Author: David Hellard, 2020
It is rare when Honda only made a one year motorcycle. However, to me, the Honda CL200 has always been somewhat of a mystery to me. Especially since I have a motorcycle web page that specializes in delivering the hard to find parts and the CL200 definitely fits that category.
Honda had such a great market offerings in high-piped off-road look alike models which they often designated as “CL.” The first CL model with any significant numbers was their CL72 which was a 250cc street scrambler introduced in 1962. That is unless you want to stretch it back to the 300cc CS76 “Dream Sport” which was a one year model for 1960 only. It sported gorgeous twin chromed high pipes that came up on each side. This model may have made it to the “coasts” but I never saw one in Ohio until I spied one in a museum in the 1990’s. You also saw small displacement high chrome exhausts in Honda 50, 65, 90, 100 and 125 models starting as early as 1960 with the C110(50cc) Super Sports cub.
So the direct predecessor to the CL200 was the twin cylinder Honda CL175 model (1968-1973). These small bore bikes had a lot of new features. They sported higher handlebars, high chrome exhausts, vented heat shields, tachometers and a five speed transmission. They were a huge success; every high school kid flocked around them the Dairy Queen all across the country.
The Honda CL200 came along to replace the CL175. They bumped the displacement a few ccs and offered only one paint color, Candy Riviera Blue. Maybe someone who was in Honda Marketing or a Honda dealer during this time can tell me why it was only made one year. This is especially so since its street bike brother, the CB200 was made for three years from 1974-1976. Honda did make an XL175 from 1973-1978, but they were marketed as dual purpose street/trail and had no chrome exhausts. Honda CL models were never considered true off-road motorcycles, just great looking wanna-be’s .
You certainly don’t see many Honda CL200’s today, I don’t believe they sold well back then. I know the CB200 was considered by most as a poor replacement for the red hot selling CB175’s of the day. The good news, from a parts perspective, is that many of the CL175 parts will interchange with the CL200. However, try to find an original gas tank, side cover, exhaust, or heat shield—just forget about it!