Tag Archives: Honda Motorcycles

Honda doubles down on electric minibikes

Honda has doubled down on electric minibikes with a patent filing for their long-promised electric Super Cub and a trademark application for an electric Motocompacto.

The former has been around since Honda trotted out a prototype at the 2009 Tokyo Motor Show.

Electric minibikes

Honda said the EV-CUB electric scooter would be available from 2018, but that date has now long gone.

However, Honda has had a growing romance with the idea of electric power and especially electric minibikes.

In 2017, Honda signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Hitachi to develop electric motors.

The following year, Honda said its self-balancing bike would also come in an electric version.

Honda's self-balancing motorcycle - short season damon last
Honda’s self-balancing motorcycle

The same year Honda said they would develop electric scooters and bikes with swappable batteries and even hybrid drivetrains.

Last year they applied for a patent for future electric motorcycles and scooters to feature an alarm to warn pedestrians unaware of the approaching quiet vehicle.

And earlier this year they applied for a patent for an electric Fireblade sports bike.

Yet here we are in 2020 and still the Japanese company has not delivered on its electric plan.

It’s not that we don’t think it will happen; it’s just a case of when.

Honda MotoCompo Honda doubles down on electric minibikes
1980s Motocompo

As for the Motocompacto electric minibike, it may look like the 1980s Motocompo commuter bike designed to fold up and fit in a car boot (trunk).

Honda patents

These latest filings are part of a blitz of trademark and patent applications by Honda over the past couple of years.

Some are quite weird and impractical, but others may actually make it to market.

We suspect Honda is just trying to dominate intellectual property on motorcycle inventions, rather than planning to put them all into production.

The patents include:

Forks Goldwing patent
Goldwing forks patent

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com

Retrospective: 1977 Honda CT125 Trail

1977 Honda CT125 Trail
Story by Clement Salvadori. Photos by Dick Tatlock.

We Americans don’t often think of motorcycles as being purely utilitarian, since we use them mostly for traveling to interesting places, sporting along back roads and maybe a bit of backwoods exploring. But Honda figured there could be a market for this eminently efficient little go-anywhere 125, rigged to do all sorts of jobs around the farm or on the ranch. Back when horses were considered the standard get-around vehicle, roads and tracks were often narrow and twisty, prone to getting muddy after a rain, and that darned critter had to be fed even when it wasn’t being ridden.

Honda first used the CT designation in 1964, for the CT200, a high-piped explorer bike with a single seat. And a 90cc engine; obviously some marketing type felt the 200 number would sell more bikes than the diminutive 90. By 1966 Honda understood that buyers appreciated a more honest designation and changed the alpha-numerology to CT90. The T stood for Trail, as in a machine that was capable of following rustic paths through the woods, perhaps leading to wondrous adventures.

1977 Honda CT125 Trail

Then in 1971 Honda introduced a little 122cc OHC single-cylinder engine with a one-piece cylinder head in the SL125 Motorsport model, later used in the TL125 Trials version and a few months later in the XL125 dual-purpose bike. For 1976 this engine was modified slightly, with a two-piece head and the cubic capacity increased to 124cc.

After the XL125 was introduced, the Australian importers decided there could be a more useful purpose to this machine. First, they made the saddle more comfortable, since riders might have to spend a long time on the bike. And the saddle was for just one person, backed up by a big luggage rack good for carrying lots of stuff, from sacks of grain to sick lambs. Sheep stations in Australia often ran to thousands of acres, and here in Texas we had the King Ranch. A smaller front wheel was preferable for handling, and the CT got a 19 incher rather than 21 on the XL. The first three gears in the transmission were lowered for more plunking power. The original CT125 frame had a geometry that was similar to the Trials bikes, useful in the rough but not on the road; that was changed in 1976 to improve rideablity.  

1977 Honda CT125 Trail

American Honda decided to import this model for 1977. That piqued the interest of someone in the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which ordered a bunch—how many appears to be unknown. Apparently the government soon lost interest, and American motorcyclists were equally disinterested. Honda had to get rid of its stock, so dealers who wanted Gold Wings and CB750s and XL350s had to buy some of these. Besides Honda’s official “Motorcycle Identification Guide 1959- 2000,” the only mention of the CT125 that I could find was in a 12-page color ad in the February 1977 issue of “Cycle” magazine describing many of Honda’s 34 models that were available that year, including the three-wheeled ATC 90. Rather than being touted as a useful working vehicle for farm or ranch, the CT was described as being a pleasant little adventure bike good for traipsing off the roads.  

Its engine had a bore of 56mm, stroke 49mm, with a chain-driven overhead camshaft. A single Keihin carburetor fed the engine from the 1.6-gallon tank, while a trochoid pump circulated 1.6 quarts of oil through the engine and transmission. Compression ratio on the XL was a hefty 9.4:1, while on the CT it was lowered to a modest 8:1, considering the engine would probably spend a lot of time idling. The Australian model actually had a clutch that could be locked in disengagement while in gear, perhaps useful for opening and closing gates without having to fumble for neutral. Apparently U.S. laws were not happy with that notion and the device did not appear on the version sold here.  

1977 Honda CT125 Trail

Power went back via helical gearing to a wet multi-plate clutch, then through five gears, and onto the 14-tooth front sprocket that was connected to the big 52-toother at the rear wheel. And the chain was fully enclosed, which meant it rarely needed adjustment.  A tubular steel frame cradled the engine, with an inverted (upsidedown) oil-damped telescopic fork up front having 4.5 inches of travel. A pair of oil-damped shock absorbers at the back had 2.5 inches of movement. Small single-leading-shoe drum brakes were on both wheels, good for stopping in the rough, and capable on paved roads since the bike had a top speed of less than 60 mph. A modest 51 inches connected the two axles.

The single seat was 32 inches above the ground and quite comfortable, the only distraction being the 80-mph speedometer, with turn signal, high beam and neutral indicator lights. Wide handlebars had brush protectors to keep vegetation from beating on the rider’s hands. The crankcase itself had a long steel loop protecting it on both sides, as well as a bash plate underneath. An interesting addition were the big mud flaps on the back of both fenders, a sure indication that this Honda was expected to go to very muddy places. At the back of the left side of the swingarm, close to the shock, was a small handle bolted securely in place. Now, this could be used for dragging a deer out of the woods, or more likely it was a handhold for when the rear wheel was properly stuck in the mud and needed to be lifted out. With gas in the tank, the bike’s weight was only 250 pounds.  

Worldwide, the CT125 was on the market from 1975 to 1985, but in the U.S. it was one year only. Farmers and ranchers appeared much more interested in the ATC 90 than in this two-wheeler. And sporty types opted for the XL125. 

1977 Honda CT125 Trail

Retrospective: 1977 Honda CT125 Trail Photo Gallery:

Source: RiderMagazine.com

2021 Honda CRF450R, CRF450RWE and CRF450RX Models Announced

Honda has just announced significant updates to its high-performance off-road motorcycle lineup, which includes the 2021 Honda CRF450R, CRF450RWE and CRF450RX models. These motocross and off-road competition motorcycles benefit from engine, chassis, suspension, and electronic rider aid updates for model year 2021.

From Press Release:

Nearly two decades after its introduction to the motocross world, Honda’s CRF450R begins a new chapter for 2021, this latest version inspired by a “Razor Sharp Cornering” design philosophy. Already the industry’s top-selling motocross model along with its exclusive CRF450RWE sibling, the CRF450R is guided by three main goals for 2021: improved power (particularly on corner exits), improved handling and more consistent lap times over the course of a tough moto.

Honda’s lightened, latest-generation twin-spar aluminum frame headlines the update list, with changes that reduce lateral rigidity for improved cornering performance and stability. Out back, a new swingarm improves rear traction. The Unicam® engine features updates to the decompression system, intake and exhaust (including a switch from two mufflers to one), resulting in improved low- and midrange performance and a narrower layout. A stouter clutch with hydraulic activation is new, delivering reduced slip and a lighter lever pull for more consistent performance. The new bodywork and seat offer a slimmer, smoother rider interface, as well as simplified maintenance.

“Having already earned a place on the list of all-time successful Honda models, the CRF450R continues to demonstrate Honda’s commitment to winning,” said Lee Edmunds, Senior Manager of Powersports Marketing at American Honda. “With its emphasis on cornering performance, we’re confident that the all-new 2021 model will help Red Riders write their own names in the record books with dominant performances from gate drop to checkered flag.”

Each of the CRF450R’s updates is transferred to the closed-course off-road-focused CRF450RX and the high-spec CRF450RWE motocross machine, which in addition to its already illustrious list of trick parts, features a Twin Air air filter plus Hinson clutch basket and cover for 2021. Benefiting dramatically from the reduced weight and increased attention to low-end power delivery, the CRF450RX adds off-road-focused features and, new for 2021, handguards. The CRF450X, which has amassed an incredible 13 Baja 1000 wins, returns alongside the renamed CRF450RL dual-sport bike, both models adding handguards and updated graphics to an already proven formula. Honda’s mid-displacement ADV, the CB500X, returns in a new Matte Black Metallic color while the TRX®90X sport ATV returns with updated graphics and color-matched front shock springs.

While the focus is on the all-new 2021 CRF450R, Honda is happy to announce that it will continue to offer the 2020 CRF450R—the production version of the factory machine raced by Team Honda HRC’s Ken Roczen and Justin Brayton this season. Available at a permanent price reduction and made possible through an additional production run, the model is a standout option for customers seeking high performance and a good value.

2021 Honda CRF450R

2021 Honda CRF450R

The industry’s benchmark motocross machine, Honda’s CRF450R has amassed an impressive collection of awards and titles over the years. Rather than rest on its laurels, Honda has gone back to the drawing board for the 2021 model year, endowing the legendary machine with updates aimed at improved power, handling and consistency, with a focus on “Razor Sharp Cornering.” Drawing on lessons learned from Honda Racing Corporation’s global race program, including Team Honda HRC’s AMA Supercross and Motocross efforts, the 2021 CRF450R features engine updates focused on low- to midrange performance, a newly designed chassis with revised rigidity and a slimmer overall package. The combination yields a machine that performs at a high level for the duration of a tough moto.

  • Pricing: $9,599
  • Color: Red
  • Availability: September
  • Info

2021 Honda CRF450RWE

2021 Honda CRF450RWE

For motocross enthusiasts who demand the absolute best when it comes to performance, the premium CRF450RWE (“Works Edition”) benefits from the same improvements as the 2021 CRF450R, plus a long list of elite-level updates based on the machines in the Team Honda HRC factory race shop. As with the CRF450R, this model is endowed with important updates aimed at improving power, handling and consistency and—befitting its status as the clear benchmark when it comes to lap times—it boasts additional features aimed at refining power, suspension performance and aesthetics. New for 2021, the CRF450RWE now comes standard with a Hinson clutch basket and cover, as well as a Twin Air air filter.

  • Pricing: $12,380
  • Color: Red
  • Availability: November
  • Info

2021 Honda CRF450RX

Ridden by Phoenix Racing Honda, SLR Honda and JCR Honda at the national-championship level, the CRF450RX is well-suited for closed-course off-road competition such as GNCC, WORCS and NGPC. For the 2021 model year, it’s better than ever, getting the same important performance upgrades as the motocross-focused CRF450R and retaining off-road-specific features like dedicated ECU and suspension settings, an 18-inch rear wheel and an aluminum side stand. New for 2021, the CRF450RX comes standard with handguards and a revised 2.1 gallon fuel tank that narrows the bike width at the radiator shrouds. The combination yields a race machine that’s ready to chase arrows and ribbon along trails from coast to coast.

  • Pricing: $9,899
  • Color: Red
  • Availability: October
  • Info

2021 Honda CRF450R, CRF450RWE and CRF450RX Gallery:

Source: RiderMagazine.com

Is Honda returning to Hondamatic transmission?

A new patent filing from Honda seems to suggest a return to the 1970s twist-and-go Hondamatic transmission like on Prince’s Rebel (pictured).

The Hondamatic transmission was popular in America, but not here. 

However, Honda now seems keen to extend its auto and semi-auto transmissions throughout its range.

New Hondamatic

This new patent application is a little different from the old two-speed Hondamatic.

For a start, it has six gears available.

It features a gearshift but no clutch lever. Instead, it uses a computer-controlled, electro-hydraulic actuator, mounted just above the engine, instead of on the bars.

A sensor monitors gear lever pressure by monitoring speed, revs, gears and throttle.

As the transmission shifts gears, it cuts the ignition on upshifts, blips the throttle on downshifts and modulateas the clutch when starting and stopping.

When the bike is stopped the clutch disengages.

The patent drawing shows a CB100, but Honda has used the CB1100 in previous patent drawings including GoldWing-style double-wishbone forks.

So that does not mean it would be included on the CB1100, which we no longer get in Australia anyway. 

Honda patents

As we know, Honda has been busy with a lot of patents for various bikes, engines, transmissions and innovations in recent years.

Obviously not all will go into production. It seems more likely Honda is intent on protecting its intellectual property.

Other recent Honda patents include:

Forks Goldwing patentGoldwing forks patent

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com

Honda follows Harley-Davidson with Android Auto

Honda is adding Android Auto to its Goldwing infotainment system for music, phone calls and messaging with a software update next month

This follows Harley-Davidson which became the first motorcycle company to offer Android Auto in March.

It’s tit for tat really, as Honda Goldwing was the first with Apple CarPlay in 2018 and Harley followed a year later with the software update to its Boom! Box GTS Infotainment Systems on their Touring models.

Android Auto is similar to Apple CarPlay and allows riders to access some phone apps such as access Google Maps for navigation, traffic and weather reports, as well as some other apps such as Spotify.

Honda’s official press release says:

Android Auto is a simple, safe way to use your phone on the motorcycle. With simplified interface, and easy-to-use voice actions, it is designed to minimise distraction so you can stay focused on the road. Android Auto makes it easy to access your favourite music, media, and messaging apps on your motorcycle. With your Google Assistant on Android Auto, you can stay focused, connected, and entertained, keeping your eyes on the road and your hands on the handle bar, while using your voice to help you with your day.

But Honda won’t just add it to the Goldwing.

They are planning to add both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration to more models.

Here's why Harley's Street Glide Special is our top tourer androidHarley Street Glide with Apple CarPlay

Android Auto

Harley-Davidson Australia says they are not sure when the Android version will be available here nor the price, but the Apple version is a free software update, anyway.

As with the Apple feature, the phone must be plugged into the bike via its charging cable.

The screen will mirror the phone, allowing riders to access it through the touchscreen, Google Assistant voice control or a handlebar control.

Google Assistant is available in Australia, Canada (English), France, Germany, India (English), South Korea, United Kingdom, and United States.

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com

Honda Announces Android Auto Integration for Gold Wing Series

Honda Gold Wing with Android Auto integration

Honda has announced that Android Auto will be integrated with the current-model Gold Wing. At no additional cost, customers with Android 5.0 or later smartphones and the Android Auto app will be able to seamlessly enjoy application services such as music, phone calls and messaging. When utilizing it while riding a Gold Wing, connection with a Bluetooth headset (sold separately) will also be required. App and communication costs may apply. The method to update software is planned to be available in mid-June, 2020.

Since the Gold Wing GL1000 went on sale in North America in 1975, the Gold Wing series has evolved as Honda’s flagship model for over four decades. In October 2017, the all-new Gold Wing was announced in North America, becoming the world’s first motorcycle with Apple CarPlay integration. Navigation features to enhance the ride experience and application-specific services have been well-received by many customers.

Android Auto is a simple way for customers to use a phone on the motorcycle. With simplified interface, and easy-to-use voice actions, it is designed to minimize distraction so riders can stay focused on the road. Android Auto makes it easy to access favorite music, media and messaging apps while on the motorcycle. With Google Assistant on Android Auto, riders can stay focused, connected and entertained, keeping their eyes on the road and their hands on the handlebar, while using their voice to help with their day.

With Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration coming to more models, Honda plans to bring more comfort and convenience to customers’ motorcycle lifestyles worldwide.

Source: RiderMagazine.com

Patent suggests Honda set to build CB4X

Honda has filed patent designs for a bike that seem to suggest they will build the CB4X concept shown at the EICMA motorcycle show in Milan last November.

Honda CB4X concept patent (1)New patent drawing

CB4X patent

Not a lot is known about the concept and the patent filing doesn’t reveal any extra details.

It appears to have a mid-capacity engine, possibly an old 600cc engine from the CBR600RR, but down-tuned to meet Euro5 emissions targets.

That is a good way to use old engines. Ducati has successfully done that with its 03cc and 1100cc Scramblers, using old Monster engines.

At EICMA, Honda described the CB4X as blending sports, naked and touring, although it doesn’t look like much of a touring bike to me.

However, it does have an adjustable windscreen. 

Honda CB4X

The CB4X also features a diamond-shaped headlight, daytime running lights, aluminium subframe, sharp tail and 17-inch front wheel.Honda CB4X

CB4X design

The bike has been designed by Valerio Aiello and his team of young designers at the Japanese company’s Rome centre for design and research.Honda CB4X

Honda’s official EICMA press release said:

The CB4X features flowing, yet compact lines, designed to enhance the contrasting personality of a motorcycle that’s born to use every day on urban routes, and on carving mountain bends or long journeys on the weekend.

The fuel tank hunches forward, like a cobra ready to attack its prey.

The Honda CB4X is an idea dedicated to those riders who live for sports riding – but don’t want to give up the possibility of relaxing, two-up travel experiences whenever or wherever.

Unfortunately, it’s not the six-cylinder CBX that Honda filed patent drawings (below) in 2018 that looks a little like its 1980s six-cylinder CBX with a bubble fairing.

Honda CBX six-cylinderPatent drawings

But don’t get too excited yet about the CB4X or CBX.

As we know, Honda has been busy with a lot of patents for various bikes, engines and innovations in recent years.

They include the recent 850cc parallel twin which could be destined for a smaller Africa Twin.

Obviously not all will go into production. It seems more likely Honda is intent on protecting its intellectual property.

Other recent Honda patents include:

Forks Goldwing patentGoldwing forks patent

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com

Honda plans 850cc parallel twin

Honda has filed a patent in Japan for a new 850cc parallel-twin engine to replace the current NC750 range and possibly also go into a smaller Africa Twin.

In Australia, there is only the NC750X, but there are several other 70cc models overseas.

The new model will not only have a new engine to meet the more stringent Euro 5 emission regulations but also a new chassis.

Parallel twin

Honda 850cc parallel twin

A bigger parallel twin means they can meet the emissions targets without having to reduce power output.

The patent drawings also show a dual-clutch transmission, so it should have a semi-automatic gearbox.

Just because the patent drawing shows a naked street bike doesn’t mean anything. Honda wouldn’t want to telegraph its true intentions by showing the engine in an adventure bike.

We think it would be an excellent engine for an Africa Twin.

While the Africa Twin has this year gone from 1000cc to 1100cc, there is room for a smaller and lighter model to compete with the mid-sized Triumph Tiger 900 and BMW F 850 adventure models.

Honda patents

This is one of a blitz of patent applications by Honda over the past couple of years.

Some are quite weird and impractical, but others may actually make it to market.

We suspect Honda is just trying to dominate intellectual property on motorcycle inventions, rather than planning to put them all into production.

The patents include:

Forks Goldwing patentGoldwing forks patent

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com

Honda patents aerodynamic tail

Honda has filed an application for a patent for an aerodynamic tail that looks a little like those spoilers we see on “sully sic” fast fours and 1970s supercars.

Winglets have been added to the front of MotoGP bikes over the past couple of years to address aerodynamic issues.

Now Honda is looking to add some aerodynamic assistance to the rear of the bike.Honda aerodynamic rear end

Aerodynamic tail

Ducati’s Panigale V4 has a similar aerodynamic trail.

Corbin motorcycle seatsDucati Panigale V4

However, Honda’s patent features a removable tail-pack, where you can store small items such as your phone or wallet. That seems to indicate it’s not been designed specifically for race use.

It also appears to have movable wings which could be deployed at high speed for stability and under heavy braking to keep the rear wheel on the ground.

They could be deployed automatically or with a manual switch on the handlebar.

It would match the active aerodynamic winglets Honda has also applied to patent.

Honda patents active aero directActive winglets patent

Aerodynamic issues

Now don’t laugh. Aerodynamic issues are more prevalent in motorcycles than cars.

The most aerodynamically “slippery” motorcycle is the Suzuki Hayabusa which has a drag coefficient (cD) of about 0.55 to 0.60.

Hayabusa GSX1300Hayabusa

Drag coefficient is the ratio of drag on the body moving through the air to the product of the velocity and the surface area of the body.

Even a Mazda6 sedan has a much better cD of 0.26.

Racing engineer Jeromy Moore says it is difficult for motorcycles to match a car’s aerodynamics, because they are too short.

“With aero, it will be hard to get a bike’s cD down as it is quite short so the air has to deflect at larger angles to go around and rejoin,” he says.

Honda patents

This is one of a blitz of patent applications by Honda over the past couple of years.

Some are quite weird and impractical, but others may actually make it to market.

We suspect Honda is just trying to dominate intellectual property on motorcycle inventions, rather than planning to put them all into production.

The patents include:

Forks Goldwing patentGoldwing forks patent

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com

Honda patents telescopic side stand

Honda’s blitz on motorcycle patent applications continues with the latest a telescopic side stand.

Instead of a solid, sprung stand you flick out to prop up the motorcycle, this stand is like a telescopic camera tripod.

We can understand the need to make side stands more secure from flicking back and allowing the bike to fall.

Harley-Davidson resolved this years ago with a locking side stand.

Harley-Davidson LiveWire electric motorcycleClever locking Harley side stand

Telescopic stand

Honda’s telescopic sand plan is revolutionary, but we’re not sure it is any more secure than current solid, sprung stands.

It also seems complex to deploy as you have push it down and rotate it backwards.

To retract the stand the rider has to push the base forwards, releasing a peg from a slot so a spring retracts the tubes.

We have complained in the past about flimsy side stands and the lack of centre stands on modern motorcycles.

This hardly seems to address either issue.

Honda patents

This is one of a blitz of patent applications by Honda over the past couple of years.

Some are quite weird and impractical, but others may actually make it to market.

We suspect Honda is just trying to dominate intellectual property on motorcycle inventions, rather than planning to put them all into production.

The patents include:

Forks Goldwing patentGoldwing forks patent

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com