The History of Honda Mopeds
When the son of a rice farmer decided to buy a new bicycle, he didn’t have much money. He and his brother, in addition to their parents, saved their earnings from the family rice fields. One day, as the boys were sitting in the shed repairing bicycles, a young man from their village approached them with an idea for a local business – a bike shop. The shop’s owner observed in surprise that this particular young man had knowledge from his own days as a mechanic on the same old Honda machinery he was fixing.
“Soichiro Honda came up with a brilliant idea,” recalled Kihachiro Kawashima. “We repaired bikes and sold them.” The shop owner noticed the shop went on to build automobiles. “Soichiro Honda,” he recalled, “is my great grandfather.”
In the early years of Honda’s U.S. division, the company produced small cars and import models under the brand name” Pony” (meaning horse).
However, as the U.S. market became saturated with the Acura brand, Japanese began selling what would become the legendary Civic in the United States, the first step in Takeo Fujisawa’s plan to establish a worldwide automotive brand. Today, the Civic is among the most well-known Honda products in the world.
During World War II, Takeo Fujisawa received a patent for a self-servicing, self-adjusting, rotary valve engine that would make use of a clutch instead of the standard ignition engine that powered Japan’s previously standard motorcycles. With this innovation, Honda could mass produce its motorcycle without having to completely overhaul the motorcycle itself. Following the war, however, fuel prices rose, causing motorcycle fuel to increase at double the rate of inflation. Fuel-efficient, lightweight mopeds were developed and Honda began production of its first mopeds – the Civic.
While production continued throughout the war, Japan became more involved in the production of Honda vehicles. By 1950, the country had become one of Honda’s largest customers, purchasing over one million units, including the popular Accord. The Japanese started building their own motorcycles in response to the U.S. Honda Motor Company’s failure to mass produce a motorcycle that was comparable to the Japanese mopeds of the time.
Following a directive from the newly formed Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Honda learned that it was not permitted to sell any motorized bicycles in Japan after July 1947 due to the presence of asbestos.
The ban on motorcycles remained in place until April 1960, when it was formally lifted. Despite the ban on Honda bikes, however, Honda continued to produce a variety of mopeds for use in Japan until the company finally declared bankruptcy in 1963. With their bankruptcy looming, however, Honda began selling its remaining mopeds to third world countries where they would make little money.
Some of these mopeds were so poorly built that they received limited use by Honda.
Others were so old that their continued use led to premature deterioration. On the whole, however, all of these Honda automobiles and bikes received a great deal of recognition throughout the world thanks to their accessibility and stylish appearance. As a result, thousands of people in other countries now own a variety of motorized bicycles. A great example of this is the Yamaha moped, which is widely seen as one of the most well made models ever produced.
Even today, as the Honda Motor Company continues to produce high quality cars and motorcycles, they also remain deeply involved in the production of a number of other types of vehicles. For example, many of the Aircraft products that are used in Japan are piston based, and it is interesting to note that many of the automobiles sold in the U.S. have piston-based engines. In addition, many of the automobiles that are sold in Japan also have four-stroke engines that use gasoline, natural gas, diesel fuel, or another alternative fuel to power their operation. Given this history, it is clear that many Honda enthusiasts around the world are simply looking for ways to continue enjoying the benefits of having a motorcycle, which is why there are numerous sites on the Internet today featuring automobiles and motorcycles, both new and used, as well as providing information about various models and types.
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