Tuesday 14 November 2017

Honda Super Cub - 100,000,000 and Counting

Honda recently announced that they had built 100 million Super Cubs since production started in 1958 making it the most numerous powered vehicle ever.

The bike was known as the Honda 50 or C50 in the UK (to avoid confusion with the Triumph Tiger Cub) and the Passport in the USA (Piper aircraft used the name Super Cub)

Early '70's C50
The story of the Cub started in 1956 when Honda's founders Soichiro Honda and Takeo Fujisawa visited Germany and noticed the popularity of small motorcycles and scooters. They came up with the idea of a "universal motorcycle" that would appeal to a wide range of buyers in the West and the developing world. They rejected the scooter concept because the small wheels could not cope with poor roads in developing areas and because the enclosed engine made maintenance difficult.

The bike is no longer in Honda's range in the West having been superseded by scooters but its popularity not only continues but is increasing. It is currently produced in 15 countries from Viet Nan to Peru. The first 50 million units took from 1958 until 2005 to produce but that figure has now doubled.

The Cub was marketed in the US using this famous campaign. Honda was trying to attract customers who weren't motorcyclists.

In the developing world the Cub is used for load carrying
The bike is a "step thru" with a pressed steel chassis and central spine. The engine is suspended below the spine. The motor is a four stroke of 50-110cc. Small bikes had been two strokes but the four stroke gave the C50 durability and economy. The bike had a conventional three, later four speed gearbox but an automatic centrifugal clutch. Fujisawa saw the bike being used to deliver bowls of noodles and that the rider could hold a tray and ride at the same time!

The NSU Quickly had many of the features of the Cub and is likely to have inspired its design
A new version of the Cub was recently shown. Why change a winning formula? It seems that this bike is to be sold in the UK.


  1. Wow, that is a lot of bikes. You see quite a few of the older ones come up for sale on Craigslist here. Nifty little things.

    1. They stopped selling them in the UK in 2002 so Cubs are now getting rare here. The ones for sale are usually at silly prices - maybe it's already become a classic. A friend bought a C90 a few years ago but found it so slow it was a liability in traffic.