When you’re into your classics it can be a costly business — even if your chosen machine is a mere Super Dream. CMM meets Nick Jones to find out what is it about this humble Honda that inspires such fierce loyalty.
Perspective is everything in life. Take Nick Jones. He has a passion for the Honda Super Dream that borders on madness and it all stems from seeing one parked up in town as a nipper.
He recalls: “I was only about eight or nine when I saw one for the first time where I was growing up in Reading. My dad and I both saw one parked up in the high street. It was a red one, a lovely example and obviously new at the time. The engine was shining and I just loved the look of it from the off. From then I was pretty much hooked on Hondas as with that bike I think they got it pretty much spot on. We all have bikes that strike a chord with us that we love and the Super Dream was the one for me.”
With Nick only being a mere stripling of 39, the man from Stratford-upon-Avon took some years before he managed to buy his own, albeit after a series of bikes supplied by his grandad in his early teens.
“I had my first Super Dream — a 250N-A -when I was 18 but had bikes before that,” explains Nick. “I guess I was always a four-stroke boy too. I remember at 16 my 1971 four-stroke T50 wiped the floor with my mates’ two-stroke RDs, which obviously were restricted, I had the odd foray into strokers like when I had a Kawasaki AR80.”
Four-strokes are still a passion for Nick, as he has a mint 1990 Honda CBR600FL and a Ducat: Monster in the garage. Despite dad buying the ‘superior’ Suzuki GSX250 back in the day (see our ‘Lemons’ column page 33) Nick still wasn’t impressed. He says: «The GSX was a lovely bike, a V-reg from 1980 and it sounded great, but it wasn’t a Super Dream.”
Since his first at 18, Nick’s had four 250s and four 400s, including one he regrets selling last year. His baby is this 250N Deluxe, registered in January 1S82 on an X plate.
Nick says: «I’ve owned this from the year I got married — 2005 — I was looking for one and saw this on eBay. It was just £300, in Bristol and pretty tired looking, but it did have the original twin pipes on it. I lost the bid, but won it for that amount on a second-chance offer. I wasn’t disappointed, I rode it round the block and it felt amazing. It may have looked tired but it had been well looked after. From there I wanted to make it so special: a bike i never want to sell.»
The restoration was a slow process -about five years from purchase to the picture-perfect you see here. Nick added: “Back in 2005 spares were easier to find than they are now so it was a gradual thing. Even now I’m still stockpiling whatever new old stock I can find. I’m afraid I am a bit anal about it. I had the bike resprayed once when I paid £300 for a tank and sidepanels and fitted it with aftermarket decals but the colours weren’t right, so I soon sold them and got genuine stuff. Now I’ve got another brand-new tank ready just in case. I reckon I’ve spent around £2500 to £3000 on it to get it to this stage, but it’s my baby and I would have it in my lounge if the wife let me! I just love the Deluxe with its black Comstars and the seat hump flip which was so CB900F.»
To go with the 250 is Nick’s ‘workaday’ ride, a 400N T-plater from 1978. That was a recent addition last September. He explains: “1 bought this from Wales and it’s only got around 8000 miles on the clock from new. It had a coat of white engine fur from alloy corrosion and a rusted out front mudguard which I replaced with a NOS one — as well as having the carrier rechromed. It’s got slightly rusty genuine pipes on it and some genuine ones put away for it as and when.”
Indeed, the 400 is the one which will stay in honest, original finish so he can use it to go to the many events that the UK Super Dreamers go to. Many of these members compete with Nick for the title of most mad Super Dreamer: like the guy who has found his original 400 that he bought new in 1981 and is now restoring. Notan easy thing to do with either the 250 or 400, according to Nick,
“Finding a mint one Is hard. You go and look at bikes and see what’s advertised as showroom but it’s been resprayed, it was that kinda bike — a used, abused commuter bike. Some people cherished them, but afterwards they weren’t. This happened to a lot of 250s when the law changed: people used them for work.”
Indeed they did. Despite not setting the world on tire in the performance stakes, and being heavy, in 1980 the CB250N was the UK’s biggest selling motorcycle. Those were the halcyon days of modern motorcycling, with 315,000 bikes sold and more than 17,000 of them being CB250Ns.
This huge number of 250s and the 400 model have percolated through the used and abused market ever since, meaning that good bikes and genuine parts are getting hard to find. Nick explains: “I’m always on the lookout for bikes and I nearly bought another Deluxe but couldn’t get it for what I wanted it for. Parts-wise the rarest are tanks which go for around £500 in Germany (for the best, original ones). Right-hand downpipes and left-hand headlight brackets are hard to find: as are genuine seats as the base is steel and rusts, oh and collector boxes. German eBay is a great source as the 400 was popular over there. Headbolts in the engine with the rubber oil sleeve for the 400 are okay to find for that model but not for the 250, rear wheels can be hard to get as if they were refitted without spacers it would ruin the hub where the cushdrive sits, but eventually you will find all you need.»
What is interesting in days of £20,000 Zls is how even parts for the humble Super Dream can command so much dosh. But, as mentioned, it’s about perspective and what was Nick’s dream bike was, anything but for me.
My first real connection with a Super Dream was seeing one burnt out on the council estate on which I lived. The next time was getting a lift on the back of a pretty doggy 250N in the late 1980s, so the chance to ride Nick’s honest 400 was going to be interesting.
Swinging my porky thigh over the low seat, the first thing that hits you is the comfort factor. Everything is where you want it to be for maximum miles in the saddle. Fire up the motor and there’s a pleasing hum from the pipes — even if the 250 that Nick rode for pictures sounds the sweeter.
Pulling away is a cinch thanks to the light clutch, but I forgot for the first few yards that you do need to rev the little twin, blame my current modem ride of 1200cc+ for that. But, when you get the 395cc motor spinning above 6000rpm, things get a shuffle on: it’s not speedy, but not sedate either.
Handling is very stable, with a slow-steering nature, meaning that it suits the commute and the newbie rider and the suspension was firm enough even for me. I’m guessing the 250 (which was a learner fave up until 1982) must be similar. Once you get a wiggle on all is fine and dandy until you reach for the anchors. Didn’t people want to stop that quick in 1978? You really need to give a hard dab on the back anchor to help the front out. I’m brought back down to earth with a bump when I return — Nick says the 250 with the single disc is even worse, but then the 400s discs are hardly Bertie-sized dinner plates.
Despite this one annoyance, I enjoyed this briefest of spins on the Super Dream and it has led me to realise that all motorcycles are inherently brilliant and that if we open our minds and give things a go we can appreciate what others see in them.
After all, many thousands of nascent riders from the 1970s to the 1980s and beyond can’t be wrong.