Friday, March 21, 2008

A Sixties Icon from Honda

Honda created a model for the American market in 1962 simply named the Scrambler, a 250cc OHC twin with a single-downtube frame, cross-brace handlebars, a sleek gas tank, and the sweetest-howling upswept, crossover exhaust pipes in motorcycle history. The CL-72 continued through its 305cc iteration as the CL-77, beginning in '65, but a little brother was obviously needed for the exploding marketplace. The CL-160 was introduced to America in 1966, and in its official form at least, was built for only two model years.

All the original CL-160's had black frames with silver gas tanks, fenders, and side covers. There was a skid plate underneath the engine that blocked the access for an electric starter, so all models had kickstarters only. Unlike any other American-model Hondas, the CL-160 evolved into the CL-175 in an unusual manner. At the end of 1967, Honda dealers were shipped only CB-160's in the normal black, white, red, and blue colors for all Hondas. Dealers could order CL Kits to convert CB's into CL models prior to placing them on the showroom floor. This meant that in late 1967 and throughout '68, you could buy a new CL-160 that looked exactly like the original with the exception of the presence of an electric starter, the absence of a skidplate, and the availability of four colors. Some or most of these models also had body colored gas tanks instead of silver ones. (Maybe all of them did, but I cannot be sure about this.) This model evolved into the CL-175 with the color choices replaced by black, candy blue, and candy orange in 1968, and the CL-175 continued to evolve until it became the K4 model in 1970, at which time its styling finally became mostly identical to all the other Honda Scramblers of that year.

The original, black, kickstart CL-160 with its skidplate has become a legend in its own time, a model sought by collectors as a very special Honda. Its 282 pounds offered a compact alternative to its larger 305cc, 350cc and 450cc brothers, while its sixteen horsepower OHC twin offered considerably more adult hauling power than its little tiddler siblings. The CL-160 filled a very entertaining niche in the on and off road motorcyle market. I wish I had one now! 

Watch for the new book by Floyd M. Orr, The Tiddler Invasion, coming Spring 2013!

1966 CL-160 Brochure

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Sixties Icon on Two Wheels

Almost as soon as I began my motorcycling career back in 1960, I began riding off-road. Just a few weeks prior to my first sight of the word Honda, my best friend acquired a 1960 Harley-Davidson Super 10. The model you see pictured here is the trail variant of the direct descendant of the short-lived Super 10, a model made only in 1960 and '61. The 165cc Super 10 became the 175cc Pacer in 1962, and a trail model with upswept exhaust, high, bobbed fenders, and knobbier tires was also added to the line of small, U.S.-built Harleys. (Yes, Martha, Harley-Davidson used to make motorcycles in the US of A that cost three figures instead of five and weighed somewhat less than a boxcar full of elephants!) The photo is of a 1963 Scat. As far as I can tell, the only non-stock item on this model is the chopped rear fender. This example features the new-for-'63 rear suspension consisting of a large spring mounted underneath the frame at the swingarm pivot point. Although the spring worked as a solo artist, this was not exactly what Yamaha would later call a Monoshock. In five-figure elephant lingo, this is now called a Softtail.

The Harley-Davidson Scat is a rare little beastie. I have encountered only a few of these personally in my lifetime, but the photo shown is one of the best I have seen of a Scat. Anyone who would like to learn more about the Scat, Pacer, Super 10, Ranger, Bobcat, or the ubiquitous Hummer will enjoy my upcoming extensive book featuring small motorcycles of the Sixties.

Watch for it: The Tiddler Invasion, the new book by Floyd M. Orr coming Spring 2013!

Thursday, March 6, 2008

The Last Horizon

The Last Horizon explains the DNA of the herd instinct. Humans are pack animals always looking for a leader. My third book, published in 2002, was actually conceived at the end of The Sixties. The social phenomenon I call The Class System is an extension of a psychological theory by William H. Sheldon created and compiled in the '40's and '50's. My later theory builds on that premise with a heavy dose of sociological behavior patterns seemingly indigenous to the Baby Boomer generation. As my wife would say, that sounds like a load of psychosocial mumbo-jumbo that she could do without, and that is precisely why she does not like the first chapter of the book. She is a big fan of the later chapters, though, which are admittedly, a lot more fun to read.

My theory is based on the study of body types by a well-known psychologist, but the spin I have placed on his theories is that the prosperity, social power, and recreational time enjoyed by the Boomers at unprecedented levels have allowed a special entity to develop from our earliest social experiences. In simple terms, the shallow social strata so commonly developed during our school years of 1st-12th grades never disappears from our social structure, even as we seemingly mature as individuals. We are born as members of the wolf pack and we die as members of the pack. Darwin's theory never really disappears from our subconscious, no matter how deeply we try to bury it with civilized behavior patterns.

The Class System represents the DNA of most modern pack behavior. Christians are known as a violently patriarchal society. We resist most any efforts at developments of matriarchal power. Why do you think most of the witches who have been burned at the stake have been female? Why do you think the red state right-wingers disparage Hillary Clinton so thoroughly? Why do you think The da Vinci Code was such a big seller? Why are we now in the throes of Obamamania?

The Last Horizon is also the DNA of our sexual behaviors. Our mating rituals reflect the power of feminine sexuality, but we generally tend to try to disguise this fact with a thick coating of rampant testosterone. There is a deeply ingrained conflict between the way we see ourselves as patriarchal Christians and simultaneously as members of the wolf pack. We mature as individuals encased within a culture of confusing identity, outwardly worshipping the masculine while inwardly providing the feminine with the ultimate social power.

The content of the book is a lot more about teenage dating rituals and the sexual behavior of all ages than you might expect from this particular description of its soiological implications. I would never publish anything that was not at least significantly entertaining to read. My style has a lot more in common with Bill Maher than Paul Krugman. My point is that we never seem to grow up. We are the generation of adolescents that have more in common with Peter Pan than we would care to admit, and that, ladies and gentlemen, will be our downfall. As an entire culture, we are so easily led around by our noses, or more appropriately by our hoo-hahs and doo-dahs.

The Last Horizon at Amazon