Honda – A short history
Soichiro Honda began producing motorcycles in 1946 to satisfy a thirst for cheap transport in Japan – a country that had been devastated by the second world war. He hit upon the idea of fitting small engines to bicycle frames. As the idea caught on, and became popular, Honda, an engineer, designed his own 50cc engine. In 1949 the first Honda was born – The model D - the D standing for dream.
Honda was a man with big ideas and the E-type Dream soon followed. For this bike Honda had designed his own frame and suspension as well as the engine. The small machine was capable of 50mph, despite only generating 5 ½ bhp!
More models followed, but the breakthrough game in 1958 when the C100 Super Club hit the American market. The C100 went to on to be the best-selling motorcycle of all time, with over 30 million being built.
With the coffers swelling on sales of the C100, Honda invested in racing. Success came quickly, with victory on the Isle of Man in 1961. The incredible winning 125cc machine able to rev up to 22,000 rpm!
In 1969, Honda’s first 750 was produced, the CB750 which went on to dominate the motorcycle market. With smaller 350, 400 and 550cc motors also arriving, Honda helped usher in the Japanese domination of the motorcycling market.
Honda also sought to address the growing touring market, the GL1000 Gold Wing providing a bike ideal for such purposes. It’s 999cc water cooled engine was powerful and reliable, making it an instant hit.
Honda performance bikes were also to become a big hit. For example, the CBR1100XX Super Blackbird, which arrived in 1996 was the fastest motorcycle in production. This was to become very popular with long range high speed touring fans.