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Thunderhawk: A New Angle On The Honda CB77

An industrial designer lets loose on the iconic Honda CB77, and the result is stunning.
With most Honda CB customs packing 400cc or more, we were a little curious when a CB77 Super Hawk hit our inbox. After all, this was the bike that launched Honda in the USA—and the bike that Robert M. Pirsig rode on his trip in Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.

Plus, the Super Hawk is gorgeous in stock form, with its iconic chrome tank. There are plenty of restored CB77s out there, gleaming in the sun—but it’s intriguing to see a completely fresh take on a timeless classic.

An industrial designer lets loose on the iconic Honda CB77, and the result is stunning.
This angular 1962-model CB77 is a radical departure from the original bike’s soft lines, and the result is stunning. It belongs to Ian Duffy: an industrial designer based in Miami, Florida, who has an affinity for the Super Hawk.

“My first bike was a stock ’66 CB77,” says Ian. “When I bought it I had no clue how to work on it—let alone ride. But I learned fast, rebuilding it in my apartment and problem solving as I drove it around San Francisco.”

An industrial designer lets loose on the iconic Honda CB77, and the result is stunning.
Ian was looking for a new project, so he contacted Davo Giusti—a Honda builder and collector. “I asked him to put together a kit of parts for a stripped down performance race bike, which would emulate the quality and craftsmanship of the original CB77. I was about to move to Miami, so I put the boxes of parts in the back of my old ’67 F250 and drove them over to begin the process.”

Working out of a tiny shed in his back yard with only a basic tool kit, Ian set to work—completing the entire build on a budget of just $2000.

An industrial designer lets loose on the iconic Honda CB77, and the result is stunning.
He rebuilt the engine with reconditioned components, including a crossed gear racing transmission. The cylinders were re-sleeved to the original 305cc bore using a set of Wiseco pistons. A new wiring harness was made up too, with Dyna coils and a new stock points ignition system.

Moving to the chassis, Ian shortened the end of the frame and cut out the stock battery box. He re-laced the rims with stainless steel spokes, and fitted a set of ceramic coated Honda CL77 pipes. The front headlight and fender are both CB160 items, found at a swap meet, and the tires are from Sava.

An industrial designer lets loose on the iconic Honda CB77, and the result is stunning.
During the project Ian bought a mini lathe and began fabricating his own parts; the rear sets, headlight ears, triple tree, exhaust flanges and steering tensioner are all his handiwork. He also wired up the CB77’s unique new tail light—consisting of 24 LEDs embedded in the tail unit.

Ian knew his biggest challenge would be the bike’s tank and seat though. “The Super Hawk is a beautiful bike on its own,” he admits, “and it’s very difficult to modify the lines and maintain the quality of the design.”

An industrial designer lets loose on the iconic Honda CB77, and the result is stunning.
He started by shaping a wooden plug for an elongated, three gallon tank, before casting a fiberglass mold and building the final product. The stocky seat was made from fiberglass-reinforced PVC. (There’s a new Lithium-ion battery hiding underneath it.)

When it came time to pick the CB77’s finishes, Ian wanted a raw but refined look that would accentuate the engine’s design. He settled on a darker color palette—contrasting it with bits of bare metal. The engine and other components were bead-blasted, then finished in black using a home-made powder-coating rig. The remaining body parts were treated to a coat of Aston Martin silver.

An industrial designer lets loose on the iconic Honda CB77, and the result is stunning.
Ian’s dubbed his CB77 ‘Thunderhawk’, and is pretty chuffed with how it turned out. “The bike has incredible power now with the lighter weight from stock, the seating position cuts down on wind resistance and the sound is unbelievably raw.”

Best of all, he has plans for a follow-up: “I am in the process of designing and prototyping a new engine and contemporary motorcycle design based on the CB77, with modern improvements.”

We can’t wait.

Visit Ian Duffy’s website

An industrial designer lets loose on the iconic Honda CB77, and the result is stunning.