Pretty in Blue CA95 Benly Touring 150 “Baby Dream”
Story and photos by John Gunnell
Did you know Honda is the best selling motorcycle in the world? In 1948, Soichiro Honda started his company by building small-displacement motor scooters. He introduced his first motorcycle in 1949. Early Hondas were sold under the trade name Benly, but Benlys had “Honda” on the engine case.
The beautiful D-Type Dream, introduced in 1949, took Honda a step further in the direction of building real motorcycles. By 1952, Honda was even selling motorcycles outside Japan. In 1959, with the help of dedicated Senior Managing Director Takeo Fujisawa, the now legendary American Honda Motor Company opened in Los Angeles. That was the year the Baby Dream arrived.
Bowing on Sept. 1, 1959, Honda’s CA95 Benly Touring 150 or Baby Dream rode like a real motorcycle, compared to the smaller Hondas on the market before that. “Significant elements of the early Benly—and early Dream— were the pressed steel frame and leading link front forks,” noted Paul Duchene, a writer and expert on vintage motorcycles. “They didn't handle worth a damn, but they always started. Electric starting was novel then and they didn't leak either,” Duchene recalled. “Honda reliability sold bikes to people who were ‘non-greasy fingernail types’ even though the Benlys and Dreams were not cheap machines.”
After its introduction and through 1963, the early model CA95 Benly Touring 150 was marketed outside the United States. This attractive bike was much better known by its Baby Dream nickname.
Early models of the CA95 Benly Touring 150 came in four colors: Black, Scarlet Red, Blue or White. The headlight was square and carried an integral speedometer. The CA95 came with the center of the fuel tank painted in whichever of the four color the buyer selected for the bike. The sides of the tank were trimmed with large chrome panels and small, black rubber knee pads.
The early model CA95 Benly Touring 150 can be distinguished from the later model by its shorter rear fender brace. It had an enclosed drive chain. The taillight was smaller than the taillight used on later ones. Black sidewall tires were standard factory equipment and a flat style muffler with chrome finish was used.
A 154 cc overhead cam parallel twin engine was employed. It had a single carburetor. The power plant was linked to Honda’s constant mesh four-speed transmission. Unlike later twins, the early model’s cam chain came up the left side of the cylinders. Honda Product Code 206 was used to identify the early CA95 Benly Touring 150. Serial numbers began at CA95-100001.
In 1963, the late model CA95 Benly Touring 150 arrived and lasted until 1966. It came in the same four colors with modest changes and The Baby Dream nickname stuck. The late model fuel tank used larger black rubber pads and smaller chrome panels than the early model. The later version had a longer rear fender brace with an added rectangular plate. The taillight was also larger and the mufflers were round, not flat. Whitewall tires were fitted. The engine was a 154cc overhead cam parallel twin. It also had a single carburetor and a four-speed transmission was used. Serial numbers began at CA95-3106641.
According to Ray Davis of The Benly Page (www.vintage-honda.com) the Touring models C92 C95 CA95 CS92 CS95 were all very similar. “My understanding is that the C had low bars and the CA (“A” for America, we assume) had high bars but all later bikes seem to have come with high bars.”
“One problem you have with this model is the myriad of changes that it went through during its production time, which was about 1959 to 1966,” Davis explained. “Towards the end, I think a CA160 was also produced in the U.S. and it used the CB160 engine with single carb.” Davis added that the Touring models were not popular in Europe, where the larger 250/305 seemed to sell better.
According to The Ultimate Guide to Honda Motorcycles by Doug Mitchel, the CA160 Touring (product code 225) arrived in 1966 and lasted through 1969. In his book, Mitchel noted, “The 1966 CA160 Touring could easily play the role of stunt double for the CA95 Benly Touring 150, which was on its way out in 1966.” While the two bikes looked the same, the fact that the CA160 supplanted the CA 95 suggested that larger-displacement engines were the wave of the future.
This CA95 Benly 150 Touring was Honda’s first “motorcycle” motorcycle.
White sidewall tires gives this bike away as a later-model
The odometer on this bike showed 8,521 original miles. The speedometer reads up to 90 mph.
Optional luggage rack adds to the “motor scooter” image.
Extended rear fender brace and larger taillight are later model features.
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