Dear Honda, hi, it's me again, David Edwards. Different soapbox, same rant I'm afraid. Last time we talked, it was to implore you to build the CB1100F retro concept bike as seen at the 2007 Tokyo Motor Show. And, in fact, the bike did make production, even if it's not (yet?) imported to America. At least you are bringing in the CB1000R naked sportster, another of my suggestions. I wish you would have acted a little sooner on that, but okay we're making progress. So, building on that good will and trust, let me help you sell more motorcycles. No need for design studies, clay mockups, leaked spy photos or any of that focus group malarkey that just wastes time and money. Here's the deal, simple and straight: Honda, build this motorcycle. Actually, let me rephrase that: HONDA, BUILD THIS MOTORCYCLE!!!
I know you're aware of the bike; it's being unveiled in your booth this very weekend at the Long Beach International Motorcycle Show and it will be on display for the remainder of the IMS national tour. It was built by Denny Berg, chief fabricator at Cobra USA's Special Projects Division, a small skunkworks operation charged with creating showbikes that will bring attention to Cobra's line of exhaust pipes, accessories and fuel modules – never mind that the bikes invariably use few if any catalog parts. Of the 30 or so Berg has built for the company in the past 15 years, most end up looking like concept bikes. The goal is to get people excited about modifying their motorcycles.
In fact, this motorcycle, so obviously an homage to the CL77 Scrambler 305 (above), is a shockingly stock 2010-model Shadow RS750 beneath the 1960s facade. Because the twin up-pipes with their multi-louvered heat shields were such a signature Scrambler item, Berg paid particular attention to their bends and how they tucked in. He trimmed about an inch and a half from each plastic sidepanel and rearranged the electrics underneath so the exhaust could snuggle up against the right side of the bike. Likewise, the shock mounts were moved about an inch inboard. But except for paint and Berg's usual myriad of detail touches, the rest of the bike is largely as-delivered from the factory. Even the gas tank is stock, with the addition of a retro seam down the middle, rubber knee grips, round badges and a coat of Honda Cloud Silver. (For more details, check out my exclusive print story, "Scrambler Revisited" in the February 2011 issue of Rider magazine, in subscribers' hands next week, on newsstands first week in January.)
Here's why I'm so jazzed about this bike – why you should be too, and I hope you can get over the "Not Invented Here" circumstances of its birth. This is your history, Honda, your heritage. Models like this are what at one time made Honda the best goddamn motorcycle company the world has ever seen. It wasn't by building yesterbikes laid down on the blueprints of another company's V-Twin cruiser. The ill-fated Rune six-cylinder came across as a desperate attempt to convince people – and maybe yourselves too – that, see, we are Honda and like the old ad slogan said, we lead, others follow.
You don't have to try that hard. Here's your next cruiser, Honda. I look at it, I smile, I want to go for a ride. And I bet I'm not the only one.