CD185 Benly

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    Honda CD185T (not mine…it was somewhat tattier than this example! (Picture from

    It is a long time since this willing little Honda passed through my sadly abusive hands, and the CD185 seems to be virtually extinct now. But for anybody out there who must have one or is about to look at one here are my experiences:
    The exact detail of how I came to own her are shrouded in the dustier corridors of what is laughably called my mind. As I remember a  colleague had been using it as a winter hack and when spring came he wanted shot of it. He only wanted £90 so I thought “why not” and promptly bought the bike from him. I think there was even some MOT and tax left…

    The Honda CD185T Benly, to give the twin cylinder bike it’s full and not especially glorious title could trace it’s blood line back to the famous giant killing racing 125 of the 1960’s. However by the time YVF 823S came into the world all sporting pretension had been firmly snubbed out. She still looked pretty racy next to a C90, but that was about your lot! No, the CD was the commuter tool for those who ranked high mpg numbers as a priority and who liberated their waterproofs from the local council road repair crew! So, saving the tarmac rippling capability of my GS550 purely for fun(!), the 185 was pressed into service on my 5 mile cross country hack to work.

    The engine throbbed away willingly enough and gave a passable impression of an old Singer sewing machine. Acceleration was definitely present, but you had to be pretty sensitive to detect it, all the local milk float drivers used to give me very smug looks. However on one glorious rip down the A11 towards the teeming metropolis that is Attleborough a heady velocity of 85mph was reached on the lonely speedo (no rev counter). To be honest what the speed actually was is anybody’s guess as the needle used wave up down the scale just like those on old British cars such as the Morris Minor.

    On balance speed was best kept to a minimum anyway as the brakes were not exactly brilliant. The appropriate lever was there, connected by cable (no flashy hydraulics here!) to a drum like device in the middle of the front wheel. Only problem was that no matter hard I pulled on the lever very little in the way of actual retardation seemed to take place. Luckily I am a fat bastard and sitting up always seemed to produce a surprisingly effective air brake!! The only other way to stop was to hit the rear brakes as hard as the kick start lever! Double discs? For pansies on R1s! Seriously, I dread to think what a rider of even a vaguely modern bike would make of the Honda’s pathetic stoppers, you have been warned!

    Handling? On a 185 Benly, are you kidding?! Having said that I did get a huge amount of fun from scrapping out the foot pegs at really shallow angles of lean and throwing up huge arcs of sparks behind me. Be careful when indulging in this rather silly practice as the foot pegs don’t fold back…In summary you don’t need to spend thousands on a Harley for crap ground clearance, glacial acceleration and useless brakes. As a bonus the fuel consumption is better too and you don’t have to dress up like up an American cop/ Peter Fonda in Easy Rider/ the bloke in Village People (delete as appropriate), to ride it. Seriously performance was OK for work and back in Norfolk where everybody thinks traffic is the name of a weird German rock band.

    Running costs were low, it seemed to go for ages on a tank of fuel, I didn’t actually ever work out what the fuel consumption was, but I would guess at about the 70 mpg mark. By the way watch out for leaking fuel filler caps, this affects the 125 and 200 versions too and is a real pain. My tip is to make a new cap gasket out of an old inner tube. Tyres seemed to withstand the modest power and braking stresses put upon with ease and no detectable wear took place on my Honda. The bike came fitted with Avon Speedmasters and these things last forever anyway. Chain and sprockets can wear pretty quickly if not lubricated and adjusted regularly, even when enclosed as on the Benly. Replacements are cheap anyway so don’t worry too much. The Honda was built build down to a price so finish wasn’t great, if you buy one that still has the original steel mudguards it would be worth painting the inside with under-seal as they rust pretty quickly. I should think that most are already too far gone by now anyway. The exhausts rotted out between the down pipes and the silencers, but I just had a mate weld in a section of steel tubing to rejoin them. This was economy biking you know! One thing you must do is keep the oil nice and fresh, don’t let the interval between changes go anymore than 2,000 miles. Small Honda’s do not like grubby oil.

    My time with the Honda only lasted a few months; you see I had met a woman and she had her wicked way with me. Marriage was the only option (my Mom had stopped doing my washing), and I needed an engagement ring. One problem, no money. So the 185 was sold for £100 to pay for this trinket. I kept the GS550 – I wasn’t going to fall victim like so many to pressures of married and family life stopping them biking. Today I still have the wife (and a bike), she still wears the ring that the Honda was sacrificed for. So in way the 185 is with me even now. Anybody know a good solicitor?


    Nice bikes. Always thought they looked a bit frumpy but they went well. Nice story Radar, hope for you that the wife never reads it.

    GSF K1

    I have a photo of me as a young boy on the back of my dads old CD185. It was the first bike he was “allowed” to buy when he wanted to get back on two wheels. Before wife & kids he used to do all sorts of crazy off-road racing!!.. after the CD, he bought a 250 wet-dream, then an XBR500.
    I know what you mean about the breaks and the oil.. my first little machine was the old CB125TB.. predecessor to the 125 superdream (by about 10 years).. if the front caliper fils with water in the winter, it heated up so causing huge expansion and siezing up the front break!!!!.. and if the engine oil didnt get hot enough it built up alot of moisture which emulsified into a white gunge.
    A great bike to really learn about machines.

    Go out with a BANG… Light a fart!


    Hey what a blast from the past…I was a proud owner of a little 185 Benly..geez was way back in the dark days of biking, That was a great little bike, I went all over Scotland on that thing and had a whole messa fun on her.


    Nice to see that somebody else remembers them!


    Hey way back in 79 I had a fleet(23) of 185s pounding the streets of London carrying our companies goods(photographic services)Someone out there may remember W Photo logos on the bikes.As our riders had only to hold a full license we needed to use a reliable form of transport, superceding the Lambretta 200 indians (honest). Couldnt get more than 6000 miles out of Lambretta crankshafts!!! The Hondas were 6 volt with no self starter colour Black.. After a couple of years and probably 30,000 or so miles, we changed to the later 200 models.. Anyhow an ad in OBM offered a black CD 200 and knowing it more likely to be a 185 I viewed and bought it for £200.00. So one owner from new, just retired and used instead of his Norton if it looked like rain, mileage 10,230 and covered in his garage at all times. Got it home in the van (fiesta with passenger seat removes) new battery fitted and burger me if it didnt start straight off. Came with original tools and handbook as well. Rode it last Summer and just as I remember. Gotta be bargain of the year 2011 What do you say?? There still out there and David Silver is the man for spares…


    Welcome to the forum 0400

    23! I seem to remember the Post Office using CD200s on their courier fleet too. I used to ride for a compnay based in Brum and they used CD185/200s for local stuff too. Things took a lot of abuse and could do distance at a pinch if all the CX500s and GT750s were already out.

    The tails of my despatch riding antics can be found here

    Your Benly was a real bargain too, I am quite jealous! I used to use a CD200 owned by the Dad of one of my mates. I loved it. EDA579V

    This link will help you explore the site


    Re-reading this made me smile

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