Honda is the largest motorcycle manufacturer in Japan and has been since it started production in 1955. At its peak in 1982, Honda manufactured almost three million motorcycles annually. By 2006 this figure had reduced to around 550,000 but was still higher than its three domestic competitors.
Soichiro Honda began producing motorcycles in 1946 to satisfy a thirst for cheap transportation in war devastated Japan. Honda began his effort by installing military surplus engines in bicycles. As Honda became more prosperous, he designed his own 50cc engine for the bicycles. The first motorcycle that featured a completely Honda designed motor and frame was produced in 1949. It was called the Model D for Dream. Soon Model J Benly appeared.
Honda wanted to sell a more powerful motorcycle that led to the 146cc over head valve four-stroke E-Type Dream with a top speed of 50mph. The motorcycle featured Honda's own designed frame and suspension on both wheels.
In 1952 Honda began producing the Cub with two-stroke engine. Its big sales became basis for future development.
In 1953 Honda began producing a four-stroke single powered motorcycle featuring more engineering sophistication. This small motorcycle was also called a Benly and featured a three-speed gearbox, pressed steel Frame, rear suspension with the engine and swinging arm on a sprung pivot, and telescopic front suspension and produced 3.8bhp.
A revolution in the motorcycle industry began in 1958 when Honda brought the C100 Super Club to the American market. It was the first Honda motorcycle sold in the U.S. The small step through design was easy to ride reliable bike. It was featured in the famous “you meet the nicest people on a Honda” marketing campaign that eventually made the C100 motorcycle the best selling motorcycle of all times. Eventually more than 30 million would be built.
CB models included the CA72 (250cc) and followed by the CA77 (305cc). The parallel twin engines proved very reliable, however their stamped steel welded frames handled poorly at higher speeds.
Performance and handling improved when the company bolted the little parallel twin engines to a steel tubular frame and added twin carburetors for more power. The motorcycles were known as the CB 72 and 77 super hawk models and gained a reputation of reliability.
The first commercially successful large motorcycle was the CB450, brought out in 1965 and called the black bomber. This innovative engine featured torsion bar valve springs that allowed high rpm and was the first serious effort by Honda to challenge English dominance in the American marketplace.
This was followed in 1969 with the Honda CB750 four. A powerful and reliable motorcycle that dominated the motorcycle market. The success of the CB 750 4 cylinder Honda led to a series of smaller Honda motorcycles with 350, 400, 550 cc motors and ushered in the era of the universal Japanese motorcycle.
This design would reach its fruition when it morphed into the cult classic inline 6 cylinder CBX in 1978.
The reliability and power of the four cylinder Honda 750 soon led to a new kind of motorcyclist, the long distance touring rider. Craig Vetter designed a full fairing for the motorcycle called a Windjammer. Before long thousands of motorcycle enthusiasts were touring the countryside on their motorcycles behind a Windjammer.
In 1974 Honda brought out the GL1000 Gold Wing. The motorcycle featured a flat four cylinder 999cc a water cooled engine with power delivered through a driveshaft. It proved to be as reliable as the cars of the day. Soon thousands of Goldwings were bought up and converted to touring motorcycles by their new owners.
With interest running so high for touring models, Honda brought out the Interstate model in 1980. This was the first Japanese produced motorcycle to roll off the assembly line as a complete touring motorcycle. The motorcycle featured a full fairing, trunk and saddlebags.
In addition to touring motorcycles, Honda began developing a series of V-four engines in the 1970s. This led to the production of the Honda Sabre and Magna in 1980. These two models led to a whole series of VF designated high performance motorcycles ranging between 400cc and 1000cc. But due to mechanical problems the VF line was unable to sustain itself.
Following the VF was the new VFR series of motorcycles. The VFR 750R was a sport touring motorcycle with lots of power, good balance and reliability.
In 1996 Honda produced the fastest motorcycle in production with the CBR1100XX Super Blackbird (1137cc). The motorcycle became popular with the long range high speed touring crowd.
Soichiro Honda died on August 5, 1991 of liver failure.
Honda's entry into the U.S. motorcycle market during the 1960s is used as a case study for teaching introductory strategy at business schools worldwide. There are a few theories explaining their great success.
Sun, 01 Apr 2018
"Stool" received a fresh design, a more powerful engine, ABS and LED optics. A new generation of the model is presented, which will definitely interest the audience. The device has been completely upgraded.
Sat, 02 Dec 2017
The level of development of modern motorcycles is so high that the police could safely choose the standard model and not feel left out. But no - they ordered two custom bikes! In the end they could take the extreme Africa Twin Adventure Sports which is an excellent option, although quite specific for the road service.
Sat, 02 Sep 2017
Naked 150SS Racer Concept turned into a production model.A show bike with a spectacular design and a cocky “racing” name was presented in March at the motor show in Bangkok, and starting with autumn it turned into a serial CB150R bike. The motor is a modest 150cc with two camshafts, liquid cooling and a six-speed gearbox. The CB150R features an inverted fork, a front caliper radial mount brake system and optional ABS.
Wed, 24 May 2017
The first update is related to the kickstarter, or rather, its absence: now the “single-barrel” in the basic version is started by an electric starter with a very light Li-ion battery. The second difference of the newly rejuvenated CRF450R is the suspension with changed settings - obviously, it steers more fun and perky than before.
Thu, 09 Mar 2017
At the Motodays show in Rome, Honda announced a hardcore version of the Africa Twin, featuring Dakar styling, technical innovations and a price tag that surpasses the exterior of the motorcycle in severity. The Italian division of Honda has comprehensively modified the CRF1000L, giving it the dashing style of an experimental vehicle along the way. There is a pretty good attempt to endow the motorcycle with the features of a Dakar monster.
Thu, 07 Apr 2016
Honda has patented its development in the field of interactive technologies that prevent accidents, following BMW. The Japanese proposed a warning system about the danger that lies in wait for the driver in the blind zone. Honda engineers have proposed equipping the motorcycle with cameras and radars that will detect dangerous proximity to another vehicle or pedestrian and warn the driver through light indication or tactile feedback.
Fri, 29 Jan 2016
Honda is recalling 22,142 motorcycles from shipments produced between 2010 and 2016. The reason was the vibration from the engine, which over time leads to chafing of the fall sensor wire in the common harness. Dealers promise to move the wire to another location and replace the sensor free of charge.
Tue, 03 Feb 2015
This Honda CB750 is the fourth work of Clockwork Motorcycles: “The bike looked pretty funny,” says the founder of the workshop. They tried to turn the 1971 model into a bobber, but unsuccessfully. I decided it deserved better." Having decided to make a real bobber, Samuel called the project "Fury".
Mon, 13 Oct 2014
From an EnduroCross press release:
Factory Beta and Stillwell Performance-backed Cody Webb took a decisive win tonight in Salt Lake City’s inaugural AMA GEICO EnduroCross event. The win was Webb’s second after taking the first round victory in Las Vegas and puts him and his Beta two-stroke 300 into the points lead. The race fans in attendance at the Energy Solutions Arena saw a night go almost perfectly for GEICO-supported Webb.
Fri, 10 Oct 2014
From an AMA press release:
Hollywood actor and longtime motorcyclist Perry King will serve as the master of ceremonies for the 2014 American Honda AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, presented by Harley-Davidson, on Friday, Oct. 17, at the Chapin Theater in the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Fla. The induction ceremony takes place during the 2014 AMA Convention, Oct.