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Avid motorcyclist & freelance writer, specializing in motorcycles & motorcycle related topics, with a healthy dose of good humor, good vibes & general advice on simply being a good person.

Sunday, April 18, 2021


Soichiro Honda 

Soichiro Honda, circa 1964
Three years after William Harley and his partners, Walter, William and Arthur Davidson rolled out their very first motorcycle in Milwaukee, a child named Soichiro Honda was born on the other side of the world. Soichiro grew up around his dad's bicycle shop and, in 1928, at 25 years old, the young man opened his own auto repair shop. Captivated by speed, Soichiro built his very first race car and started competing. In 1936, however, when Harley and his pals were introducing their brand new Knucklehead engine in Milwaukee, USA, Mr. Honda was injured in the opening race at Japan's first racetrack, the Tamagawa Speedway; the next year, he gave up racing and formed a company to manufacture piston rings, supplying them primarily to Toyota. His new company's success would be short lived though, because just four years later, the Japanese government authorized an attack on Pearl Harbor, setting the stage for the bombings that would soon end the second World War and would alter the young man's business plans once again.

In 1946, just one year after his country was nearly obliterated by the infamous bombings that killed hundreds of thousands of Soichiro Honda's fellow countrymen, he started a new business, focused primarily on providing affordable transportation to those left behind. Honda did this by fitting small, two-stroke motors onto bicycles- sound familiar? Three years later, in  1949, Honda's very first actual motorcycle rolled out of the factory and quickly earned the name "Dream." The very first Honda Dream, or "Model D" as it was officially called, was powered by a 98cc two stroke engine, but Soichiro felt like the noise and smoke from the Dream made it more of a nightmare, so in 1951, his company introduced the new, quieter and cleaner, four stroke Dream. The new machine boasted a 146cc engine and it's popularity surged, putting Honda's motorcycle company on the map.

Fast forward to 1968- Soichiro's company rolls out it's 10 millionth motorcycle, proving to the world that the man from Hamamatsu, Japan had become a formidable businessman and a force to be reckoned with. In 1973, with his company well established, Soichiro retired at the age of 67. Soichiro continued working with his company as an advisor, and served on the Board of Directors, so he could keep his finger on the pulse of his company to ensure it's success.
Original ad from 1978
In 1978, among the 27 models of motorcycle that Honda offered, the company introduced a new entry level machine- the CM185 Twinstar. The Twinstar was a small, but elegant bike that was refined and smooth, friendly and reliable. It was a twin cylinder four stroke that breathed quietly out of two chrome megaphone exhaust pipes and started easily with either the kick-starter or the electric starter. The Twinstar was adorned with chrome fenders, a seat big enough for two, passenger pegs, a grab bar, a locking gas cap cover and, it had a neutral riding position that was pretty comfortable for such a small motorcycle. Thousands of Twinstars were sold across the world in 1978, but there was one in particular that was sold in Ohio, USA, that would be the subject of this story.

And this is where our story truly begins...


Sometime around 1995 My wife's folks took a trip to Ohio to visit some family and, while visiting with his nephew, my father-in-law noticed a small, blue Honda motorcycle tucked away in the corner of the barn. My wife's folks were doing quite a lot of travelling in their RV back then, so the prospect of finding a small, economical motorcycle to tool around on really sparked my father-in-law's interest. As it turns out, his nephew got the little blue Honda brand new, back in 1978. He rode it for a few years, then parked it in the barn and pretty much forgot about it, so it didn't take much convincing for him to sell it to his favorite uncle. My pa-in-law got the old Twinstar running again, then loaded it up in the back of his truck and he and my mother-in-law started writing the next chapter of the old Honda's life. And what a life it was. My wife's parents lovingly named the old Honda "Piglet" (because it wasn't quite big enough to be called a "Hog") and they took it all over the place- Tennessee, Niagra Falls, New York, Canada, the West Coast and everywhere in-between. Everywhere they parked their home away from home, Piglet got unloaded and they would set out exploring the area on the old Honda. 

After a few years of travelling, Piglet started getting tired and the folks decided that they wanted something a little bigger (and more comfortable than a motorcycle) to get around on during their travels, so they upgraded to a diesel coach and started pulling a car to the campgrounds. Piglet got parked back in a barn, where it would stay, untouched, for over 16 years. 

New life

My father-in-law and I had a mutual love for antique cars, hot rods and motorcycles and we could sit and talk about them for hours. He also knew that both of my sons were up and coming gearheads and that they were just as interested in riding motorcycles as their dad. When my father-in-law decided to clear some space in his barn for a new project, he knew that all he needed to do was offer us his old motorcycles. As soon as he asked us to come get them, my boys ran over as fast as they could! It was this fateful day that would ultimately breathe new life into that old Twinstar, yet again. Being a Harley guy, I was pretty unfamiliar with the Honda, so I enlisted the help of a good friend of mine to help me get Piglet running right. It didn't take my buddy long to get the old Honda back to her old self again and the mood was absolutely electric when he brought it back to the house. Soon after, I started teaching my oldest son how to ride the little street bike. It wasn't long before he had the hang of it, so he moved on to riding my Sportster and my youngest boy took the controls of the old Honda. 

Before he passed last year, my father-in-law got to see both of his grandsons learn how to ride a motorcycle on the very same bike that he and his beloved wife used to ride when they were out exploring the country; the same bike that his brother's son started out riding, all those many years ago. 

Value versus worth

We often confuse what something is worth by it's market value. Market value is generally based on a variety of things, but most of all- it's based on what someone is willing to pay for something. The Honda Twinstar played an important role in the history of Honda motorcycles and it is often overlooked for it's contributions. For example, the Twinstar started it's life in 1978 and over the next several years, it would get a bump in displacement to 200cc, then in 1982, it got bumped up again to 250cc. This new CM250 would later become the well known and widely loved, Honda Rebel. Countless motorcycle riders have learned to ride on a Honda Rebel and many still do. The Rebel has become so popular in fact, that Honda increased the displacement again to 300cc, then 500cc and now, diehard Rebel fans can get their beloved Honda with an 1100cc mill! 

While this old 185cc Twinstar may not be worth much to anyone else, to the MotoWriter and family, this unimposing and otherwise unimpressive little Honda, is priceless. It has been in our family since the day it left Soichiro Honda's factory in 1978 and it has travelled all across this great nation and into Canada during it's 43 year lifetime. For every generation that it has carried, and will carry, on its modest little frame, this old Honda Twinstar has secured it's place in the MotoWriter garage as one of the most valuable motorcycles, if only inside these four walls.

No matter what you do or what kind of bike you ride, have fun and make the best of it, because your actions today will be your memories tomorrow and we only get 75 good years to make the best of this life.

Ride Safe and make good choices!

Piglet, with OEM mirrors and the factory front fender replaced

Not quite a Hog... more like a Piglet

My youngest son, learning the ropes on Piglet

My oldest son, taking Piglet out on the road

Funny story about this one... to be told later

My oldest boy replacing fork seals

My baby boy, taking his first ride on Piglet

My boys astride their respective steeds

BOTM Template Do you want to see your bike featured as the MotoWriter's Bike of the Month? Email me in your high-res photos and your personal motorcycle story to me and, if I pick your bike, not only will you get some pretty rad bragging rights, but you'll also receive a small bit of swag to show off your support of the MotoWriter! Thanks for all your support!

Saturday, April 10, 2021

April Bike of the Month....

Whose bike will be featured? Send your submissions and it might be YOURS!


Spring is here and the weather is perfect for riding! 

Ride safe and make good choices, everybody!