I started motorcycling in 1976 on a Honda SS50 technically a moped as it had pedals and a 49 cc engine with 5 horse power. I was soon driving about during my free time as well with my other moped riding friends.
My moped was particularly slow it once hit 50 mph but usually it would just about hit 40 mph. Top speed of two of my friends mopeds was 70 mph these were Fantic GT's. Other friends had a Yamaha FS1E and one had a Suzuki AP50 all these were faster than my Honda.
Having covered 12000 miles in the year I owned my Honda SS50 many adventures were experienced. Like driving around a wooded area and coming over the crest of a bump not knowing there was a lake on the other side. I pulled the bike out of the lake were it had been submerged in water and happily it started up again first time the Honda SS50 would never gave any trouble mechanically.
An experience was going up steep hills. A run up was required then as speed reduced changing down the four speed gearbox had to be performed with some precision so as not to bog down and stop completely. One particular hill always needed first gear that was 10 mph at maximum. Off rode riding could mean having to jump off on a hill and push just to get to the top all part of the fun of moped owner ship. This did not phase me as I could remember the stories my father told me of driving cars in the 1940's and 50's whose engines were so low powered it was always a gamble that a steep hill could be climbed.
My first experience of being charged by the police also happened on that moped. My first fine was £1 for having a L plate at the wrong angle.
My first bike crash also took place on the Honda SS50. I had just got the bike and was amazed at how much faster it was than the bicycle I had been used to riding. I made it around the first corner and then the second however on the third corner I ever went around on a bike was sharper than the other two so up I went onto the pavement and crash I went straight into a fence. A concerned motorist stopped top ask if I was ok and I was only my pride dented off I went with only a bent gear stick to worry about. Some moths later that same type of crash happened again only I head butted a fence post. A kind motorist drove me to his house to recover and called my father. I was ok after half an hour and drove the bike home.
I've had two of these bikes now, my first one I bought to get me in the swing after a 20 year gap from motorcycling. The last bike I owned was a Yamaha RD250 with dodgy barrels and pistons, so I figured that if I bought a similar sized engine bike it would be well within my "experience envelope". A four cyl inline 4 399cc 6 speed bike it was to be. the 4 into 1 exhaust sounds glorious, and if you pull all the badges off it, you get lots of people asking what it is! I got something of a shock though, a 1989 model grey import, it made something like 52 bhp, was like sitting in an armchair, and pulled wheelies like it was made for it. I am smallish, just 5'9" and weigh about 13 stone, and it was an ideal tool for me, able to get both feet on the deck. The only problem I had was the windblast. The bike is "restricted" to 112mph by means of the kmph speedometer, but if you fit a KMPH to MPH adapter (about £30) this is removed as the speedo doesn't get that far up the clock. After this I got an indicated 135 mph on a track day, even allowing for speedo inaccuracies, this is still around 120 ish mph. The tank holds a good 3.5 gallons, good for an easy 180 miles before reserve at a very reasonable 45mpg. As for acceleration and handling, well my mate up the road has a CBR1000, and he admits that he has been comprehensively out cornered by this little bike, although he can always catch up on the straight bits. But I have outdragged a couple of 600 cc sportbikes, CBR's amongst them, I guess because it is lighter. As a commuter bike, it is a blast, nimble and nippy. The only downside I can think of is the lack of wind protection, because of its abilities, you find yourself travelling at 80mph quite easily, so a screen of some kind would be a usefull addition. I have now sold it on to a student, and moved on to a bike with a fairing to suit the longer journeys that I tend to make. Bits are easilly available, I use the
WWW, and WEMOTO spares can get you just about anything that you could possibly need. My other CB1 is a long term rebuild I bought for a source of spares, but it was in better nick than the one I was using, so I decided to do it up for the road. It has only 9000km on the clock!
This was one wicked bike it was very fast for a 100cc and i could wheelie on it for ages, mine was only a field bike i bought it for £25 off of my dads mate it needed chain and sprockets and it had a split in the downpipe, i went to dave silver spares and he wanted £55 for a down pipe i would not pay this so i went round my local hardware store and bought and exhaust bandage this worked a treat, i had only had it a week and i had snaped one of the rear shocks i think it was because it had rusted very badly i had trouble getting the right set of shocks for this bike i couldent find any second hand ones and the new ones the shop were giving me were to small i think it was because the bike had only been made for 2-3 years in the end it cos me £45 for a slightly larger pair but i was happy i kept this bike for a year then sold it because i got caught by the police great little bikes will do about 65-70mph and acceleration is excelent. The bike shares the same parts as a honda cg125 apart from the engine so if you need body parts like petrol tanks and side panels they are easy to get.
"I didn't know Honda made sewing machines". Well they do and they put wheels on them! Get it really revving and Honda's CB-1 will make you think you're astride that sewing machine and it'll bring a grin to your face like few bigger bikes can. Its not really quick, only pulling through to about 115, but its the way the engine gets you there that'll make you smile...The geardriven cams, the legacy of its CBR400 heritage, spin and make a noise that other lesser equipped bikes can only dream of. Not much happens below 5-6000 on the rev counter, it'll beat the cages away from the lights but a hard ridden 125 could well embarrass you! Get the rev counter needle past vertical though and it feels like you lit a fire work. The potential is there to shame unexpecting big bikes...Ideal if you actually like working for your performance. Going round corners is a revelation if you're used to a bike on the porkier side. The -1 feels agile and turns in exactly where you want it to. It goes where its pointed and does what its told. You are in charge which can come as a refreshing change in these days of power is all. You can throw it around and drag various bits of its undercarriage at will making it immense fun. It has its practical side too. It turns in 50 mpg no matter what you do to it, although the range is appalling due to the ridiculously small tank Honda chose to fit. It's a brave person who travels more than 120 miles before heading for a fuel station. The usual consumables, tyres, chain etc, seem to hold up well due to the lowish power output and the engine is practically bullet-proof. The only thing that seems to ever go wrong is the regulator/rectifier, in common with a number of other Hondas. They all tend to use the same part though so second hand replacements are plentiful. Although the CB-1 was only available as a grey import over here, getting parts for it tends to be no problem.
Many Honda dealers have parts microfiches for it and no part tends to take more than a few days to order. All the usual service bits can be bought from M and P or MPS. You can pick one up from a £1000 upwards and no one should pay more than £2000 for their dose of CB-1 fun. It's a bike you can thrash at the weekend and commute on during the week, they even race them in the States....Its a "Back to basics" sort of bike. No plastic body work to damage, the sort of bike your grandad could understand.....and its none the worse for that.
My first big bike was a Honda XBR500. It appealed because it was a big single, had almost no bodywork, and a minimalist style, harking back to the days of the classic British big singles. Except, of course, being a Honda it started with an electric foot, it didn't drip oil, and as I said above - it actually started every time! The design of the bike included a large, bulbous tank, low bars, and a hard and narrow seat - the ideal recipe for an uncomfortable ride. The seat was soon reshaped, and my back soon learnt to adjust to the position, and for the first time I soon developed neck and shoulder muscles to cope with the windblast generated by an unfaired bike at motorway speeds. As a second hand first bike, or as a cheap winter hack, I would highly recommend that you take a look at the XBR.