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Honda Super Cub

Honda Super Cub, (originally the Honda C100 or Honda 50) also known as the Honda Cub, is a 49 cc 4-stroke model first manufactured by the Honda Motor Co. Ltd. in 1958, and the biggest selling motor vehicle in history. The Honda 50 triggered the eventual domination of the world motorcycle market by the Japanese, and hence contributed greatly to the rise of their car industry. More than 50 million Honda 50s have been sold worldwide, primarily in Asia, although there were considerable numbers in Europe as well. The model is still in production 50 years later.


(The following refers to current 2007 model line: note: earlier models differ.)

  • Total length (m): 1.800
  • Total width (m): 0.660
  • Total height (m): 1.010
  • Wheel base (m): 1.175
  • Dry Weight (kg): 75.0 kg
  • Engine type: AA01E air-cooled 4-cycle SOHC single-cylinder
  • Displacement (cm3): 49.0
  • Compression ratio: 10.0:1
  • Bore x Stroke (mm): 39.0 x 41.4
  • Max Power output (kw[PS]/rpm: 2.9 [4.0]/7000
  • Max Torque (N m [kg m]/rpm: 4.7[0.48]/4500
  • Max speed: 80 km/h (50 mph)
  • Carburetor type: PB3L
  • Lubrication: Forced pressure wet sump combined use system
  • Fuel tank capacity (L): 4.0
  • Fuel Consumption (km/L): 146.0 (30km/h fixed area travelling test value)
  • Clutch: Wet multi-plate, operated both by centrifugal action and by gear-lever.
  • Transmission type: 3-speed rotary type (4-speed some models)
  • Gear ratio (1st, 2nd, 3rd): 3.272, 1.764, 1.190
  • Reduction gear ratio (primary/second): 4.058/3.076
  • Starter: Kick (electric start optional on some models, such as Custom, Little Cub and earlier export models)
  • Ignition: Capacitor Discharge Ignition (CDI Magneto) system (earlier models Flywheel contact-breaker points)
  • Suspension (F): Leading link (also known as Bottom link)
  • Suspension (R): Swinging fork (also known as Swing arm)
  • Tire sizes (F/R): 2.25-17 33L / 2.50-17 38L
  • Brake (F): Drum, cable operated
  • Brake (R): Drum, rod operated
  • Frame type: Low floor backbone pressed steel tube system
  • Top speed: 50mhp
  • Power: 4bhp @ 7000rpm

Honda Super Cub - Model history

The Honda Cub debuted in 1958, 10 years after the establishment of Honda Motor Co. Ltd. The name 'Cub' was said to be the acronym of Cheap Urban Bike because the development of this model was aimed to provide a kind of cheap urban transportation in busy cities. The name also likely refers to the earlier Piper Cub, an affordable and extremely popular light aircraft from the 1930s possessing many of the same mechanical qualities of the Honda bike (note that improved versions of the Piper Cub were also called Super Cubs, with spacing in between the words).

Honda had discovered how to increase the power and efficiency of 4-stroke engines and the company set about breaking into a market sector totally dominated by the 2-stroke models of other manufacturers. So successful were they that the Honda Cub became the most successful motorcycle model in history, and made huge contributions to Hondas sales and profit. Honda used the slogan You meet the nicest people on a Honda as they broke into the English speaking world, until then dominated by British motorcycles.

In 1968, after 10 years of production, the whole motorcycle was uprated, the engine going from pushrod 4.5bhp to SOHC 4.9bhp. Though the basic design of Cub remained unchanged, slightly new styling features and improvements were integrated along with larger displacement (70 cc and 90 cc models) versions. In the 1970s, Honda fitted a new capacitor discharge ignition system (CDI) to replace the earlier contact point ignition, thereby helping to meet increasingly strict emission standrds in markets such as the US. However, many experts on the Cub testify to the fact that Honda used the CDI system for better reliability and fuel efficiency, with the emissions improvements being an appealing by-product of these goals.

In the 1980s, a larger 100 cc GN-5 engine model was introduced especially for Asian markets. The newer 100 cc model branched off from the Honda Cub model design, with new features such as a telescopic front suspension to replace the older leading link suspension, and a more efficient 4-speed transmission to replace the older 3-speed transmission used in Honda Cubs. These changes were not incorporated into the Honda Cub line-up, not interfering with the timeless and dependable design of the Cub, but rather, were integrated into new models such as Honda Dream in Thailand and Honda EX5 in Malaysia. These bikes were never intended to compete or replace the Cub in the very strong Japanese domestic market, but were more suited for the lucrative Asian export market.

In the late 1990s, Honda introduced their newer NF series motorcycles, known as Honda Wave series which use steel tube frames, front disk 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 Japan, where some of the world's most discerning and demanding customers reside, the Super Cub is stronger than ever. Sales of Honda Super Cubs are thriving and continue to grow with the 50 cc models leading the way, promising a long future for the versatile and timeless motorbike. The introduction of more options on existing bikes, more accessories available, and a new model, the Super Cub "Street" testify to the staying power of the Cub and ongoing love affair the Japanese have with their home-grown design.

Honda will continue to offer the latest innovations in their bike line-up, but will wisely, it seems, not interfere with the unquestionably simple and successful design of the classic Cub.