Why did Honda use a dual-range gearbox on this bike?

Hey kids! Have you ever seen a motorcycle with a complicated dual-range gearbox? Do you remember when big, air-cooled, inline four cruisers were a thing?  

If that all sounds up your alley, then you need to watch this video from Regular Car Reviews. The RCR guys cover anything from your mom’s old minivan the next state over (they’re based in Pennsylvania) to a Bren gun carrier in New Zealand. Once in a while, they profile a motorcycle; this week, they’re looking at a 1982 Honda CB900 Custom. 

These days, Honda’s an ultra-conservative motorcycle manufacturer coloring carefully inside the lines and building its machines to be sensible and economic. In the early 1980s, Honda’s core lineup was built along those lines (it was the days of the UJM, after all), but the budget had enough money left over to have some fun. That’s how we got machines like the CBX, the FT500 Ascot, and the CB900 Custom. 

The CB900 Custom was closely related to the other inline fours in Honda’s line, especially the CB750, but it had some really weird features. The RCR guys explain them in detail, but here’s a quick rundown: The CB900C was a parts bin special with a shaft drive from one of the CBX bikes, air suspension off a Gold Wing, and an extremely odd, ATV-style, dual-range transmission that nobody had asked for. The whole thing was cobbled together in a stretched, Euro-spec CB900F frame and took a whole lot of mechanical chicanery to make work. Production started in 1980 and ended abruptly in 1982. Was it too different? Too expensive? Did the ‘80s simply call for more excess? Whatever the case, it was succeeded by the CB1000C, which was similarly odd, but history seems to have forgotten. 

Like the RCR vid? Click here to see what else Regular Cars has to say about bikes (you’ll have to sort through a lot of car videos, and some other random content). There are some decent motorcycle videos on the channel, but most of them feature lots of NSFW language. If you’re actually at the office (who does that these days?), or around your kids, you might want to plug in some headphones.  

Source: YouTube