Tom Haines

Aboard the Honda Super Cub

December 23, 2008 by Thomas B. Haines, Editor in Chief

You may know about the business alliance between Honda Aircraft and Piper Aircraft that allows Honda to tap into Piper’s dealer network to sell the HondaJet. But did you know that Honda built Super Cubs? Me either. But a recent Twitter post by a Honda spokeswoman says that a 1959 Honda Super Cub will lead the 120th annual Rose Parade on New Years Day–you know, that big parade that occurs before the 95th annual Rose Bowl Game where Penn State is going to beat USC.

A couple of Google strokes shows me that, alas, the Honda Super Cub is not a Piper knock off, but a motorcycle–the motorcycle that launched Honda’s U.S. presence back in 1959. In fact, the model lives on today as the Honda 50.

So, all you motorcycle aficionados, did you know about the Honda Super Cub and have you ever ridden a vintage one?

25 Responses to “Aboard the Honda Super Cub”

  1. Jake Says:

    Aaaah the Super Cub! They are a blast to ride, but can’t be found over here anymore. I got to ride a 125 in Japan, and had a CT Trail 90 as a kid, which is basically the same bike with the exhaust going up and over. I’ve been hoping to find one to add to my Vespa collection, but no luck the last few years.

  2. SaigonNezumi (Kevin) Says:

    Just come to Vietnam, you still see Honda Super Cubs everywhere here along with the Honda Dream.

  3. Jessica Says:

    I just see this on our town and old men driving it

  4. Ralph Butcher Says:

    Sorry Tom, it was a blowout. USC 38, Penn State 24.

  5. Tom Spann Says:

    After flight school in 1962 my first duty station was MCAS El Toro in California. The max CCs on base was 50. The honda super cub by far was the favorite. The motor cycle style design with big wheels made it much more popular with us wild pilots than the the smaller wheel Vespa scooters.

  6. Terry Wilwerding Says:

    The honda cub is not only the most sold motorcycle, it is the most numerous vehicle, beating the model T, VW beetle and others. It is still the beast of burden in many third world countries, often carrying unbelievable loads of people and goods. There are now numerous chinese copies available. The automatic clutch, and no clutch shifting makes them very easy to ride. For the gentleman looking for one, you might search for Honda Passport on e bay motorcycles, that was the US name for the later ones.

  7. Paul Meichtry Says:

    The Honda ‘cousin’ (the Trail 90) was my most useful. I cut the frame so that the entire cycle could fit into my Cessna 310 baggage compartment. It took only 8 minutes to re-assemble the bike. I placed two additional foot rests onto the cycle for my two young sons to ride along. The large gear made any steep mountain trail a simple climb.
    We flew many camping triips into such places as Bass Lake, California with a custom tent that I fit onto the wing that gave us 9′ X 17″ floor area with zipper windows and door. The wing tie-down ring was a handy place to hang our electric lantern, the propellers to hang our swimming suits and towels to dry, and a table cloth on the horizontal stabilizer for our table. And parked at the edge of the lake boat owners attracted by our unique style gave us many boat rides.

  8. C. Frank Bales Says:

    In 1965 at the age of 8, I graduated from riding my friend’s minibike to a real motorcickle on a Honda Super Cub! My next door neighbor, a 15 year old, had a Yamaha 80 that I couldn’t reach the ground with my legs. When one of his “biker buddies” came by with his Honda, he let me ride it because when I had to stop, I could jump off the seat and hold bike up! Yahoo!!!! A real live motorcickle (that’s what the cool guys called them and I wanted to be cool). BTW, his was painted black, a cool color in those days. I stuck to minibikes until I was 11 and tall enough to ride my own (paid for by me) motorcycle, a Yamaha Twin 100 that sounded like a million bumble bees angry all at the same time.

    Thank you AOPA for bringing up these old memories. What a great way to start the New Year!

    C. Frank Bales

  9. M. Page Says:

    The Honda Super Cub…a grand little machine no doubt. When I was a kid I owned an NSU 50 cc mo-ped. There werent any Honda Super Cubs where I grew up in the Western desert states. Many years ago I purchased, and still have two redish-orange CT-90′s; A 1967 and a 1977 in pristine condition. They are pretty much the same cycles as the early Super Cub with a little more power and the raised exhaust as mentioned above by another responder. Fun machines to get around on, (My grandaughters love them) especially when gas was around $4.00 per gallon. I agree, great memories to share, and about 150 MPG.

    Happy New Year!

    Cheers,

    M. Page

  10. Lee Doughty Says:

    When I was stationed at Nellis AFB in 69 and 70, I owned a Honda CL90. I rode with a friend that had a Honda 750 which seemed huge at the time. We were two cool dudes riding in the high desert north of the base.

  11. Tom Haines Says:

    Yes, Ralph, sadly so. A real blowout.
    –Tom

  12. Rick Gaylord Says:

    I thought the Honda Super Cub had a high tank in front of the banana shaped seat.

  13. mike ballard Says:

    A red honda super cub was my first motorcycle in 1969. Since then; bigger bikes, then planes, then an aviation carrier. I want a new one!

  14. Gary Nygard Says:

    Shucks, I was hoping that an LSA with one of those nice, smooth, and quiet running Honda engines was in the making. Often thought of those little Rutan skyscooters that came out in the 70′s that would be such a great match with a little Honda two cyl. Oh well, guess it was a good daydream ( :\

    Gary

  15. Knute Says:

    A few years ago in Taipei, I saw a family of five riding one. The two smallest were perched on the foot rests.

  16. Skip Smith Says:

    I owned a Honda 50 to ride to campus when I was in grad school in the ’60′s. I never knew that it was called a Super Cub (to me that will always be a PA-18), but I heard of a kit to break it down for baggage compartment storage. I kept mine for many years to do that, but never got around to it. Gave it away to a bike buff just last summer.

  17. Chris Says:

    Another neat thing is that they got phenomenal gasoline mileage. Supposedly they could get as much as 200 miles per gallon, but they would have to be moving pretty slowly, down around 20 mph. Probably in most circumstances they didn’t do quite as good, but it was still an extremely economical bike.

  18. John Tobias Says:

    To Mr. Gaylord…
    I believe your reference to a Honda with a high tank and a banana shaped seat was called the “Super Hawk” with 305 cc engine. I stopped riding mine when I took up flying, choosing the safer of the two sports. My first plane was an Ercoupe, which wasn’t as fast as the Honda.

  19. Bruce Kennedy Says:

    To Jake ,
    I still have the CT 90 Honda I purchased in 1974 and spent many hours and miles enjoying with the children as they were growing up – now long gone from home . So I Have just kept it stored -

  20. Emma Says:

    Hello, I found your blog in a new directory of blogs. I dont know how your blog came up, must have been a typo. Your blog looks good. Have a nice day.

  21. Mazda Says:

    When I was stationed at Nellis AFB in 69 and 70, I owned a Honda CL90. I rode with a friend that had a Honda 750 which seemed huge at the time. We were two cool dudes riding in the high desert north of the base.

  22. Jon Says:

    I turned 21 at the end of last year and got my first “motorcycle” at the beginning of this year, a yellow 1981 Honda C70 Passport. I guess I’m starting on the same bike that so many others before me started on.I believe someone already mentioned this, but it’s one of the later American models of the Super Cub, just under a different name. No idea why they’d change the name though, I kinda like the name Super Cub. This thing has been a blast to ride and quite the learning experience. I’ve put a lot of blood, sweat, and tears into working on this little bike. So much time that I think it has made my gf jealous. When I first got it, it had no key, no lights or other electronics, original 1981 tires, a rusty gas tank, and yet still fired up first kick and drove. Since the stock 70cc proved too slow for the city streets where I live (more like people just drive too fast), I’ve swapped the engine out with a Lifan 140cc with manual clutch (Chinese made Honda clone engine) and changed all of the electronics to 12V with CD ignition. Sometimes I miss the auto clutch, and sometimes not. Someday I hope to take a trip cross county on my bike and with my gf (she has a 125cc scooter). Maybe I’ll even swap out the front fork for a telescopic fork of the CT bikes. Either way, me and my bike “Pika” have had quite a few miles together now, and hopefully plenty more to come.

  23. Boo Says:

    The reason they were badged as ‘Honda 50′ in America was because Piper already had the rights to the name ‘Super Cub’. They were called Honda 50s in the UK and Ireland too, because of Triumph’s Tiger Cub.

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