Heritage

Honda's journey to selling 400 million motorcycles started with a Dream in 1949

Workers manufacture motorcycles in a Japanese Honda factory.

Photo by Getty Images

Honda kicked off production of the Dream D-Type motorcycle in 1949, marking the brand's first foray into commercial motorcycle production. Seventy years later, the company has made its 400 millionth.

"For 70 years, Honda has provided to customers worldwide motorcycles that make life easier and enjoyable," said Takahiro Hachigo, Chief Executive Officer, Honda Motor Co., Ltd. "As a result, we have achieved our 400 million-unit milestone. I am grateful to all of our customers, and everyone involved in development, manufacturing, sales and service of our products. We will continue to do our best to provide attractive products that meet the needs and dreams of our customers worldwide."

Honda Super Cub The Honda Super Cub is the most important motorcycle in Honda's history, selling more than 100 million nationwide since its debut.Photo courtesy of American Honda Motor Co., Inc

Sometimes known as the Type D or Model D, the Dream D-Type was the first in a series of Dream motorcycles that Honda made in its early years. The bike featured an air-cooled two-stroke single-cylinder engine with 98 cc displacement and three horsepower.

Honda unveiled the D-Type's successor, the E-Type, in 1951 and began exporting motorcycles from Japan in 1952. That same decade, in 1958, Honda released its first Super Cub, the Super Cub C100.

The Super Cub is Honda's most successful motorcycle. Its numerous variants accounted for over 60 million total sales by 2008, 87 million by 2014, and 100 million by 2017. It is now the most produced motor vehicle in history.

Honda first entered the motorcycle Grand Prix racing stage in 1959. This decade also the beginning of the production of purpose-built Honda motorcycles for racing that carried the "RC" label. Honda Racing Corporation would eventually form in 1982 and carry on the naming tradition.

1964 Isle of Man TT races British born Rhodesian racing motorcyclist Jim Redman riding a Honda to victory in the Lightweight 250cc event at the Isle of Man TT races, 9th June 1964. Photo by Getty Images

As a way to show the difference between the negative stereotypes that were pervasive in U.S. culture surrounding motorcyclists, Grey Advertising created the slogan "You meet the nicest people on a Honda." The campaign was a resounding success and is still considered a case study in good advertising strategy.

With demand on the rise, Honda expanded production opening a facility in Belgium in 1963 and one in Thailand in 1967. By 1968, the company reached 10 million cumulative motorcycles produced.

Expansion continued with production expanding to Indonesia in 1971 and Italy and Brazil in 1976. It wasn't until 1979 that Honda began producing motorcycles in North America.

Isle of Man Formula One TT 1996 Joey Dunlop of Great Britain and rider of the #3 Honda Britain Honda RC45 chases Shaun Harris on the #1 Britten V1000 during the International Isle of Man Formula One TT (Tourist Trophy) Race on 5 June 1996, Douglas on the Isle of Man, United Kingdom. Photo by Getty Images

Honda continued to have success in the world market though there are mixed opinions regarding the company's lack of competition in the higher-powered motorcycle market in the U.S. Some theorized that it was poor planning on behalf of Honda while others say that it was never Honda's intent to compete.

Honda of America began producing motorcycle engines in Ohio in 1985.

In 1987, as Honda reached the 50 million mark in total motorcycle production in Japan, the company also celebrated the beginning of motorcycle and auto part production at Honda de Mexico. This is the same year that Honda first included an air bag in a car, the Acura Legend.

1992 marked the year that Honda first produced the Honda NR, the first motorcycle that was sold with oval pistons. The shape of the pistons allowed for eight valves per cylinder, generating more power than other setups.

Honda's Marysville, Ohio, Motorcycle Plant produced its 1 millionth vehicle in 1996, a Gold Wing Aspencade.

This City Slicker Super Cub built by Steady Garage for SEMA in 2019 sports chopped and shortened front and rear fenders with a retrofitted front suspension, custom hubs, and a custom two-tone green and off-white paint job.Photo courtesy of American Honda Motor Co., Inc

Motorcyclist magazine named the Honda Interceptor its "Motorcycle of the Year" in 1998. The Interceptor was a notable model because it brought much of the technology of a Honda motorcycle only previously seen on the race track to the street.

Additional production capacity for motorcycles was added with plants in China and Vietnam in the 90s and India in 2001. Bangladesh's Honda factory opened in 2013.

In 2017 India became Honda's largest motorcycle market and the next year the company exceeded 20 million annual motorcycle units produced for the first time.

In 1997, Honda produced its 100 millionth motorcycle, Just 11 years later the company celebrated its 200 millionth and seven years after that the company was at 300 million. Now, just five years later, that total has grown to 400 million.

Honda currently produces a wide range of motorcycles, from 50cc commuters to 1,800cc models, at 35 facilities in 21 countries.

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New technology is embedded into the brake caliper.

Photo courtesy of Brembo

Brembo is celebrating 60 years of brand braking history with the debut of a bit of its future. The New G Sessanta Concept is a peek at what the company sees as the future of mobility. It was inspired by the first brake caliper for motorbikes produced by the company, an innovation in 1972.

The company says that the core of the concept is LED technology, which is applied directly to the body of the caliper, a feature that is adaptable to every type of caliper they craft. Brembo sees the tech as being able to enhance the caliper's form and function serving as both an interface and an aesthetic. It will be able to "communicate directly with the user" and "adapt to the user's tastes and preferences". A new video released by Brembo shows the LED color changing via a smartphone app.

 New G Sessanta Concept The New G Sessanta Concept features interactive tech.Photo courtesy of Brembo

Brembo is often known for using bright, flashy colors on its calipers and the new light plays on that. The New G Sessanta is designed to be customizable via wireless technology. When a vehicle equipped with the caliper is stopped, the user can control the desired shade of light to express mood, enhance the style of the bike, or adapt it to the surroundings.

Additionally, the LEDs could use color and light to relay data and information regarding the conditions of the vehicle and caliper itself, or even help localize a parked vehicle by emitting a courtesy light.

Watch the video below to see the vision of the New G Sessanta come to life.

BREMBO “NEW G SESSANTA”: THE NEW BRAKE CALIPER CONCEPT SET TO SHAPE THE FUTURE OF MOBILITY www.youtube.com

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Motul has released a new line of lubricants for "rad" era vehicles.

Photo courtesy of Motul

Motul has been around for 168 years, far longer than automobiles. The new Classic Line of lubricants have been specifically formulated for cars slightly newer, those that are members of the "rad" era. Motul's Classic Line features oils, detergents, and additives that the company has engineered to enhance the performance of older powertrains while offering improved protection.

Each Classic Line lubricant features an additive package with high-zinc (ZDDP) and molybdenum (moly) for reduced friction and increased power. Synthetic base oils and adapted detergent levels of each formulation are suited for metals and gasket materials that are common of the era of vehicle manufacturing. Advanced additives ensure that the lubricants meet or exceed American Petroleum Institute (API) standards.

Motul Eighties 10W30 Motul's Eighties formulation is made for forced induction engine vehicles.Photo courtesy of Motul

The Classic Line's products have high-adhesion properties that are designed to provide excellent cold flow properties to prevent engine wear during start-ups and to coat and protect engine internals and running gear during the periods of prolonged storage that collector vehicles often experience.

Motul Modern Classic Eighties 10W40 meets the needs of forced induction engines while Modern Classic Nineties 10W30 was designed for the demands of high-revving engines with more modern valvetrains. Both Modern Classic oils are the first products to offer high ZDDP and moly for "rad" era collector cars from these two decades.

To get the new 2100 Classic Oil 15W50, Motul revised its 2100 oil to better lubricate and protect naturally aspirated and forced induction engines with flat tappet cams common to the vehicles in the 1970s and beyond.

Motul Classic 10W50 Classic vehicles have different needs and their lubricants have a different formation than Eighties and Nineties branded oils.Photo courtesy of Motul

Classic Oil 20W50 is designed for hot rods, muscle cars, and collector vehicles, and uses additive packages fortified with ~1,800 ppm of ZDDP. According to Motul, this oil provides "improved protection for flat tappet or high-lift cams and high-performance engines with tighter tolerances and older elastomer gaskets; the medium detergent level also makes Classic Oil 20W50 an appropriate break-in oil for newly refurbished engines".

Straight-weight Classic Oil SAE 30 and SAE 50 are mineral monograde engine oils with low detergent levels, blended specifically for gasoline or diesel four-stroke engines generally produced before 1950.

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