Two Wheel Tuesday: Clutchless Biking for the Masses

I can ride this one hand behind my back

Meeting the nicest people on a Honda only works as long they know how to shift. With this in mind Honda attempted to bring more people into the motorcycle fold by offering them a slushbox on two wheels.

[Image: motorcycleclassics.com]

Hondamatic

[image credit – http://www.cyclechaos.com]

Starting in 1976 and ending in 1983 Honda experimented with making their motorcycles simpler to ride by use of the Hondamatic. This was not a true automatic since it still required the rider to switch between low and high gears. Additionally when you put the kickstand down it would place the motorcycle in neutral for a nice simple user experience. For a new motorcyclist this was the best compromise between learning how to ride and eventually moving up to a proper motorcycle. 

Honda CM400A Hondamatic

[image credit – http://www.realclassic.co.uk/]

Originally released in 1976 with the CB750A the early reviews were not that positive due to the negative affect the transmission had on performance. The early CB-750A took over 15 seconds to get to 60mph.This model would only last two model years and would leave due to slow sales in 1978. The automatic’s price was to high for most since it added a substantial amount to the cost of the models. With the CM400 this would add $500 to the base $1100 price of the manual transmission model. 

Honda CB750A

[image credit – http://www.vintagebike.co.uk]

After 1983 the Hondamatic would display and the automatic motorcycle would all but disappear on the American market for several decades.  In the last few years the automatic motorcycle and trike have come back in a big way thanks to CanAm and Piaggo. This only seems natural with the unfortunate tendency of Americans to move away from DIY transmissions. 

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