2019 Honda Super Cub First Ride Review

Long before Honda Civics and CR-Vs dotted American roads, Soichiro Honda was hatching a plan to seduce U.S. consumers with a gotta-have-it ride.

2019 Honda Super Cub

“Old man” Honda dreamed of an affordable two-wheeler that could meet a few simple but critical guidelines: produce at least 4 horsepower from a quiet, efficient motor, be rugged enough to handle almost any road, and welcome any and all riders with an ergonomically friendly package. After a research trip to Europe, Soichiro and his team rolled up their sleeves and developed the Honda C100 “Super Cub,” which made its way to the United States in 1959.

The scooter launched with an attractive $215 price tag and a novel hook, but it wasn’t the first motorized cycle to claim an approachable step-through design. That distinction goes to Vespa, which debuted its first product in 1946. But Honda’s offering was uniquely styled and friendlier than the next, a point driven home by 1963’s “You Meet the Nicest People on a Honda” ads.

The U.S. motorcycle market has shifted dramatically since those early days, seeing a resurgence of 600cc-plus bikes and intermittent flirtations with scooters and large displacement “maxi scooters.”.The Super Cub, whose last derivative was seen Stateside in 1983, returns this year (on the 60th anniversary of the brand’s U.S. presence) to the North American market as an all-new model. Priced at $3,599, the redesigned scooter serves up a few of the original model’s features, including a clutchless shift mechanism.

The Super Cub pushes off its center stand easily and feels easy to maneuver at slow speeds. Steering is very light and responsive to inputs, thanks in part to the low claimed wet weight of 240 lbs (for reference, small motorcycles like the Honda CB300R, Kawasaki Ninja 300 ABS, and Yamaha R3 are between 70 lbs and 140 lbs heavier). The engine, which shares the same air-cooled, fuel-injected 125cc single-cylinder engine as found in the Grom, gets a bit buzzy as it revs through first gear.

Funny thing about those smiles: they’re contagious. As much as we try to put vehicles into boxes, poring over their spec sheets and crunching performance numbers, it’s a rare but important machine that transcends those measures and goes straight to the heart. As an economical way to get around a city on two wheels, the Super Cub does a remarkable job of becoming more than simply a scooter. Breezy, compact, and easy to ride, its retro touches lend it an approachability that’s rarely seen in the two-wheel realm, while its semi-auto gearbox adds a level of involvement that’s unusual for the segment.

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