Honda Super Cub

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This article is about the motorcycle. For the SUV, see Honda Passport. For the Piper aircraft, see Piper PA-18.
Honda Super Cub
Honda super cub, 1st Gen. 1958, Left side.jpg
Honda Super Cub in the Honda Collection Hall in Japan
Also called Cub, C100, C102, C65, CM90, CM91, C110, C50, C70, C90, Passport, EX5, Dream 100, EX5 Dream, C100EX, Super Cub 50, Super Cub 110
Production Since 1958
Assembly 15 countries worldwide
Class Underbone
Engine Horizontal 49–109 cc (3.0–6.7 cu in) 4-stroke air-cooled single
Transmission 3 or 4 speed, semi-automatic with wet multi-plate centrifugal clutch
Frame type Step through pressed steel monocoque underbone
Suspension Front: Leading link (early), telescopic fork (late)
Rear: Swingarm
Brakes Front: drum
rear: drum
Weight 55–90 kg (121–198 lb)[1] (dry)

The Honda Super Cub is a Honda underbone motorcycle with a four stroke single cylinder engine ranging in displacement from 49 to 109 cc (3.0 to 6.7 cu in).

In continuous manufacture since 1958 with production surpassing 60 million in 2008,[2][3] the Super Cub is the most produced motor vehicle* in history.[4][5] Variants include the C100, C50, C70, C90, C100EX and C70 Passport.

The Super Cub's US advertising campaign, You meet the nicest people on a Honda, had a lasting impact on Honda's image and on American attitudes about motorcycling, and is often used as a marketing case study.[6][7][8][9]

Development[edit]

The idea for a new 50-cubic-centimetre (3.1 cu in) motorcycle was conceived in 1956, when Honda Motor's Soichiro Honda and Takeo Fujisawa toured Germany and witnessed the popularity of mopeds and lightweight motorcycles.[10] Soichiro Honda was primarily the engineering and production leader of the company, always with an eye towards winning on the racetrack, while his close partner Fujisawa was the man of finance and business, heading up sales and formulating strategies intended to dominate markets and utterly destroy Honda Motor's competitors.[11] Fujisawa had been thinking about a long term expansion strategy, and unlike other Japanese companies did not want to simply boost production to cash in on the recent economic boom in Japan.[10] A small, high performance motorcycle was central to his plans.[10] Upwardly mobile consumers in postwar Europe typically went from a bicycle to a clip on engine, then bought a scooter, then a bubble car, and then a small car and onwards; Fujisawa saw that a motorcycle did not fit in this pattern for the average person, and he saw an opportunity to change that.[12] Soichiro Honda was at the time tired of listening to Fujisawa talk about his new motorcycle idea; Honda came to Europe to win the Isle of Man TT race and wanted to think about little else.[10]

1954 Kreidler K50.

Fujisawa and Honda visited Kreidler and Lambretta showrooms, as well as others, researching the kind of motorcycle Fujisawa had in mind. Fujisawa said the designs had "no future" and would not sell well.[10][13] His concept was a two wheeler for everyman, one that would appeal to both developed and developing countries, urban and rural.[12] The new motorcycle needed to be technologically simple to survive in places without up to date know how and access to advanced tools or reliable spare parts supplies.[12] The common consumer complaints of noise, poor reliability, especially in the electrics, and general difficulty of use would have to be addressed.[12] Because Honda was a large company growing larger, it needed a mass appeal product that could be produced on an enormous scale.[12] The design had to be sorted out before production began, because it would be too costly to fix problems in the vast numbers that were to be manufactured. The scooter type nearly fitted the bill, but was too complex for developing countries to maintain, and the small wheels did poorly on badly maintained or nonexistent roads.[12][14] Another of Fujusawa's requirements was that it could be ridden with one hand while carrying a tray of soba noodles, saying to Honda, "If you can design a small motorcycle, say 50 cc with a cover to hide the engine and hoses and wires inside, I can sell it. I don't know how many soba noodle shops there are in Japan, but I bet you that every shop will want one for deliveries."[13][14][15]

Once interested, Soichiro Honda began developing the Super Cub on his return to Japan.[10] The following year Honda displayed a mockup to Fujisawa that finally matched what he had in mind, Fujisawa declaring the annual sales would be 30,000 per month, half again as many as the entire monthly two-wheeler market in Japan.[10] His goal was export on a scale yet unseen in the economic disorder of postwar Japan, when most companies' halting trade efforts were handled through foreign trading companies.[10] Honda would have to establish its own overseas subsidiary to provide the necessary service and spare parts distribution in a large country like the United States. To this end American Honda Motor Company was founded in 1959.[10] In 1961 a sales network was established in Germany, then in Belgium and the UK in 1962, and then France in 1964.[11]

The Honda Juno had been the first scooter to use polyester resin, or fiberglass reinforced plastic (FRP), bodywork, and even though production of the Juno had stopped in 1954 as a result of Honda Motor's financial and labor problems at the time, Fujisawa continued to encourage research in polyester resin casting techniques, and these efforts bore fruit for the Super Cub.[10] The new motorcycle's fairing would be polyethylene, the most widely used plastic, which reduced weight over FRP, but Honda's supplier had never made such a large die cast before, so the die had to be provided by Honda.[14] The Super Cub was the first motorcycle ever to use a plastic fairing.[16] Motorcycling historian Clement Salvadori wrote that the plastic front fender and leg shields were, "perhaps the Cub's greatest contribution; plastic did the job just as well as metal at considerably lower cost."[17] The technology developed in the Isle of Man TT racing program was equally vital to the new lightweight motorcycle, making possible 3.4 kilowatts (4.5 hp) from a 50 cc four-stroke Honda engine, where the first engine the company built a decade earlier, a "fairly exact copy" of the 50 cc two stroke war-surplus Tohatsu engine Honda had been selling as motorized bicycle auxiliary engine, had only a 0.37–0.75 kilowatts (0.5–1 hp) output.[10][11] Honda's first four stroke, the 1951 E-type, had just a little more power than the Super Cub, 3.7 kilowatts (5 bhp), with nearly triple the displacement, 146 cc (8.9 cu in).[11]

To make the new motorcycle, Honda built a new ¥10 billion factory in Suzuka, Mie to manufacture 30,000, and with two shifts, 50,000, Super Cubs per month.[10][18] The factory was modeled on the Volkswagen Beetle production line in Wolfsburg, Germany.[18] Until then, Honda's top models had sold only 2,000 to 3,000 per month, and observers thought the cost of the new plant too risky an expenditure.[10] Edward Turner of BSA went to Japan to see the motorcycle industry in September 1960, and said that investments the size of the Suzuka plant were "extremely dangerous" because the US motorcycle market was already saturated.[18] When completed in 1960, the Suzuka Factory was the largest motorcycle factory in the world, and was a model for Honda's mass production facilities of the future.[10] The economies of scale achieved at Suzuka cut 18% from the cost of producing each Super Cub when Suzuka could be run at full capacity,[18] but in the short term Honda faced excess inventory problems when the new factory went into operation before the full sales and distribution network was in place.[10]

Design[edit]

Late 2000s Super Cub

The Super Cub has been compared to the Ford Model T, Volkswagen Beetle and the Jeep as an icon of 20th century industry and transport.[9][10][19] The C100 used a pressed steel monocoque chassis, with the horizontal engine placed below the central spine, a configuration now called the 'step through' or 'underbone' motorcycle. By some criteria, the type of motorcycle the Super Cub falls into is difficult to classify, landing somewhere between a scooter and a motorcycle,[16] and sometimes it was called a moped, "step-thru", or scooterette.[11][20][21]

The instruments of a 1966 CA100 and 2009 Super Cub 110

A plastic fairing ran from below the handlebars and under the footpegs, protecting the rider's legs from wind and road debris, as well as hiding the engine from view. This design was like the full enclosure of a scooter, but unlike a scooter the engine and gearbox unit was not fixed to the rear axle. This had several benefits. It moved the engine down and away from the seat, detaching the rear swingarm motion from the drivetrain for lower unsprung weight, and also made engine cooling air flow more direct, and it made possible larger wheels.[11] Placing the engine in the center of the frame, rather than close to the rear wheel, gave it proper front-rear balance.[12] The fuel tank was located under the hinged seat, which opened to reveal the fuel filler inlet. The 17 inch wheels, in comparison to the typical 10 inch wheels of a scooter, were more stable, particularly on rough roads, and psychologically made the motorcycle more familiar, having an appearance closer to a bicycle than a small-wheel scooter.[11]

The Super Cub early push-rod engine.

The pushrod overhead valve (OHV) air-cooled four stroke single cylinder engine had a 40-by-39-millimetre (1.6 in × 1.5 in) bore × stroke, displacing 49 cubic centimetres (3.0 cu in), and could produce 3.4 kilowatts (4.5 hp) @ 9,500 rpm, for maximum speed of 69 km/h (43 mph), under favorable conditions.[22] The low compression ratio meant the engine could consume inexpensive and commonly available low octane fuel, as well as minimizing the effort to kick start the engine, making the extra weight and expense of an electric starter an unnecessary creature comfort.[22] Though some of the many Super Cub variations came with both kick and electric start, the majority sold well without it, and even the latest 2011 model year Japanese domestic market (JDM) Super Cub 50 and Super Cub 110 versions, using up to date technology like Honda's Programmed fuel injection (PGM-FI) and convenience features like a fuel gauge, were not offered with an electric start option.[23][24]

The sequential shifting three speed gearbox was manually shifted, but clutchless, without the need for a clutch lever control, using instead a centrifugal clutch along with a plate clutch slaved to the footchange lever to engage and disengage the gearbox from the engine.[22] While not intuitive to learn, once the rider got used to it, the semi-automatic transmission, "took the terror out of motorcycling" for novice riders.[22] Unlike many scooter CVTs, the centrifugal clutch made it possible to push start the Super Cub, a useful advantage if the need arose.[12]

The early Super Cubs used a 6 volt ignition magneto mounted on the flywheel, with a battery to help maintain power to the lights, while later ones were upgraded to capacitor discharge ignition (CDI) systems. The lubrication system did not use an oil pump or oil filter, but was a primitive splash-fed system for both the crankcase and gearbox, with a non-consumable screen strainer to collected debris in the engine oil. Both the front and rear brakes were drums. On both the front and rear wheels were 2.25" × 17" wire spoke wheels,[22][25] with full-width hubs.[11]

Honda recommended daily checks of the lights, horn, tire pressure, brakes, fuel and oil level, and a weekly check of the battery electrolyte level. The new engine break in maintenance was done at 320 kilometres (200 mi), requiring adjustment of the valve tappets and contact breaker points, and an oil change, and the rider was advised to stay under 48 kilometres per hour (30 mph) for the first 800 kilometres (500 mi). Every 1,600 kilometres (1,000 mi) the spark plug needed cleaning, and the chain adjustment checked, and every 3,200 kilometres (2,000 mi) an oil change, breaker point check, and valve adjustment was due. At 8,000 kilometres (5,000 mi), major maintenance was due, requiring the removal and cleaning of the carburetor, drive chain, exhaust silencer, and wheel bearings.[25] The rider closed a manual choke to aid in starting at cold temperatures.[25] By the standards of the day, this was an extremely simple motorcycle, with minimal maintenance demands, and it earned a reputation for high reliability.[17][22]

"You meet the nicest people on a Honda"[edit]

"You meet the nicest people on a Honda" print advertisement, from poster or magazine page

In June 1963 in US media,[26] Honda began the 12 year long advertising campaign "You meet the nicest people on a Honda," created by Grey Advertising.[27] Grey had bought the idea from a UCLA undergraduate student, who had created the concept for a class assignment.[28] The event marked the beginning of the decline of domestic and British motorcycle brands in the US market, and the rise of Honda and the other Japanese companies.[29][30][31] In December 1965, Edward Turner said the sale of small Japanese motorcycles was good for BSA, by attracting new riders who would graduate to larger machines, not anticipating that the Japanese would advance over the next 5 years to directly threaten British bikes with technically sophisticated models like the Honda CB750.[18] As a case study in business and marketing, the campaign is still remembered half a century later, with one strategic management textbook saying, "Honda and the Supercub is probably the best known and most debated case in business strategy."[8][32] It was credited with having "invented the concept of lifestyle marketing."[9]

Specific elements of the Super Cub's design were integral to the campaign, such as the enclosed chain that kept chain lubricant from being flung on the rider's clothing, and the leg shield that similarly blocked road debris and hid the engine, and the convenience of the semi-automatic transmission. Presenting the Super Cub as a consumer appliance[16] not requiring mechanical aptitude and an identity change into "a motorcyclist", or worse, "a biker", differentiated Honda's offering, because, "the dedication required to maintain bikes of that era limited ownership to a relatively small demographic, often regarded as young men known for their black leather jackets and snarling demeanors."[33]

The 50 cc CA100, a US version.

Rather than remaining limited to trying to convince traditional downmarket male buyers to switch to Honda from other brands with the macho approach of most motorcycle advertising at the time, Honda broke new ground. The ad campaign sought to improve the image of motorcycling in general and expand the overall size of the motorcycle market by attracting new riders.[31][33] In a stroke of good fortune for Honda, Brian Wilson and Mike Love composed the 1964 song "Little Honda", extolling the joys of riding the Honda 50, and even inviting the listener to visit their local Honda dealership, in language that sounded as if it could have been written, or at least paid for, by Honda's advertising copywriters, yet it was not a commercial jingle.[9] The song was released by The Hondells in 1964, followed by the release of the original recording by The Beach Boys.[9] In 1965 The Hondells released "You Meet the Nicest People on a Honda", another song promoting the Super Cub, which was actually used in Honda's TV spots, as a B side to their version of "Sea Cruise."[34]

An example of the Harley-Davidson "Young America" campaign.

The long-running campaign, including the slogan, the music, and the upbeat images of respectable, middle and upper-class people, particularly women, riding Hondas became closely associated with the Honda brand ever since.[6][29] The image Honda created was contrasted with the one percenter "bad boy" biker and became a focal point of Japan bashing boosterism of US-made Harley-Davidson motorcycles.[30][35]

Aside from Harley-Davidson fans, the company itself had a more conflicted reaction to the successful Honda "You meet the nicest people" campaign. At first they were offended at the suggestion that Harley-Davidson riders were not "nice people." Harley-Davidson had, since its founding in 1903, scrupulously cultivated an image of staid respectability, and would not begin to tentatively embrace the "outlaw" demographic of their customer base for at least another ten years. In 1964 they denied any association with one-percenter bikers, and so distanced themselves from the implications of Honda's campaign. But they also "tried to have it both ways", and soon joined Vespa and Yamaha in producing ads that were "suspiciously similar" to "You meet the nicest people."[8][36] Whether they were being offended by or imitating Honda, at the time Harley-Davidson did not share the interpretation that Honda's advertisements, "added to the macho Harley image."[37]

Model history[edit]

Production history
Honda Super Cub production 1958 to 2008.png
Annual Super Cub production from 1958 through 2008, the year cumulative production passed the 60 million units milestone.[2]
Timeline of production locations
  • 1958 Yamato Plant, Japan
  • 1959 Hamamatsu Factory, Japan
  • 1960 Suzuka Factory, Japan
  • 1961 Taiwan
  • 1963 Belgium
  • 1966 Bangladesh
  • 1967 Thailand
  • 1969 Malaysia
  • 1971 Indonesia
  • 1973 Philippines
  • 1980 Mauritius
  • 1981 Colombia
  • 1981 Nigeria
  • 1985 India
  • 1988 Mexico
  • 1989 Brazil
  • 1991 Kumamoto Factory, Japan
  • 1997 Vietnam
  • 2002 China
  • 2004 Laos
  • 2005 Cambodia
  • 2006 Argentina
  • 2007 Peru
Sites no longer making Super Cubs in Bold[38]

The Honda Super Cub debuted in 1958, ten years after the establishment of Honda Motor Co. Ltd. The original 1952 Honda Cub F had been a clip-on bicycle engine. Honda kept the name but added the prefix 'Super' for the all-new lightweight machine.[12] The Super Cub sold poorly at first, owing mainly to the recession in Japan, and then 3 months after the 1958 launch, customer complaints began rolling in about slipping clutches.[13] Honda salesmen and factory workers gave up holidays to repair the affected Super Cubs, visiting each customer in person.[13] When it was imported to the US, the name was changed to Honda 50, and later Honda Passport C70, and C90, because the Piper Super Cub airplane trademark had precedence.[33] Similarly, in Britain they were only badged 'Honda 50', 'Honda 90' etc. as the Triumph Tiger Cub preceded.

The Society of Automotive Engineers of Japan (Japanese), included the 1958 Honda Super Cub C100 as one of their 240 Landmarks of Japanese Automotive Technology.[1]

Super Cub line[edit]

The first Super Cub variation was the C102, launched in April 1960.[12]:39, 188 The C102 had electric start in addition to kick starting, and battery & coil ignition instead of magneto, but was otherwise the same as the C100.[12]:39

The enlarged 86.7 cc (5.29 cu in) OHV engine of the 1963 C200 was used on the 1965 CM90 step-through. New in 1965 was a 63 cc (3.8 cu in) engine with a chain-driven overhead camshaft (OHC). This was used in two new models: the C65, a step-through with 4.1 kW (5.5 bhp),and the S65, with a frame like the C110/C200 and 4.6 kW (6.2 bhp) @ 10,000 rpm.[12]

In 1966 the C50 appeared and remained in production through the mid 80s, becoming one of the most widespread and familiar versions of the Super Cub.[12]:48–49, 188–189 Honda replaced the C100's 40 mm × 39 mm (1.6 in × 1.5 in) 50 cc OHV engine with the 39 mm × 41.4 mm (1.54 in × 1.63 in) OHC alloy head and iron cylinder engine from the CS50 and C65, which increased power from 3.4 to 3.6 kW (4.5 to 4.8 bhp).[12]:48–49, 188–189 Similarly the CM90 was replaced in 1966 with the 89.5 cc (5.46 cu in) 5.6 kW (7.5 bhp) OHC CM91, which a year later on 1967, got restyled forks and headlamp like the C50, to become the familiar C90. Though the basic design of Cub remained unchanged, new styling and improvements included enclosed front forks. The C100 stayed in production alongside the newer versions one more year, until 1967.[12]:188–189

1972 C70

After 1980 the USA C70 was called the C70 Passport.[12]

In the 1982, for most markets, Honda fitted a new capacitor discharge ignition (CDI) system to replace the earlier contact points ignition, thereby helping to meet emission standards in markets such as the US. At the same time the electrical system was changed from 6 volt to 12 volt.

In 1984, Honda released restyled versions of the Cubs on some markets, with square lamps and plastic-covered handlebars and rear mudguard. On the domestic Japanese market the square style was optional, but in some places such as the UK they replaced imports of the traditionally styled round lamp Cub.

Honda Dream 110i Super Cub (2014).

In 1986, a larger 100 cc HA05E engine model was introduced especially for Asian markets. The newer 100 cc model was developed exclusively for Southeast Asian market, especially in Thailand, Malaysia and Vietnam, where underbones were very popular, with new features such as a telescopic front suspension to replace the older leading link suspension, and a four-speed transmission to replace the older three-speed transmission used in older Cub variants. The 100 cc model was initially known as the Honda Dream in Thailand and Honda EX5 in Malaysia, before being standardised as the Honda EX5 Dream in 2003. In addition, Honda Japan began importing the made-in-Thailand Dream as the Super Cub C100EX in 1988.[39] The Japanese C100EX was later being facelifted in 1993, while the Southeast Asian EX5 Dream retains the 1986 design until today with only minor cosmetic changes.[40] On 2011, the carbureted EX5 Dream was phased out in Thailand and being replaced with the fuel-injected Honda Dream 110i, with the powertrain being derived from the fuel-injected Honda Wave 110i.[41][better source needed]

A 12v square headlight C90

In the late 1990s, Honda introduced their newer NF series motorcycles, known as Honda Wave series, called the Honda Innova in some markets, which use steel tube frames, front disc brake and plastic cover sets in various displacement options: 100 cc, 110 cc and 125 cc. Though not Cubs, these bikes sold consistently well particularly in European countries, where the production of Honda Cub models had been previously discontinued. However, the production of Honda Cubs in Asia, Africa and South America still continues today even though the newer Honda Wave Series and other designs have been introduced alongside the Cub.

In 2007, Honda began installing their PGM-FI fuel injection system for the Honda Cubs in the Japanese market for lower smog-forming emission.[2]

Sports Cub[edit]

See also: Honda Sport 90
The 1970 Honda 70, also called CD70, used the sport frame of the C110 and CD65, with the engine of the C70.

The C110 Sports Cub debuted in October 1960.[12]:188 The C110 was more like a traditional motorcycle that the rider had to straddle, not a step-through. It had a different frame, with the fuel tank in the on top of the frame and in front of the seat, and the frame's steel tube spine ran horizontally from the head tube to the seat. It also had a bit more power, increased from 3.4 to 3.7 kW (4.5 to 5 bhp) @ 9,500 rpm. Sub-variants of the Sports Cub were the C111, absent the pillion seat, and C110D, also called C114, which had a low exhaust pipe. Early versions of the Sport Cub had a 3 speed gearbox but later this was changed to 4 speed.[12] The C102 stayed in production for six model years, through 1965, and the C110 Sports Cub through 1966.[12]

In 1963 came an enlarged OHV engine of 86.7 cc (5.29 cu in) and 4.8 kW (6.5 bhp). It was used first in the C200, which had a frame like the C110, with more upright handlebars.[12]

The S65's last year of production was 1967, and the CD65 and CL65 took its place for only one year, 1968. These had the higher-revving 4.6 kW (6.2 bhp) 63 cc (3.8 cu in) engine of the CS65. Then the 4.6 kW (6.2 bhp) 71.8 cc (4.38 cu in) C70 replaced the C65 and CL65 in 1969. It had the same peak horsepower, but at 9,000 rpm instead of 10,000, and more torque, 0.53 kg·m (5.2 N·m; 3.8 lbf·ft) at 7,000 rpm instead of 0.48 kg·m (4.7 N·m; 3.5 lbf·ft) at 8,000 rpm. It was introduced in the USA, Canada and Asia at launch and in the UK in 1972.[12]

Mini bikes[edit]

Honda Z100 Monkey in the Honda Collection Hall.

In late 1960 the CZ100 arrived,[12]:188 using the same engine in a much smaller frame with only 5" wheels. First of the Honda Z series, the CZ100 was meant only as a short-distance novelty or paddock bike, but instead found popularity in the monkey bike niche.[12]:39–40

A group of Honda Monkey Bike riders.

Trail[edit]

Honda CT110 Hunter Cub.
Main article: Honda CT series

An on- and off-road version of the Super Cub, what today would be classed as a dual-sport motorcycle but called a trail bike at the time, the CA100T Trail 50, came out in 1961.[9]:46 Jack McCormack, the first national sales manager of American Honda Motor Company, said the Trail 50, and even more so the later Honda CB77, was the result of Honda's willingness to listen to and respond customer demand.[9]:34–60 "When you talk about Japanese manufacturers, their strength (besides the quality of their equipment) was that they listened to the marketplace. People always suggest that it was about Japanese management, but, to be frank, I was never impressed with Japanese management. They did what no other motorcycle make did—they listened.[9]:47

In 1960, McCormack noticed that one Honda dealer in Boise, Idaho was selling more Honda 50s than the combined total of all six dealers in Los Angeles. He found out that the Idaho dealer, Herb Uhl, was selling the CA100s as a trail bike by adding knobby tires for off-road traction and a "cheater sprocket,"[9]:34–60 that is, increasing the final drive ratio by using a larger rear sprocket with more teeth, which increased the effective torque of the rear wheel, trading off lower top speed as a result. Uhl said the advantages of light weight and the automatic clutch allowed unskilled riders to enjoy off-road riding, in comparison to traditional big trail bikes that could be difficult to handle.[9]:34–60 McCormack shipped a version of Uhl's customized CA100 to Japan and requested Honda put it into production, and by March 1961 the Trail 50 was available to US dealers.[9]:34–60 Cycle World praised the simple pleasure of trail riding on the new bike, and it was a US sales success.[9]:34–60

Specifications[edit]

C100[12] C102[12] C50[12] C70[12] C90[12] C100EX[39] Super Cub
50[23]
Super Cub
110[24]
Dream
110i[42]
Model
years
1958–1967 1960–1965 1966–1980+ 1969–1980+ 1966–1980+ 1986– 2007– 2009 – 2011 –
Notes Electric start Passport in US EX5 Dream in Thailand and Malaysia PGM-FI
Engine 49 cc (3.0 cu in) OHV air-cooled single 49.5 cc (3.02 cu in) 71.8 cc (4.38 cu in) 89.5 cc (5.46 cu in) OHC 97 cc (5.9 cu in) OHC 49 cc (3.0 cu in) OHC 109.1 cc (6.66 cu in) OHC
Bore x stroke 40 mm × 39 mm (1.6 in × 1.5 in) 39 mm × 41.4 mm (1.54 in × 1.63 in) 47 mm × 41.4 mm (1.85 in × 1.63 in) 50 mm × 45.6 mm (1.97 in × 1.80 in) 50 mm × 49.5 mm (1.97 in × 1.95 in) 39.0 mm × 41.4 mm (1.54 in × 1.63 in) 50 mm × 55.6 mm (1.97 in × 2.19 in)
Compression 8.5:1 8.8:1* 8.2:1 8.8:1 10:1 9.0:1
Top speed 69 km/h (43 mph)[22]
Power 3.4 kW (4.5 bhp) @9500 rpm 3.6 kW (4.8 bhp) @ 10000 rpm 4.5 kW (6 bhp) @ 9000 5.6 kW (7.5 bhp) @ 9500 rpm 5.9 kW (8.0 PS) @ 8000 rpm 2.5 kW (3.4 hp) @ 7000 rpm 6.0 kW (8.0 hp) @ 7500 rpm
Torque 0.33 kg·m (3.2 N·m; 2.4 lbf·ft) @8500 rpm 0.53 kg·m (5.2 N·m; 3.8 lbf·ft) @ 7000 rpm 0.67 kg·m (6.6 N·m; 4.8 lbf·ft) @ 6000 rpm 0.83 kg·m (8.1 N·m; 6.0 lbf·ft) @ 6000 rpm 3.8 N·m (2.8 lbf·ft) @ 5000 rpm 8.4 N·m (6.2 lbf·ft) @ 5500 rpm
Ignition Flywheel magneto Coil Magneto CDI
Transmission 3 speed wet centrifugal clutch semi-automatic 3 spd. 4 spd. 3 spd. 4 spd.
Frame Pressed steel underbone
Suspension Front: leading link 56 mm (2.2 in) travel, rear: swingarm 61 mm (2.4 in) travel Telescopic fork, swingarm Front: leading link 56 mm (2.2 in) travel, rear: swingarm 61 mm (2.4 in) travel Telescopic fork, swingarm
Brakes Front & rear 110 mm (4.3 in) drum
Tires
(front/rear)
2.25" x 17"/2.25" x 17" 2.25×17"/
2.5×17"
2.5×17"/
2.5×17"
2.25×17"/
2.5×17"
2.25×17"/
2.75×14"
2.25×17"/
2.50×17"
70/90-17 M/C 38P
80/90-17 M/C 50P
Rake, trail 71 mm (2.8 in) 26° 30', 75 mm (3.0 in) 26°, 47 mm (1.9 in) 26° 30', 75 mm (3.0 in)
Wheelbase 1,180 mm (46.5 in) 1,180 mm (46.6 in) 46.7 in (1,185 mm) 1,190 mm (46.9 in) 1,185 mm (46.7 in) 1,212 mm (47.7 in)
Length 1,780 mm (70.1 in) 1,810 mm (71.2 in) 1,800 mm (70.7 in) 1,800 mm (72 in) 1,835 mm (72.2 in) 1,775 mm (69.9 in) 1,830 mm (72 in) 1,915 mm (75.4 in)
Width 570 mm (22.6 in) 640 mm (25.2 in) 670 mm (26 in) 660 mm (26 in) 710 mm (28 in) 696 mm (27.4 in)
Height 610 mm (24 in) 760 mm (29.9 in) 1,035 mm (40.7 in) 960 mm (38 in) 1,040 mm (41 in) 1,052 mm (41.4 in)
Seat
height
760 mm (30 in) 705 mm (27.8 in) 735 mm (28.9 in) 745 mm (29.3 in)
Dry
weight
65 kg (143 lb) 70 kg (154 lb) 69 kg (152 lb) 72 kg (158 lb) 85 kg (187 lb) 93 kg (205 lb) 79 kg (174 lb) 93 kg (205 lb) 99 kg (218 lb)
Fuel
capacity
3 L (0.66 imp gal; 0.79 US gal) 3 L (0.66 imp gal; 0.79 US gal) 3 L (0.66 imp gal; 0.79 US gal) 4.8 L (1.1 imp gal; 1.3 US gal) 3.6 L (0.79 imp gal; 0.95 US gal) 3.4 L (0.75 imp gal; 0.90 US gal) 4.3 L (0.95 imp gal; 1.1 US gal) 4.2 L (0.92 imp gal; 1.1 US gal)

Current popularity[edit]

Honda Super Cub "Street" model 50 cc

Sales for Super Cubs have increased in Japan[2] with upgrades on the engine and the installation of fuel injection for Japanese domestic market models starting from 2007, making it more powerful, more economical and cleaner. With respect to newer, plastic body underbone designs, such as the Wave, the original Cub remains popular.

Cycle World magazine's Peter Egan and Steve Kimball entered a stock Honda C70 Passport in the 1981 Craig Vetter Fuel Economy Challenge, competing against specially designed high-mileage two wheelers built by teams of engineering students, and an entry from American Honda. The course was a 65 miles (105 km) loop near San Luis Obispo that had to be completed in 1 hour and 40 minutes, give or take 10 minutes, meaning an average speed of 35 mph (56 km/h). Kimball, riding the Passport, won the event through skillful and error-free riding, with 198 miles per US gallon (1.19 L/100 km; 238 mpg-imp).[43][44]

In Vietnam, Super Cubs are the predominant model of motorcycle taxi, so that "Honda" has become a genericized trademark or metonymy, equivalent to "xe ôm" referring to any motorcycle taxi.[45] In the English speaking world as well, "Honda" was often a synonym for "motorcycle" as a result of the ubiquity of the Super Cub.[12][46][47]

The Super Cub was included The Guggenheim's 1998 The Art of the Motorcycle exhibition.[17] In 2006, on the Discovery Channel's The Greatest Ever series, an episode on motorcycles placed the 1958 49 cc Super Cub in first place.[48] James May, a co-presenter on the popular television series Top Gear, bought a Honda Super Cub for the 2008 Season 12 Vietnam special.[49] Author Roland Brown wrote that, "of all the brilliant bikes Honda have built — the CB750 superbike, Mike Hailwood's six-cylinder racers, the mighty Gold Wing, you name them — the most important of all is the C100 Super Cub of 1958."[11]

Licensed models[edit]

Symba 100
Manufacturer SYM Motors
Also called Symba 110
Assembly Taiwan
Engine 101.4 cc (6.19 cu in) air cooled four stroke OHV single
Compression ratio 9.6:1
Top speed 90 km/h (56 mph) (claimed)[50]
Power 4.8 kW (6.5 hp) at 8500 rpm[50]
Torque 6.8 N·m (5 lb·ft) at 8500 rpm[50]
Transmission Wet multi-plate clutch, 4 speed semi-automatic
Frame type Pressed steel underbone
Suspension Front: telescopic fork, rear: swingarm
Brakes Front: 130 mm (5.1 in), rear: 110 mm (4.3 in)
Tires Front and rear: 2.50-17"
Wheelbase 1,225 mm (48.22 in)
Dimensions L: 1,900 mm (75 in)
W: 690 mm (27 in)
H: 1,000 mm (41 in)
Seat height 760 mm (29.9 in)
Weight 95 kg (209 lb) (claimed)[50] (wet)
Fuel capacity 1.08 US gal (4.1 l; 0.90 imp gal)

Chongqing Guangyu Motorcycle Manufacture Co, of China, known as Kamax, has a line of motorcycles based on the Super Cub Design, licensed from Honda, including the EEC Super Cub. This Super Cub 'remake' was developed solely for the European market in cooperation with Super Motor Company. Super Motor Company which is the sole European distributor of the EEC Super Cub sells 3 different variations; the Super 25, the Super 50 and the Super 100. Flyscooters imported a Yinxiang Super Cub variant to the US, under the name Fly Scout. Similarly, China Jialing Industrial Co., Ltd. has ten models based on Honda's Super Cub design, including the JL50Q-2 and JL90-1 which are faithful to the original 1958 styling, as well as several more modern restylings.[51] Lifan Group exports a version to the UK, the 97 cc (5.9 cu in) LF100, which features telescopic forks, a four speed gearbox and a digital gear indicator.[52]

SYM Motors of Taiwan licensed the Super Cub design as the Symba 100, previously called the Symba 110, which they exported to the US. While keeping the basic design, SYM increased the size of the front brake from 110 to 130 mm (4.3 to 5.1 in), and added an LED fuel gauge. Instead of leading link front forks, it uses telescopic forks. The Symba engine has a carbureted 101.4 cc (6.19 cu in) single claimed to produce 6.5 hp (4.8 kW) at 8500 rpm, with a four speed gearbox using a centrifugal clutch semi-automatic transmission.[53]

EV-Cub[edit]

EV-Cub at the 2009 Tokyo Motor Show

At the 2009 Tokyo Motor Show, Honda presented the EV-Cub concept vehicle, an electric motorcycle patterned after the venerable Super Cub, featuring two-wheel drive by means of electric motors mounted in the hubs of each of the wheels.[54] Honda said they felt keeping the 1958 layout for their 21st century concept bike made sense because, "the human body has not changed in the past 50 years," and, "the size, shape and position of all the Super Cub parts had a kind of necessity to them, and that the design of the Super Cub was very rational and rider-centric."[55] The additional space created by the absence of the engine in the center of the frame and the lack of a gas tank created room for underseat helmet storage, typical of a scooter.[54][55][56] Integrated with the new electric motorcycle was an interactive communications system, to let riders converse while riding.[57] Several other companies, including Christini, KTM, Öhlins, and Yamaha have done development on two-wheel drive motorcycles, and have found that the addition of power to the front as well as the rear wheel aids in stability, particularly in corners and in the hands of novice riders.[54][58] At the time Honda hinted that they would bring the EV-Cub to market in 2010.[54]

The Super Cub as cargo hauler

Postal Super Cub
Honda enthusiasts rally
Kagurazaka, Tokyo
A fleet of Pizza Hut Honda EX5s in Segamat, Malaysia


See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

*^ The Chinese Flying Pigeon bicycle, with on the order of 500 million in service as of 2007, is the most produced vehicle ever. See Koeppel, Dan (January–February 2007), Flight of the Pigeon, Bicycling (Rodale, Inc.) 48 (1): 60–66, ISSN 0006-2073, retrieved 2012-01-28 

^ Herb Uhl's son, Billy Uhl, competed alongside his father in the International Six Days Enduro in 1969, won the Gold Medal five times in the 1970s, and was inducted into the American Motorcyclist Association Motorcycle Hall of Fame in 2007.[59]

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External links[edit]