By: Mick Walker .
SOICHIRO HONDA was a legend in his own lifetime. And for a very good reason. He not only created the most successful motorcycle marque in history, but he did so by rewriting the motorcycle industry 'handbook'. Beginning in 1946 with an auxiliary-engined bicycle, he progressed via the A-type engine (1947) and B-type motorcycle (1948) to the D-type Dream (1949). From then on, Mr Honda's company found it difficult to get things wrong, and its early reputation was built very much on producing high-revving models with class-leading performance, a degree of technical innovation unmatched by other companies and value for money.
At first this meant small-capacity singles and twins including the Super Cub 'step-through' moped (of which over 30 million have so far been built since 1958, and it is still in production!), the CB92 125cc twin and the CB72/77 SuperSport models. But the company soon started production of successful larger bikes, including the CB450 'Black Bomber' and, of course, the world's first modern superbike, the CB750 four, which set the world alight on its launch in 1969 with astounding acceleration and a top speed of 120mph.
Into the 1970s and Honda simply continued to strengthen its grip on the industry with adventurous designs like the legendary GL1000 Gold Wing, with a liquid-cooled flat-four engine and shaft final drive, the best-selling CX500 transverse V-twin and the amazing CBX, with its dohc 1047cc across-the-frame six-cylinder engine.
Much has been written about Honda's general history and its terrific Grand Prix successes with purpose-built machines, but here Mick Walker focuses on the bikes that millions of people bought and rode - excellent machines that deserve their history. And if you have owned a pre-1980 Honda model or are thinking of buying and restoring one, this is the book for you.