1965 HONDA C200 90cc
After passing my test on a Triumph Tina Scooter I wanted a
better bike. A friend of mine had just bought a Honda C110 50cc and so I went to a local dealer to find a bike. The 1965 Honda C200 was second hand at £50 in 1968,
which was all I could afford to borrow of my dad and paid him back £1 per week. It turned
out to be an excellent bike which carried two 9 stone teenagers all over the
place. Finally we sold it when we got married. I did all my own work on it with the help of a Honda Manual, Honda T-bar Screw Driver and a set of
metric ring spanners. The later two I still have.
The C200 was a wonderful machine which was not seen or recognised by most people, because of the popular Honda C50 'Step through'
and the C110. When you say you had a Honda 90, everyone thinks of the scooter-ette, and yet the C200 was everything a bike could be for it's
capacity. It was smart and nippy, frugal on fuel and utterly reliable. The engine used to look a bit odd, sticking out in front, but it always
started first kick and the choke lever was only needed for cold starting, and was easily accessible on the carb. None of the mess of flooding the
carb and petrol spilling onto the engine each time.
The four-stroke single engine would tick-over quietly and relatively smoothly and even when cruising it
never made much noise or vibration. The exhaust silencer had a removable baffle which could be cleaned and providing it was put back the noise was akin to
a sewing machine. I used to get all the stick (jibes) of it being Japanese and it would not last, but who cares, it did a great job and it did not leak oil.
General usage was two-up
most of the time and fifty five was the top speed although we were 9 stone (126 pound) kids at the time. The engine consisted of an aluminum
crankcase with an iron barrel, cylinder head with overhead rockers and pushrods.
The C200 was
a practical machine. The power plant was of unit construction combining the gearbox and engine together
where the engine oil was serving both units. The
oil was filtered by a centrifugal action which had a cover plate held in place by two 6mm screws. I was told you never needed to clean this, but
mine got done. Unlike the C50/C90, the clutch was actuated by a traditional lever on the handle bar. It was light and responsive, enabling gear
changes to be made smoothly using the heal and toe pedal, or if you were a 'real man' you just used the toe in the conventional manner. Fast changes were
possible, but this was no racer. The gear change was performed by two selector forks following a groove which was cut into a cylindrical drum giving
four speeds from the box. Carb noise was reduced by the use of a paper filter cartridge which was housed under the side panel. Another feature was the fuel
tap which incorporated a fuel filter and had a reserve position as well, which was unheard of on British bikes like the BSA C15. The carb had a removable float chamber which was held in place by a wire
The engine would accelerate to
peak revs smoothly with a complete lack of fuss and at normal cruising
speeds - 45 to 48 mph - power delivery was notably sweet and effortless. In traffic she was wonderful with acceleration which exceeded expectation
from the little
capacity engine and when you got out onto the open road it was fun, which you could enjoy without killing yourself. I recall once that my girlfriend had to get off
and walk to the top of a very steep incline which came after a sharp bend an so left no momentum, but in the main it was a sterling machine on which we traveled up to 150
miles two-up with suit cases as well. Very fuel efficient, although these were the days when we paid less than 5 shillings a gallon (25 pence today).
The Ninety was extremely comfortable with it's upright riding position and all the controls handy, with positive and light in operation.
The seat consisted of a large sponge covered in vinyl with a pillion strap. My cover split exposing the
orange sponge, but this was sorted by a slip over cover.
The rear suspension was rather bouncy and this was not helped by the square section rear tyres of the day. The brakes were adequate
although the front one in particular tended to be a little spongy in action. The electrics were up to the usual excellent
Honda standard and included a neutral-indicator light, flashing
indicators, speedometer light, stop light, pilot light and amply powerful
main beam. Flashing indicators were of course for the 'pansies' in those days, and any real motorcyclist would use arm signals. (The fact being that
most British models were not fitted with indicators as they would have vibrated them to bits is probably more like it). The speedometer was an odd shape for it's time, but would not look
out of place today. In bad weather the rider was protected by deeply valanced mudguards and the rear chain was fully enclosed in a chain case. The
centre stand was not to hot as it pivoted on a thin walled tube which was not up to the job. My C200 was a great little bike with plenty of power, good cruising speed, ultra economy and complete
oil tightness and worth every penny of my £50. I holed a piston which led to a rebore and new piston and later the roller big-end went requiring a
replacement crank unit, also a broken earth wire in the rear light unit, these being the only problems encountered in the two to three years I owned her. If
memory serves me right, it cost £10 for the rebore and piston and £13-50 for the crank replacement. My bike
was blue, but they also came in red and black.
Cast iron barrel and head which
had pushrod valve gear.
Fuses are alongside the battery.
| BRIEF SPECIFICATION
|| Honda 87
cc (49 x 46 mm) ohv single. Crankshaft supported by journal ball bearings;
caged roller big-end bearing, cast-iron cylinder head and barrel, compression
ratio 8 to 1
PWI8HA with direct shutter for cold starting.
|| AC generator, Coil ignition with six-amp-hour betted charged through selenium
rectifier, Approximately 5 1/2in diameter headlamp with 25/25-watt main
bulb; flashing indicators; neutral indicator light.
gear box in unit with ending; rocking-pedal foot control, Gear ratios:
bottom, 25.2; second, 16', third, 11 .8: top, 9.51 to 1. Multi-plate clutch,
Primary drive by spur gears, Rear chain enclosed in pressed-steel case.
Engine rpm at 30 in top gear, 4,400.
|| approximately 1 .9 gallons
|| Nitto 2.50
x 17 in front and rear.
5 inches in diameter, front and rear, with finger adjusters.
damped pivoted front and rear forks.
47 in, Ground clearance, 7 in, Seat height, 30 in, All un-laden.
|| 115lb fully
equipped and with approximately one gallon of petrol.
18s. including British purchase tax.
|| £1 a year.
mph (with following wind) 51 mph (average of runs in both directions).
from rest, 29 seconds with a terminal speed of 48 mph (average of runs
in opposite directions).
|| 175 mpg
at 30 mph: 112 mpg at 40 mph.
|| 37ft from
30 mph (surface, dry tarmac).