HONDA’S UNKILLABLE ENGINE
Soichiro Honda’s 60-year legacy
QUITE FITTINGLY, it was Honda’s first major project, the 49cc 1958 Super Cub, that would prove to be the company’s biggest hit over an incredible life span: 60 years and 100 million units—the most-produced motor vehicle in history. The diminutive machine was essential in Soichiro Honda establishing his namesake company into a worldwide force. When work began on the Super Cub in 1956, Honda’s then-current 50cc two-stroke Cub F engine put out 1 hp. The new engine was designed to quadruple that output, and it did: The innovative overhead cam four-stroke pumped out 4.5 hp at 9,500 rpm—an astoundingly high engine speed and output for the time.
The Super Cub arrived in the US in 1959, and its engine went on to power variants such as the Trail 50 for dual-sport use, the cute and beloved Z50 “monkey bike,” and countless off-road XR/CRF50 models. It’s a legacy of durability, longevity, and, more than anything, accessibility. I started my riding career on a Honda 50; and with 100 million Honda 50s built, odds are good that you may have as well.