To get the most out of their vintage Japanese superbikes, riders prefer tall peaks and wide valleys. There's hairpin turns, steep drops, adrenaline rush straightaways.

Yet the International CBX Owners Association, fans of the 1978-82-era Honda CBX 1000, chose the mountain-less Charleston area for its just completed "national rally."

The contrarian choice came down to a few factors: an association member lives here and would arrange events, and the locale would offer perks besides riding.

"Never been able to go to the beach during an east coast rally before," according to the rally's promotion in the CBXPress magazine. Riders were also eager to enjoy Charleston's cultural mystique. And with shopping and other activities, they were encouraged to bring their spouses.

"There are lots of sights in and around Charleston, and history drips from the trees," said Rick Pope, rally director, in an article in the association publication.

As it turned out, the rally would bring 25-30 riders, passengers and guests - about as many as expected - to the May 28-31 rally and a concluding bike show. Rain hampered rides on Friday and Saturday while forcing the cruise-in under the covering of the host hotel.

Yet bikers were able to break out their rides for a number of trips, including a twisting and turning 100-mile drive past horse farms and other sites in the Francis Marion Forest.

Despite their 30-plus year vintage, the Honda CBX and its inline six-cylinder engine continues to attract adherents. It was one of the first so-called "superbikes" that zoom around race tracks and open highways at up tp 140 mph.

There's "nothing like it. Completely air cooled, fast," said Jan Ringnalda, the association's Columbus, Ohio-based director.

Rather than sponsored by the manufacturers, the CBX Owners Association sprung up from the riders, he said. There are 650 members worldwide including 500 in the U.S. About 2,000-3,000 bikes are still on the road.

Local member Mark Crane, a Honda CBX owner, urged the group to hold a rally in the Charleston area, and the association took him up on the offer. He handled much of the legwork.

For instance on Saturday, the riders parked their bikes at the Cars and Coffee morning cruise-in east of the Cooper; had their photos taken in front of the U.S.S. Yorktown at Patriots Point; and took part in the national forest ride on Guerin's Bridge and Halfway Creek roads and S.C highways 402 and 45 to Jamestown and back.

After lunch, the riders met at the hotel for the abbreviated bike show.

"We had a spectacular time this morning (at the Yorktown)," Ringnalda said.

Duane Helzer, a Honda CBX owner in Mount Pleasant who helped organize the rally, said the planners were "kind of fortunate" as the rain held off during most of the ride through the Francis Marion.

Bill Brint and Penny Banks brought a 1981 model among others to the show. "I build parts for these bikes," said Brint, who has a shop in Cornelia, Ga., that specializes in Honda CBXs. "It's not bad," Brint said of the show. "The event's the first at a beach setting," which made the riding "different," he said.

Jim Longwith brought his 1980 CBX from Rock Hill. He's owned the bike not quite a year but has known about the model since it came out. Longwith said he was pleased overall with the rally. "We had great rides."

Reach Jim Parker at 937-5542 or