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The Forgotten Classic Honda CD175 K3 Updated December 29, 2009

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The CD175's were utility version of Honda's twin 174cc motorcycle. Like the larger Honda Dreams, they were intended as daily drivers. They had large mudguards, and enclosed chains to keep their owners clothes clean. To reduce maintenance, they had 360 degree cranks with a single ignition and single carburetor.

The CD175 K3 came out in the summer of 1969, at a time when Honda was introducing the revolutionary 750 four cylinder superbike. With the K3’s chunky lines, it was not a big sales winner in the USA, where it was dropped in 1971. In the UK it met with modest success among commuters, and continued being sold for about six more years, without about the same styling and engine. Honda also sold this practical transportation in Canada, Ireland, Africa, Asia, Australia and New Zealand. The “V” model was equipped with a solo seat, and a “Trail 90” style luggage rack with buddy seat clip-on. It is especially difficult to find even where it was sold, and it was not sold in the UK and the USA. The CD175s are still in plentiful supply in the UK, Ireland, and Pakistan where they seemed to enjoy their largest sales numbers.

PRO: Build quality and finish are astonishingly good, and can still be put to use as a rider, although it will not be as trouble free as a modern bike. Cheap to buy, and a few parts are sometimes available from the Honda dealer. Flared fenders are back in fashion.

CON: Little recognition among classic bike collectors. Weak brakes and rear shocks. Six volt electrics make searching for bulbs a chore. Can barely keep up with modern highway traffic. Mufflers are rust prone.

CD175 Spotters Guide

The Variations

The “CD” models are 6 volt, single carburetor models. The one exception to the rule is the “GL” model included here, which is a scrambler version of the CD from Australia.

When I began to research the 1970 Honda CD175, I could not have guessed how complicated Honda's model variations would be. My original interest was centred on my own 1970 CD175 that I bought in Sierra Leone West Africa on December 31, 1969. I was surprised to find that there were many versions of Honda 175's built that year, and each version had variations in international markets. In addition, there were the predecessors of the CD175, and the successors in following years. With time I discovered many of the models, versions, and variations, but I am far from certain that I have uncovered them all. I tried to limit my scope to same basic engine as it evolved from a 160cc sloper to a 175cc (and larger) vertical twin. Later I realized that there was an identical version of my CD175 except that it was built with a completely different 125 cc engine, sold in Chile and probably a few other places.

The CD versions were sometimes called CA or "Touring" models. If you can help me correct some errors, or have any questions, please e-mail me by clicking [e-mail] at the top of the page. Check out the long text section below the last picture for the details.

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CD175 Built in 1967-1968? The first CD175 has a slanted forward engine, suspended from a stamped steel frame.

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CD175b Built 1968-1969 . The last one with the stamped steel frame It has bigger side covers than the first model, and the shape of the tank rubber and chrome tank panel is less pointed. For a better picture from Troyce Walls click cd175B

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CD175 K3 Built from 1969 to 1970. Usually given a 1970 model year. The K3 was a general export market bike. This is my red bike with the optional solo seat, luggage rack and buddy seat. The K3 had a vertical engine set in a cradle frame. The general export models had short one piece turn signals, and were sold in Canada, Africa, Asia, Australia (and New Zealand?). I have not seen any solo seat models from US or UK. Click on the thumbnail for a slightly larger picture of my red General export CD175 K3, and click HERE for a bigger picture of my blue CD175, which is a blend of Canadian and USA K3, with a Yamaha chain guard (ouch).

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CD175A3 (UK model) Like the K3, except it has low handlebars and no electric start.

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GL175 Australia. A scrambler version of the CD175, but still has the 6 volt electrics, enclosed chain, single carburetor, 4 speeds. The solo seat looks the same as the one available on the CD175. Features 18" wheels, "knobbly" tires, upswept exhaust and high front fender.

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CD175 A5 or K5 (UK model) with low profile seamless gas tank, and huge side cover badge. This one has a heel and toe shifter. I guess the rear shocks were an owner modification. Serial numbers start with 4....

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CD175 T4 (Canadian Only) (1974?) The last CD175 sold in Canada. It has an open chain guard, the headlight shell is the same as the K1. The gas tank looks like it might be from a 1973 CB175. The side covers are the same shape as the K4, except with a striped accent . The taillight lens is also bigger than the K4.

Other Honda Vertical Twin 175's. CB/CL/SL

In addition to the CD175, there was the CB175 (Sport) model and the CL (Street scrambler) and SL (Sport Scrambler) models. A few of these models using the same basic 175 vertical twin engine are shown below.

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CB175 1973. There were many versions of the CB175. The CB was the 'Sport' model 175 with 5 speeds, twin carbs, twin leading shoe front brake, 12 volt electrics, and separate tachometer and speedometer. Also had the sporty chrome fenders. Tires were 2.75*18 F and 3.00*18 R

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CL175 The street scrambler version of the CB175. Tires 2.75*18 F and 3.25*18 R

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The SL175 was a solo dirt bike with a double downtube frame. Tires 3.00*19 F and 3.50*18 R

Other CD Models

The CD's were typically utility bikes. CD's were intended as work bikes, for delivery, courier or commuter use. Honda sometimes referred to them as "Touring" models, or as Benly's.

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JC58 Benly. This picture from Troyce Walls is a 125 cc four stroke pushrod single from about 1958, very similar concept to the CD125's and CD175's.

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CD125T This bike was still being sold (not sure where) in 2002, carrying the old Benly name. The solo seat and luggage rack are standard. The leg guards may be a Honda accessory, but the top box is anybody's guess.

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CD185 (1985) I believe this is a UK model. Fully enclosed chain.

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CD250 (1989) Australia. That's about all I know about this one.

Honda Model Names

Around 1969 -1970, Honda was not using the traditional names such as "Dream", "Hawk" and "Benly". The Dreams and Benly's were names of commuter models in the fifties and sixties, with large fenders, enclosed chains, and built to be reliable at the expense of some performance. The Dreams were the larger bikes, about 250 cc and up, while the Benly's were smaller down to 125 cc. The Hawks and Super Hawks were the more sporty versions of the Dreams.

Honda seems to have revived the Benly name, and is currently using it for models produced in 2002 (the Benly CD125 and CD50, not sold in North America)


The CD's is were built to be cheap and bulletproof. The CB's, CL's and SL175's were the sporting machines. This table highlights the differences.

Honda CD175

The others: CB175, CL175, SL175

Single carburetor

Twin Carburetor

Four speed gearbox

Five speed gearbox

Milder camshaft

Hotter camshaft

3.00 x 16 tires up to 1969 then 3.00x17

18 inch or even 19 inch tires

Single leading shoe front brake

Twin leading shoe front brake

Fully enclosed chain case (except the T4)

Open chain with chain guard

Available with solo seat and luggage rack, 1969

Full flared fenders (except T4)

Light weight shorty fenders

Speedometer only

Speedometer and tachometer

6 volt electrics

12 volt electrics


Just before the the CD175 was the C160 or CA160. I will post more information as I get it.

CD175 1967: Honda just called it the CD175. Began production about 1967. Serial numbers start with 1….. This was a 174cc parallel twin with pistons going up and down together. It produced 17 horsepower at 10,500 rpm. (Sixties Hondas were all high revving, which gave them a horsepower advantage over other four stroke engines of the same displacement). It had a stamped steel frame and swing arm, plastic(?) fenders with the stays running inside the fender. There were telescopic forks and 3.00 x 16 inch wheels. Top speed was theoretically about 80 mph, but only with some assistance from the wind and or a downhill run.

CD175b 1968 to 1969 This had bigger side panels than the 1967 model, and a rounder gas tank. The taillight had a horizontal brace to the top of the rear fender. The tank emblem says Honda 175 under the wing.


CD175 K3 (Also A3?) (Serial number starts with 2) 1969-1970 The K3 replaced the CD175b in the summer of 1969. The K3 got bigger 3 x 17 inch tires. The engine cylinders were rotated up about 20 degrees to make them almost vertical, so that a new semi-tubular frame could be used that had a single front down tube. The CD175 K3 was noticeably different from the earlier CD175's. Fenders with stays outside, fatter gas tank, tubular/sectional frame, tubular swing arm, and wrap around plastic side panels. The headlight shell was increased in size to go outside the fork ears. The tank emblem says Honda but not 175. The engine might have been detuned a little. I have no evidence of this other than reading what other people have to say, but I think it was a typical Honda strategy to tune early models for maximum performance and later models for reliability. These comments may also apply to the UK model A3, which I do not know much about.

CD175 A4/K4 Serial number starts with 3, built in 1971-? The K4 is very similar to the K3, with only small details to identify the difference. The K4/A4 added helmet locks next to the right rear blinker. The K4 models are recognized by the word Honda on the engine rotor cover, which has raised lettering in a sunken black box. The K3 had the word Honda in sunken lettering. The K4 has cotter pins on the axle nuts and the swing arm nut, but not the K3. One change hidden under the left sidepanel is the air filter box. The K4 had the intake snorkel built into the plastic box. The K3 had the snorkel built into the metal filter. If you put a K4 filter into a K3 box there is no way for air to get into the engine.

Variations of the Vertical CD175's for international markets.

These comments are only for the A3/K3 and A4/K4. The most confusing part of identifying CD175 A3/A4/K3/K4 is the variations that took place for international markets, especially the Canadian K4 that looks almost exactly the same as the USA K3. But there is no Canadian K3, and no USA K4.

I would also like to know all the places where CD175's were sold. As far as I can tell, CD175's seem to have been sold officially in Canada, USA, UK, Ireland, Africa, Asia (esp. Pakistan) Guyana, Australia and New Zealand. I am not aware of any others yet, but let me know by email if you have any additions to this, as I am still learning about these models and making changes to this page.

In the international variations, there was the A3/A4 for the UK and Ireland. For the K3 (sold outside UK and Ireland), there was a US model and then General version sold everywhere else (including Canada). The next model, the K4, dropped the US version, but added a Canadian version. My theory is that Honda was prepared to sell a K4 USA version and at the last minute dropped the CD175 from the USA model line up, and sent all those models to Canada instead.

CD175 K3 The 1969/70 CD175 had three variations, the US K3 model, the General K3 model, and the UK and Ireland A3 model. The US model K3 was the last CD175 sold in that country.

CD175 K4 The K4 had three or four variations. One for Canada, a General Export model, and a few small variations for the Nigerian market. There was also the A4 model sold in the UK and Ireland.

USA K3 The most unique feature is the three part front brake cable which has an in line brake light switch (at least early in the production run). This part was only for the USA K3. The USA K3 has the federal sticker on the headstock. The rest of the USA K3 is very similar to the Canadian K4 (see below).

Canada K4: Like the USA K3, the main difference was the front brake light switch was in the brake lever, not in the cable. The Canadian K4 and and USA K3 had a unit (sealed beam) headlight. Amber side reflectors on the fork covers, red side reflectors on the tail light lens, turn signals mounted on long stalks, and a square grid pattern on back of taillight lens. The taillight was mounted on a higher bracket. The flasher relay was a small black box under the seat. Large parabolic reflectors inside the turn signals and taillight to focus the light. There were black rubber tips on the clutch and front brake levers.

General Export K3 and K4: Short one piece turn signals, separate bulb and reflector type headlight. Circular reflector pattern on back of taillight lens, and no side reflectors. Tiny silver reflectors to focus the taillight and turn signals. On the general export K3, the taillight/license plate bracket is narrower than the USA K3 or Canadian K4. The bracket is also shorter, holding the taillight lower. The winker relay is a metal cylinder on the battery holder instead of a little metal box under the seat.

Nigeria K4: A general export model, it had chrome(?) fenders as an option.

CD175 A4 (UK) Serial number starts with 3. No electric start. Headlight has a 4 watt marker light in the reflector shell. (Low handlebars not mentioned in parts book for the A4, but usually seen in photos.) 18 watt turn signal bulbs instead of 10w. Turn signals mounted on long stalks. Front number plate (optional?) bolted to front fender. Black back number plate bolted to taillight.

The Mystery CD175 T4

I got an email from an owner in Canada who said his Honda dealer had identified his bike as a T4 from a 1974 microfiche. Another visitor to my site reported that there was a test of this bike in the August 1973 Motojournal magazine (A Canadian magazine). According to that article, this bike replaced the Canadian K4, and was made for Canadian Honda Motor. It was priced at $799.00. The T4 serial numbers start with 3 (like the K4's) The tank has different mounting tabs front and back, with different rear rubber mount bolted to frame. It has a dual seat, that would fit a K3 except for the wider front tabs. The headlight bucket similar to the CD175 K1, with the same speedometer as the K1 to K4. The forks have rubber covers. It has a simple black open chainguard and silver gray painted fenders front and back, but the picture above shows a chrome front fender which may come from a CB175. The taillight lens does not fit the K3 or K4.

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