c100

We talk a lot about cars here, but really, the most Japanese form of transportation is the motorcycle. From pimped scooters to crotch rockets the variety and performance spectrum of Nihon’s bikes is just as great as that of their cars. Therefore, we ask you:

What is the greatest Japanese nostalgic motorcycle?

With 55 years of continuous manufacture and over 60 million units sold, we agree with James May that the Honda Super Cub is perhaps the greatest machine ever built by human hands. And, as the primary mode of transport in third world countries across the globe, the Super Cub, it’s probably granted more humans the gift of mobility than any invention since the wheel itself.

What say you, dear reader? As always, the most entertaining or inspiring comment by next Monday will receive a toy. Click through to see the winner from last week’s question, “What’s the most environmentally friendly JNC?” 


This week’s winner is James, who nominated the first generation Honda Civic CVCC.

My pick is the First Generation Honda Civic CVCC.

A car, built throughout most of the 70s, was revolutionary in engine design. The Compound Vortex Controlled Combustion Engine (CVCC) was debuted in 1975, using modern technology eliminating harmful emissions which almost all other cars were emitting. When the American government decided to stop these emissions in all cars by forcing manufacturers to fit catalytic converters and use unleaded petrol, the Civic’s CVCC design produced so little emissions that it was exempt. It also used under 6l/100km of petrol. Today, this is still an impressive figure for fuel economy.

It was a car far further ahead of its time than any other American car made with it in the 70′s that created a firm base for Honda to build on for the next 40 years.

Omedetou! Your comment has earned you a rare Hot Wheels Super Speeders mystery pack Mazda RX-7!


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23 Responses to QotW: What’s the greatest Japanese Nostalgic Motorcycle?

  1. dankan said:

    It’s a toughie, but I think the original Honda CB750. The original UJM and superbike all rolled up into one. When it came out, exotic MV Agustas were the only bikes with 4 cylinders that didn’t have grand prix numberplates on the front. And those MV’s were crap.

    Suddenly the average person could have the most technically advanced, exotic and spectacular bike ever conceived. From the guys who would sell you a Super Cub. It was such a leap forward over everything else around it, and has such an iconic look now that you can essentially demarcate the motorcycle market into pre- and post-CB750 periods. It’s the Honda Civic, Toyota 2000GT and Hakosuka all rolled into one.

  2. MOCMAN said:

    Well Motorcyclist Magazine celebrated their 100th anniversary last year and they usually name a motorcycle of the year. However last year they decided to name the CB750 the “Motorcycle of the Century” which I think says it all.

  3. jeff said:

    Honda CB77
    Arguably the first Japanese bike to dominate motorcycle grand prix racing.

  4. E-AT_me said:

    Suzuki RE5.. Because it’s a rotory engined MOTORCYCLE!!!

    Yeah, I know all the Hondas are better, but c’mon! It’s a spinning Dorito on two wheels!

    • Tyler said:

      Second this, even though I’ve only ridden a Honda Trail 90 and an Aero 80.

      A few years ago I spotted an RE-5 at the Gilmore car museum and about shipped my pants. Really cool bike.

  5. Expulsion said:

    I’ll continue my chain of not-so-serious-but-also-very-serious answers with this one:


  6. dickie said:

    Fuji Rabbit.

    Not technically a motorcycle, but it was relatively advanced and fast for a scooter. Plus if you have a grudge against someone who happens to own a Vespa, you can point out that your ride of choice predates theirs and is therefore cooler.

    If that doesn’t work, perhaps some Nori prosthetic eyebrows will do the trick.

  7. Danny said:

    The Kawasaki kz1000, because when I first saw Mad Max and everyone else walked away fr the film thinking of the blower on Mel’s interceptor, I was captivated by the original sportbike as goose dumps the clutch with the revs stacked, rear tire smoking away..

  8. Matt said:

    Definitely the Honda NR with oval pistons and 8 valves per cylinder. It was an astonishing technical achievement to say the least.


  9. cesariojpn said:

    The Honda Motocompo. Why? Cause “You’re Under Arrest,” thats why!!

  10. Arnold said:

    Either the Honda CB 750 or the CB77. But to me, this is the greatest Japanese motorcycle. Because it’s mine 😉 [url]http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-Bu1X_za3uCA/TvuEFUJ_FmI/AAAAAAAAANQ/o6kYZzpjVZc/s0/SS%2Bmooi%2Bweer.jpg[/url]

  11. Brian said:

    750-Four (aka CB750). Hands down.

  12. sabin simard said:

    I agree with all suggestions of classic japanese bikes and i want to joint mine to them .Have you ever listen to a 1979 Honda CBX six cylinders running !!!!!! What an engine and like it’s usualy my taste, this engine sounded far much better with it’s six into two STOCK exhaust. This engine was magic, it’s like 5MGE-7MGE or maranello territory in probably better,it was a concerto,and if it was not enough, this engine was beautiful.It was the major subject in the bike styling and in my only opinion, the first CBX is the most beautiful japanese bike of all times and the last of the Honda classic period. A friend of my father was Honda motorcycle dealer at that wonderful time, a time when practicaly all japanese motorcycles was highly DESIRABLE compare to today period. You can’t imagine a kid wondering to listen that engine running in the showroom of the dealership in December of 1978! Nothing today come close to THAT,believe me. The Kawasaki KZ1300 was a concerto machine too and not to forget the sublime MACH IV triple two strokes H2 750 or the not less sublime 1973 Z1 900. I was fifteen years old at that time and i will never forget that wonderful period of creativity and excitement and it’s always a feast for the eyes to see them preserved or totaly restored in full stock form at some classic cars shows.

  13. Rod Panhard said:

    It’s easy to say that it’s the CB750. For those of you who aren’t as interested in motorcycles as cars, the effect of the CB750 was replicated when Honda launched the Accord. The CB750 was the motorcycle that put every motorcycle manufacturer on notice. What was left of the British motorcycle industry was staking their future on the relatively robust economy of the U.S. Yet, dollar-to-yen exchange rates were so low, that the CB750 was at least 30 percent more affordable than it’s British, Italian or German competition. Plus, it was a 4-banger, had a disc brake up front, and reliability that the Harley-Davidson couldn’t match. Keep in mind that in 1970, at 750cc motorcycle was big.

    Now, that being said, it’s arguable that the the CB77 & CB 305 & CB350 and it’s variants are more important. The styling changed, but there weren’t enormous earth shattering differences among the variants. One could argue that this bike is more important because more people learned to ride on these bikes in the U.S., which was critical to not only Honda’s success, but the success of motorcycling as it evolved from being “basic transportation” in the post war era and into something we do for fun in what were developing economies, and are now considered “First World.”

    I guess a shorter way of answering this question is that if you ask someone who rides a motorcycle, and is older than, say, 37 years, what his first bike was, he’s probably going to tell you it was “A Honda 305” or “A Honda 350.” And yes, even the Harley guys will say that.

  14. Darryl said:

    I grew up in a motorcycling family- we went through a variety of the CB’s. My mom rode a CB350, then moved up to a 550, and dad had the CB750 for quite awhile, then moved to the big(at the time) Yamaha Venture, the one that used the lightly de-tuned V-Max 1200cc V4. That thing really moved out for a touring bike.

    And of course, let me throw in the usual, “I wish we still had those!” line.

    I agree with the points about the quality, performance, and great ‘bang for the buck’ of the 305 Scramblers, and the CB line. I’m on the lookout for any of them today.

  15. Ricy said:

    The Kawasaki H1 500 Mach III, launched in 69… really made the world step up and notice Japan as a bonafide manufacturer of bikes that provided affordable world beating performance (albeit not overly refined). 60hp and 13 second quarters! Plus the well earned nickname of “the widowmaker.” Arguably no other Japanese motorcycle has been quite so feared, and revered at the same time! My old man has one, and as a kid nothing could beat that distinct 2 stroke 3 cylinder scream the Mach III made from the beautifully asymmetric exhaust layout…

    • John M said:

      Reminds me a little of my first bike in Japan – a Honda MVX250F. It had a 2 stroke V3 motor with 3 exhaust pipes that spit out enough oil and smoke to make Spy Hunter envious. It ran pretty rough under 7000 RPM, but I often had it screaming past rice fields over 10000. OK, it probably wasn’t the greatest Japanese Nostalgic Motorcycle, but it was a blast and I think I only paid around $200 for it.

  16. GEN2TWINCAM said:

    My choice would be the CB400 Four Super Sport!

    Yep, Honda nailled the engine and made history with the 750, but finally wrapped it up in a complete package with the 400 Four. By that I mean engine technology AND chassis. It has been said (perhaps with a bit of hyperbole) that it was the first Japanese bike to actually handle.
    The basic tank colors of yellow, red, or blue looked the part, and the standard four ito one exhaust looked like a race mod straight out of the box.
    God, I love that bike!

  17. Bart said:

    1975 Yamaha RD350

  18. bert said:

    I used to have a 1982 Yamaha Maxim 550. 4cyl, 6spd. Why does it get my nod as the greatest JNM? Cause it didn’t exist! Apparently I made it up! And the parts bike bike that came with it. According to the guy at Bent Bike in Lynnwood WA, I couldn’t POSSIBLY own a six speed 550 Maxim, cause they never went into production, and he should know, after all, he had “been in the business of motorcycles for 40 years and new everything!” I just quietly got on my non existent bike and rode away. Ended up selling it to Bent Bike a couple years later. I rode a made up motorcycle for two years AND made money off off it? Now that’s a great bike!

  19. Christopher Le said:


  20. dankan said:

    For all of us pushing for various flavours of CB, Honda seems to agree, since the CB1100 is now being offered in Europe and North America too:


  21. Erick said:

    The Honda C50- 70, 90 all the way!

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