Euro5 updates and usability upgrades for two of Honda’s small-bore legends
If you were to make a list of the most important Honda motorcycles, I bet you’d spend all your time reeling off stuff like the RC45, FireBlade, CBR600, Gold Wing and the like. Posh, high-end, fancy-dan machinery, mostly aimed at rich Western consumers and high-performance fans.
But of course, the bikes which have been most important to Honda have been the ones that paid the bills, and let them develop the likes of the NSR500, NR750, RC30, RCV211 and other exotic race machinery. And top of that list is the Super Cub 100, and its descendants – the C90, C70, C50 and a heap of other practical do-anything machines, which gave cheap personal mobility to tens of millions of folk all around the world. Launched in 1958, just ten years after Soichiro Honda started out in business, the firm has sold more than 100 million of the Super Cub family. Which pays for a lot of oval pistons and V-5 engine designs.
More than 60 years on then, Honda has just revealed its latest version of the Cub – the 2022 Honda Super Cub 125. It comes with a new, more powerful engine with Euro5 emissions compliance, mild suspension updates and now comes with pillion seat and pegs as standard. Lighting is all-LED, and it also features a Smart Key ignition system
The new Super Cub 125 will cost £3,499 when it arrives in August. More details: www.honda.co.uk/motorcycles.html
2022 Honda Monkey 125
Honda’s Monkey is another one of the firm’s iconic designs. First developed for kids to ride around an amusement park in Tokyo in 1961, it expanded from a 50cc toy into a fold-up road-going machine that could fit in the boot of a car or strapped on the back of a motor home. It then evolved through a host of variations to today’s trendy 125cc version. Launched in 2018, the latest 125 model cuts a useful path between ‘comedy plaything’ and ‘useful urban transport’, and is more than up to daily commuting in town as well as the odd longer trip.
Now, for 2022, the Monkey 125 is getting a slightly more powerful 124cc 9.2bhp air-cooled engine, with a five-speed gearbox (up from four) and Euro5 emissions compliance, borrowed from the MSX125 Grom. The chassis is mostly as you were, with dual-rate springing on the rear shock, new blue paintscheme and an optional rear rack.
Price is £3,899, and the bikes should be in dealers in August. More info: www.honda.co.uk/motorcycles.html
HONDA SUPER CUB BOX OF FACTS!
With more than sixty of production, the Super Cub has some great stories behind it. Here’s Honda’s pick of the best.
- The first prototype wasn’t drawn out on paper, but using a clay model, into which Mr. Honda himself had strong input, using some ideas from a fact-finding trip to Europe in 1956.
- The first 1958 Super Cub C100’s low-floor backbone frame (for easy step-through), large leg shields (for protection from dust from unpaved roads), fully ‘enclosed’ bodywork (to hide the engine and harnesses), seagull-inspired handlebar shape and sky-inspired blue fairing laid down a universal template for decades to come.
- The 17-inch wheels (relatively large in order to handle Japan’s uneven road surfaces) were designed and made exclusively for the Super Cub.
- It has always used a four-stroke engine – even from its first 1958 incarnation (Soichiro famously disliked two-strokes, which led to the oval-pistoned NR500 GP bike).
- It had to avoid the need for a clutch lever so a delivery rider could ride one-handed with a stack of Soba noodle boxes on his left shoulder.
- Honda’s Suzuka factory was built in 1960 to help meet the demand for the hit product.
- The Super Cub has been produced in 16 factories across 15 different countries, and sold in 160 different countries.
- The Super Cub went on sale in the USA in 1959, with a sticker price of just $295. It took West Coast surfing youth by storm and paved the way for much bigger things for Honda in America.
- The first European production of Super Cub started in Honda Belgium (the second ‘overseas’ factory to produce the vehicle).
- It also starred in the ‘You meet the nicest people on a Honda’ ad campaign that changed the American perception of motorcycles being associated mainly with ‘biker gangs’.
- The Beach Boys made it even more famous in 1964 with their song ‘My Little Honda’.
- Also introduced to South Asia in 1964 the Super Cub became prized family transport that neatly dealt with the overwhelming traffic of the ever-growing major cities.
- The Japanese Patent Office awarded it a 3D trademark registration in 2014, recognising its shape and design as an iconic Honda product, and making it the first vehicle to achieve this status.
- Original sales were projected to be possibly 30,000 a month, which was amazing at the time as total motorcycle production in Japan was around 40,000 units a month, but something of an underestimate in the end.
- In typical, low-key Super Cub way on October 29th, 2017 a commemorative ceremony was held at Honda’s Kumamoto factory to mark worldwide production of 100 million units.
HONDA MONKEY TIMELINE
First model – made for use at amusement parks, with 5 inch wheels, rigid suspension, foldable handlebars and Super Cub (C50) 3.1kW OHV 49cc engine. Backbone frame, triangular tank.
First road-going model – exported to North America and Europe.
First model sold in Japan – with ‘fold-down’ seat, handlebars and pegs to fit in the back of the car (the new fuel cap also added to prevent leaks when stored on its side during transport). Centrifugal clutch.
Telescopic front fork, 8” front wheels, low slung exhaust and indicators for the first time.
Quick-detach front suspension to make it fold down even smaller to fit in the trunk of a small car. Centre stand to support the bike during the removal of forks
Rear suspension and independent swing arm. First trapezium fuel tank and block tyres
First model with custom bike style ‘tear drop’ fuel tank with increased capacity of 5L
Chrome plated edition
Limited edition ‘Gold’ model
First appearance with a hand operated clutch
‘R’ model with twin tube frame, single shock rear suspension and hydraulic front brake disc. 10in Comstar wheels with box section swingarm
Dual mirrors for the first time
Off-road styled ‘Baja’ model with twin headlights
2004 Freddie Spencer Special
In colours based on the CB750F ridden to victory in the Daytona 100 by Freddie Spencer
2009 Monkey Limited Edition JBH-AB27
First fuel-injected version, with roller rocker arm and off-set cylinder. Trapezium shaped fuel tank
2017 50th Anniversary Edition
New version commemorates 50th anniversary of sales in Japan
2018 Monkey 125
An all-new Monkey 125, re-imagined for the 21st century, takes to the roads of Europe