Honda Motorcycles Have Cross-Cultural Attraction

By Niki Schaberg

Soichiro Honda's interest was motor vehicles, but, paradoxically, he introduced Honda motorcycles. He began mastering the mechanical aspect of automobiles while still a teeenager, working in a repair shop, and he loved racing and fast driving. He owned both a Harley Davidson along with an Indian, and he seemed to be quite experienced at motorcycle riding.

It was only when he was 41, in 1948, that Honda began his very own Honda Motor Company, but he had already owned an auto repair shop, starting way back in 1928. He wanted well-made products that could very well compete, so his concentration was on design and quality. In 1953 Japan was having to deal with a depression, and, although sales of motorcycles were on the up, the existence of his company was in jeopardy. A small amount of motorcycles had been selling, and since he didn't want to put people out of work, he kept the factory open. It turned out a good judgement, because the C100 Super Cub was launched in 1958, and it became the world's most successful motorcycle. The bike was versatile and also affordable, inside anybody's reach, driven by a 4-stroke motor with a 3-speed transmission.

Not merely could new drivers operate it effortlessly, but it became a way of commuting for women. The popularity of this bike skyrocketed Honda to the number one position by volume of motorcycle makers in 1959. This encouraged them to plan to start extending around the world. They supposed that the United States was the most important market to capture at the outset. Acceptance by the American consumer would mean acceptance by the rest of the world. The first retail outlet promoting Honda motorcycles opened in June of 1959, in Los Angeles, and by 1960, successful dealerships, selling Honda's, were more than 75.

By making accessible half the money for two important organizations, Honda exhibited their commitment to the community and won a huge amount of public trust for their company. The associations, each of which were sincerely appreciated by motorcycling enthusiasts, were the Motorcycle Safety Council and the Motorcycle Industry Council. People kept advocating Honda as the number one motorcycle manufacturer during the seventies, as they continued developing new bikes which were irresistible. Their motorcycles won more than 70 races around the world in 1973, giving them the standing of the fastest bikes around. The ground breaking GL1000 Gold Wing was launched in 1975, making touring bikes comfortable and stylish, and the idea was hurriedly emulated by Honda's rivals.

Innovative motorcycles, attractive to different cultures, have continued to be made by Honda. Part of their good image stems from their continued practice of donating motorcycles to causes that they regard as worth supporting. Bike safety keeps benefiting by Honda's sustained funding of training classes and dissemination of beneficial information for the promotion of motorcycling safety. Over many decades now Honda have proven that their motorcycles are amongst the most reliable around. A number of the big chances they have taken, have presented them such a prosperous empire in motorcycles.

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