Innovative technology has always been a Honda trademark, showcasing pioneering engine and chassis design that has set the standard for excellence for more than 60 years. Our founder Soichiro Honda always stayed true to his desire to do things differently while never missing an opportunity to improve his products.
Take the 1959 Super Cub, Honda’s first foray into the U.S. market and the model that changed motorcycling in America forever. Genius in its simplicity, the 50cc four-stroke Super Cub was a utilitarian dream. More quiet and convenient (no more mixing of gas and oil) than the traditional two-strokes of the day, with a step-through design and automatic clutch, Americans flocked to it for its ease of use and value.
The Super Cub was bulletproof, too, proving much more reliable than the trouble-prone motorcycles of the era. In short, it brought accessible, dependable motorcycling to America and the rest of the world, establishing Honda’s reputation for reliability while building a launch pad to becoming one of the largest motor companies in the world.
Today, Honda’s technology continues to lead the industry with our truly unique brand of high-quality, high-performance powersports products.
Refining the performance of our powersports line-up is a never-ending job, and Soichiro Honda realized early on that competing at the highest level was the best way to put his machines to the ultimate test. The racetrack is the ultimate proving ground, and just two years after the first Super Cubs hit U.S. shores, Honda shocked the racing world with victories in both the 125cc and 250cc classes (with moto-legend Mike Hailwood in the saddle for both) at the 1961 Isle of Man TT.
The Honda Motor Company had arrived, with nearly 600 international and U.S. race wins to follow. More important, many of the tech innovations and product advancements conceived and tested on the racetrack were finding their way onto production machines available to the public.
All it takes is a quick glance down today’s lineup of Honda’s performance products to note components and features that were first bred in competition: the Honda Progressive Steering Damper (HPSD) on our CRF motocross racers; Honda Electronic Steering Damper (HESD) on the CBR 600RR and CBR1000RR; MotoGP-derived Unit-Pro Link Suspension; Programmable Fuel Injection (PGM-FI); Unicam® cylinder head construction; and Hollow Fine Die Cast frame design, just to name a few.
Man Before Machine
At Honda, we never stop looking for ways to maximize power, sharpen handling, minimize weight and optimize fuel efficiency while reducing emissions. No component is ever too minor to escape Honda’s R&D microscope, be it more ergonomically placed switchgear or slightly higher (or lower) footpegs.
Every technological and design advance is made with you the rider in mind, the ultimate goal being to ensure the most rewarding and enjoyable riding (and ownership) experience possible. And that means not only striving to maximize our products’ performance capabilities, but their durability and dependability as well.
From our industry-leading ATVs with Power Steering, Electric Shift Programs (ESP), and torque-sensitive differentials to the revolutionary hull design and GPScape systems on our AquaTrax watercraft, innovative technologies and engineering drives each product’s ultimate design.
Engineering for Safety’s Sake
Forall the performance-enhancing breakthroughs Honda’s engineers have made over the years, several have also provided improvements in perhaps an even more important area: rider safety.
Case in point: Honda’s revolutionary airbag system, which is currently in use on the Gold Wing tourer. An industry first for a production motorcycle, the Honda Airbag System raised the bar (as Honda has done so many times in its history) for on-board rider safety.
Honda’s Anti-Lock Braking (ABS), Combined Braking (CBS) and Linked Braking (LBS) Systems are three other exclusive Honda features that deliver a safer riding experience, helping improve both braking and handling by providing more control in less than ideal riding conditions. Variations of one or more of these systems can currently be found on models ranging from the Gold Wing, ST1300, Silver Wing scooter, and now the new 2009 CBR600RR and CBR1000RR sportbikes.
What Lies Ahead?
Honda would be the first to agree that one should never rest on one’s laurels — even if those achievements have put one at the forefront of the powersports industry for decades — so the R&D Dept. never tires in its quest for pioneering new technology.
Honda’s (and soon-to-be-Stateside) DN-01 is one such vehicle, a radical new sport-tourer featuring a fully automatic Constant Variable Transmission (CVT) with Combined ABS braking and a low, deeply stepped rider seat.
News of cool new tech ranging from supersport-spec VTEC Valve Control Systems and Smart Card Key Systems to an all-electric bike are also on the near horizon.
You can stay tuned in to all the latest technological developments and revolutionary new features by signing up for Honda’s email newsletter here http://powersports.honda.com/on-the-go/email.aspx. If you live to ride red, you’ll want to be the first to know.
Meantime, if you’d like to learn more about the Technology behind Honda’s current generation of groundbreaking features, go to www.hondanews.com.