First seen in 1958, the Honda C50 Super Cub is still in production today, easily making it the most popular motorcycle in the world. Of course, there were many changes to the base specs over the five decades, but the basic look and feel have remained true to the first C50 of 1958. A very small vehicle, it was powered by a tiny 49cc engine that produced just barely 4.5 CV. When Honda began exporting the Super Cub in 1959, they faced an uphill challenge against much larger British motorcycles. With the slogan You meet the nicest people in a Honda, they managed to find acceptance from people who were looking for a decent trip that had a clean reputation.
From the start, the design of the Honda C50 made it stand out, looking colorful and small next to the larger chrome motorcycles. While other smaller motorcycles used two-stroke engines, Honda introduced a four-stroke engine in the C50, increasing RPM to squeeze out additional power and improve fuel efficiency by more than 300 mpg. Weighing in at just 170 pounds, this little bike has a simple three-speed transmission, making it easy to learn and ride at any age. The Honda C50 also had a long wheelbase that made for a stable ride, even if the top speed wasn’t much above 50 mph.
The first major upgrade took place in 1967, when Honda tuned the engine to deliver a slightly better 4.9 hp through the use of a new 49cc SOHC engine. In this year, the C70 and C90 bikes were also introduced. These were basically the same Honda Super Cub design, but with larger engine displacements. Since then, Honda has continued to improve the C50, with minor cosmetic changes and new features like CDI ignition and electric start (select models).
Today, the Honda C50 remains a very popular compact motorcycle for short trips in crowded cities and towns. In fact, sales in Japan have been improving, with the latest C50 models providing an even better power-to-fuel efficiency ratio. For many young riders, it’s the ideal choice for a fun, basic run. Motorcycle enthusiasts also love to collect older Super Cubs, especially since there are such a wide variety of variants such as the Baby Cub, Press Cub, and Street Cub. If you are careful to use genuine parts, you can keep any Honda C50 model running in top condition, joining the other 60 million Super Cubs on the roads of the world.