Honda CD 200 – Learns to Fly!

The adventures of the much abused Honda CD200 continue: Over to Mark Truther Hardy

On my the trip around Wales, I found that the Honda picked up punctures faster than my old Suzuki  X5 blew cranks! Not only is this is a lot cheaper to fix, as a bonus the CD used no oil, and at 75mpg, even when thrashed, could be run for pennies. So, grudgingly, I started to accept the Honda wasn’t that bad, bar the weaving caused by the soft suspension. Oh, and the resultant exhaust scraping even at moderate angles of leaning combining with the crap front brake for a few too many ‘squeaky-bum’ moments.

Painful Lesson

Now that front drum brake needed a new cable, as it was stretched like a knicker elastic. However, but I was too inexperienced to know this, and just thought this is how they are! So, one cold day a mate said:

‘Let’s go up to next town as the market’s on.’

He wanted to show off his car and his girlfriend needed to spend his cash.

‘I’m full of cold, real man flu” I protested.

However, he insisted, and I said, ‘Well, I’m going on my bike then.’

After a miserable walk around a freezing market, we set-off back, and I took the lead. I see a car pulling up at traffic lights and I pull hard on Honda’s brakes, but misjudged the distance required, and at about 10 mph, tapped the back of a Jaguar, and collapsed in a heap on the floor!  My mate drags the Honda up and I sit on the kerb feeling like crap. Meanwhile a tall, posh gent is ranting away at me. Thankfully no damage done, and I learned about riding when not feeling spot-on! Basically don’t.

Time for an Upgrade!

A few days later and thinking-cap on, I thought the reason for the minor accident was the poor front brake, and I had a plan: I would use the X5 front-end complete, as it is fitted with a great disc brake set up. Also, it has (comparatively speaking), half decent suspension. I checked the fork diameter and a close enough fit. Much swearing, sawing, and forcing followed. A, a few hours later I had a CD200 with a disc brake! Quite some years before Honda followed suit the CD250U I may I add!

Not exactly a 500GP set-up, but a BIG upgrade on what we had!

Now for that rear suspension: Throw away the OE shocks and bolt on a pair from a Suzuki GT250. While I’m at it lets add a little more ground clearance: Off came silencers and on went the X5’s Allspeed exhausts. No performance gain, but now it wouldn’t grind exhausts into the road at modest angles. I know that Allspeeds are for two-stokes, but I was on a budget here and I already have these!

Yes, they are expansion pipes on a four-stroke bike!

I will freely admit this is total bodgery, but it worked!! This monstrosity actually handled quite well! What limited performance there was could be used to the max.

Better Brakes Have Consequences

Unfortunately, inevitably even, this would now mean late braking, and many a ‘do or die’ manoeuvre, in my young hands. On the way to work, I’d mastered going from the main road, to the lane, taking it at speed (for a CD), and one day, due to very light traffic, I thought I’d go onto the wrong side of the road, at the last second, & take the racing line onto the lane, and that would be the best speed through the corner, yet.

Seeing no cars near the junction to the lane, I dived to the right side of road at 40 mph, leaning over to the left, and hit the apex perfectly, and hit the curb on the wrong side of the road, finding myself and the poor Honda flying sideways acrossthe neatly manicured lawn of a local business, and then ‘Thump’I parted company with the bike, and we bounced our separate ways until landing.

Winded but ok I inspected the bike and was surprised to see little damage, bar new scratches, a dent in the tank, and grass hanging off the footrests and bars. As nobody was about, I quickly made my way back onto the road and off to work, happy I’d got away with my stupidity.

Now, having heard tall tales of taking no crap from car drivers, I’d adopted a similar attitude, and as a Land Rover came over my part of the road, I swung my leg to give my foe a dent for his careless driving. I’d never even think of this behaviour these days. However, I’d made a tactical error: You see, a typical Land Rover is built like a ship: That’s to say, thick. Ironically, pretty much like myself at the time! As my boot connected with it, I found it was like kicking a ship moving at a closing speed of about 70mph. My foot bounced back so hard it hit the rear shock on the bike, but, being a rough tough biker, well I just carried on to work!

The Colour Purple

Pulling up, at work I noticed a lack of throw-over panniers. These contained my lunch, a cheapo Walkman (remember those?) and a few other bits and bobs. Walking around at work became painful, and by dinner, my foot was turning purple.

A few days later, a phone call my mother had taken for me, informed us that a nice man had found my panniers, and then traced me via my address that was written in them! So, with a guilty face, I turned up to collect. Yes, you guessed it; it was the guy with Land Rover! Seeing the bruised Landy parked on the driveway. I quickly realised this situation was a choice between leaving without my panniers or knocking the door & risk receiving a punch in my face! I went for it: Thankfully, his wife answered the door and handed them over, and nothing more was said!

The Punishment Continued

Over the next year the CD provided reliable transport with little to no maintenance. Although the thing was far from fast, it held 70 mph all day. Then, suddenly, I noticed a pool of oil from the alternator case. Taking off the cover and removing the alternator, I found oil weeping from the crank seal.

Not thinking about why the crank seal had gone, I replaced it with a seal from a Suzuki GT250 sprocket carrier!  Sadly, my constant relentless thrashing of the CD had taken its toll. If I’d changed the oil or even checked it, then perhaps it would have still withstood the abuse. But I hadn’t and now,smoking a bit, and with a major rattle from the engine, things were not looking good. The Benly still started and ran, but once it reached 55 mph it didn’t want to go any faster. Although it had served me well, it was time to say goodbye.

Goodbye Old Friend, It’s Been Emotional

The Honda was swapped for another Suzuki, this time the B120P, or ‘Bloop’, as most people seem remember them as. I helped the new owner strip the CD engine down: Broken piston rings, camshaft worn, cam bearing shot: How the hell it ran at all was a mystery.

But for now, onwards to another Suzuki two stroke!  Will I ever learn? Find out next time!  Bet you can’t wait…

Story & Picture: Mark Truther Hardy

Editor: Tony Donnelly

Based on a Facebook post originally posted here, The Unloved and Worthless Motorcycle Group.

Edited and used with permission.