Saturday, October 25, 2008
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The venerable Honda Super Cub motorcycle is the best-selling vehicle in the history of internal combustion, and there are now more than 60 million of them on the road. That's an amazing figure that speaks to the strength of a 49 cc motorcycle Soichiro Honda designed 50 years ago, helping spur Japan's eventual rise to dominance in the motorcycle industry.
The Cub was a turning point in the history of motorcycles because it took them from the hands of The Wild Bunch the The Wild One and gave them to suburbanites with ads promising "You meet the nicest people on a Honda." It brought motorcycles into the mainstream, and made personal transportation affordable to people around the world. Sometime last month, Honda says, the 60 millionth Honda Super Cub rolled off an assembly line.
The Cub isn't very fast and it isn't very pretty, but it's everything you need in basic transportation - cheap, efficient and damn near indestructible. It'll take as much abuse as you can throw at it and, like Max Mosely, come back for more. You can even toss it off a building and it'll start right up.
Honda_cub_02 Two-stroke motors were the dominant engine when Honda introduced its innovative four-stroke Cub in 1958. The step-through design, big tires and clutch-free operation made it a snap to ride. Honda's steadily improved the mechanicals - the Cub got fuel injection not long ago - and offered models with bigger displacement under different names, but the look hasn't changed much over the years. It still gets better than 150 mpg.
Cubs are workhorses, and it's not uncommon to see them loaded with packages or people wending through traffic in cities throughout Asia. They're cheap to buy - about $1,400 US new - and you'll find them in 160 countries around the world. Honda's sold more Cubs than there are people in Italy, and and the best selling car in the world - the Toyota Tercel Corolla, at 35 million - doesn't even come close to the Cub's sales figures.
As great as the Cub is, you can't get new ones in America anymore. Honda quit selling them here in the 1980s, when the bike was called the Passport.
Now, watch as actor, moto-geek and Ewan McGregor wingman Charley Boorman sees just how much abuse a Cub will take.
This post was written by: Franklin Manuel
Franklin Manuel is a professional blogger, web designer and front end web developer. Follow him on Twitter