The Dream was Honda’s first larger production motorcycle, which arrived in 1956. It was the first high-powered twin in its class, which was dominated by single cylinder engines. Its 18+ hp was made at the then-almost unheard of 7400 rpm. Everyone assumed that such a high revving engine would never last in a street bike. They didn’t know Honda.
Just three years later, the 125/150/160cc family of twins arrived. The most common one was the CA95 Benley Tourer, with a 155cc mill that made 16.5 hp @10,000 rpm. For a perfectly docile touring bike with a single carb and even electric start, an output in excess of one hundred hp/liter was quite a feat. It was quickly dubbed “The Baby Dream” thanks to its similar concept and styling.
This class of Honda twins were popular with young buyers whose parents didn’t want them on a bigger bike, or they just couldn’t afford it. Like Mike Hubbard, a high schooler whose family lived three houses down from us in Iowa City. He had one and broke both of his arms in several places when he went over the handlebars and up on the hood or trunk of a car. His football team was not happy, as were his parents. Fortunately his unhelmeted head came out mostly unscathed.
The SOHC 360 degree parallel twin looked very much like a smaller 250/305 Dream mill. The hemi head with an 8:1 compression ratio had large valves, the key to its ability to rev and make power. It fed a four speed transmission, and the top speed in each gear was 20, 35, 50 and 63 mph, according to a 1960 Cycle Magazine test.
Other sources claim it was capable of 70+mph. Undoubtedly that depended on the position of the rider, as a tuck upped maximum speed on these little bikes significantly.
The frame was pressed steel, and the suspension by leading-link in the front and swing arms in back. Cycle Magazine praised its comfort, given the fairly soft springs. This was not a cafe racer.
That would have been the CB92R, whose 125 cc version of the twin spun to 13,000 rpm.
The black tank on this one is not original. There’s a lot of interest in old Honda bikes, and parts have become quite scarce, so that explains that. I’m pleasantly surprised that I’ve now found both the 30 Dream and the Benley Tourer.
Kickstand Classic: Honda Dream 305 – Soichiro Honda’s Dream Comes True
That’s a real find Paul! I’ve only seen a Benley in Craigslist ads.
Actually there’s one for sale near me, but it’s $3,195 which is quite a bit.
Peter Egan wrote a great column about a Benly, it’s located here:
I’ll bet she gave you a good ride when you twisted her throttle just right.
My third Motocycle was a blue 1964 Honda 150 Benly, the local Honda dealer wasn’t honest and tried to cheat the owner when he brought it in for service and he simply abandoned it, I found it when I was in buying C100 Cub parts and paid $50 for it and had it running in a few days .
These were the bikes that brought millions of Americans to riding Motocyles ~ they begin on this easy riding, comfortable and (maybe most important then) COMPLETELY FREE OF OIL LEAKS , ride them a year or so them buy a different faster and more modern looking bike .
“Benly” by the way, means ‘convenient’ in Japanese and is pronounced “Benri” .
The non-leaking horizontally split case was an amazing development that the British could not match.
The non-leaking horizontally split case was an amazing development that the British could not match.
Neither could the Americans.
Nor the Italians, Spanish, East Germans, or Czechoslovakians.
Back in those days Japanese motorcycles were a complete world unto themselves.
The Kawasaki KLR 250 I recently sold had a vertically split crankcase and didn’t leak a drop, even after I split it to replace the leaky oil seal at the countershaft. Better metallurgy and precise machining,and effective sealants were and are the solution.
I sold it to make room in my budget for the ’68 Honda CL 175 I am in the process of ‘restoring.’ It’s a direct descendant of the featured Benly, and last in line of the ‘sloper’ motor that was so predominant in the 60’s.
My second street bike, and first freeway legal one, was a ’68 CL 175. It’s ability to rev is what amazed me, especially since my car was a slow revving VW.
Nikita- My first vehicle was a CL 160, in 1971. Man, I loved that bike! I put nearly 10,000 miles on it in the first year I owned it, and all in Western New York as well. Riding the 175- 500 miles so far (on a NOS speedo/odo) since I got it tagged- takes me right back! And, yes, it revs high and makes a lot of noise, I’m not too sure how accurate the speedo is at top speed but I’m seeing 80mph if I wind it out. Without a tach I can’t be sure if I’m hitting redline but it feels close and I’m in a full tuck to get there. I don’t think I’ve fully broken in the rings yet…Fwiw, the speedo is very close to what I’m seeing at those roadside speed monitors in the 25-45mph range.
The trick was when you have the engine/box split was to put both halves on a lapping plate and true up the mating surfaces then use Hylomar when assembling works on British stuff.
The 150 Benley is one of the few old Hondas I never tracked down and purchased. My Super Hawk and 305 Dream still reside in my “Toy Room”, but my ’65 CB 160 and 305 Scrambler are gone. All rather fun lil bikes, but the suspension and “brakes” on the Dream/Benley leave quite a bit to be desired! I thought that even back in 1965 when my first Super Hawk was laid up for repairs so I borrowed a friend’s 150 and tried running a certain mountain down in Huntsville, Alabama. My 305 Super Hawk handled the mountain curves with grace, the 150 Benley became a nightmare at all but very conservative velocities!!
All of these bikes, despite the abuse they usually received, kept on reliably running and RUNNING! My first 3 Honda bikes (’64 Cub 50, ’65 CB 160, ’65 305 Super Hawk) made me a life long Honda fan!!! DFO
Living in Johnstown, PA in the mid-60’s, although I knew the 125-160’s existed, I never saw many on the streets. Johnstown was a coal and steel town, bare knocked and hard, and if you rode a motorcycle it was probably a Triumph (Denny’s Johnstown Cycle Center, originally Indian, also carried Royal Enfield, CZ/Jawa, Hodaka, and from 1968 on, Kawasaki), or a Harley-Davidson (Zepka’s, still in business).
Then Alvin’s Honda popped up in either ’64 or ’65, originally selling 50cc Cub’s, but by ’66 the market was already moving towards either the Super 90 or the 305 Dream or Superhawk. Meanwhile, someone else (name forgotten) picked up the Yamaha franchise where the big sellers there were either the Twin Jet 100 or the Big Bear 250 (which would leave a 305 Honda for dead). By 1969 Cernik’s finally brought Suzuki into the area, so the market was set.
And that pretty much set the pattern. If you bought Japanese, you either bought a small starter street bike, or you bought the biggest bike the manufacturer had available, as close to a British twin as you could get. Over the years I’d found a beaten and abandoned 160 Honda around, but nowhere near the numbers as the 305’s.
Very sweet bike! My riding buddy had one which I got to borrow frequently. We were stationed at Elmendorf AFB outside of Anchorage AK, and I did drop it once on a downtown street. The thin surface ice had melted in the sun, but I was turning into a shaded area and hit ice just as the engine’s power was coming on. Lucky me there was no traffic!
If the speedo was close to accurate it would hit 70+ easily, but it was geared for acceleration. I rode once with a young bunch of Harley 250 Sprint riders, and when I turned the key and hit the starting button they all yelled at me to do it again! Then they all started theirs, and I zipped off into the distance … and then let’em catch up.
Said buddy soon traded it in on a Super Hawk, which we rode two-up, but then went over to a Harley XLCH. Many years later in Nashville I got the 160 I had been wanting, then T-boned a Datsun wagon in traffic one night. My new wife informed me that my 2-wheeled motoring days were history.
These are great articles, both the Benley and the referenced Dream post. There were lots of used Hondas from the early 60’s and 70’s available when I was growing up I had my share: 50, 160, 305, 350, 450, and finally 750 displacement machines. The older small bikes were really cheap, and they usually had lots of life left in them. That’s how many of my generation were introduced to riding. What’s amazing was how once I made the jump to my 160, I was riding a real motorcycle. Freeway legal, it could hit 70 and cruise easily at 60 mph, and climb the hills on the back roads of the Bay Area. I had the freedom to travel almost anywhere I wanted, exactly what a 15 1/2 year old kid was longing for! I miss the less “ego involved” Honda riding years of my youth. My friends and I didn’t coz play as badasses, like too many current Harley riders spend their time doing. We just rode. All the time, everywhere at the drop of a hat. To school, work, and mostly just for fun.
I spent the next twenty five years riding Harleys, not quite as carefree, but I wasn’t sixteen anymore either.
My brother and I had several Japanese bikes as teens. The 305 was a garage sale buy, disassembled in a box for $50. Every part was there and we got it running in no time. I still marvel at Honda engines from that era, the rest of the bike, not so much. He also had a CB450, with unique torsion bar valve springs.
Love that the engine is a stressed member. I don’t know if that was new or common for small displacement then but its one more arrow in Honda’s engineering quiver to be proud of. I’m really looking forward to seeing some new bikes and cars from Honda after they realign with more electron than petroleum propulsion.
I have a 1965(or close) 150 CA Benly Touring and am looking for a gas tank. The current one is rusted pretty bad and trying to find the part. Any suggestions??
@ Jess ~
As long as no leaks you can easily de rust it at home and then line it with your choice of tank liners, POR-15’s tank liner is pretty good .
The reason you want to do it at home is : TIME is the most important ingredient and no one yo pay will take the proper time, why so many complain that tank liners are crap when it’s the failure to do proper prep that causes them to fail .
De rust it and line it _BEFORE_ you have it repainted ! .
If the original paint isn’t all chipped you can usually polish it then wax it back to the original shine .
One of my old Hondas is so rare (and worthless) I can’t find any tank anywhere so I polished and waxed up the original paint then de rusted it (I took almost a quarts of rust silt out of it) , it seeped fuel ever so slightly through a pin hole so I had that brazed up and pouched up the paint…..
_YOU_ can do this ! .