WHY CHOOSE A PIFFLING LITTLE HONDA CUB TO TRAVEL THROUGH SOUTH EAST ASIA ON? WHY NOT SOMETHING MORE SUITABLE? WELL, THE TRUTH IS, THE HONDA CUB MIGHT JUST BE THE BEST ADVENTURE MOTORBIKE ON THE PLANET. HERE’S WHY….
Although laughably small, with only about three moving parts and an engine barely more powerful than a lawnmower, the Honda cub is in fact a Goliath amongst motorbikes. Designed by Soichiro Honda as the answer to post-war, fuel starved Japan’s need for an inexpensive mode of transportation, the cub was an instant success. Only a few months after production started in 1958, a new cub was coming off the production line every 12 seconds. Since then over 60 million have been sold in 15 different countries, making it a best-seller to make other best-sellers look like mere fads. Idiot proof, indestructible and easy to maintain, the Honda cub is in many ways the perfect vehicle. James May, who rode one through Vietnam in an iconic episode of Top Gear, even went so far as to say that it was ‘the greatest machine of all time; nay, the single most influential product of humankind’s creativity.’
Whether it lives up to this breathless accolade or not, there’s no getting away from the fact that the Honda cub is the both the best selling motor-vehicle of all time and the single most produced machine ever made. Yes, you read right: the single most produced machine ever made. Immortalised as a ‘groovy little motorbike’ by California rockers The Beach Boys in their 1964 song Little Honda, it was also voted the Greatest Motorcycle Ever Made by the Discovery Channel in 2006, when Charley Boorman tried – unsuccessfully – to batter one of the poor little beasts to death. The cub was thrown from a building, loaded with 200 kg of pizzas and filled with cooking oil, but the bike refused to die.
Although some might question my choice of transportation down the Ho Chi Minh Trail, I know that I’ll be riding a machine that I can power with chip-fat, load a whole Vietnamese village onto the back of and go up the Truong Son mountains in first gear. Plus, on a Honda cub I’ll feel every bump, smell every pile of buffalo shit and admire the landscape at the sedate pace of 25 km/h. What could possibly be more perfect?
To read about a previous lengthy trip on a Honda cub see blackc90.com.