Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Well, I’ll be switched... vintage Honda ignition switches explained.

New Old Stock (NOS) ignition switches become ever rarer, as time goes on. Every so often something will pop up on a search for a Super Hawk or Dream ignition switch that is one of Honda’s many variations of a single part. This story covers the differences between the various ignition switch options on several of the 1960s twins.

125-250-305 Benly/Dream Switches
The Honda 250-305cc Dream/125-150 Benly models have numerous listings for their ignition switch part numbers, as follows; 35100-259-000 is an ignition switch assembly, but w/o the fork lock. Other similar part numbers include: 35100-202-000, 35100-212-000, 35100- and 271-000. For a full ignition switch with the fork lock, the numbers change to 35010-259-000, 35010-202-000, 35010-271-000 and 35010-272-000. The main ignition switch, used on both the 125-250 Benly and the 250-305 Dreams are electrically the same in wiring colors and functions. Benly models use a different type of fork lock than the Dreams, so that is one reason for the shift in part numbers.

Aside from the differences in the fork locks between the two models, there are two variations of the ignition switches, themselves. For the Benly/Dream models, you have the option of either a 5 position switch or a 6 position switch. New owners of these bikes often call me to ask “What are all these switch positions doing?” So, here’s the rundown: (1) Full counterclockwise position is to CRANK the engine over using the electric starter (no ignition). Next position (2) is where you normally insert and withdraw the key- OFF. Up from OFF is (3) the ON (ignition, horn, brake light, starter switch, neutral light functions) position. Next one, going clockwise (4), is HEADLIGHT ON (includes speedometer light and tail light). 

For domestic models, the #5 position turns on the little driving/parking light located inside the headlight reflector (non-sealed beam units). The last one (6) is for PARK, which turns the tail light ON and allows withdrawal of the ignition key.  Obviously, if you switch the bike OFF by turning the ignition switch key to the PARK position, the tail light stays ON until the battery dies. This is quite a common mistake made by new users of these models, so make a mental note of this if you are out hunting your first Benly or Dream.

US-model Benly and Dream bikes usually came with a 5-position ignition switch, as they all had sealed-beam headlights, so there is no room for a little driving light up front. You can substitute a 6-position switch for the 5-position switch here in the US, but for foreign markets, the 5-position switch option isn’t a good match. I do recall running across a very early Benly switch for a C90 or perhaps for a C70-75 which had no wiring for the electric starter function, which was not used in those 1958-59 versions. You probably won’t run across one of those switches very often, these days.

Dreams were not the only bikes with ignition switch options, as the CYP77 and CB450P Police bike editions had an extra ignition switch position for the patrol light function. I recently acquired a CYP77 switch which carried a 35100-282-000 part number. Ones for the CB450P models carry a -285- center code part number. These parts would seldom be found within the US, under most circumstances, although the twenty-five test unit CB450P bikes from 1965 did have limited parts support at AHMC. I owned one of those first 25 models, back in the late 1990s, and was able to order a new seat and luggage rack for the bike directly from US Honda warehouses. The CYP77 ignition switch, recently found, came down from Canada, where they did have a handful of Police models shipped for testing. When I built up my personal CYP77 Police bike, back in 2002, I was able to purchase several rare CYP77 parts from the suppliers in Canada, where the bike actually came from, as well.

Again, you can use the CYP77/CB450P switches in a standard street bike, however, you will wind up with a spare electrical switch position and wire terminal connection, unless you want to wire your phone charger into it. It is interesting that a quick search of eBay listings for Honda Dream/Benly ignition switches popped up some 6-position switches, for sale here in the US, with 202 and 271 code part numbers attached. One wonders if Honda chose to supersede the older 5-position switches with one “universal” switch, which could be used on any model. We have noticed that Honda’s release of replacement wiring harnesses for the 250-305s, all came with the “winker” wiring connections included, whereas the US-spec harnesses had winker wiring deleted originally.

S90/CM90-91 switches
A recent question, coupled with some actual hands-on experience, made me think to share some more switch information concerning the early OHC90 models.  Depending upon the application and what kind of dimmer switch is installed on the model, your ignition switch can be either a 2 wire or a 5/6 wire type. When the dimmer switch on the handlebars has just a Hi-Low beam function, the Lights ON-OFF function is controlled by the third position of the ignition switches. When the headlight dimmer switch has the ON-OFF-Hi-Low function, then the ignition switch only needs to be a two-wire type. The wiring harnesses are, of course, completely different in order to match the types of dimmer and ignition switches used.
Well, that is all there is to report on the “optional” ignition switches that you might encounter in your search for NOS electrical parts, for your Benly, Dream or S90 restoration projects.
Happy hunting and look at your potential purchases carefully.

Bill “MrHonda” Silver


  1. thanks for this, i never understood why there was so many positions on my black bomber

  2. thanks. I had a problem with ignition - it turns out now the key stuck in it.
    If i had found your article earlier, i wouldn`t had to hire a professional Vaughan locksmith

  3. Can someone help me please ive recently bought a honda s90 1965 with no manuel what do the five notches mean on the ignition? Thanks

  4. You can forward photos of the switch, so I can review it, but most are only 2 or 3 position switches for the little bikes like that. It might be for a Euro market model or someone might have jammed in a switch from another model.

  5. Does anyone know the trick to removing the ignition switch without damaging the chrome ring?

  6. A small hook tool works. Honda actually made one specific for doing that task. Otherwise, wrap some masking tape around the bezel and use some channel locks to loosen it up. They generally are not on the switch all that tight, so it shouldn't be a struggle.

  7. Thanks Bill that about what I did. I put some thick 3M double back and was able to break it free with my fingers while wiggling it back and forth slightly from the inside. Now that it’s running I’m dealing with slipping clutch, leaky petcock and noisy starter clutch. I was told it was running good when parked. I’d say it was more like limping along. Regardless probably pretty common stuff. Thanks for the help.

  8. Where can I find a switch for a 1967 CA 160 Honda dream

  9. I am looking for a float bowl cover for my 1962 C240 Port Cub.

  10. https://www.cmsnl.com/honda-c240_model48652/partslist/0031.html#.YZP-eUSIY0E. Doesn't look like it is separate from the carb body.