The History of Honda Motorcycles

Raffi Kodikian

November 16, 2022

Honda Motorcycles

Honda is a Japanese company that first started as a manufacturer of piston rings. Founder Soichiro Honda started the company in 1948, and by 1963, Honda was the largest motorcycle manufacturer in the world. Today, Honda is one of the most popular brands of motorcycles thanks to its reputation for reliability and performance. Let’s take a look at the history of Honda motorcycles.

The Early Years: 1949-1966
In 1949, Soichiro Honda founded the Honda Technical Research Institute in Hamamatsu, Japan. The institute’s first product was a 50cc two-stroke motorized bicycle called the “Dream D-type.” Thanks to its innovative design, the Dream D-type was hugely successful, selling over 100,000 units in just three years.

Honda’s success continued in 1952 with the release of the C100 Super Cub. The Super Cub was an instant hit, selling millions of units over its long production run. In 1959, Honda released the CB92 Benly Super Sport, the company’s first sports motorcycle. The Benly Super Sport set the stage for future Honda sportbikes like the CBR600RR and CBR1000RR.

The Mid-Years: 1967-1999
In 1967, Honda released the CB450 “Black Bomber,” which was a big hit with American consumers. The Black Bomber was followed by popular models like the CB750 Four and GL1000 Gold Wing. In 1986, Honda introduced the VFR750R “RC30,” a race-replica version of the VFR750F street bike. The RC30 quickly became a legend in the motorcycle world, winning numerous championships in WSBK and AMA Superbike racing.

In 1992, Honda unveiled the NR series of experimental motorcycles. The NR series was designed to showcase Honda’s engineering and design prowess and featured cutting-edge technology like aluminum frame construction and fuel injection. One of the most famous bikes in the NR series is the NR750 “RC40,” which won multiple races in both WSBK and AMA Superbike racing.

The Modern Era: 2000-Present
In 2000, Honda released the RVT1000R “RC51.” The RC51 was an updated version of the RVF750 “RC30” race bike, and it featured a V-twin engine instead of an inline-four engine. The RC51 proved very successful on both the racetrack and public roads. In 2003, Honda introduced the CBR600RR, which quickly became one of the most popular sports bikes on the market.

In 2006, Honda celebrated its 60th anniversary by releasing unique anniversary edition models like the CBR1000RR “Fireblade” and CBR600RR “C-ABS.” In 2008, Honda released an all-new version of the Gold Wing touring motorcycle. The new Gold Wing featured an updated engine and chassis and a host of new electronic features like GPS navigation and Bluetooth connectivity.

Honda is one of the most popular motorcycle brands thanks to its reputation for reliability and performance. Founder Soichiro Honda started manufacturing piston rings before eventually branching into motorcycles in 1948. By 1963, just 15 years after starting, Honda had become the largest motorcycle manufacturer in the world. Today, they produce some of the most popular motorcycles across multiple genres, including sportbikes, cruisers, touring bikes, and more.