The greatest Honda ever built doesn't have VTEC
While we love our mad boo-BAAAing Civics, as well as legendary models like the NSX and Integra, the greatest motor vehicle Honda has ever produced doesn't feature VTEC... or even four wheels!
The brutal truth is despite all the tar-burning performance cars and motorbikes, and all the epic Honda-powered racing cars, the most epic, radtastic and fantabulous creations are the Super Cub and CT series motorcycles. That's right, Pookie; forget trench-digging CR500 dirt bikes or CBR1100XX Super Blackbird road bikes because we're going to talk about some truly society-changing machines here with tiny engines.
Honda's Super Cub step-through, and later CT90 and CT110 "Postie Bikes" have made a cultural impact equal to that of the Mini, VW Beetle or Ford Model T, and have a direct lineage dating back over 60 years!
Entering production in 1958, Honda's small Super Cub step-through bike is the polar opposite of a thundering black Harley Davidson chopper, but its easy riding nature, cheap purchase price, and mind-bending reliability meant it effectively killed the dominance of the motorbike market by English and American brands.
More than 100,000,000 (that's one hundred million!) Super Cubs had been made from 1958-2017, with the bike appealing en masse to people in rural and city environs. Soichiro Honda and Takeo Fujisawa's new motorbike was designed to sit between popular European scooters and full-size motorcycles and small cars.
Thanks to the enclosed engine and chain, the dirt-deflecting fairing, and its simple reliability, the Super Cub found a huge slew of fans who weren't interested in the maintenance-heavy large motorcycles. They also eschewed the traditional image of motorcycle riders being burly, testosterone-fuelled speed machines.
The ad campagin "You Meet The Nicest People On A Honda" is still used today in marketing classes as many industry experts feel it was central to Americans moving toward Japanese motorcycles and away from traditional British, European, and American brands. As Honda's tiny under-bone commuter bike boomed in popularity many other marques quickly brought their own examples out to try and compete.
The principles of excellent engineering, simple design and rugged durability continued from the Super Cub through to Honda's CT-series models. These simple, dual-sport (on- and off-road) motorcycles are a cousin to the Super Cub but retain much of the core DNA that flows through Honda's cars and larger motorcycles to this day.
As the 1960s progressed the world grabbed hold of the fun of dirt biking and off-road motorcycling, but for those not wanting a flat-out off-road machine the CT Hondas presented a cheap entry point to a vehicle they could comfortably ride to work each day, but then also take on light trail or desert duties on weekends.
This rugged simplicity and excellent durability meant they soon came to the attention of fleet operators like the Australian and New Zealand postal services, who needed exactly this kind of machine for mail delivery services. And so the Postie Bike was born!
The original CT90 was replaced in 1980 by the famous CT110 model, which could almost be considered a mid-cycle update thanks to the larger engine and other upgrades.
With a simple semi-automatic transmission the bike is easily ridden by total novices, while they tend to only break down due to lack of maintenance and incredibly high useage. Running on the smell of an oily rag, the CT Hondas are incredibly sought-after commuter vehicles in Australia - especially once a milk crate or two are rachet-strapped to the front and back so you can carry plenty of luggage!
However, while they're popular around town, people have ridden CTs tens of thousands of kilometres across continents, through deserts and over mountains. There is a highly popular association of mad dawgs who take their PBs on adventure rides around Australia - CHECK 'EM OUT. So, surely the Honda CT bikes are the ultimate Honda machine?