More bikers ride Honda motorcycles than any other make in the world, simply because the company manufactures more bikes than any other. With machines ranging from the 60 million selling Cub 50cc moped to the world conquering Fireblade superbike, Honda has a reputation for building motorcycles with rock-solid reliability and class-leading performance.
The company was founded by Japanese engineer, Sōichirō Honda, in 1948 and since then has grown into a massive multinational with revenues of $120 billion in 2009. In the early days, Honda was primarily interested in working on cars, but his plans were sidelined by gas shortages in the second world war, which gave him the idea of attaching a small engine onto his bicycle in order to create a more efficient vehicle.
Honda’s first mass-produced vehicle was the Cub moped, which would go onto become the longest running and most successful motorcycle in history – propelling the company to the enviable position of world’s biggest motorcycle manufacturer by 1964. It would not be long before Honda led the way for the rest of the Japanese motorcycle industry to utterly demolish the long established industry leaders in Britain and America.
Right from the very beginning, Honda used motorsport as a means to achieve commercial success. In 1959 the company entered 5 motorcycles in the Isle of Mann TT race, using this as an opportunity to refine the design of the bikes and to raise the company’s international profile. Honda did not win a TT race until 1961, but this marked the beginning of decades of dominance in motorcycle sport for the company.
Some notable Honda motorcycles include the following models:
GoldWing – one of the most recognisable touring motorcycles on the market, the GoldWing was introduced in 1975 and is still in production, recently becoming the world’s first motorcycle to feature a built in airbag. The GoldWing is available with a variety of engine sizes ranging from 1,000cc to 1,800cc.
Fireblade – in 1992 Honda introduced a new generation of light but powerful supersports motorcycles. Not wanting consumers to focus on the engine size, which was smaller than 1000cc competitors, Honda marketed the new bike as the Fireblade, rather than the CBR-900. The Fireblade was arguably the machine which defined what we think of as modern sports motorcycles.
CBR600 – a consistently reliable high-performance mid-range sports bike which has been in production since 1987. Throughout numerous updates and redesigns, the CBR600 has remained a firm favourite with riders across the world, serving as a reliable workhorse whilst being sporty enough to provide high-powered thrills.