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You meet the nicest people on a Honda

The world's most produced and copied engine is Honda's small 1-cylinder C engine. Abroad perhaps best known thanks to the Honda CUB model. Produced continuously since 1958 and which in 2017 rounded off the production number of an unimaginable 100 million.


As C50, C70, C90, C100 and still in production as 125 cubic. An absolutely unreal number. In addition, all other small Honda machines that have been produced over time with the same engine. From 1965 the engine was refined with a 65 cubic and overhead camshaft. At the time, the output was just over 6 hp, which gave the small machine a top speed of around 80 km/h. Later, the 90 cubic meter version followed with approx. 8 hp and a top speed of 90 km/h.

The Super CUB was sold under the catchy slogan "You meet the nicest people on a Honda" - a completely different attitude to motorcycles than any other manufacturer had attempted until then. These little machines were well-thought-out, easy-to-drive to an unprecedented degree. This allowed both young and old, men and women to tumble them. They were built with minimal requirements for maintenance, which, together with low consumption, ensured extremely low operating costs. Up to 70 km per liter of petrol gave an unsurpassed operating economy. And it turned out that these little low-compression machines could handle almost anything. If you try to go online and see what people have subjected the Honda C90 to, you will be surprised. People have crossed continents on these machines. Pizza delivery people in many of the world's big cities still enjoy the incredible properties of these machines. A few years ago I read about a pizza delivery man who got tired of speeding around the streets of London, he went out of town one day and drove around the world. The only problem that arose on the trip was the wheels that broke on the bad roads, the rest of the little machine managed the trip all the way around. There are many examples of machines that have completed 100,000 km without anything other than ordinary maintenance. I know of one example which has driven 208,000 km and which is on display in a Museum on the Isle of Man, whose owner was none other than the famous Harry 'Professor' Lundberger. He made the trip from Stockholm to the TT race at IOM, round trip, several times on his C90, when he had reached an age where he could no longer tinker with the big, fast machines that had otherwise been his lifelong interest.

Another incredible story is that of the crazy Englishman Ed March, who has driven through virtually every continent on earth in a 30-year-old C90, a total of 176,000 km. Through deserts and across Canada in scorching heat and arctic temperatures. I wonder if you can talk about a mechanical legend, albeit of minimal dimensions.


This brings me back to the story I really wanted to tell about the Honda CD 50. No moped collection without a machine with a 4-stroke engine with an H on it. The Honda CD 50 was Honda's bid for a moped that could be adapted to the Danish moped legislation in the 70s. Had it not been for the hopeless throttle to a legal 30 km/h, that moped would have been just right for many, but with Danish throttle which only allowed a hole into the cylinder head of just 5 mm, it was a dead herring. And on top of it all, an ignition system which advanced in the opposite direction to prevent you from exceeding the permitted speed in any way. Stuck like that, it was hopeless to drive. Therefore, 90% of all who drove the CD 50 were driving illegally. As standard, a CD 50 had approx. 5 hp, which reached a top speed of 75 km/h. Since the engine could take the must at high revs, it was reliable at full throttle, and even with additional tuning, it could last if not abused, which many unsympathetic teenagers could not withstand. I never owned one myself back then, but admired how well they ran without a seal and with blocked flywheel advancement. One of the town's tough boys ran away from the police more than once on his CD 50, the fastest in town, going a whopping 95 km/h on top. A few years ago I found a CD 50 from 1974 that had been sitting idle in a shed for years. Most of the gloss was red from rust, but it was complete and hadn't been driven far. The owner had driven to and from the marina and to and from the local pub and his nose was as red as his Honda when it was new.

Unfortunately, the engine had seized up and was then without compression. I had a Honda expert do the engine and refurbish the wheels with new rims, as I didn't have time to mess with it during that period due to other projects. It also got a new exhaust, but it was a light object. And long before I found this one, I had decided that if I came across an original CD 50 or DAX at a reasonable price, I would go for it. I didn't have high driving expectations for the little Honda, but was pleasantly surprised when I started it up. The pleasant sound of the small engine brought back memories. Since this has always been legal, it must remain so. It is out for a ride every summer, and it is one of the mopeds in my collection that is always insured, so it can be used for a little fun ride on warm summer days. The model was in production for over 10 years, with a cosmetic facelift in 1975. In other countries, the variant SS 50 with 5 gears and glossy screens was the one of choice. Today, all of these small Honda models are highly sought after and the few originals that remain deserve to be preserved for posterity.

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